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Feb. 2, 2007

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Debbie Ryan, Virginia head coach
On playing against Duke the night after the Virginia men upset No. 8 Duke in overtime:
“I was here last night, so I was thinking about that all day. I felt very good coming into the game. I felt like our team prepared extremely well for Duke. I know that we had a great push; we got a couple good shots that we missed in that stretch. I was thinking about that all day; I don’t know if I was thinking about it right then. This has been a hard season and my players have not at any point given up or felt like they were not getting better. It’s hard to see the players getting better when you are in a losing streak, but they are getting better. That was pretty evident tonight as they were playing the No. 1 team in the nation. This is a team that regularly holds people to 32-33 percent from the field. They didn’t do that to us tonight, and I thought our kids played with great resiliency. I was much more pleased with the final three to four minutes of the game. I thought they played hard and made mistakes, but they played hard, and you can’t ask for anything more than that.”

On the mood of the team:
“I felt like that after Florida State. Our schedule has not been kind to us. We were here for Virginia Tech; that was a game that we let get away. That was very hard on them. We go from there to NC State. We hit NC State when [head coach] Kay Yow returns; that was a very emotional game, but we still lead the whole way but in run out of gas in the final five minutes. We go down to Florida State; we are in that game until the final six minutes, and we just make some critical errors. I don’t have a lot of moves I can make when we make those errors. I do think that we have been positive with them.”

“They came back from Florida State and were very depressed. I’ll be honest with you, they were very down and very uptight about everything. I took the tactic that we were going to have fun this week. We had fun in practice. We worked hard, had fun, but today going out to the game-Jeff House, my assistant coach, is probably the most anal assistant in the world about scouting reports. This is his scouting report. He had the whole thing written out on the board. He had every minute detail that Duke might try to do. Before we walked out, he erased it in front of the team. He said, `This really doesn’t matter.’ We went out with the attitude that we were going to play our butts off and have a good time doing it. That’s what you saw tonight. You saw a team that had nothing to lose, was going to play hard, and they were in the game. They felt like they could win. That’s all I needed to get to, because when you are in a losing streak you have to find something different to help them understand they are getting better. They know they are getting better; they saw that tonight.

“They were just exhausted after Florida State. We gave them a day off in the middle of the week, and then we started preparing for Duke. But every day this week we took some time out to have fun. Even if it was not to call Duke by their real name, or players by their real names, it was just a little different than we usually do. And the players responded to it. We went shorter, not longer, in practice, and it was something that I had to do. I’m just draining this team; I’m playing a lot of minutes and getting just as much as I can out of them.”

On the character of the team after a game like this:
“I really think that it says a lot about our character. I’ve always felt good about this team. I love this team; they have been excellent to coach. They aren’t a minute’s problem, and they have great character, each and every one of them. I think that you are seeing Lyndra Littles grow up in front of your eyes. And Paulisha Kellum and Monica Wright; they are just giving everything they have and getting better. Are they where Duke is right now? Probably not. But they are getting very close to that. They are as good as anyone we have played this year. We just haven’t been able to put it on the board the right way.”

“We are usually a pretty good free throw shooting team. We didn’t get many free throws tonight, but Sharneé is usually a better shooter than that. Paulisha has had problems at the free throw line. But we didn’t get that many. We work on free throw shooting every day. We do it under pressure; we do it regularly; we practice it. It’s something you have to keep your touch with and keep working on. We are just going to get ready for Miami and just take a little break. We had a lot of people with minutes tonight. Sharneé had 36, Lyndra Littles with 37. It will probably just be scouting report, and just keeping their timing.”

On Lyndra Littles:
“Lyndra played with great emotion tonight, and that’s not something we see from Lyndra. She was ready to play tonight. When the game was over, there were tears in her eyes and that’s not something I normally see. I know that Lyndra really believed we could win tonight. She was egging on her teammates; when we cut it to seven, she was all over that. She was ready to play. We get that kind of emotion from her, and we continue to improve, there’s no telling what we will do by the end of the season.”

On Duke:
“They have much more depth that we do, and they have more veteran players. That did help them, I’m sure. I thought we did some good things tonight to counter some of the things they do. Alison Bales is just a huge figure in there. You can pull Alison away from the basket, but it doesn’t matter since she just stays there and swats shots right and left. She’s tough to play against. Lindsey Harding is playing with such confidence right now; she’s playing like a true fifth-year senior should. She had 21 points tonight; we needed to hold her down; that would have made a difference in the game. We just couldn’t get a hold on her. The defensive presence on her needs to be better. For the most part, their depth part really helped them. They didn’t have to deal with as many first-year players as I am, which makes a difference.”

Sharneé Zoll
On the team’s performance:
“We just played the No. 1 team in the country, and it’s never good to get a loss. You’re never satisfied with a loss, but my team showed a lot of character tonight in how we played. You wouldn’t have thought that we were on a four-game losing streak. We came out, and we played our game plan. I’m proud of everyone. We fought to the end, and nobody can say it was a lack of effort.”

On teammate Lyndra Littles’ game:
“I don’t even want to talk about it. I told her she better eat whatever she ate, wear the same everything she wore, don’t wash the tights- keep everything the same. Somebody is going to scratch her in her face before every game, because she played phenomenal. She went up against the No. 1 shot-blocker in America. She had 28 [points], but Lyndra’s capable of that every game. That’s why we get frustrated sometimes, because we know how good she is and how great she can be when she puts her mind to it and just plays.”

On whether the game was fun:
“There wasn’t one time when you look on our faces and there wasn’t one person smiling. We smiled, we chest-bumped, we fist-pumped- basketball hasn’t been this fun in a while. That’s why we played so hard and played really well, because we were out there playing loose. We don’t have pressure right now; they’re the number one team in the country and they had all the pressure. It’s like playing street ball really, only with a couple of refs out there.”

On the orange jerseys:
“Coach never lets us wear them. If you all were here at the beginning of the game, you would have seen us sprint to the locker room to go put them on. I’m glad she let us wear them. Maybe she’ll let us do it again.”

On preparation for the game during the week:
“We played knockout. We played a game where we couldn’t dribble on the half side of the court. Today we tried shooting [Sean] Singletary shots. We had our stares into the camera-we just had a lot of fun. I really commend the coaches, because not a lot of coaches would have done that. A lot of coaches at this time would have put more pressure on us and have us all tight and scared to play. Not our coaches. They drew smiley faces on the white board today. They erased the scouting report and just put a smiley face up there. They really helped us, and I feel like it shows.”

On assistant coach Jeff House’s erasures:
“We were in there like, ‘Somebody stop him. He’s going crazy.’ Because Coach House is meticulous, just detailed, and when he just started erasing his stuff, I just grabbed Lyndra like, ‘Oh my God, Lyndra, the world’s about to end!’ But like I said, it helped us.”

On Duke’s depth:
“They came in with fresh legs a couple of times. They’re the No. 1 team in the country so one through 12, they’ve got All-Americans. But we played with them. I feel like they’re a systems team, and they played their system really well. There were a couple of times we didn’t play to their tendencies, or we knew what play they were going to run and just didn’t play defense well enough. There were a couple of things here and there that got us. I don’t think they’re depth really hurt us too much. I mean, it’s always a factor.”

On the goals of the team:
“We haven’t given up hope at all, because there are games that we lost that we should have won. We still are still bringing in Maryland. There’s still Miami and North Florida. We have games to prove ourselves, and I feel that this is just the start. This is why we are so confidence and why we can come in here with a smile on our face. This is the beginning of something that can be great. The NCAA and the WNIT committees look at the last 10 games. If we can pull some of these out and play our best, and play like we did tonight, like Lyndra said, we can shock some people.”

On the upcoming stretch of home games:
“Sleeping in your own bed always helps. We just get into a routine, and it’s easier when you’re home. You’re not traveling; you’re not sleeping in a hotel. You’re not having to get up at all hours, because you have the worst times for shoot around. You don’t get to sleep in as much. It always helps to be at home, and our fans were great again tonight. They helped us out a lot. We need to get more people in, maybe get the`HooCrew to help us out. Our fans are great. We love them, and we love playing for them.”

Lyndra Littles
On her level of play:
“Like Sharneé said, I’m capable of having games like that. I’m really happy with everybody’s effort. The feeling that we had, even though we came out and lost, the feeling was phenomenal. I just wanted to stay in that moment. My performance, my teammates’ performance, everything was great.”

On their confidence:
“We know ourselves and we work hard. We’re a young team, and we’ve had a lot of adversity this year. We’re coming up out of it, and I believe we’re going to shock the world by the end of the season with what we do. It just goes to show how tough we are mentally and physically, and how much better we’re getting game by game. I don’t care if we lost or not; we were down seven with seven minutes to go against the number one team in the nation. It doesn’t get any better than that, and I’m interested to see how the rest of the season plays out.”

Gail Goestenkors, Duke head coach
On the teams performance in tonight’s game:
“I want to give Virginia a lot of credit. I thought they did a great job. A couple times we made runs and I thought we were going to put them away, but every time we made a big run, they always responded and made a run of their own. I give them a lot of credit. Glad to come away with a win. It wasn’t one of our prettiest games, but any win in the ACC, especially on the road, is a good win.”

On the lacking performance:
“I give Virginia’s defense credit, but we just didn’t seem like we were in sync a good bit of the night. That’s something we’re going to have to address, probably through video. Just break it down and see where the problem is.”

On whether she was surprised by Virginia’s performance:
“We’ve had some tough games and any game, especially on the road, is difficult in our conference. We have great respect for every team in our conference. People in the country are thinking it’s the big three, and we know it’s not. It’s an unbelievable conference.”

Did you just let the players play?
“I have so much faith in my team, and I always feel like we’re going to win. Always. I get on them when it’s necessary. I trust them to make good decisions on the court as well.”

On Lyndra Littles’ play:
“We did not defend her at all. She did everything but hit a three. We knew coming in that she’s a difficult match-up. She has guard skills and is a tough match-up for anybody. She played really well tonight.”

How did your players respond to the unpretty play?
“I told them after the game that I was proud of the way they finished the game. During the timeout I said, ‘We work on this in practice, now it’s time to go out there and score. If we move the ball, we’ll get great looks, and we need to lock down on defense as well.’ They really responded. The way we ended the game is the way we wanted to play for 40 minutes. We’re still young, and it’s all a learning experience. When we were down, instead of panicking, that’s when I thought we executed out best basketball.”

On whether your team is ready to compete for the national championship:
“I think every individual and every team goes on ups and down throughout the season. You don’t just go straight to the top. It’s not human nature; it’s not how life is. No, we’re not playing our best basketball at this moment, but there is a lot more basketball to be played. It’s pretty exciting when you aren’t on top of your game, and you’re still able to win. I believe we’ll be ready when it’s necessary.”

On how to prepare for Clemson:
“We’re going to watch video and break down our play. Clemson loves to run, so our transition defense is going to have to be better. We like to focus on doing a better job on the boards.”

Lindsey Harding
On maintaining her composure:
“I think it’s very important. You don’t want to panic and just go crazy. When all else fails, just execute and run the plays. There were times when we could just dribble down one pass and make the shots, but the past few games, that hasn’t been working for us. We just have to relax and run our plays and use the things that we’ve been practicing until now.”

On their No.1 ranking:
“I don’t even think about that. It’s great to have it, but I don’t think about it at all. At any moment, you can lose a game, and it’s gone. It’s not like we’re trying to defend that, we’re just trying to continue and get better.”

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