Muffet McGraw at Saturday's practice (AP)

NCAA Women's Tournament - Notre Dame Quotes

March 20, 2010

Irish NCAA Tournament Central
NCAA 1st/2nd Rounds at Notre Dame

2010 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship
First and Second Rounds
Purcell Pavilion | Notre Dame, Ind.
Sunday, March 21, 2010

Notre Dame Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Muffet McGraw

On preparing for the NCAA Tournament … “I’m really excited about this tournament. I woke up this morning and could not wait to get out here and get things rolling. It has been a week of watching the arena redone for the tournament, and I know everyone in town is excited about hosting. I was thrilled with practice the last few days. We have worked so hard and it has probably been the best we practiced since 2001, as far as getting our intensity and getting things done. The sense of urgency that has been lacked in the past has found its way back. I think this is attributed to our seniors. They know what is going on, and since we have come back from the selection show it has been a completely different attitude at practice. I’m really excited about it.”

On Melissa Lechlitner’s development… “She has been a tremendous leader for our team. Even for a freshman coming off the bench, you knew she was going to have command over the team. She’s a very intelligent player. She understands the game and knows the game. She can take criticism, which is very important for me because we really have to see things eye to eye. It’s great to have somebody that we can work with on the floor, talk to each other. I respect her opinion and ask her opinion, especially as a senior. She has been great at that, and we have a pretty good back and forth relationship, and it has grown into that. I knew initially she was going to run the team and has always done a great job with that. The team has always respected her and she just continues to get better at it every year.”

On the team’s sense of urgency… “I think they have really brought up the intensity at practice. It’s coming from our seniors. We are moving quicker, and getting things done a lot quicker. They are seeing the reward for that, and enjoying it. I think they see that practice can be shorter if they work with a lot of intensity. I think the key word is ‘intensity’, because its efficient, intense, and it’s successful. They’re executing exactly what they need to do. I think we are really sharp.”

On reacting to different styles of basketball throughout the season and NCAA Tournament… “I think they can adapt. They are an intelligent group, and I think that by this time in the season we have pretty much seen everything. Especially in the Big East, which we think is the best conference, we have seen so many different styles, so many different defenses and offenses, that we can look at a team and compare it to another. We have that experience and don’t have to do a lot of new things. We can look at what we have done all year, and look at what we played against this team. They remember the teams and scouting reports.”

On Cleveland State’s style compared to BIG EAST opponent Villanova… “(Cleveland State) is Villanova at a much faster pace. Villanova is a great team that likes to use the shot clock, and Cleveland State is a very good motion offense team that sets a lot of screens, makes a lot of cuts. You have to be ready defensively and cannot rest when you play them. That’s the similarity with Villanova, just in the style of offense a constantly moving five-out motion.”

Lindsay Schrader | Senior | Guard

On challenge of playing Cleveland State… “Cleveland State is a great team. They mostly play a five-guard offense. They run around and have a similar offense to Villanova, which is pretty challenging for us. This week we have been working on a lot of man-to-man and trying to stop cutters and they’re a great three-point shooting team, so we are going to try to defend that.”

On starting the NCAA Tournament at home… “This is my fifth time doing this, and this is probably the most excited I’ve been because of this team and the atmosphere the fans will bring. I’m just so excited to go out there and play. I don’t think there is anything else the coaches can tell us or teach us. It’s just all about us now, our emotions, and how much we want it.”

On the progression of Notre Dame’s inside offensive game… “It’s amazing sometimes, Devereux (Peters) in practice. Her presence in the lane, because of her height and being so demanding in there, guards back off. We are an inside-outside team, and need to get the ball inside to open up our offense on the outside. I think we have done a good job of doing that. Becca (Bruszewski) has been tremendous, especially if the guards come in and step up and dump it down to Becca. Especially in the Big East, we have been more focused on the high-low, and we can take advantage of that.”

Melissa Lechlitner | Senior | Guard

On her development as point guard since sophomore season… “Well, I think just the experience over the last couple of seasons, especially last season when I stepped into the starting role. The experience has helped me develop my senior leadership and my overall play. Hopefully, I can play the best of my four years now.”

On starting the NCAA Tournament at home… “It means a lot. We have such a huge following and our fans are great. Every season our fans come out to support us. Now that it’s tournament time, they will be even more helpful in getting us that extra little adrenaline rush. To be able to play at home in front home crowd, friends, and family means a lot your senior year going out on that note.”

On last year’s NCAA Tournament and the lessons learned… “Tournament time is a new season. Everyone is 0-0, and everyone here deserves it and is a great team. We really just have to show up. We have learned from our past mistakes and put it in the past. We are ready to come out here and come out fresh, and show why we deserve the No. 2 seed. We are just ready to make a deep run.”

Ashley Barlow | Sr. | Guard

On the team’s defensive and offensive improvements… “I think we have been working at guarding the three pointer, being able to put pressure on people on the defensive end. Just being able to pick up people, our defensive intensity, knowing where our man is all the time, being worried about our specific man, team defense as well with the help side, and just communicating out there is good, too. I think it’s just been the practice on the offensive end that has allowed for more three pointers. We are putting more threes up and have been working on it to improve that part of our game.”

On playing her last NCAA Tournament at home… “It’s pretty exciting. Our fans have been behind us the last four years, but especially this year they have been the ones carrying us when we are down and also while we are up. They are a great sixth man for us.”

On the importance of rebounding against Cleveland State and throughout the NCAA Tournament… “I think rebounding is a big part of our game. That’s how we can get out and start our transition from rebounding. On the offensive end, just getting after it to get second and third chances. It is a big part of our game since we haven’t done well with it in the past. We are focusing on that, and focusing on the box out part first and just going to get it.”

Skylar Diggins | Freshman | Guard

On playing at home in her first NCAA Tournament… “I’m excited. I’m really excited, because it has been such a long time since we played. I’m anxious to get on the court and I know we’ve been competitive in practice because we are all just ready to get out there. I’m excited to get started tomorrow.”

On watching the NCAA Tournament while growing up… “March Madness, I love it. I use to do my brackets all the time. In 2001, when coach and the team won, I was only 10 but did my bracket. It has been an exciting time for me. I always watched it on T.V. and saw the great games, overtimes, upsets. Last year, I couldn’t wait to get out there. I’m really excited to get my first one and get started, hopefully it won’t be my last one.”