March 27, 2010
PRACTICE DAY QUOTES Geno Auriemma
CONNECTICUT HEAD COACH
Geno Auriemma: "Walking into this building brings back a lot of memories for me, some really good, some not so good. I'm looking forward to getting started tomorrow. I think there's a little bit of excitement on our team that I haven't seen in some of the other tournaments. I think we are all anxious to play and we know what were up against and we know what we have to do. We are really looking forward to it."
On UConn's dominance being good for college basketball...
Geno Auriemma: "Does the casual fan respect what we are doing, I don't know. The casual fan in this country at this point in time is really insignificant to me. I care about our fans back home and the fans who are going to be watching the game tomorrow, because they are interested to see how we do. I could care less about the casual fan, because I bet they could care less about me and my team. I don't worry about people who don't worry about me. As far as women's basketball in general, it's like ice hockey. Does the casual fan enjoy ice hockey? Probably not. But ice hockey fans love ice hockey. We are who we are and we attract who we attract and we'll go with that."
On having so many H.S. superstars on one team...What do you do to blend them?
Geno Auriemma: "We try really hard to not recruit ego maniacs from high school. If we get that right then we don't have to do anything. We don't have to coach differently; we don't have to change what we do.
"We're not perfect. We have our issues just like every other team does. We have our faults; you just don't see them as much as you would maybe see them on other teams. A lot of faults come out when you are losing so because we haven't lost, we are able to hide them better. There's this perception out there that everything we do from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed is perfect, and that's not the case at all. We try really hard in the recruiting process, that if the player doesn't fit into our program or if I have to spend extra time convincing them that it's not about you, then I don't even bother. Then when they get here they know. They know this is the deal and this is what I signed up for. There are no team meetings to put people in their place because we don't have to worry about that. Those kids go somewhere else."
On Tina's maturation and her relationship with Maya despite being the two best players in the country...
Geno Auriemma: "Tina has grown up a lot and that probably explains their relationship. When Tina came out of high school she was very young both in age and mindset. She knew it, I knew it, everyone knew it, but at heart, after you take all that away, she's a great kid and wants to do the right thing all the time. So it's not like she's a problem child or had to change who she was to fit in. She just needed to grow up a little as a person and as a player and she did that. Maya is the same way. Out of high school she was maybe a little more advanced in that area, but their relationship is not that much different than the relationship we have had with some other great players, and I think that's part of coming to UConn. You know you are not going to be the only good player and you know you are going to have to co-exist, share and be on the same page with other great players. If you are not willing to do that, it's not going to work for you. Both of them understand that the personal relationship they have is important, and winning is important and that goes above and beyond anything else that could happen. Two good kids, two great players committed to winning and it all works."
On the team being more excited...
Geno Auriemma: "They [players] put a lot of time into this and the perception might be that we go to practice, shoot some jump shots, run a couple laps, then go out to dinner. They have worked really hard to put themselves in this situation. I posed a lot of challenges to them early on and it started when we got back from the final four last year. I told our seniors and upperclassmen, that I didn't trust any of them to be the leaders that Renee or Diana were that could put you on their back and lead us to the national championship. They had to prove it to me. They've spent the last 12 months doing that and they're not going to stop now. They have worked really hard and they know that if they do what they are supposed to do it could be right around the corner. They also know that it could end tomorrow. No one else thinks it could end tomorrow, but my players do. And that's what makes them different than everyone else. Everyone else thinks we might not lose a game until Obama retires because they want to go see him all the time and that's not the case, trust me"
Thoughts on the game versus Iowa State in 1999...
Geno Auriemma: "I remember we lost a game that was very winnable for us. We were not ready to win that game. I've always said that any deficiencies your team has are going to show up this weekend and if they don't show up this weekend, they probably won't show up again next weekend if your fortunate enough to get there. When we played Iowa State in Cincinnati, our team was not mature enough to win that game because they couldn't handle missing shots, and we missed a lot of shots. That was a team that lacked leadership and lacked the toughness you need to have this time of year. Iowa State hit some huge shots at the end of the game after they hadn't been making any either. They hit a bunch at the end and ended up winning the game. Other than that, there is absolutely no comparison between this Iowa State team and that Iowa State team or any comparison between this U Conn team and that one. "
On replacing Renee Montgomery and the development of the point guard combo this season...
Geno Auriemma: I had a pretty peaceful summer and pretty peaceful fall. I enjoyed the national team and enjoyed going to Russia because, I think deep down inside, I knew we were going to be ok. I didn't know how ok. I didn't think 35-0 ok. But I knew we would be ok. Because these two characters have a lot of character. They are really competitive at a young age. Both sophomores, they room together, they trust each other, they know they have each other's back, they play off each other. Caroline wants desperately to be the point guard of this team and has kind of taken over that role because Tiffany didn't want to be. Tiffany played lousy every time I put her out her there so I would have to give the ball to Caroline. They each know how to get done what they need to get done but neither of them is anywhere near where Renee was. But, they're where Renee was as a sophomore, and that's all I can ask them to do, is to be who they are and do what they can, and make plays when they have to. And I knew they would do it to help us be where we are now. I just never expected it to be this good.
On guarding Iowa State's 3 point shooting...
Geno Auriemma: Not that it matters tomorrow but we have had some experience playing team that want to shoot 25 or 30 three's so it won't be the first time we are going into this type of situation. We have a pretty good idea on how to go about it. Not that it matters tomorrow because it could all fall apart and they make 15- 30 and we lose. But whenever you play a team that's this committed to shooting the three, I don't think you are going to stop them from shooting all those 3's. What you have to do is to make sure they don't get them from where they normally get them and not let them get them in a manner they are used to getting them. Whether it's in the NCAA or a league game or a non-conference game, whenever you play a team who is committed to taking that many 3s and are good at it, you have to make sure you make it a little bit different for them. And that's easier said than done, I know that.
Games this weekend come down to who can defend the other team and that's what our focus is and I'm sure that's what Iowa States focus is. If they hit 15 3's and give up 90 points they're still not going to win. In the same token, if they play great defense and we don't play well offensively than maybe they only have to make 7 of them to win. This time of year you just do the best you can and you hope you make shots. If you make them, you have a chance to win. If you don't, I don't care who you are, there's a pretty good chance you are going to go home."
On the notion that winning 74 consecutive games is "bad for women's basketball"...
Maya Moore: "People can find negativity in anything that they want. We are not really concerned with people who don't like what we're doing. We love what we're doing. I think it's great. We work hard every day. We put in so much work, our coaching staff, all of our staff, the players, in everything we do, and other teams across the country. We work really hard to accomplish what we have. There is no way that we're ashamed or not satisfied with everything we've done. We're going to keep playing hard, and we're going to keep having fun, and keep putting together great basketball."
On the legacy that you hope to leave...
Maya Moore: "It's one of those things where you work hard every day, you don't want to think too far ahead. You don't want to take your eyes off of the everyday progress that we do in practice and in every game. Hopefully, you can look back at the end of your career and be proud of what you left behind, not leaving any regrets, not feeling like you had anything left to give. However people judge you along the lines of history, that's what they'll say. I think as long as we graduate knowing we gave everything that we had to the program, we'll be extremely satisfied with our UConn careers. "
On dealing with the pressure of being undefeated and expected to win...
Maya Moore: "I don't think we have a problem staying loose as a team. The personality of our team is very light-hearted. We're a goofy bunch when we are off the court. I feel like you have to have a good balance, and our coaching staff does a great job of emphasizing to us to enjoy every win, and to enjoy the great things that we do. But when it's time to go to work and it's time to get better, I think we do a good job of transitioning to that extremely high level of focus. It's a fine line. You have to balance it. All year, I think we've done a pretty good job of when it's game time and time to prepare for a team, we're prepared. When it is time to have fun and celebrate all the great things that we've been doing this season, you can celebrate it. That balance works pretty well for us. Right now, we are definitely in the focus mode, and we have a big game coming up tomorrow."
Are you still planning on pursuing a Rhodes Scholarship?
Maya Moore: "Sorry I can't give you a really good answer. It's just not something I'm thinking about right now."
Tina Charles: "Coach [Geno Auriemma] just always tells us to have respect for every team. We are not going to play them any different than the first time. That's been going on since I've been here, since I was a freshman. We just play consistently. We don't have a different mindset. We're not going to do anything differently than our daily routine because it's the NCAA tournament. He just prepares us."
How do you and Maya [Moore] interact off court?
Tina Charles: "We live with each other. We have similar ways, at times. We room with each other on the road. As soon as we walk into the hotel, we turn the TV off. More than likely, doing our schoolwork, reading something , listening to the same music, our pre-game, listening to gospel music. We're similar. She came to my house, spent the night. At all the camps, I was linked with Maya for some reason."
How do you feel about the center matchup against Iowa State?
Tina Charles: "I'm excited to go against any post presence, anybody who is going to compete and play hard. She shoots the three and everything, and it's been a long time since I had to guard a center that shoots threes. I just have to be aware of where she is going. I'm just learning everything day-by-day before we play against them."
On having, arguably, the two best players in the country on one team...
Kalana Greene: "I think if you look at any of coach's rosters in the past, he's had up to five All-Americans on one team. It's all in the type of player you recruit. I don't think Tina [Charles} would care if Maya [Moore] won an award, or Maya would care if Tina won an award. The ultimate goal is to win a national championship. If Tina can help Maya get that or if Maya can help Tina get that, they'll both be happy."
On defending the three-point attack of Iowa State
Kalana Greene:"I think when you play in the Big East, you play teams that are different. West Virginia is different from Villanova. Villanova is completely different from Syracuse. I think our conference has prepared us to play any type of team that we would face in the tournament. This team [Iowa State] is similar to the Villanova team that lives and dies by the three. We know how to defend it. I don't think tomorrow will be any different."
What have you seen about Iowa State that concerns you?
Kalana Greene:"They are a very smart team, one of the smarter teams we've seem up to this point. They know how to shoot the three. Everyone can shoot it deep. You have to play honest defense with them every time. There's no cheating off. This is going to be a very good test for us defensively and offensively. We've played some games this season that will prepare us for this."
On being on the road throughout the NCAA tournament...
Kalana Greene: "Coach says if you can't win on the road, you can't win. I think we like playing on the road. Different challenges, going into people's territories and when everyone is against you, it forces everyone to come together as a team. We don't really look at the crowd in the stands. I know in Storrs and Hartford, we had a lot of people there. There are a lot of times when you go on the road that we don't have a lot of people there. We have to depend on ourselves for energy and stick together. We've been prepared all season for time like in Norfolk, when there were only 4,000 people there. I don't think we played any less of a game than we have all season."