Dec. 5, 2013
On having three scholarship players out for tonight’s game:
“The starting lineup tonight wasn’t very difficult, was it? It is getting aggravating now. It is at the point where you don’t know what’s going to even happen in shoot around today. I’m glad those other two guys are coming back and that Kiah Stokes will only be a couple days. We’ve got the next couple days off from practice anyways. It wasn’t ideal, let’s put it that way.”
On the team’s efforts in the past eight games:
“We’ve done some great things in spite of the injuries. We have played some good teams and played well. With the exception of last Sunday, we have played really good basketball at both ends of the floor. There is not a lot that you can say about what our rotation is or any of the other issues. It is what it is, and the kids know it. There is no choice, they don’t have a choice but to play well and stay out of foul trouble. Sometimes when you have that much pressure on you it is not bad, not bad at all.”
On Breanna Stewart’s offense:
“When players are really good offensive players, I don’t worry when they have a bad game offensively or do things that are out of the norm. I don’t worry about that. I don’t go to practice trying to help Breanna figure out how to score. It just comes for her and in the course of our offense she will get shots. Of course she has to put some time and effort into it and today she did. The other things I spend a lot of time on with Stewart. We spend a lot of time on defense, a lot of time on rebounding, a lot of time on moving without the ball and doing things when she doesn’t have the ball in her hands. Those are the things we do at Connecticut to help really good players become great players. I’m not sitting here saying Stewart go get twenty tonight, be an All-American and live happily ever after. Those aren’t the things we do here, there are things she has to do and get better at. She improved this week. From Sunday to today she got better. That is a good sign.”
On Breanna Stewart’s career-high thirteen rebounds:
“I don’t pay attention to that stuff, I know she was talking about it with one of the other coaches that she was rebounding well, and the fact that she went hard to the offensive boards. That is an area of the game that not a lot of people pay that much attention towards. She was very difficult to box out and keep away from the basket. Stewart should have a double double every night just like Stefanie Dolson does…close to it anyways. Maybe that is why Stefanie gets so many double-doubles because Stewart doesn’t. Tonight Stewart went and rebounded the ball and there was not a lot left for Stefanie so they should be fighting each other for rebounds instead of the other team.”
Senior Guard Bria Hartley
On getting the team back to full strength in the coming weeks:
“I think we’re all really excited for that. I was saying the other day I can’t wait for Kaleena and Morgan to come back and to play with everyone again. They’re working really hard to come back and they’re excited to come back as well.”
On what it says about this team playing with a limited bench:
“I think it kind of tests how tough we are as a team and our maturity because people have to step up and I think today even though Kiah wasn’t able to play, we were already in that mindset.”
Sophomore Forward Breanna Stewart
On playing Duke:
“Well I never played at Cameron Indoor Stadium but you can see on television how crazy it is. I’m sure they get a great basketball atmosphere and we just really have to prepare as best we can in these two weeks of practice and then get ready for the game.”
On playing with a limited number of players:
“I think it might be harder for the coach. He only has one person to choose on the bench to sub in for five people. With us, I think we use this opportunity to get in better shape. We knew we were going to be playing more minutes than we were when we had seven players. It’s important to get comfortable with everyone on the team and make sure everything runs smoothly.”
On her numbers tonight:
“I think I didn’t play as well as I wanted to against Ohio State so I wanted to come out and be as productive as I can in as many aspects of the game that I could. I think that as a whole we played really well tonight.”
UC Davis Head Coach Jennifer Gross
What do you take away from this?
"We went into this game with one mission, and that was to give them our best effort for 40 minutes and see where we measured up with that. I asked our team afterwards if they thought we were able to give our best effort for 40 minutes and they felt like we fell short. I think the biggest thing that we have to take is something we've been striving for since day one. We've got to be able to step on the floor every night and play 40 minutes of our best basketball. We've yet to do that. Maybe you're not supposed to do that until March, but we've got to take some steps towards that. When you are playing a team that has the talent that UConn has, if you don't bring your best performance, if you're not knocking down shots as best you can, if you're not taking care of the ball as best you can, if you're not rebounding the ball as best you can, you're going to get exposed really quickly. I think we showed a lot of focus and intensity for the first part of that game. We did some things right, then we turned the ball over which turned to direct baskets and eight or 10 points in a row. It's hard to come back. Taking care of the basketball is the No. 1 thing we need to get better at from here on out."
Who within the ranks stood out for you tonight?
"I thought Sydnee (Fipps) was really tremendous to start the game. She got into a little foul trouble, which hurt us. It's tough to score in the paint against a team like UConn. She found ways to split into gaps and protected the ball really well and used different sides of the basket to score. I was really impressed with her early. I was disappointed when she got into foul trouble."
Obviously this is a business trip, but do the players get more out of it than that? Are you going to NY City, see the tree at Rockefeller, anything like that?
"We're going to try to get into New York tomorrow. It's such a quick trip for us, and the No. 1 thing on our minds is being fresh and ready to go. The team would love to get into Times Square and see the Christmas tree and do a little shopping on Fifth Avenue. I'm a very big believer in the experience. We talk a lot about mentality and getting ready to play on Saturday is going to be mental more than anything, so I think we can go have some fun and still be ready to compete."
What do you learn from playing the No. 1 team?
"I think first of all, you go into a game like this to see how you measure up against the best. I think we learned that we have some work to do. What I was pleased with was that we stepped on the floor and we weren't afraid. We were in a very crowded atmosphere that wasn't for us. A lot of our players haven't been in this kind of environment before. You look out at the opening tip and you've got four All-Americans. We stepped on the floor ready to compete, which I was pleased with. What I think we are taking from it is, you have to maintain that level of focus and intensity for the whole game if you're going to compete at this level. That's where we have some work to do."
Were you trying to get them in foul trouble, knowing they had only six scholarship players?
"If you look at their stats, one of the things that jumps out is they don't foul very much. They are very good at keeping the ball in front, they help over with their bigs and they get some clean blocks. No, it wasn't necessarily the game plan going in to attack, attack, attack. Early on we felt that Sydnee (Fipps) could get an advantage and get in some areas, so we were trying to get her going."
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