Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Irish Ready To Face George Washington In NCAA Second Round

March 18, 2000

NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds
Joyce Center
Notre Dame, Ind.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw
Opening Comments: “We’re really pleased to be back and playing again, in front of our fans. We’re really excited about the crowd we had. George Washington presents a lot of problems for us. They’re an excellent team, they play great defense, and we’ve been talking about how we’re going try to defend them, and we’re not sure if we’ve come up with an answer yet, but we’ve got a couple of options. Right now we’re going to see which one works best at practice.”

“Any team that has a center that shoots threes and can drive the ball is a problem for us, because we’re trying to keep Ruth [Riley] out of foul trouble, and that’s the type of player that can really get her into foul trouble. Their four player had a great game yesterday, Lawrence, I thought she was probably the key to the victory for them. She played extremely well. She’s somebody who’s quick and can get to the basket, and she can shoot the jumper as well. Both their post players are very active and they move really well, so I think that creates problems for us, and they’re a very good three-point shooting team, so we’re not sure if we’re going to be able to play them on zone.”

On team intensity level: “I think the team’s going to be ready to do that on their own tomorrow. They know that one game and we’re done, and each step is one step closer to achieving our goals, so I think they’re going to come out a little bit more ready, and I think GW’s going to have some fire, so it’ll be a very intense, physical game.”

On losing focus: “That does worry me a little bit. That’s when the bench needs to take over. That’s when somebody needs to come in and be a spark off the bench, and provide a little bit more of that, because it’s easy to get complacent when you get up 15 to 20. You know how the game’s going to end up, and you just want to win, and you know you only have to win by one. We don’t really want that attitude. We want to know we can win by more than one, and so we’re going to work a little more on our intensity.”

On the bench’s playing time: “I think the bench played themselves into those minutes. They played well when they came into the game, and we kept them in there. I initially subbed a couple people thinking I’m just going to play them for 3 or 4 minutes, and it ended up she played pretty well, so I left her in a little bit longer. Monique Hernandez in particular is somebody I didn’t plan on playing her for 17 minutes, but she earned her playing time while she was in there, and she’s practiced well. Megan Leahy has practiced well this week too. The bench has really contributed a lot more than I thought they would last night.”

On the success of the BIG EAST in the 2000 NCAA tournament: “It was nice to see my alma-mater St. Joseph’s take on Texas. I was really happy to see the BIG EAST teams win and hopefully that will continue. Maybe a few of us will get to the Final Four.”

On the recruitment of foreign players: “When you look through our conference, every team seems to have a few of them. I feel there are enough good players in the United States that we don’t have to look over there. We have been able to recruit the best players in the country so we haven’t had to look over there. If Svetlana Abrosimova called, we would probably look into taking a foreign player. We don’t have the contacts that other teams do.”

On the revenge factor GW might have after losing to Notre Dame in the 1997 NCAA tournament to earn the right to play in the Final Four: “They have already mentioned in print that revenge is on their minds. That was certainly a huge game. I am sure it is in the back of the coaches minds and a couple of players.”

On Ruth Riley: “I think she has improved tremendously and has a great work ethic. She is among the top five in the nation in field goal percentage so she is someone who, when she throws the ball up, there is a 60 percent chance it is going to go in. She does a great job getting position, she has been a little more physical this year, and she does a great job reading the defense. She does a lot of things with her size that a lot of the teams don’t know how to deal with. There is no one in the country that can do what she does.

“Off the court, she is an exemplary role model. She is someone all the little kids who come to our games can look up to. I think people can look at her and say, ‘That is someone I would want my daughter to be like.’ She is probably the most well-known athlete on our campus because she is at all the events.”

On how Notre Dame expects GW to defend Ruth Riley: “They are going to double team her. They don’t want her to get the ball down on the block. Our philosophy is that when Ruth gets the ball, we want her to shoot even if she is double or triple-teamed. With her size and quickness, she usually gets her shot off before they can double team her. Her passing has improved and she can hit the open player. We will have to make some jumpers.”

Senior guard Niele Ivey
On playing in the second round after sitting out last year due to an injury: “Every game I play in I am excited. I have sat out a lot over my career due to injuries. Tomorrow, the game is key. Every game is key because as coach (Muffet) McGraw said, we want to take it to the next level. I’m just really excited for the game.”

On the importance of setting the tempo in the game vs. GW: “I want to be confident and have that trickle down to the team. Confidence can come from the point guard and that is something I try to accomplish every game. I also want to start our transition game because I think that helped us a lot in the game yesterday. When Ruth (Riley) gets the rebound and makes the outlet, Danielle (Green) is already at the other basket because she is so quick.”

On the effect of the second round loss to LSU last season: “It was very frustrating to watch. We had a lot of talent last year and I don’t think we displayed it on the court. We have even more talent this year and I think tomorrow we are going to come out strong.”

Junior center Ruth Riley
On match-up with GW: “I’m trying to think of a team they remind me of, I can’t think of any off-hand, but what Coach said, a lot of teams don’t have post players who take you outside or shoot the three. A lot of times, the person I’m guarding, it’s generally back-to-the-basket, post-up kind of players, so that’s going to be a different match-up for me, something that I’m going to have to adjust to. I expect post players take their game outside because it gives them a lot more options than what they would have down in the box.”

On her foul troubles: “Definitely not looking to foul someone at the three-point line. Playing smart is the key to staying out of foul trouble. I thought I did a pretty good job yesterday, but I realize my teammates got my back if I need help, and not try to do it all myself, is probably going to be pretty important.”

On comfort level: “My comfort zone is probably inside the paint, because that’s where I spend most of my time. It’ll be interesting to see what she does tomorrow, but when I play one-on-one with someone, like I’ll play pick-up with my brother, and obviously he takes me outside, so it’s not something totally foreign, but it’s going to be a different style.”

On the effect of the second round loss to LSU last season: “That is still on the returning player’s minds. Last year against LSU was not the way we wanted to end our season. Even the first-round game last season was not the best we have played. After the game last night we are just looking to move on and we realize the importance of every game in every round.”

George Washington head coach Joe McKeown
On playing Notre Dame: “We’re excited about being able to play and survive and move on to the round of 32. There are 32 teams left in the country. We’ve got a great challenge tomorrow night against Notre Dame, but it should be a lot of fun. I think it’ll be a great basketball game.”

On GW’s win over UCLA: “I was very proud of our team last night. We looked so good for awhile, I thought we looked like a Final Four team in the first half. UCLA really came back and made a great run at us. We could have done some things different, but you learn from those experiences. Obviously the main goal in March is to win and we did that. Any time you can beat a program like UCLA for the third time in the past four years, it really says a lot for our program. I thought it was a great win.”

On comparing UCLA’s Maylana Martin and Janae Hubbard to Ruth Riley: “They’re both different than Ruth Riley. I think Riley is better than them in certain ways. They feature her more than they do those two and UCLA doesn’t really pound the ball in to either of them. Notre Dame’s main focus, I think, is to get the ball to Riley and you’ve really got to stop her to beat them.”

On his game plan against Notre Dame: “We won 26 games playing the way we play so I don’t think we’ll go to a whole lot of different things. We have a couple secret weapons that we’ve been saving . . . we’re going to wear green headbands and stuff. Maybe that will throw them off a little.”

On defending Ruth Riley: “She’s a tough matchup for us, but I think we have some tough matchups for them too. Hopefully we can take advantage of that. We’ll try to draw her away from the basket a little but I don’t think it’s any secret that we want to try to get her our of there because she owns the paint. She’s a great player, though, and to do that we’ll really have to play well.”

“I’ve watched a lot of film on her. I’ve coached some great post players, but Riley catches everything. She catches bad passes, she finishes, she seems to fend off double teams and still score. That’s what great players do — double teams don’t bother them and she passes well out of them. I think that’s what makes her very effective. She’s probably the best post player we’ll play all year.”

“She’s a legitimate first team All-American. We really haven’t played against someone who can dominate the game like she can so that’ll be a big challenge.

“We’re a very balanced team and a very deep team, but we’re not a very big team. We don’t want to change the way we play just to keep trying to force the ball to her (Riley) to try to get her to pick up some cheap fouls. I think that would hurt us more than anything. We’ve got to play our game.”

On neutral sites for NCAA tournament games: “I think if the media would really jump on the bandwagon (then neutral sites would become a reality sooner). If you’re a coach you want to see it for the most part, and if you’re media you want to see it. I understand it for the most part that you really want to show the atmosphere tomorrow night with eight to ten thousand fans, that will be great for women’s basketball. But the Final Fours are always sold out and they have been for awhile. I think the WNBA has created another fan base for women’s basketball. I think we’re ready. It’s the next logical step for our game. I don’t want to take away from the players or the game. What is most important tomorrow is Notre Dame vs. George Washington.”

On the importance of guard play: “Well I think (Elisa) Aguilar, (Marlo) Egleston and (Kristeena) Alexander, our three guards, have created problems for everyone we’ve played this year. In the big games our guards played extremely well. I think that will be a big point. Aguilar last night was tremendous, she had 23 points. She’s a big game player and Marlo has stepped up so many times in big games. I think our guard play is crucial. Everyone talks about Riley but Ivey has had a great year, and (so has) Danielle Green. They probably don’t get enough credit. Same with Ratay, she just walks out there and shoots threes like they’re layups. That’s going to be key for us, our guard play has to be tremendous.”

George Washington senior guard Marlo Egleston
On playing against Notre Dame’s transition game: “Ruth Riley is their focus, but they have a lot of very talented guards outside too. Then again to help out our post players, we need to have good ball pressure and inside help. We need to play smart and have everybody all over the floor tomorrow. We don’t have just a post player that is going to overpower the inside, so that’s a disadvantage, but if our post players can beat them up and down the floor, we can get easy shots and that’s great for us.”

On being prepared mentally for the game against Notre Dame: “We made some mistakes toward the end of the game (against UCLA), but we got out our nervous energy and we have one game under our belts, so tomorrow night we’ll be ready to play.”

On the Joyce Center atmosphere: “Our fans, obviously, are going to be very outnumbered tomorrow night, but it is an exciting atmosphere no matter which team they’re cheering for. To be out there on the floor with a crowd like that is a great feeling. I’d rather play with that many people cheering against me than play in front of ten people. It’s a great atmosphere and it’s fun to be a part of it.”

On playing Notre Dame: “I’m excited because that’s who beat us my freshman year. This is a chance to play them again and hopefully have a different outcome.”

George Washington junior forward Petra Dubovcova
On comparing Ruth Riley to other post players she has played against: “She’s a totally new experience for us.”

On playing better in the postseason: “Last season, it was the same for me, I seemed to play better basketball at the end of the year.”

On scoring against Riley: “I can’t tell you now (how I will score on Riley) because I haven’t played against her. But I will try to score some way, I promise.”