March 7, 2010

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Notre Dame – 75
St. John’s – 67

An interview with:
COACH Muffet McGraw
Skylar Diggins
Devereaux Peters

THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you couldn’t mind an opening statement, and then we’ll take questions.
COACH McGRAW: Well, I thought Skylar had just a fantastic game. I thought she really kind of took the game over for a stretch and did some great things, both ends, offensively, defensively, rebounded, had a blocked shot; took a charge that I thought was one of the keys to the victory was that charge. I thought it was a really critical situation, and she was able to step in and get the charge. So just a great defensive player.
I thought Devereaux off the bench gave us great minutes. I was disappointed in the first half the way we came out. We just couldn’t get anything going and at halftime I thought regrouped and played a little more man to man, and I thought that helped us defensively because Smith had a fantastic game. She really played well. We couldn’t stop her in the first half, played a little better in the second half, but she really played well.

Q. Skylar, Notre Dame trailed I think it was 63 59. You guys went on a 12 0 run starting at about the 5:19 mark. Can you talk about what happened in that run, how you guys just took charge there?
Skylar Diggins: We definitely wanted to keep our composure. When we were down, we knew it was inside the last couple minutes of the game, and we wanted to just take over. We really came together, and were like, We don’t want to go home. We don’t want to go home. We want to win. We were very anxious to come out here and play this team. We didn’t get off to a good start, so we wanted to make sure we finished well. So we definitely all came together, stayed mentally tough and just decided to go after it.
They were definitely fighting for a stretch there. They got the 50 50 balls. They were going after as hard as we were, so we wanted to make sure we finished the game out strong and stayed together and stayed mentally tough and just decided to put together a little run.

Q. Devereaux, obviously one of your four losses was to the St. John’s team. Could you talk about the motivation maybe? I mean, your Quarterfinals is one thing, but also one of four losses, St. John’s is getting a chance to play them again.
Devereaux Peters: Yeah, that was huge. That was one of our first losses outside of UConn, so it definitely burned and we came out with a chip on our shoulder and went at it hard and definitely proved that we could play better than we did when we were there. They’re a great team, and they fought and we fought, and we pulled out the win.

Q. Devereaux, can you talk about your offensive game today and the last few games? Are you feeling more confident with some of the things you’re doing on the court?
Devereaux Peters: I guess you could say that. I’m just trying to do whatever the team needs me to do, and if that means score and get on the rebounds, whatever that is, I’m trying to do. So sure.

Q. And then the rebounding numbers really changed in the second half. What did Notre Dame do to get an edge there?
Devereaux Peters: Well, St. John’s is a great rebounding team, and they all crashed the boards, even their guards, and I think in the second half we had more of the guards coming in and helping. Even if they were just getting a little tip and one then of the bigs getting the rebound. That definitely helped with everyone crashing the boards instead of just the posts.

Q. Skylar, if it happens to be Connecticut again that you face tomorrow night, can you talk about playing them a third time and the mindset you guys will have?
Skylar Diggins: We’ve definitely got to come out with a sense of urgency, start off like we did last game. We’ve got to play a 40 minute game. A game can seem like 100 years when you play against a team like Connecticut. You really have to just stay focused and every possession make sure you execute. On rebound, you know, they have a great transition run, so we’ve got to make sure that we try to stop the transition and rebound and execute on offense, just keep playing hard for 40 minutes.

Q. Devereaux, I was wondering, could you talk about getting Lindsay back after her injury and how much more confident that makes the team when she’s on the floor? She just kind of makes things look easy.
Devereaux Peters: Yeah, Lindsay helped a lot. She’s definitely a banger and real huge for us on the offensive end and on the rebound. So that was really big for us, and having another body in there that they have to worry about scoring wise and rebounding, so she was a huge help because she was just another person that they had to keep focused on if she got the ball. So I think she was very big helping us win.
Skylar Diggins: If I could add to that, she’s also one of our captains, so having another captain out there and a leader to help us out was definitely good.

Q. In the first half you guys had I believe 13 turnovers, very sloppy, but it kind of looked like you guys couldn’t get control of the ball. What was the talk like and how did you go about correcting that?
COACH McGRAW: You know, I thought that we had some really uncharacteristically well, bad turnovers. They went to the press. We dribbled over half court. We picked the ball up, and I think almost three possessions in a row I thought we over dribbled a little bit in the traps. We just talked about moving the ball a little bit and trying to get somebody into the middle of the floor. I thought that was an area we really wanted to get the ball and didn’t have much success with that in the first half. We did a little better the second half.
We still were depending on luck to always handle the pressure instead of attacking. So we talked about having more of an attack mentality and taking more shots and taking more balls to the basket rather than trying to set it back up again.

Q. Can you talk about the 12 0 run, that stretch late in the game? Was that a matter of poise, or was something else a more important factor?
COACH McGRAW: It was defense. That was the key was the defense. We got some stops. We got some turnovers. We were able to get going in transition. I think when you get Skylar the ball on the open floor, something good is going to happen. She’s going to find somebody for a lay up or she’s going to take it in herself.
I thought she was the catalyst in that run to really get us going, but really defensively. I think they only had four offensive rebounds in the second half. That was huge for us.

Q. Can you also talk about the shooting percentages today? I mean, in an arena like this, both teams were just doing an exceptional job with the shooting.
COACH McGRAW: Yeah, I think it was good for us to get out there yesterday and get a feel for things, but our shot selection I thought was very good. We did not shoot well from the three point line; they did. We shot well from right around the basket, and I thought that was and even then we missed a bunch of shots right there.
So I think our shot selection was better. We rebounded a couple and were able to put them back in, especially Devereaux right around the basket. You’re going to make a lot more shots the closer you get.

Q. I know there’s another game yet to be played today, but can you kind of put into perspective what UConn has done and how your team might respond to the challenge of being the team that could stop their streak?
COACH McGRAW: Well, they’ve had a great season. They are having a great season. They’re the best team in the country by far. I don’t think there’s anybody close to them. We’ve seen it close up twice and haven’t really liked the view from my seat. They’re incredibly hard to guard, but I think what they do well is play great defense. They’re not a team that relies on any particular offensive person or three point or whatever because they can score in so many different ways. So I think as long as they continue to play defense like they have, they’ve got a great shot at going undefeated.

Q. And how might your team respond to the challenge of being the team that could stop UConn’s streak?
COACH McGRAW: Hopefully better than we have the first two times, but I just wanted to play our game. I want us to take our shots and run our stuff and not be intimidated. We haven’t been able to do that in two tries, so maybe the third time is a charm and we can come out and execute a little bit better.

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