March 23, 2013
Geno Auriemma, Connecticut Head Coach:
"We've been in this situation a number of times, where we are the number one seed and we are playing the number 16 seed. Obviously, there is quite a disparity between the 10 high school All-Americans that I have, compared to the zero that Idaho has. We knew going in that we would have a huge advantage at a lot of different positions. So we tried not to really focus on anything other than what we could do well today and what kind of tone we could set for ourselves in the NCAA tournament. We haven't played in 12 days, so we wanted to make sure we didn't let that be a factor. I thought we accomplished pretty much everything we set out to accomplish today."
What is the status of Breanna Stewart?
"Breanna Stewart's discomfort happened during practice. Breanna could have played today, but we felt that it would be better if we used precaution to let her have an extra day. We wanted to almost guarantee that she would be ready for Monday night."
How important was it for this team to get a win after the loss to Notre Dame in the BIG EAST Championship last week?
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut Forward:
"You would think that we didn't win any games this year based on how our players felt after that game last Tuesday night against Notre Dame. If you didn't know any better, you would swear we had a losing season and just missed an opportunity to get into the NCAA Tournament. So you have to be careful in these scenarios that you don't put too much emphasis on what happened that night. What happened that night was really impactful for this team. In a lot of ways, we have a lot of young players who we are counting on. I wanted them to understand that this was the beginning of our third season. We were 0-2 in our championships. We didn't win the regular season and we didn't win the BIG EAST Tournament. This is the third season and we need to put everything else behind us. We'll see Monday if it carries over."
What were you trying to accomplish today?
"I was really trying to be more aggressive on the offensive end. I was trying to be more confident and make sure my first look was to score. If I'm not open, that's when other things open up. I think that was pretty much accomplished. Our whole team had a lot of energy from start to finish."
Were you aware that you were close to the NCAA Tournament record for highest margin of victory?
"No, I didn't know at all. We were just trying to go out there and play hard the whole game."
Kelly Fairs, Connecticut Guard:
What did you want to accomplish today?
"There were a lot of little things. One of the main big things would be our guard play. There were a lot of things we needed to change going into different games. Not playing for 12 days, we wanted to see how our work in practice with our guard play had paid off."
How do you gauge your progress today against a team like Idaho?
"It's not always the easiest, but there are still a lot of things you can tell about your team. There are plenty of games that we've come out and had a good first half and been up by 30 points, and then we have come out and had a terrible second half. There are always things to work on."
Jon Newlee, Idaho Head Coach:
"I'll tell you what you think about coming in and playing UConn, then seeing them up close and in person, we certainly got the full show. I thought they shot the ball extremely well; their pressure certainly took us out of our game. Defensively, they were so long and quick getting after us; it was something that we hadn't seen this year, without a doubt. We can't replicate that in practice, we can't replicate that in the Western Athletic Conference, I don't think there are many teams that can replicate that. We just wanted to play as hard as we could. They are a great basketball team. I can't believe Notre Dame beat them three times, I can't believe anybody beat them three times. They are my pick to win it all. It has been a great experience here. We came in with our young team, wide-eyed, to see what it is all about. I told them in the locker room that this is good for our program, and us where we wanted to be. UConn started somewhere just as we are now. Everybody has been fantastic from the hotel people, to the arena people, to Geno himself. We just appreciate the fact that we are here and able to compete on this stage."
Did the game turn out the way you expected?
"I had a nagging suspicion that this might happen. We've made five three's in three minutes before, I can tell you that. My team can shoot the basketball. They went to the zone, which was obviously great for us. Teams don't go to the zone against us in the regular season because we have multiple players who can shoot the ball. Stacey obviously put on her show out there, but we also have other kids who can. So, that didn't surprise me. None of it really surprised me to be honest. I know what this level of basketball is all about and I'm glad our players got a chance to taste that."
What is the biggest thing that you take away from this weekend?
"I want them to remember the joy that they felt winning the Western Athletic Conference Championship and all of the excitement they felt coming into the NCAA tournament, building up to this. I want them to experience all of this. These press conferences, the charter flight; it was all-new for us. They understand what their hard work got on that charter flight and they have the chance to be nationally recognized. I want them to take away from that and realize that their hard work paid off for them. The game itself, as I talked about in the locker room, is that they go hard every single play. Yes, UConn has great basketball players without a doubt, but they go hard every play too and they practice hard, believe me I know they do. You take that work ethic combined with that talent and that's where UConn gets that. I said you can control how hard you work and were going to start with that, every time we get in the gym and weight room and push forward from there."
What did you thikn about coaching against Coach Auriemma?
"It is beyond respect what I have for Geno and what he has done for women's basketball. I feel like in a way, he has taken it into such a level for women's basketball and you think women's basketball, excellence, national championships. It is amazing what he has done. I really like how he respected our kids saying that we reminded him of when he started out way back when. Our players heard the quote and it was thrilling. Honestly, its like your on the floor with John Wooden. That is what he has done in the women's basketball game."
Alyssa Charlston, Idaho Forward:
What was the biggest difference in this game compared to what you anticipated?
"As coach said...the length. They are so long at every position, three or four inches taller, and they are so strong. The speed of the game wasn't quite as surprising as we went in thinking. Even halfway through warm-ups, we started to thinking that this is really happening, this is a normal game. Obviously, the first basket and everything was very quick; we had to get used to that quickly. Overall, we got used to the speed of the game."
Can you comment on the season?
"We've learned so much throughout the season. We have had heart-breaking losses, we've had ups and downs, luckily at the end of the WAC we came out on top and that was extremely exciting. Coming out here we had a great experience with what top of the nation basketball looks like. That gives us something to look at next season and going into the summer we need to start looking like that. Coach was talking about how hard we need to go every single play and UConn does that every single play. Everyone goes as hard as we possibly can. We came out here and developed a new standard for the rest of the team."
Stacey Barr, Idaho Guard:
On the point-streak during the final three minutes that shrunk the margin of defeat:
"I don't think anyone of us where aware of that streak and just wanted to play basketball. It is kind of nice not to be put in the record books for that. We came out after half time with a few goals. The minimum was to keep them off the boards and in the second-half we did better. I think we accomplished the goals we set at half time."
Can you comment on the season?
"We have grown as a team definitely from the start of the year and winning the WAC Championship was huge. It is definitely something that we are going to bring into next year. We have to continue to work hard if we get anywhere. Playing number three in the country really reminds you how great basketball is up here. That will be our focus, to continue to work hard and that's when our freshmen will come in here that they will improve over the year."