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Virginia women’s basketball head coach and Hall of Famer Debbie Ryan recently answered questions on the Cavaliers’ upcoming competition at the ACC Tournament. UVa is seeded No. 3 and earned a first-round bye. The Cavaliers will play the winner of sixth-seeded NC State vs. 11th-seeded Clemson on Friday, March 5, at 8 p.m.

Opening Statement:
“We’re very proud and pleased to be entering the ACC Tournament as the third seed. I think the bye really helps in terms of getting a lot of rest before the tournament and being able to take a look at your opponent before you play. We play the winner of Clemson-NC State, both very good opponents and very tough teams. We’re looking forward to getting back on the court and getting started.”

On what Monica Wright means to her team:
“Monica has been everything to us. She scores, defends, rebounds, steals the ball. She’s one of the most complete players I’ve ever coached. She is an amazing physical specimen. She is a fast, gifted athlete who is as good of a leader as she is a player. She’s an amazing package and I’m very, very fortunate to have her on my team.

On the advantage of the first-round bye in terms of rest for the team:
“You get to this point in the year and when you have a young team, they can’t see the end yet. This week gives us a week to practice a couple of times but focus on us for a change rather than jumping into a scouting report. It gives us time to relax and rest and get our legs back and not put as much stress on our players. We have been going and going and have not given them adequate time to get their legs back.”

On how Monica Wright’s leadership style has evolved over the years:
“Monica is a very much a people person, just like Sharneé Zoll was. Except Monica has a different way about her. She is very relational and has developed an ability to say what needs to be said during the tough times. Now she has gotten to be a better enforcer as well as an encourager. She’s a great encourager, but she has now put her own stamp on what leadership is. It’s hard to quantify or define, she has a way of loving you and still being able to express when she is not happy about things. With her teammates, first she establishes a relationship with them then she leads them.”

On what winning the ACC Tournament would mean to her:
“This is the greatest spectacle of all time if you ask me. I think it’s better than the men’s tournament and I think it’s better than any other tournament in the United States. Greensboro has embraced it and every player, every former player, every player that’s about to be a player. They make every single team and every single fan feel special. It’s an incredible event and it would mean everything to us. We would covet the chance to be in a championship game. I can’t say enough about Greensboro in general and the way that this tournament is done.”

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