Pac-10 Tournament Press Conference Quotes

March 7, 2003

UW Head Coach June Daugherty

We're excited to be here. San Jose has turned out a great tournament. Last night's banquet was really special. This is a first class tournament in a great venue and we're looking forward to getting going and playing some basketball against whomever we face.

On how to prepare for either USC or Washington State
All last week we worked on the Cougars to get ready to play them (last Saturday), so the timing was pretty good for us to turn our attention to the Trojans the majority of this week.

On whether this is truly a neutral court
We do feel this is a neutral court. It's a beautiful arena. It feels like big-time tournament atmosphere. Just walking in, I know I was excited, the players were excited about finally getting here and seeing the inside of the building. Counting on your upperclassman, gosh, I've ridden them all year and we'll keep on riding them. We've got five seniors and four great captains in this program and they've all been in tournaments, in particular two years ago with the Elite Eight run. We'll continue to rely on their leadership. It's the way they go about things, it's the way they prepare coming in here, it's their attitude, how they handle practice, the things they talk to their teammates about off the court as well as on the court. It's ongoing. They have great relationships, the younger players in this program really look up to their peers and by the example of how they work and the little things they're telling them, it's very important for that leadership role. We'll continue to ride them as long as we can.

On difference between this year and last year's team at the Pac-10 Tournament
We're a much better team this year. We have more depth, we have a lot more weapons and we've had a lot more success coming in so we feel a lot of confidence, but not to the point that we're overconfident. Yes, I believe we're in the NCAA Tournament, last year it was 'iffy' at this point. The NCAA Tournament is down the road in a couple weeks, this (Pac-10 Tournament) is the biggest thing in front of us and whoever we play tomorrow morning. We certainly want to play well and have fun with this. This is March Madness, this is postseason, this is what the kids have worked for, they've earned it and we want to extend it as long as we can.

How do you put this season and all the adversity the team has faced in perspective
It's so hard to know where to start with that. There are so many great lessons that have come out of it. Just like walking in here today, there were some things going on, the Pac-10 people were trying get the floor situated, after changing it from an ice hockey to a basketball venue, there are always going to be a couple things that are goofed up. Right away, they said 'Hey Coach, we're sorry,' and it's no big deal. I think our perspective has changed to what's really important. Because of what Andrea's gone through with her mother and the Hodgkins battle and Alicia Heathcote and her dad having prostrate cancer and losing her grandmother two months ago. And of course Kayla's situation. It makes you appreciate every day and it makes you enjoy being around these kids. Seeing their inner strength has been an inspiration. The little things that probably last year you would have tripped on or been upset about, it's really not that big a deal compared to what these kids have gone through. It's been amazing. It really has and I'm just really proud of them.

These kids have had to grow up quite a bit, not that they were immature group to start with. The things that have been thrown at them this year, they've had to handle and they've done it with a lot of poise. They were close to start as a group but they became closer. It's just like family. Whatever it takes, we're going to do it to help Andrea or Alicia or Kayla, or each other. And they are lifelong lessons that hopefully they'll be able to take with them.

Junior guard Giuliana Mendiola
On playing the same team three times in one season
To me, it's not different. I'm sure there are teams that are going to be more prepared for us, but at the same time, we'll be prepared for them too. For me, it makes no difference who we play or how many times. Tournament time is different anyway, they are going to bring it and so are we.

On the arena
This place is awesome, but for me, it's not about where we play or who we play. Our preparation and our focus is going to be the same. You can make the atmosphere more exciting but once the game starts, it's game-time.

On putting the season in perspective
We're just out here playing basketball for each other like we have been all year. Every single time I look at my teammates I'm just happy that they're there and that I have the opportunity to play basketball and just hang out and have fun with them. Like June said, little things don't bother me as much. I wave it off and go about my business and keep trying to have fun with these people every single moment I have because you never know when it's going to end or once you graduate. We just try to take advantage of what we have right now.

Senior guard Loree Payne
On what they learned from last year's Pac-10 Tournament and how you pass that to the underclassmenFortunately, most the people on this team were there last year. Everyone knows that and everyone knows that one game from here on out and you're done. Just showing them that literally, each game could be your last and leading by example.

We're just going to take it one game at a time. This is a really important tournament and we're really excited to be able to play tomorrow morning

On first impression of the arena
My first impression when we walked in was the same atmosphere as Spokane when we played in the West Regional a few years ago. We walked in and all the memories kind of rushed back.

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