Dec. 16, 2006
Debbie Ryan, Virginia head coach
On senior guard Brenna McGuire:
Brenna has really grown as a player these last several weeks, because some nights when Brenna misses shots early in the game, she stops shooting, but tonight she just kept shooting. I was very proud of her. She’s done the same thing all year long for us, and we can just see the growth that she’s had. So even when she misses shots early, I don’t worry about her. She just kept coming and kept being offensively minded. She’s someone that we really rely on to score, not necessarily 22 points a game, but we definitely rely on her to stretch the defense. Now you’re seeing that she’s getting help from some other people, which really helps take the pressure off of her. There are other players that can shoot the three, so now she feels as if she doesn’t have to be the only one. They can’t cover just her; they have to focus on a bunch of players in order to stop us.
On scoring 100 points:
It was great to see us score like that. I think that during the first half, we were sluggish and slow. We had some players with exams yesterday up until 5 p.m., and I thought that in the first half we really hadn’t yet shaken off the exam lethargy. Once we got to the second half, it looked like we really loosened up. We played much better defensively, and that led to even more scoring. The thing that I was most impressed with in this game is that we had 33 field goals, and we assisted on 23 of them. To me, that’s the sign of a very good team chemistry. Our kids are always looking for each other. You saw starters sitting on the bench tonight who didn’t really reach their season averages, but they were cheering harder than anyone in the gym. I think that just shows you that this team is very unselfish.
On Monday’s game against Connecticut:
Because we were in the exam period, we actually had a chance to break UConn down a little bit. We didn’t really break it down to the players, but when they come to practice tomorrow, they will know that they are already prepared for Connecticut. We had a lot of time to work on things this week. We threw a lot of things at them on Tuesday and Wednesday that will help them against Connecticut before shifting to prepare for Cleveland State on Thursday and Friday. They’re going to be prepared in practice tomorrow. Connecticut’s a very good team, a well-balanced team. They have good athleticism; they have good size and side. They’re just a very good team, and obviously Geno’s a good coach. It’s going to be a great game.
On today’s game as an ideal preparatory game for UConn:
This was definitely a good prep game for us. If you asked me that after the first half, I would not have agreed. I thought of this as a good game to get tuned up. After exams you have to get back in the flow, and an actual game is a good way to do that because you have put on a uniform; you have to go out and play an opponent. I think that Cleveland State plated exceptionally well in the first half. They were hitting shots right and left. We were in their faces and they were knocking everything down. It was good to see us come out in the second half with energy and close the door, because I feel as if we didn’t do that in the first half. This was a good game for us.
On sophomore forward Abby Robertson:
She’s another player who’s shown that she’s grown up a bit, because she struggled heavily in the first half. She came out during the second half, and I told her slow down, be more of a threat, and just face the basket more. She really took that to heart, and she got into the flow in the second half. She played much better. She’s a physical player, and we need her to be physical inside.
On senior guard Tara McKnight’s three three-pointers at the end of the game:
The players were getting direction from SharneÃffÃ,Â© (Zoll), so she was setting her up a little bit. I don’t think that I would have done that at the end of the game. But the team knows that Tara can shoot. She has gone into games in the past and been a little bit anxious. Tonight I told her relax and just stroke it when she had it, but to let herself get loosened up first. And I thought that when she hit her first one, she was really pumped and just took it from there.
On Tara McKnight:
She means a lot to us. She brings everything that a player should have. She has extremely good work ethic. She’s somebody that has true passion for Virginia and Virginia basketball. She brings all the things that you would want any player to bring to the table, and she works relentlessly to get better. She’ll come in early to pick up scouting reports so she knows exactly who she needs to pay attention on the scout team. She makes our team better every single day. She’s a good captain and a good leader.
How exciting was the game, especially during the second half and when you hit the 100-point mark?
I was excited because it was a total team effort. There were some players in who didn’t get to play a lot, and we all pulled through. Everyone was into it; the crowd, the bench. The hundred points were great, but the whole second half was a lot of fun.
How did you play in the second half?
It was kind of frustrating going one for five in the first half; I was struggling a little bit. But my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball and getting my confidence up. I created my own shot, and I looked for my shot a little more, as coach is constantly telling me.
How about that spin move?
I don’t know where that came from. We practice it a lot in practice, and I got it in there, so I had to get it out again and get my confidence up. Tonight was a great night to try some of those moves. It went in, so maybe we’ll see some more of it.
How have you prepared for the upcoming UConn game? Are you ready for another game so soon?
That’s college basketball. You have to go from one game to the next. It’s just like another game. They are No. 6 in the country, with a lot of high energy and a lot of height. We have to stay focused just like it’s another game. We have to play team ball like in the second half. It’ll be a lot of fun for the fans.
On the 100-point mark:
I think the whole second half was exciting. Abby had a great game. I thought I was going to end up running on the court. It was a lot of fun to watch everybody. Brenna had a great night. Everybody had a great night.
Did you know that those shots were going in as soon as you let them go?
I don’t know. It’s repetition, I guess. It was a lot of fun just to be out there.
Did you look past Cleveland State to UConn?
We don’t look past any team. We take one game at a time. We know every game is big. We have to come out and go one night at a time.
What’s it like, Tara, to come out and play and get the reception you do?
There’s just no other word for it except fun. It’s just a great time to be out there. It’s my dream to be here, so I’m having a great time. Anyway I can help the team is good.
How was your offensive game tonight?
All I have to say is SharneÃffÃ,Â© (Zoll) did a great job penetrating and kicking, and they played zone, which is great for a shooter. You need to penetrate and kick and SharneÃffÃ,Â© did that.
What was the difference between the first half and the second half?
We basically focused on our defense in the first half as something that we needed to change. We talked about it, and we went out and executed. Offense starts on defense. We just played hard defense, and we got 70 points in the second half.
What exactly did the second half mean?
Coach Ryan said we had 23 assists, and that right there shows it. It’s just diversification of the team. It’s great to see. We weren’t doing that as much in the first half, so to really come out in the second half and really play team ball, like Abby said was great.
Kate Peterson, Cleveland State Head coach
On what Virginia did defensively to shut the team down in the second half:
They threw a little press at us – a zone press that did not really force us in to a lot of turnovers, but it made us hesitant. I thought our team came out of the locker room in the first half with a lot of confidence. A lot of emphasis was on starting the game strong- we average five points in the first five minutes of the game. Tonight, we started the game out very well. Then, in the second half, I saw that team backÃfÂ¢Ã,Â?Ã,Â¦that we have been very tentative not being able to score in the first few minutes, and because they were throwing something new at us, it was just a change and we did not adjust very well.
On any positives that the team can take away from tonight’s game:
We are pretty beat up right now. We have several players on the sideline and several that are limited in use. I did feel that we were able to compete in the first half of this game. I think that some of our players, who are very young, were a little surprised that they could compete in the beginning of this game. We have had games against much lesser opponents that we have not been able to compete in. In the first half, it was really a confidence builder. We are not leaving the gym feeling very good, but in the first half, it was a decent half.