“I wouldn't say surprised. We knew they'd come out being extremely aggressive. You know, they have two big posts in there. A lot of teams think that they can beat me with their quickness. But I think I've gotten a lot better on my defense, and just working on that, staying straight up and not fouling. So I wouldn't say I was surprised.”
Team Name Postgame Quotes
No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 4 Rutgers
Game 13 – Semifinal Round, March 7, 2011
XL Center – Hartford, Conn.
Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer
Vivian, playing off what April just said, what do you think you need to do to be able to play with the Connecticuts, the Tennessees, the Stanfords?
“Just like [April Sykes] said, one, play defense, two, be able to get up when we get knocked down and stop the bleed. Handle the ball, not turn it over, and recognize and execute on the offensive side of things. We didn't do any of that.
The big-time players show up in big-time games. We didn't show up. We didn't deserve to be out there playing on the same floor with Connecticut. And quite frankly, Geno did us a big favor by bringing in players whose names I don't even know, and they still scored because the basic things we were talking about, getting a front position, no.
How are we going to handle this kid if we're not fronting? We didn't recognize, we didn't spot. It was amazing. It was like somebody had blown smoke in our face because we didn't even recognize where people were.
In a man to man situation, if you have no one, you mean to tell me you don't know to pick up something or somebody? I was stunned at some of the match ups that I saw. Guards guarding Dolson? And centers out there picking up a guard? Are you kidding me?
No, I was really, really frustrated. We didn't show up. We did not show the mindset. Honestly, we're not that young. We've got four juniors, four or five juniors. That's enough. We only have two freshmen.
We can't say that they have more players than we had. I'm not trying to make an excuse. You're not going to get that from me. It's just what April said.
We have to pay a lot more attention to the details. We think we know. The great teams know how to win. Every player on that team is able to get it done. Keep in mind the last time Maya didn't do well, then Stefanie Dolson showed up, right? Dolson got 12 points, only got 12 points, but nine rebounds.
But, hmm, Kelly Faris, did we expect Kelly to get 19 points? Hello. Because you have no slouches on that team. Everybody in their own right can flat out get it done.
So when you kick the ball to them, they're not trying to go outside of themselves. There was nothing that they did, quite frankly. All we needed to do was to do what we do, but do it a little bit better. Take care of the ball, execute. Take care of the ball and execute.
But as much as the game demands physical skills, the game also demands mental toughness. We had major breakdowns. I can't even tell you.
So 10 seconds after the huddle, we say we're going to do this, and all of a sudden some people are playing zone and playing man. Wow. Nobody knows who Maya Moore is. Everybody in the country knows who Maya Moore is, hello. The truth of the matter is we just needed to learn to be sharp. Learn how to focus, and get here and play and not make excuses. Too often in the huddle I thought it was, “she said, we said.”
It's typical. We've got to learn to accept responsibility. Accept responsibility, go on with it. Not mind whose fault it is, and who didn't say what, but to be able to get back up and get back up. That's very clearly the things that separate us from Stanford, Connecticut, Tennessee, Baylor, and maybe a few other schools.”
Also, why didn't you press, Vivian? I mean Georgetown had quite a bit of success with that. That's always been your signature. It seems that they were vulnerable to that or proven to be vulnerable?
“I know, I know. No, no, let me tell you something. I'm not even going to say who. I'm ticked because we did know to press. But guess what? Even at the point of pressure, we press 94 feet. We're on the ball. How can it be that if that's what you do, you forget to go there? Now that's deep. If there are two people on the floor that have always got to be covered in our press, it's got to be both of the wings.
The other person's standing in space. Are you kidding me? If you can't be alert for a game of this magnitude, you're not going to be alert for anything. I'm upset. I'm just upset because we needed to be 1000% sharper and know how to get hungry and to get after it. And we didn't. We were stunned and did not recover.
Why didn't we press? I love the press. We had already made a decision before we walked in here. When we were at home, we didn't press. At Rutgers we did not press but a couple seconds, right? Here we said we're going to press from the jump. We were going to press from the beginning. As soon as we went into the free throw.”
“As soon as we went to the free throw line. But, of course, here's the problem. If we only went to the free throw line four times, we've got four shots, period. That's what triggers it. Once we started, we stayed. But we only made one of the four that we've got.
Now whether the fouls were called or not, it doesn't really matter. We only got four foul shots. If we could have gotten to the free throw line, maybe made it, it would have triggered us off much faster.
Then we said okay, since we're not getting to the free throw line, as soon as we score we're going to press. But then there would be breakdowns whether it was pressure on the ball or pressure in one of those two positions, the wing position. Why? Because we probably were thinking there were two people back, the point guard and someone else.
When that happens, that extends and makes the other people go down, but two things will make them have to come up. And that is to pressure the ball and pressure the two people who are in the best receiving position. We pressured one of the people that was in the best receiving position, but we let the other one just get it.
So now we're playing up and down the floor. 94 feet and we're in a run, a chase. You've almost got to beg us not to try to track that down because there was no way they were going to be able to catch up to that. Why that happened is beyond me. So we were much more pleased. We felt much more pleased with the effort of the people who stepped in, the people that were in towards the end because they best epitomized what we were trying to get done.”
Redshirt-Junior Forward Kadijah Rushdan
Khadijah when you came into the game, I'm sure you saw Maya had an offensive game last night. Did you expect her to go get into the flow of things?
“All great players do. We saw she didn't have such a great game though, but she rebounded, you know. When things aren't going well, obviously great players always find something else to go off of, whether it's rebounding and playing defense or anything like that. So we didn't expect anything less from her than to come out and give as great of an effort as she always does.”
How much does the game plan change when Chelsey's [Lee] struggling with foul trouble like that?
“It hurts us a lot because she's a great rebounder. When we lose that, we lose a lot of your inside presence. It's hard with them being such a big team like that. And us having no answer for Dolson because she's so big, it really hurt us.”
Junior Guard/Forward April Sykes
18-14 midway through the first half, and then UConn gets the three three-pointers in a row. How tough was it to overcome a run like that?
“It's always tough when you get knocked down. Us being a young team, we still don't know how to get back up and keep fighting. We thought we were at that level: coming to the BIG EAST where we played a couple of great games. And here we just showed that we weren't mature or mentally prepared to face someone like UConn. It showed in this game we didn't get back up. Any time you play someone like UConn, you have to match points and play defense. When you're not scoring on offense, and you're giving up things on defense, you're never going to win.”
April, were they doing anything differently on you?
“No, they were just playing UConn basketball. The whole thing was powerful. UConn didn't do anything they haven't done against anybody in the country. It was our mindset, and we didn't do what we were supposed to do.”
April, with some time off now before selection Monday, what do you want to work on, what needs to change going into the tournament?
“Defense, rebounding, taking care of the ball have always been our main focus all season. We have three main goals for our team: defense, rebound and take care of the basketball. Let everything else come down on ourselves.
I think a lot of times we got complacent on offense tonight. I know myself, I'm just going to say I played horrible. I apologize to my team for that. It's just everyone has to come together and play as a team. We can't get out of ourselves and start going for ourselves or we're never going to compete with Tennessee, Baylor and UConn.”