March 1, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Debbie Ryan, Lyndra Littles and Monica Wright. As always we will start with comments from you and take some questions.
COACH RYAN: I felt like we were absolutely horrid defensively in the first half, and we just kept trying to battle back and battle back and get as close as we could before half time. We needed to get organized. We needed to basically figure out what we had to do in order to stop them. They came out on fire, and they were rebounding the ball a whole lot better than they did down at Clemson, and we weren't doing much about it, and we finally decided to hit back in the second half, and I felt like we played much better defense in the second half. We started off with a little zone, sort of threw them off a little bit, and then went back to man to man and that gave us enough momentum and enough legs to be able to finish the game. Obviously, the offensive performance was really incredible. I thought that we played very, very well offensively. And we know we're a good offensive team, but we have to so much better on defense and tonight we decided to do it in the second half and it was a good time to decide that.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Is Paulisha Kellum the most underrated freshman in the conference?
COACH RYAN: I would say absolutely. She has come every single day and every single day and has provided us with points, rebounding, defense; just a headiness that not many guards have even in their second and third years. She is have underrated because she is living in other people's shadows, but at the same time, people just don't understand her value to this team. If it weren't for Paulisha, I don't know that we would be sitting here with the record that we have right now. As a matter of fact, I know we wouldn't. She is one of those steady eddies. She is just a very steady, steady player. You can put her anywhere. You can tell her she's going to play in the post. You can tell her she is going to play outside in the garage net, it doesn't matter as long as she gets to play. So I'm really proud of her performance today in.
Q. Coach, last week against Clemson you guys scored a season conference high against them, and then topped that today, does that have something to do with the way you guys have been improving or the way that Clemson plays?
COACH RYAN: It's hard to say. I thought that we were executing offensively a lot better at the end of the year than we were obviously say in December or January. I think for the most part I was more concerned with our defense today than our offense. I know we can score, and I know that they were going to give us looks in certain positions. I was proud of the fact that that we played very hard today. We had to play hard to score on them. They were very physical inside and a little bigger than we were and I just thought that we played extremely well physically today on the offensive end which made a big difference because it gave us some and ones, and got us to the free throw line, and we really needed to get to the free throw line tonight. Obviously with 37 free throws that was huge for us tonight. But we really held on to the ball today, and we handled their contact well. But they are tough to play against. There physical and they are athletic.
Q. Lyndra, huge game today, 32, 10, you know what you won with that. Now you get to go against Alison Bales, how are you going to plan for that?
LYNDRA LITTLES: Get an ice bath. I'm going to get some rest and stay off my feet and probably go back and write a paper. And we are going to wake up, get a good night sleep. We are going to wake up and were are going to prepare just like we did today. It's just another game. We are going to go at it no differently. I'm not going to go after Alison Bales any differently than I did today. I'm going to be patient, I'm going to run our offense, work hard on defense and let the chips fall as they may.
Q. Coach, how are you going to prepare for Duke?
COACH RYAN: This is a team that does a really good job in general. We prepared well for them the first time we played them. We are just going to prepare the same way. We are going to get everybody ready to play them and put the ball out there. Just because Duke is No. 1 and undefeated at this point, that's no reason for us to pack the bags in. We are going to go and we are going to play. We are going to play with the intention of winning, and that's how we are going to prepare.
Q. Why didn't Lyndra start today?
COACH RYAN: She didn't write that paper basically. She had some academic responsibilities that she did not take care of in a timely fashion before we came and she knows the deal so she sat today to start the game.
Q. What's the paper?
COACH RYAN: That wasn't the reason.
LYNDRA LITTLES: That wasn't the reason, I missed an appointment.
Q. With that said, Coach, this happened one other time, too, Coach when she didn't start the game, that game she didn't look very fluid in the first half. When she came in today it was like a bull in a China shop?
COACH RYAN: She was very prepared today not to start. I think she wanted to show her teammates that she was ready to play, help out as she could. I think she was very, very prepared. She has matured a lot in the last couple of months. That was something that was unfortunate. But at the same time it was something that kind of gives our team a chance to see that Lyndra is going to be able to do it regardless when she comes into the game.
Q. With the way that last week's game with Clemson transpired with such an offensive out pouring from both teams, did you expect it to be similar today?
COACH RYAN: Not on our end. Offensively, I expected it from us. I expected our defense to be a lot better in the first half. And they came out with such energy. Sometimes players don't understand that when you beat a team on their home floor, in front of the largest crowd of the year, on Senior day, they're going to come out with some energy, because they were pumped and they probably looked at the film just like we did, and thought, we can beat these guys. So we were not ready for that first burst of energy from them. We didn't really much up very well with the lineup that we started with. It was the best way to start to save a few minutes with some people and it gave me a chance to make some adjustments as we went. You know, my hats off to them for the way they started the game. I know I was not expecting it to be like this, I thought that we would play much better defense than we did.
Q. And the fact that you had to face them two times in a row, is this first round ACC tournament win any different than any other ones given what was at hand with them coming out with so much energy after last week's win?
COACH RYAN: No, I mean every ACC tournament to me is a separate entity in itself. I just approach it like this is a win and we are ready to move on. We will enjoy this for tonight and step on the court tomorrow ready for Duke.
Q. Monica, your first ACC tournament game, your impressions?
MONICA WRIGHT: First of all, I want to apologize because my voice is kind of gone from screaming. Wow, it was a really great experience. The way Clemson came out the first half, all I can say, is this how the tournament is going to be? All I know is they came out shooting like
COACH RYAN: Lights out.
MONICA WRIGHT: 80 percent right away. It really gave me an awakening of what the tournament is going to be like. Now I know what the tempo is going to be and how I have to carry on for the rest of the tournament.
Q. This is for both of you girls, you guys dropped 20 plus points last Sunday against Clemson. Today you lead scoring. Talk about your performance in the last two games.
MONICA WRIGHT: I just want to say thank you to all of my teammates for playing great team ball and giving us an opportunity to even make runs like we did. I mean first and foremost, like our defense wins games for us. All of our offense comes from our defense. When we get it done on defense I know I'm always going to have a good offensive game.
Q. You hurt your knee, how is that, what's the prognosis?
COACH RYAN: She hurt everything today.
MONICA WRIGHT: I just ran into someone else's knee when she was driving to the hole.
Q. Are you tired?
MONICA WRIGHT: I'm fine, thank you.
Q. It feels like we say this quite often, you guys have so much fun, does it take it another notch when it's not Sharnee making the passes, or whether it's Brenna, or someone else making these crazy passes?
LYNDRA LITTLES: It's great to take some of that responsibility of assists off Sharnee, and I'm sure she enjoys it too, and it's surprising to see Brenna make back door passes, and Paulisha. So, of course, that excites us and pumps us up.
Q. Your ACC tournament life is hanging in the balance and it looks like you are having the time of your life?
LYNDRA LITTLES: You got to. Otherwise we would be looking dead, no momentum, no motivation to go out there. We have fun with each other and that shows on the court.
THE MODERATOR: Any further questions?
Q. In view of that when you get yourself in trouble, and you know you are not going to start, do you feel like your teammates have to put out an extra effort for tonight?
LYNDRA LITTLES: Not so much on the court because I know, and I hope that they know for games I'm going to come ready to play regardless and try to get the win. But I would say more so I'll make sure I make that appointment next time.
THE MODERATOR: Any further questions? Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We have with us Clemson head coach Cristy McKinney, D'Lesha Lloyd, Susan Yenser. We will start with an opening comment from you, Coach, when you get ready and then we will take questions.
COACH MCKINNEY: It was a tough game to lose, I thought Virginia did a better job the second half of tightening up their defense a little bit, had a little more composure at certain times. I thought we had some opportunities and just, you know, some bad turnovers and some mistakes. You know, Littles, we definitely intended to double her, and we didn't do a good job with that and we kind of let her go off again.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. What worked so well in the first half that you got some many open looks and so many easy buckets it seemed like?
COACH MCKINNEY: I thought we ran well. I thought we pushed the ball well, and I thought we moved the ball. We made the extra pass at times. I think that was the biggest thing. And I think they made some mistakes defensively, they left us open some. I'm not sure it wasn't anything that we were doing and we were moving the ball and finding that open person, I think that was key.
Q. You had a pretty good game last Sunday against them, did you sense something might be there today, just talk about what was going well for you especially in the first half there?
SUSAN YENSER: Well, I know what my teammates expect me to do and that is shoot the ball. Last Sunday I shot the ball pretty good against them so I thought why not just carry that into this game, too. You know, like Coach said they make some mistakes and leave me open sometimes, and my team did a great job of finding me. I came into this game pretty confident just knowing that I did have some open looks on them last Sunday, too.
Q. When you were playing against a player that's scoring like Littles was, and you are scoring well today, how tough was it to avoid getting into a game of one on one with her?
D'LESHA LLOYD: It's not tough at all. Recently I've been trying not to force myself so much. I don't think I did a good job with it day. I mean it's a team sport to me. It's not an individual thing to me.
Q. For Coach or either of the players that might want to comment, if you remember the stretch in the second half where they got the run going, I think it was a 13 to 2 run, they went up 4, hit a 3, and they had a 3 point play, you got it back down to one several times after that, but couldn't get over the hump; was that a big momentum change, is that what kind of turned it, do you think?
COACH MCKINNEY: Yes, I thought, ya, when we got it back to one with plenty of time left, then I think that's the stretch where we had some crazy plays and crazy turnovers and made a couple of fouls that weren't necessary. That was just a bad stretch for us right there. You're right. I think we had some opportunities to take the lead back. I think if we could have done that that would have helped. You know, a young team, we just didn't handle that stretch very well.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Thank you.