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Charlotte at Virginia
WNIT Quarterfinals
March 26, 2011
Postgame Quotes

Virginia Head Coach Debbie Ryan
Opening Statement:
First, I want to congratulate University of North Carolina Charlotte on a tremendous performance tonight. I thought that they really really played well. We didn’t have an answer for a couple of their players. I felt like my players gave everything they had from start to finish, and we just never really got into any sort of rhythm until late until the second half. By then, we were just fighting and clawing, and got to 66-65 and then they came up with a huge play. We cut it back to two and they came up with another huge play with a three. Shannon McCallum is just an unbelievable player, in my opinion, and played really really well tonight. But, I had a lot of players who played well too and gave just about everything they had to try to win this game. We were able to cut down on the rebounding deficit that we had a little bit in the second half. We didn’t turn the ball over much, but we just weren’t able to capitalize on some things, especially on some easy shots early in the game.

On game play:
It took a while to get there, and it just felt like we were fighting from behind the whole time. You’re using a lot of energy to do that. They were just in a rhythm, and we did everything we could; we tried a million things against them, trying to get them out of their rhythm. It wasn’t until we started to press them in the second half, where I thought that we started to make a difference.

On China Crosby:
She’s really, at this point, just beginning to get healthy. She’s really feeling good about herself now, but it’s taken the entire year to get to this point where she has a lot of confidence in that leg and being able to do what she can do.

On Timeout Talks:
I just kept trying to stay positive with them. We were giving up too much penetration, and we were just trying to be real positive with them, and jus trying to keep reminding them to “get it to 10.” We finally did that, and then from there it was a little bit easier to get it down to two, and to one. We weren’t successful at getting the lead. That was the big shot that I think McCallum hit. I was real impressed with the fact that they could hit the big shots when they needed to. This crowd was incredible tonight. They were really great, and they really gave us a lot of energy. We just weren’t able to finish it.

On Ataira Franklin:
She was really struggling tonight. The first half, she just really struggled. I just told them at half time, “forget that; it’s over; we can’t go back and get it. Let’s just start over again and see if we can’t just start anew and come out and be ourselves.” That’s when I think Ataira really started to play better, late in the second half. She really started to get a rhythm going.

On emotions during the game:
I tried to block that out because I don’t really think like that as a coach. I try to stay focused on the task at hand and not on me. It’s just not about me, and I’ve never let it be about me. It was important to me to focus on the task and focus on the players, just try to stay with what I was doing and coach the team.

On Jayna Hartig’s game play:
I was really searching for somebody to sort of jump start us, kind of get us on the boards a little bit better, be a little more mindful about what’s going on defensively. Jayna’s just a real solid kid. She’ll go in there, and she’ll make a great pass. She had a nice little shot tonight that just barely rimmed out. She’s the kind of player that kind of gets them focused, kind of gets you settled down. I felt like we were just sort of in la-la land defensively at times. Usually it was a different player every time. I felt like she could maybe help us with some leadership out there, and she did.

On walking off the court for the last time:

I can’t tell you how incredibly humbled I am by the way my former players and my present players have embraced me. They have been absolutely amazing. I’ve been so proud to be a part of my former staffs, my former players, just everybody who has ever been here for me, whether they played for me or Dan Bonner or Barbara Kelly. Everyone is a family here. They just rallied around me. Everyday, there were four or five people calling just to be sure I was okay. I mean, I just can’t tell you how humbled I am by that. It’s amazing to me how they’ve been.

On weeks since she announced she would be stepping down:
It’s going to be really different. I imagine I will have a reaction, whatever that means. It’s going to be really hard. I’ve never done this before. It’s going to be kind of interesting. I guess I won’t have the anxiety that I’ve had for the past two weeks, which is a little different. It’s just been a really hard two weeks. You want to do you best for them, and yet you’re not quite yourself. None of you in here would understand this, but I could compare it to the three days you have to wait for a blood test to come back to tell you whether your cancer has returned. It’s the exact same feeling. But I’ve had it for two weeks. It’s a hard, hard feeling. Even though you know what’s going to happen at the end, it’s just hard. There’s nothing like the doctor telling you. You get the symptoms all back, everything comes back again in those three days and you think you’re going to die and all that stuff, and then the doctor gets on the phone with you and says “you’re okay.” And then everything goes away. Just like that. It’s like nothing ever happened. But those three days, while you’re waiting, and unless you’re a survivor you wouldn’t understand it. These last two weeks have been like that. It’s been just really hard, because I’ve tried to be who I am, but it’s just been really hard. And they know. They’ve picked up for me, and they’ve been funny around me, and they didn’t actually ask me to dance or anything, which would have been really funny. They didn’t want this to end either. But it did. Now we have to deal with it. I do imagine I will have some sort of reaction to it.

Virginia Sophomore Guard China Crosby
On last game with Coach Ryan:
We wanted two more games. We just tried to make the best of it for her [Coach Ryan] because it was her last game here at JPJ. For the seniors, we tried to play our best. We weren’t thinking about this being our last game. We were just thinking about Charlotte and what we can do to win this game. At halftime she stressed that we have to come out, to be more physical, and try to get this win so we can go ahead to the Final Four of the WNIT. We just tried to play our butts off for her. Of course, it was in the back of our heads, thinking that we have to play hard because of what she gave to this program and her legacy. We have to do it and end it strong for her. We tried. Just like Coach Ryan said, she didn’t think about it being her last game. We don’t think about what’s in the future, or that it’s her last game. We’re thinking about Charlotte, and what we have to do to win this game. That was our main focus. It wasn’t about “dang, this is going to be our last game out at JPJ.” It was more like, “we have to focus on Charlotte.”

On being injured:
Like you said, the first game of the season, I got hurt. I didn’t think I was coming back. But, I wanted to come back to help my teammates get “W’s” and help them succeed in the future. It means a lot to play for her on her last day. I didn’t get a lot of chances to play for her last year, or this year. It means a lot to know that I came out. We tried to win it for her. To know that I have a banged up knee, and try to keep myself healthy for her so I could win and we could win for her. It was more like there was something special.

Charlotte Head Coach Karen Aston
Opening statement

Well first of all, someone asked me when I came in, how do you follow that, and you don’t. I just want to commend Coach Ryan and this program for setting the bar for all the basketball coaches. I have admired her my whole career and really had the privilege of understanding because of my tenure at Texas as an assistant, I have a great understanding of legends. I just want to commend her for what she has done for women’s basketball. Second of all, I am really happy for my team. I thought they were very resilient tonight in a hostile environment. I am really proud of how this team has grown up throughout this tournament.

On withstanding the Cavaliers’ run
We had some players hit really big shots. [Gabby] Tyler, a freshman, hit that shot on the baseline that I thought just kind of gave us a breath. All three of our leaders made good plays down the stretch.

On not making the NCAA tournament
We went through one little stretch that cost us. We were in a really good position and we went through a one week stretch where we had a couple of mishaps and it cost us. We were on the bubble and just one of those things where I think it is just the nature of the business. There were a lot of upsets this year in women’s basketball. The bubble teams didn’t get a break. I am incredibly proud of the approach that they took to this tournament. We have so many young players, and it has just been the seniors and one junior not allowing us to give in, and the young players just following their lead.

On what was working tonight
Shooting the ball really well. They went to a zone midway through the first half and the point where they went zone, we struggled and just couldn’t find a rhythm. Epiphany [Woodson] hit a couple of shots for us and I thought it gave everybody … a deep breath and at that point we started making shots.

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