March 18, 2001
Notre Dame Quotes
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw
Opening statement . . .
“Well, we are excited to be playing again on Monday night and certainly to be matched-up with Michigan. There is a great rivalry between Notre Dame and Michigan so we are looking forward to a great basketball game.”
On matchups against Michigan . . .
“Well, I felt we came out and played extremely well yesterday and I think we are ready. I think we have prepared well and we have seen a lot of different defenses all year long so I think no matter what they throw at us, we’ll be ready for it. I am worried about what Michigan does, so we will do a lot of their stuff today because they’re a great team. They are very well-coached, very organized team. I think that they were not quite as talented as Virginia, but won the game because they played with a lot of intelligence, especially down the stretch. They certainly didn’t quit. To be down 14 or 15 and come back to win the game, but they have done that all year long, never losing their poise. They just took great shots in the second half, so I think we are going to have a battle. I think they are very similar to us. They like to go inside, they have good guard play, and so I think it will be a great match-up.”
On Michigan using only six players . . .
“When you have TV timeouts, if you play six people, I don’t think it is a factor. I think the only factor is if you get in foul trouble, that is the problem of a short bench. I don’t think conditioning at this time in the year should be a factor.”
On the emotion of the final game for Notre Dame seniors. . .
“No, I think we got all that out a couple of weeks ago against Georgetown. I don’t think we can afford to be that emotional. I think right now we are really focused on just playing in the NCAA tournament and are not really thinking about this being the last game in the Joyce Center.”
On seeing upsets in the tournament . . .
“I think they are very much aware of what’s going on. I think it is a great thing for us to see all the upsets. It started with the men, and now they have had a couple in the women’s game. I think it is really good to help us focus. Although, honestly, with this team we have not had that worry all year long. They have definitely been ready for the task at hand and I know they are very focused for Michigan.”
On Kelley Siemon . . .
“I think Kelley Siemon has been the difference in our season. She has had a spectacular year. Everybody new about Ruth Riley, Niele Ivey, and Alicia (Ratay). Those three got the majority of the publicity, but coming in to this year we felt somebody else was going to have to step up and Kelley has done that every single game. She has had a very consistent year while battling through some amazing adversity. She had the knee injury, she missed the Marquette game and it still swells up every now and again. She also had the broken hand, she has really been through a lot in terms of injury and she has battled it all. I think she has given us a lot of motivation by just watching her come back from all those injuries. I don’t think there is any question that she has been the difference in our season.”
Notre Dame senior guard Niele Ivey
On Michigan’s personnel . . .
“We haven’t scouted the team, personnel-wise, yet, but I know from watching them yesterday that (Alayne) Ingram and their guards were really good and their post players were really good too. I just remember Ingram being an emotional type of player that will probably keep the team going. We’ll need to make sure we get a hand in her face when she’s out there.”
On playing her final game in the Joyce Center . . .
“It’s going to be a great day and a sad day tomorrow. I know we’re going to go out and play really well. I just think I’ve had so much success here in the Joyce Center in a Notre Dame uniform that it’s kind of sad to see that it is my final time playing on the floor. But I know everybody’s going to be very excited and it’s going to be a special day for us.”
Notre Dame senior center Ruth Riley
On Michigan . . .
“Just by watching them play yesterday, I can see they are a pretty solid team all-around. I think it is going to be a team effort for them, not just one player. I think that is what has made them so successful thus far — the balance they have.”
On the Michigan-Virginia game . . .
“We went down to stretch so we missed the second half until overtime. Virginia was playing really well early in the game, but we came back and saw the overtime and Michigan sort of took over then. We knew it was going to be a pretty even game between the two teams.”
On the size of other Irish opponents as compared to that of Michigan . . .
“Rutgers has a couple taller players in (Tammy) Sutton-Brown and (Dana) Boonen and Connecticut is all 6-1 and 6-2 players. The BIG EAST has had some competition that has hopefully prepared us for tomorrow.”
On playing her final game in the Joyce Center . . .
“I think it’s exciting to play our last game here as a tournament game. That shows how far our program has come — to be a number-one seed and be able to play on our home court. I think it’s a good way to play our last game here.”
Michigan coach Sue Guevara
On making it to the second round…
“We’re very happy to be playing tomorrow night. I anticipate that it is going to be a very good basketball game, maybe a little bit closer than everyone else might expect. We heard that Missouri upset Georgia, so it’s been a weekend of upsets. We’re looking forward to playing tomorrow night.”
On how to come out earlier against Notre Dame than they have during the season…
“I think we addressed that today in the circle. We don’t have anything to lose. I think that we can come into this game tomorrow night a little looser than we did yesterday, a little looser and very focused. We saw in the second half how we attacked the basket, and that’s what we have to do in the very beginning of the game instead of being content to take outside jumpers and three pointers. We need to look to penetrate and play a medium-range game and take care of the basketball.”
On why she thinks the game will be closer than many people expect…
“Because we are the underdog and because of the size. I think Ruth Riley is the best player in the country right now, and we don’t have that size. It’s at Notre Dame, and they’ll have the crowd behind them. They have some advantages in that respect, but I know this team. We’ve played well in front of big, hostile crowds. I think we can use that to our advantage. We played in front of 10,000 people at Ohio State when they were retiring Katie Smith’s number, and it was great. We played against 8,000 at Penn State on senior day. We use it to our advantage.”
On her strategy against Notre Dame’s well-rounded attack…
“I’m not willing to say. I can’t. It will give away what we’re trying to do. They’re very talented. You have to give up something. It’s going to be very tough to take all of their weapons away. We’ll make some adjustments based on who’s in the game.”
On the importance of making the first shot…
“Would I like them to go in earlier? Sure. Would they? Sure. There’s no doubt about it. Maybe the first shot they take is a little closer than it was yesterday. I talked to Anne (Thorius) today, and we had a few tricks for her today to make her more comfortable shooting the basketball and talked about her relationship with the ball. We have the first game under our belt. The jitters are gone. Yesterday, maybe we were a little tight, and some of the shots didn’t go. We can be nice and loose tomorrow. The pressure is not on us. We’re a number-eight seed. We just do the best we can and have fun doing it. We are going to bust our butts, but I think we won’t be as tight.”
On playing a more well-known opponent in Notre Dame…
“I watched all the games that Notre Dame played on television in the past year. I was really glad when they beat UConn here. I thought it was great for women’s basketball. I was watching again when they played UConn and watched them against Virginia Tech. Our staff has a pretty good idea. For the older kids, like Anne (Thorius) and Alayne (Ingram), they know what is going on in women’s basketball. (Stephanie) Gandy is so consumed with her academics that she doesn’t know a whole lot. That’s why we go through the scouting report. We have an idea. They have the same lineup they’ve had for the past couple of years. I have a great deal of respect for Muffet and for what she’s done here.”
On the score she thinks will give her team its best chance at winning and the matchups she sees…
“I think if our offense comes together, high 60s, low 70s. That’s if the offense is coming together. They like to run, we like to run. They like to shoot the three, and trust me, we’re going to shoot it, too. They’ll keep pounding it inside, and we may use the high post a little bit more. Don’t be surprised if our post players come out and fire the three. We want to bring that big girl (Riley) away from the basket.”
Michigan freshman forward Stephanie Gandy
On Notre Dame . . .
“I think Notre Dame is a very good team. If we just come out and play like everybody knows that we can play, then we have a good chance of winning.”
On being the underdog . . .
“We have been the underdog all season going up against any team, like Penn State or Iowa. I think we match up really well with Notre Dame. I think it will be a close game. We match up with their athleticism, their shooting, and we have a post player that can match up with Ruth Riley. She’s not as tall, but she has the body strength to match up with her.”
On playing the guard position . . .
“In basketball, you have to learn to adjust game-by-game. If one of our post players got into foul trouble, I might have to play the post. You just have to adjust to certain situations. I am comfortable with (playing guard) because I have played at two or three in practice.”
Michigan senior guard Anne Thorius
On Notre Dame . . .
“You have to respect them as a team for what they have done all year long. But if you respect them too much it might limit yourself in what you can do. I think we just have to come out and start from the beginning for once.”
On Michigan’s first-half struggles . . .
“We have patience in the first half just as we do in the second half, but our shots aren’t falling in the first half. The mentality of this team is that we are not going to lose, so we do everything we can to get back into the game. If we play with that kind of confidence and that kind of urgency from the beginning, then we should come out fine in the first half.”
On her shooting . . .
“You are a perfectionist on the floor. You want to make every shot you can, so I tend to tense up when I miss a shot. She (Coach Sue Guevara) talks to me and makes sure that I have fun on the floor, that I am relaxed when I shoot the ball, and that I have confidence releasing the ball.”
Michigan junior guard Alayne Ingram
On Notre Dame . . .
“I really don’t know that much about Notre Dame. That might be a good thing. I know that they are number-one in the country, and that’s about it. Tomorrow, our focus is to start from the beginning.”
On the tempo of the game . . .
“In the first half, we have to make sure that every possession, we get something good. We can’t let Notre Dame score two or three times in a row when we don’t even get a shot off. Those things are unacceptable. We are going to take our time, run our offense, and be patient.”
On her 27-point performance against Virginia . . .
“It’s done now. We have to focus on tomorrow night and put two games together, because that’s what the team is going to need. What I did yesterday is a memory that’s fading away. It’s time to make plans for the future.”
On evening games vs. morning games . . .
“It’s just another game. The 7:00 pm start is what we’re used to. I said I hate to get up in the morning, but I love to play basketball. You have to play the cards you are dealt and be ready to go when the ball is tossed up.”