Dec. 29, 2006
Debbie Ryan, Virginia head coach
On rebounding (UVa outrebounded UAB, 48-31):
“We knew that was going to be key from the start. We know we are a pretty good rebounding team and that is something we emphasize every game, but I knew it was going to critical for us to rebound well in this game. I knew it was going to be key so we made it a point from the beginning.”
On playing former player and assistant Audra Smith:
“After a game you only say things like good luck. It’s hard to coach against someone who has been with you forever. Ten years as a coach and four years as a player. It’s a very difficult position to be in, for a lot of reasons. I thought our players responded well tonight and did a great job coming into the game and being ready to play.”
“We still run a couple of the things, and Audra knows all the players-knows their tendencies and what they can and can’t do, especially the seniors. It’s just hard, because you know someone has to win and someone has to lose. Someone has to leave her not feeling well about what happened.”
On playing former players in general:
“I’m very happy it is over. We put this schedule together-it was designed to fit a different team, but it is what it is and we had to play it out as it was. We wanted to bring a lot of people to Charlottesville and let them play in JPJA in the first year. It has helped with our attendance and it has been a great experience, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.
On Sharneé Zoll:
“I thought she was really ready tonight. Sharneé knows that to be an excellent point guard at this level that her team has to do well and she has to lead her team to victory every night. So it is important to her. She has taken that and embraced that. It has been a very important part of her game and she had made it a priority. She has taken on her own responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of other players and coaches them through situations. We do have young players that need to be coached.”
On the opening of the second half (a 14-4 run in the opening four minutes):
“Well, that’s what we talked about in the locker room. We wanted to come out and close the door at that point. We wanted to put them in the books early. We knew that if we got the game on our tempo-we didn’t have the tempo in the first half; it was on their tempo-things would open up for us. So we pushed the wings up and it happened for us. We scored on our first seven or eight possessions, and that was the difference. We got a couple of steals.”
On tournament format such as this:
“I think it really helps the confidence. Any time you win it helps the confidence. But you never want to get too up or too down during a season. We are getting better, but we are nowhere near where we need to be. We have to constantly work on the things we need to work on. We are a work in progress defensively; tonight was much better with a 34.7% shooting defense, but there are other part of the game we have got to get better with, and we are getting there. I thought we played well tonight. We had a few lapses, but we followed the game plan for the most part.”
“You treat these tournaments like it’s an NCAA arrangement. You have to prepare quickly for another team; you might have to plan for two or three teams in a row, not knowing who is going to win. You put a couple things in so that you are ready for NCAA play. You only have one day in between NCAA games, so it really helps you prepare for the ACC Tournament.”
On Monica Wright:
“I was disappointed in Monica to start the game, picking up three quick fouls back to back to back, but she is focusing on that too much. Her second half was very strong and I was glad to see her come out and really step her game up in the second half. That was excellent. Sometimes a player can pick up three quick fouls and then become ineffective. But she was very effective in the second half and that showed me a lot about her maturity.”
On playing Richmond on the road:
“I think this team has been good on the road. We have good leadership; when you have good leadership, you don’t usually have problems on the road. It’s hard to play on the road, but this is a team that prepares well for games. Our leadership is so good, that I’m not worried about it.”
Do you think that the UConn game will affect your game against UNC?
“Definitely. The Connecticut game was a learning experience, and since then, practice has been a lot more intense, a lot harder, and we’ve focused more on defense and transition defense. I think it’s going to help us. It’s going to prepare us, but we don’t know what to expect, especially the younger players.”
How hard was the turnaround from Maine to UAB?
“Coach makes sure we take care of our bodies. Yesterday everybody got an ice bath to help the bruises, and for our legs. It’s more that we’re focusing. Yesterday we focused on Maine, and today we focused on UAB. I think we did a really good job of coming in and focusing on the plays and learning things that were supposed to be in our defense. It wasn’t that hard. We’re a pretty smart group and we catch on to stuff quickly.”
Assess the team’s ability now, before conference play:
“We’re playing very well right now, and we’re doing the little things, but we still have a lot of placed to get better. We’ve been concentrating on our game and what we need to do better. I hope we do well. If we do all the little things and the things the coach has been telling us, we’ll be fine.
After the last few days with winning games, how do you assess the effect of the UConn game?
“I’m very proud of the girls. They’ve responded really well. The game we played yesterday against Maine was the first we’ve played since UConn, and we could have folded and let UConn come out and beat us twice. We didn’t. Like Lyndra [Littles] said, practice has been ten notches above what we were doing before. It’s a lot more intense and there’s a lot more talking from all of us. We’re just working a lot harder on everything that we do so that doesn’t happen again.”
Does this game serve as a gauge for where you guys are?
“That was a good team. They’ve won five straight, they were a confident team, and they just beat Virginia Tech a few weeks ago. So it’s a pretty good gauge for us. This is our first championship together, so that gave us a little confidence right there. It shows that after all those days off and after a game like Connecticut we can come back and play like we’ve been playing.”
What were the keys that enabled you to stretch the lead out?
“Transition, offense, and defense. We pride ourselves on being very well conditioned. They are very quick with their defense. They are quick and have active hands, but we just ran them up and down the court. Our big girls were running very well. We were getting the ball up and making plays. We were making layups, and it’s hard to have a bad percentage when you are shooting just layups.”
Did you guys every plays Richmond players in camps?
“We’ve played Richmond the last three years. It’s going to be a familiar game for us. It’s almost like a conference game because we play them every single year. It’s going to be a good game. They’re an in-state rival and the game will be hard fought.”
How does it feel to be getting out of Charlottesville?
“It’s almost like home. It’s an hour away. To play in a different gym and to gauge ourselves will help. Getting away from here will help us a little bit by getting us out of our comfort zone and seeing what we’re made of.”
Audra Smith, Head coach, UAB
On what it was like to face her former coach tonight:
“I entered it like any other game. In terms of preparation and being ready to play, getting the team hopefully ready to start off on the right track. Obviously it was a little different going up against my former coach and former boss. But we just took it as any other game that we would play.”
On what were the keys to the game:
“Basically if you look at the stat sheet, they rebounded our misses. We shot 25 of 72 from the floor and we weren’t crashing the offensive glass so it was easy for them to get those defensive rebounds. The key to the game was the transition and we knew that coming in, that we were going to have to stop them in transition. That’s something that they like to do, they like to get out in transition and we had a difficult time stopping that. I felt like once we got ourselves in the hole by about 13, it was hard to dig our way out of it. Virginia got the momentum, got the confidence, and kept pushing it from there. Rather than attack, we kind of retreated. But definitely the majority of their points came in transition and then they go to the free throw line 27 times and make 23 from the line. That was huge also.”
On Virginia guard Sharneé Zoll:
“Sharneé has added so much to her game. The number one part of it is the scoring. Sharneé, when she first got her, from what I can recall, wasn’t a scoring point guard. And it’s obvious that she has worked on her game and she’s become a scoring point guard. That’s the key, you can’t back off of Sharnee anymore because she can now shoot the three. She’s really good coming off of ball screens, so its tough. She is the head of the snake and she gets this team going and she is an awesome leader. She is very difficult to defend because you have to defend all aspects of her game.”
On coming back to Charlottesville:
“It’s been amazing. The transformation of the town and the grounds after having the opportunity to drive around Charlottesville is amazing. This arena is unbelievable. I mean it’s outstanding. I have never seen anything like it and I don’t think I ever will. I think with the arena being here and everything that it’s attracting will be so key and huge for recruiting. I mean what player wouldn’t want to come here and play in this arena and this environment. It has grown to be a very good environment as well. But it has been great being back, seeing old faces and people I haven’t seen in a long time. And I am really proud of the University and these facilities that have come about. I am proud to be an alum of UVa.”
Ann McInerny, Head Coach, Maine
“I’m thrilled with the play of our team tonight. We played very good team basketball. Twenty-one assists on 26 baskets is a good indication on how well we moved the ball. Ashley [Underwood] really led the way for us.”
“This game is a great lead-in to conference play for us. We faced a very athletic team tonight, and to be able to beat them really helped us build up our confidence.”
On Chassidy Jones of NSU:
“She is really a remarkable player-she’s at another level.”