March 8, 2010

Recap | Box Score | AP Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif

Connecticut – 59
Notre Dame – 44

An interview with:
COACH Muffet McGraw
Ashley Barlow
Skylar Diggins

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement, please.
COACH McGRAW: Well, I was really happy with our defense. I thought we did what we needed to do, did what we wanted to do. I thought the second half Greene hurt us a little bit, and that was kind of our game plan was to see if somebody else could beat us besides Charles and Moore. We ended up giving her some easy around the basket shots.
I thought the three point plays were really what hurt us. The momentum really shifted. It was a ten point game, and every time we had the ball, it seemed like we had a chance to cut it to single digits, and then we weren’t able to score and then go down and have them get an and one. It really knocked the wind out of our sails a little bit and I thought really shifted the momentum of the game.

Q. Skylar, can you talk about the first half against Connecticut, just what was different for you guys, and particularly with the defensive intensity?
Skylar Diggins: I thought we were really confident coming out. We wanted to just make sure we came out intense, and we definitely showed our potential on defense. We wanted to stay together and make sure that we played team defense. That was a big key to the games today, and just make sure that we stay together and really make sure that we tried to limit touches to Tina and just really clog it up in the middle and see who else could go off who else could get some points for them.

Q. How were you able to come out with confidence when you had suffered 25 point and 24 point losses to Connecticut? How were you able to get that mindset you needed?
Skylar Diggins: Because we know we played God awful in those two games and we didn’t come out and play with the potential that we have. Today we played more like ourselves. We played with a sense of urgency. We were more tenacious. We really got in there and banged with them, and we didn’t get punked this time. We really were trying to stay mentally tough and trying to stay together, and you know, we stuck with them and just they went on their run in the second half, and we couldn’t match it.

Q. Ashley, does that give you some confidence knowing that you’ve played them three times now and gotten better in a sense each game and you played them really strong for the first 20 minutes?
Ashley Barlow: Yeah, like Sky said, we came out and we were intense and we had confidence. We believed in ourselves, and we still believe in ourselves. We know that we can come out and play with them, and we showed that today. Like she said, also, we had a lapse there for just a split second, and that’s what hurt us.

Q. For either one of you, you certainly had a lot of incentives on this game, beating UConn and the Big East championship, but did the streak play any motivating part in pregame?
Skylar Diggins: I don’t think so. I don’t think that was our mindset coming in. We just knew we got embarrassed the first two games. That was really what we were looking at, and we wanted to play to our potential today. I think we stuck around with them for 20 minutes.
Like Bar said, we had little lapses in there. We know they’re a great team. We knew that they were going to come out in the second half, and we just tried to stay with them. There were little lapses in between that kind of messed us up, little turnovers, and then they went on transition and they scored off of them and we couldn’t score offensively for those spurts.
But besides that I think our mindset was just to come out and just try to play like it was any other game and just try to really be calm about it and just play like ourselves and not try to get hold on try not to get too riled up about their streak.

Q. Ashley, only 11 turnovers against Connecticut. Can you comment on what you guys did differently to protect the ball?
Ashley Barlow: Right, we were focused on running our sets. We were calm with it. We were confident. We were confident with the ball, and that just helps us out a lot. We worked on different things of how to get open and how to get into our sets without with there being more than 10, 15 seconds on the clock.
So we were just confident in our ball handling and our ability to hang onto the ball.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach?
Q. You guys have one of the best I mean, the last 15 years, 10 to 15 years, you guys have been really good. But can you even fathom what 71 wins in a row is or would be like?
COACH McGRAW: No, I think it’s an amazing accomplishment for them.

Q. Was the difference defensively, was it strategic or was it a mindset on the part of your team?
COACH McGRAW: I think it was a little bit of everything. I think the mindset was that we were trying to control the tempo. You know, we made a couple shots early. That gave us a little bit of confidence, but I think the biggest thing we did was we took care of the ball. At halftime I thought we only had four turnovers in the first half, and that was key because they didn’t get anything going in transition.

Q. How important is it that you guys put up a much better effort tonight than the first three times you played them if you happen to meet them down the road?
COACH McGRAW: Yeah, you know, it was definitely a much different team that we had in the first half, and I think that we still are not scoring. We still only scored 44 points, and that still continues to be a problem for us. But defensively it does give us a little bit of confidence in our defense. I thought we did a pretty good job, little better job in the first half than the second.

Q. Can you just talk about what you take overall from the tournament? You had two nice wins and then a strong effort against Connecticut. How can this springboard into the tournament?
COACH McGRAW: I think we’re starting to peak. I think it’s a good thing. I think we have we played really well at a lot of different times. I thought the first game had a great finish against St. John’s, did some great things, a lot of highlights to take from the tournament.
I was really pleased. I think we’re getting smarter as a team. I think we’re doing some good things. I think our zone was really good. We played a lot of zone this weekend. We’ve played a lot of man all year. So I was really happy with it.

Q. You had sort of referred to this, but there was a sequence in which I think you were down by 10, Tina blocks a lot, and then it leads to a transition basket in which she scores and makes a three point play. You had done a pretty good job on her the whole game. What’s she so capable of doing to sort of like explode like that?
COACH McGRAW: I feel like she can do whatever she wants, you know. I think we had a plan of trying to run down and double team her, which she did a really good job facing us, I thought, tonight. She faced up and shot over us, and we had no plan for that. We had no answer for that. So she really did a good job in that it got her to turn it over a little bit more. Boy, when she gets it close to the rim, she’s unstoppable.
I thought they did a better job in the second half of spreading us out and she was able to duck in and go one on one with the center rather than being on the block and I thought that created some problems for us, too.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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