No. 9 USF vs. No. 16 Pittsburgh
Game 2 – First Round, March 2, 2012
XL Center – Hartford, Conn.
USF Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Jose Fernandez
“We definitely decided to make that game exciting in the second half. It was a tale of two halves. We were up 19 in the locker room and Pitt came out and played some 2-3 zone, some 3-2 zone, some box-and-one and we go out and shoot 20% in the second half. I thought we settled for some jump shots and I told our guys one constant thing we need to do, even up that big, I thought we stopped defending. I thought we didn’t contain the dribble, we didn’t cover down in the post, and we stopped doing the things that got us that 19-point lead. Hand it to (Pittsburgh), they’ve had a tough year, they could have packed it in down 20 at halftime, but they came out and at that first media timeout we were at negative seven and it progressed from there. But at the end, those last 2 minutes we found a way to get a couple stops and hit a couple shots. We will move on.”
It is a short turnaround from this game to the next. What do you have to do to prepare during this time?
“Especially in a tournament like this, we’ll go back over the DePaul scout, go home, and shoot around tomorrow. There is a great deal of preparation that goes into this before we even leave town where you are already prepared for the next opponent and the next after that. Now it is just a matter of game planning, scheming, and talking about how we are going to defend personnel. We had a great game against DePaul at home where we won in overtime. It should be another great game at home tomorrow. We are definitely going to have to defend the three, defend the arc, and not give them second or third opportunities because DePaul is a very good shooting team. We are going to have to defend the entire shot clock. It’s a short turnaround, but to go deep into this tournament it is going to be a lot of short turnarounds when you don’t have a bye.”
Junior Guard Inga Orekhova
What were they doing differently in the second half that you weren’t able to get as clean shots as you were able to in the first half?
“The first half they basically left me open, so I took the shots. Second half, they did a box-and-one so that girl was defending me really strong and I could not get the ball. It was different.”
Do you think playing such a close game in the first round will prepare you better for the rest of the tournament?
“Yes, of course. In the first half we made the shots, played great defense, and rebounded. In the second half when it came down to a one point game, we got it back together which is the most important thing. We have to stay together to win games, so for now we are going to take it one game at a time.”
Pittsburgh Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Agnus Berenato
“Congratulations to USF. I wish them luck tomorrow against DePaul. It’s been a really rough season and I’m really proud of my team. I’m proud of the twelve student athletes we have. [We had] three players out due to surgery [which] took our numbers down. I think that this is a very special group of student athletes to coach and to represent Pitt and the Big East. It was incredibly [tough] because we didn’t win a game, but what the student athletes taught me and the coaching staff was amazing. If anyone would’ve told me that we’d be 0-16 coming into the conference tournament and be down 21 and my team would fight like hell to win, I’d say you’re crazy. And that’s what happened. Brianna (Kiesel) is phenomenal. She did an amazing job tonight. I can’t express the pleasure it is to coach her. You can see she takes the team on her shoulders. [At the end of the game] I knew I wasn’t going to call the timeout because we discussed it before. Brianna was to take the shot and if I had the exact same situation tomorrow, I would call the exact same set. It was an unbelievable shot that she took and I really thought it was in. I know that Brianna will work as hard as she can to come back so that we’re not in this position next year. I personally am not ready to have it over even though people would say, ‘My God, you’re 0-17. How can you not want to have it over?’ I’ve had teams where it’s been a pleasure to be done, to get on the bus and go home. But right now, we’re not ready to go home. I believe in this team. It was a tremendous show of competition.”
What were the changes you made at halftime?
“We went with a box-and-one. We talked about a couple of different things. We had never run a box-and-one. We transformed it to a diamond-and-one, depending on what shooters they had in. I thought we really crashed the boards as well. We really believed. Even though we were down 19 at the half, we really thought we were going to win the game. We were pretty optimistic. I thought [our] team had tremendous resiliency.”
Freshman guard Brianna Kiesel
It became clear by about mid-season that this became your team. Could you talk about that transformation and now what you want to do in the offseason to come back next sure and make sure that you change the fortune of things?
“We just have to work hard as a team. [This game] burned for everyone. Everyone felt this loss. We came back so hard. This was the hardest we’ve ever fought [and] we still came up short so that just gives us motivation over the summer to just work hard.”