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    NCAA Tournament First Round - Press Conference Quotes

    UCONNHUSKIESDOTCOM Tina Charles at Saturday's press conference
    UCONNHUSKIESDOTCOM
    Tina Charles at Saturday's press conference
    UCONNHUSKIESDOTCOM

    March 20, 2010

    Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma

    Opening Statement:
    Not a lot you can say at this time of year that some other coach somewhere else hasn't already said. It's the time of the year that the kids have worked so hard in the offseason and what they do in September, October, November and leading up to the NCAA Tournament and this is every kid's dream that goes to college. To have an opportunity to play in it again is great for these guys. I think everybody on our team especially is anxious to get going. We haven't played in so long. I know we're ready to play and I'm sure it's going to be as good as it can be down here. I've been down here before, I know the people down here and what they do, and it's our first time in this building, so I'm looking forward to playing. I know they have great fans down here. I remember being down here a couple times with my team in the old building and when I was coaching at Virginia.

    What's the thought process on making a great team even better?:
    It's evident when you're at practice and it's evident when you leave practice. While you're there and you're watching your team and you see certain things you really like and you see things that you know because of who they are they can do it better. You focus the next day to make that better. I don't think you go home and think about your record, where you are and what the status of your team is at that point record-wise or nationally. You look at it day-to-day and how our practice is going. Even yesterday, I told them they looked a 100 times better than yesterday. Their record didn't change, their poll ranking didn't change, their streak didn't get any better or worse, but they were a much better team yesterday then they were on Wednesday. That's how I evaluate my team.

    With great expectations, is it difficult to manage with this team or is it part of the everyday routine?:
    It's part of everyday. It's almost from the time when a kid decides they want to come to Connecticut, they start figuring out when they watch us on TV or in person, that what maybe the reason they want to come here, is because they win. Now they get here and it's already part of who they are, and if it's not, that is when they struggle. Right now, we have a group that's very comfortable. School started in September and everybody knew who they were, what was expected of them. There's no hiding from them. Those expectations make you a little more diligent. You have to go to practice and prepare because of those expectations are so high. When the expectations aren't there, there's a lack of commitment on your part, the lack of focus on your part, almost the feeling of what difference does it make if I'm prepared or not. This group is under the gun every day to prepare and play a certain way, because if they don't, they get called out on it, not just by me, but everybody. It's a big part of why we are where we are.

     

     

    Is there any difference for you opening on the road?:
    People have this perception out there where you play in the NCAA Tournament really matters. Coaches set the tone, we can beat you in a parking lot or we can beat you on any court in the country if we're good enough. If we're not good enough, then we're not, so I don't ever get caught up who is in our bracket, where we're playing, or when we're playing. I just want my players thinking about what we have to do to win this game. I prefer being on the road to be honest. I like it much better than being at home. I like being on the road, I love it.

    Junior Forward Maya Moore

    Is there anything different about this tour of the NCAA Tournament for you guys from any others you've participated in?:
    I think every year that goes by, you feel a little more comfortable with the flow and the pace of the tournament. You're still playing teams you haven't played before; you still have a team that has never been here before, especially with the group we have here this year. This is a year we never had before. Coming off of a great season last year and having extremely high expectations this year, it's kind of a new feel to the challenge of this tournament. But we're still the same program. We're going to approach every game the same way and we'll focus on Southern.

    What do you see as perfection?:
    It's something we strive for and we're going to miss it every now and then... A turnover or not executing on offense. I think as long as you walk away from each game feeling you played your hardest, you didn't leave anything, you didn't save anything, you played a smart basketball game, you executed the game plan, and you came out to have fun. It takes more than just you, that's the hardest part about it. Striving for perfection in a team sport takes everybody coming to play, everybody's mind being right, just flowing together and being one unit. A lot of times our team has done that. I'm blessed to be on a team where we have great teammates that constantly come every day to go to work to do their best. The pursuit is fun.

    What do you supposed a team like Southern, who has been to the tournament three times, feels about having to walk out on the floor tomorrow and play Connecticut?:
    I would come into the game and just leave it all out there. This is the NCAA Tournament. It's win or go home so you come out every game and play your tail off. Go in confident and play as hard as you can. It's that time of the year where you don't hold back and you come with everything you have. Play with no fear and do what you're good at.

    Can you talk about any jitters that you experience and does that hold true to you that the first is the toughest?:
    Every start to the tournament I always gets some nervous energy, which I think is good. If you don't have nervous energy before every game you play, you're probably not ready to go. You have to have a little bit extra before your games to get you ready and focused. When you lose, that sense of urgency for every opponent, you can play very poorly. I'm looking at this game tomorrow as the first game of the NCAA Tournament, where else would you rather be. Be excited and focused on our scouting report and executing the game plan.

    What are your thoughts on starting the NCAA Tournament away from Connecticut?:
    We had some tough road games during the Big East regular season to prepare us to this point and we have to look at every game as a tough road game from now on. We had some great road wins this year and I'm looking forward to being that same team tomorrow.

    Senior Center Tina Charles

    What defines a perfect basketball performance? Can you play perfect basketball?:
    No, I think it's one of our goals. Coach told us if you try to chase perfection, you catch excellence and I think that's what we try to do night in and night out. I don't know that you can play a perfect game, but as long as we keep striving to try to play perfect, I think that's why we have the success we do.

    How is this different now that this is your last go-round [in the NCAA Tournament]?:
    I'm definitely emotional about it being a senior and playing with the team I have and having a family atmosphere. On the basketball standpoint, I'm trying to leave a lasting impression on the program, something everybody can remember. Of course I am going to miss everything about this program.

    Can you talk about any jitters that you experience and does that hold true to you that the first is the toughest?:
    I was nervous from the selection show. I was talking to coach in his office. I told him I was nervous where you find out who you're playing. I was nervous. I was jittery. It's just an exciting moment.

    What are your thoughts on starting the NCAA Tournament away from Connecticut?:
    I don't think it's a big thing. We have the best fans out there and our fans always travel and come and see us. I think in every state, there's probably a fan of Connecticut, so I'm not concerned at all.