Pre-NCAA First Round Press Conference Quotes
March 21, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. - The eight teams competing in first-round NCAA Tournament games at Stanford addressed the media Friday at the Arrillaga Family Sports Center. Each team also had a 50-minute open practice at Maples Pavilion.
No. 3-seeded California (26-6) faces No. 14-seeded San Diego (19-12) Saturday at approximately 1:30 p.m. at Maples Pavilion. The game can be seen live on ESPN2 and heard on KALX 90.7 FM in the Bay Area and on the Internet.
California Head Coach Joanne Boyle
On being at the tournament
'We're just excited to be here playing at home, obviously being in a routine being able to stay home. Also having our fan support here through both California and Stanford fans (is important), and (we're) just really looking forward to a great game tomorrow night. They are a great team. I know they haven't been here for a couple of years, but they have had some big upsets and some big wins in their conference and in non-conference play. I'm just looking forward to getting off to a good start tomorrow night. '
On the match-up
'We're different. Their post players aren't traditionally what we see in the Pac-10, more finesse, like to play outside a lot, face up, take you off the dribble and shoot the three. So it will be a tough match-up for our post players. And just solid guard play, you know they have people who can score from the outside, and they have people who can get to the basket. I think they are a very well balanced team.'
On East Coast dominance and what West Coast teams can do to make a statement
'Win! Our goal from the beginning of the year was to get to a Sweet 16. We thought we were competitive enough to do that this year. We tried to prepare our schedule to be able to prepare us to get to this point. So, we are really looking at this weekend as a tournament weekend for us, two back-to-back games, and hopefully we are able to accomplish that goal.'
On growth over the past year
'I would say three years of a lot of young kids having to play a lot of minutes and seeing success along the way. We have built our schedule every year to be a little bit tougher. I think going against competition in the Pac-10 night in and night out and just the growth of them maturing from 17-year-olds to 20-year-olds. Just understanding that process and I think you have to go through it to really come to a point where you understand it. I think they have been able to really grow the team over the last three years and in particular this year.'
California Forward Ashley
On the post match-up
'Pretty much what coach just said, it's a little different than what we normally play, but we've been working hard in practice, and we're getting to their style of basketball. It should be a good game.'
On head coach Joanne Boyle staying with the team
'She laid a foundation and then we built on it. I think that's what we enjoy with her. She loves to watch us play as much as we love playing for her.'
On what the team can learn from being in the NCAA Tournament the past two years
'I definitely think with age, we are all juniors now or sophomores, and we are playing harder and much better basketball at the end of the season. I think that if we keep working hard, our past history will do us well in the future.'
California Guard Alexis Gray-Lawson
On Joanne Boyle staying with the team
'Coach does mean a lot to us. Just her staying and being a part of this program meant a lot to us because it shows us that she really saw something in us. She saw that we could be national champions one day or even this year. So we were glad that she stayed.'
On missing last year's NCAA Tournament due to a knee injury
'I'm excited. I was actually at the tournament last year. I was watching from the sidelines. It was kind of tough, but my teammates said, `Come back this year, and we are going to get back to the tournament.' And, we did. I think it is just all of our jobs to come into the game and stay focused.'
California Center Devanei Hampton
On what is necessary to get out of the first round
'Stay out of foul trouble.'
San Diego Head Coach Cindy Fisher
'We are obviously very excited about the opportunity to be one of the top 64 teams and to continue our season. We felt this year, in the West Coast Conference, there was a lot of parody among the top teams, and for us to advance out of that conference and to be able to be in this spot, we are very fortunate. The West Coast Conference is an outstanding conference with great teams in it, so for us to advance, we are excited about the opportunity. Cal Berkeley, we have had the opportunity to look at film on them and to be able to prepare for them.
'Obviously, they are a very solid team coming in with great post play and outstanding guard play. So I think it will be a physical game. I think it's a great match-up with both teams, with our guard play and their guard play. They have big guards who are quick off the dribble who do a lot of great things off the dribble, especially (Alexis) Gray-Lawson. In the post game, I think their game is very physical. I think we match up well in the post, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to play in that game.'
On how the team has been able to turn it around after a rough start
'It's a great question and absolutely it got us to where we are right now. We started the conference 0-5. All those games during that time, I felt we were playing good basketball. We just couldn't get over the hump. When we went back and reevaluated where we needed to be defensively, between the time we were 0-5 and where we won five in a row, we dropped 10 percent in every defensive category. We were holding teams to 27 percent from the three-point line, 44 percent from the floor, and I thought we did a really good job of picking it up on defense and continuing to work on that. And the other area I thought our team did an outstanding job in the second half of conference (play) was rebounding the basketball. There were very few games where we got out rebounded. Our motto this year, especially from that point, was that we just have to go to work. We have to out work people, and I think from that moment where we beat LMU and got our first conference win, it was like a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders.
'We knew all along we were a great team, and this team just kept believing and kept going to work and getting stronger and stronger with every game. The thing that is exciting about this year's group compared to last year's group, I thought we peaked a little bit early. This year, we are peaking at the right time. Our Gonzaga game, to win the WCC Championship was probably one of the best games we played all year. And as their head coach, for that to happen in early March, was a great feeling.'
On what all three California teams can do to boost West Coast basketball
'We were talking about that last night. You have all three (Cal, Stanford, San Diego) of us here at this site, and you have UCSB that made it, so for California basketball, that's exciting. I think that maybe we don't get the same media attention that the East Coast schools do because of the times we play. There's times we aren't on TV as much, so the east coast committees don't get to see us as much, but obviously there is great basketball out here.
'There are phenomenal recruits and basketball players. I think Cal and Stanford have done a great job of representing the West Coast and the Pac-10 Conference, They have done a great job of keeping local kids home, and they are obviously very competitive players and fantastic coaches. I think for all of us that are here and believe West Coast basketball is very good and should be acknowledged throughout the United States, this is a great opportunity to have all three of us here competing. I think you'll see great competition this weekend.'
On how effective they can be following Stanford's game plan against Cal
'Stanford obviously has great post play and is very big and physical. I believe we are very similar in that way. We probably don't have the weight size that some of the kids from Stanford have, but I think we have the ability to do some of the same things Stanford has done in their last couple games to be very successful against Cal. Obviously, it was good to see that on film. It gives you a little bit if an idea of what can and can't work against them. It's always fun to see teams that are similar to you in terms of size and match-ups. It was the third championship game that Stanford has played them (Cal), and Tara (VanDerveer) is a fantastic coach who has won a lot of games. So it was good to see what did and didn't work.'
San Diego Forward Morgan Henderson
On the match-up with Cal
'Like coach was saying, it will be very physical, but we are looking forward to it, and it will be a lot of fun for us down there. I think our guards match up with them with size and everything. Their guards are extremely physical in the post, so we are excited for it.'
On whether it will be key to get Cal in foul trouble
'I think it will be important for us to attack them and not be intimidated by their size. They are great players. We know that. We also know that great players can get in foul trouble, so it is important to attack them and see what we can do against them and try to get them out.'
San Diego Guard Amanda Rego
On the match-up with Cal
'I think we are expecting it to be physical going against a Pac-10 team. I'm expecting it to be a battle for the boards, but we're just really excited for the opportunity to be playing.'
San Diego Center Amber Sprague
On the match-up with Cal
'Like everyone has said, it will be a very physical game, and we have been preparing the past two weeks. Cal is a great team, and we are looking forward to it.'
On the post match up with (Ashley) Walker and (Devanei) Hampton
'Walker and Hampton are both extremely physical, hardworking post players. We've seen a couple of films on them. With their post presence, they are both very solid players and have established a great name for themselves both in the Pac-10 and nationally. Personally, I'm really looking forward to playing against them. It will be a really physical game. The opportunity I have been given is what I'm really looking forward to.'