March 16, 2001
NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship
First and Second Rounds
Notre Dame, Ind.
March 16, 2001
Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan
Opening statement . . .
“We’re very excited to be here. This is a real honor for us this year. We’ve had an up-and-down season and haven’t played very consistently, but we really worked hard over the last two weeks and I’ve seen significant improvement. I’m really excited about playing a very good Michigan team, a team we have not seen in a very long time. This crew that is here now has never played Michigan. It’ll be an interesting matchup between two very different styles. We’re more of a transition team and they’re more a halfcourt team so it’s going to be interesting to see how we do in halfcourt and how they do in transition. I just think it’ll be a very interesting game.”
On Michigan . . .
“I think they’ve got a real nice inside-outside combination with (sophomore center LeeAnn) Bies and (senior guard Anne) Thorius. Thorius is a real key for them. She’s a very smart, intelligent player and is someone we’ll have to key on. Their size inside is something that will be somewhat of a problem for us at times. We’re going to have to figure out a way to get some help there and not let them kill us inside, but we’re also going to want to play more of an uptempo game.
On the season . . .
“It’s been an interesting year all the way around from the way it started to the way it came to this point, but never at any point did I lose faith in the team or in my players. I think they know that I know at any minute they’re going to break out. And this has to be the minute. I think they’ve just been waiting for this. They know how I feel about them and I’m very confident in what they can do. I can’t say we’ve played badly because we haven’t really played badly at any point in time. We’ve not finished games and not put people away when we could have, but I think they’ve grown a lot and we’ve all been through a lot with my illness starting everything off. I think they’re really maturing a lot and are ready to play in this tournament.
On sophomore post Schuye LaRue’s broken nose in practice . . .
“We really practice!”
“We thought it was broken. She had to go have it X-rayed. It was pretty swollen.”
On senior forward Svetlana Volnaya’s broken ankle . . .
“She has not practiced at all and I doubt she’ll see much time if at all tomorrow. (Senior forward) Chalois Lias will start. As far as it affecting our rotation, that will mean (freshman forward Anna) Crosswhite will come off sooner. We’ll have to see from there.”
On her team’s injuries . . .
“As far as the (Volnaya’s broken) ankle and (LaRue’s broken) nose, one of them shouldn’t have been playing a pickup game and was — but that’s for the love of the game. The other one is so tough that one of the guys on the scout team hit her in practice and we thought his elbow was broken. She practiced the very next day — and I didn’t want her to because she had severe bleeding after she got hit. I told her she didn’t have to practice, but she came in and said, ‘No, I’m practicing and without a mask.’ So I said, ‘Okay.’ You can’t really argue with her. But I have really tough kids and kids that have helped me through my battle. I’m with them all the way — inconsistent or not. We have a special bond and we’ll prove ourselves tomorrow.”
On her battle with cancer . . .
“I’m doing very well. I’ve been through the whole season and really haven’t had any problems at all. I now have a second full-time job as a cancer survivor, but other than that it has not been a distraction at all. When you’re a visible figure and something happens to you and it is so public, there are a lot of people that try to lean on you for public appearances and things. There have been a lot of benefits I have been a part of to raise money for cancer and raise money for the Cancer Center of Virginia. Then sometimes there will be a regular patient that calls and wants some advice or wants to know what you’re doing. It’s pretty interesting. But it is a really good second job to have because you can help a lot of people. It’s just interesting that you have so many people that you don’t know are cheering for you because every time they see you out there, it gives them hope.”
On the 11 a.m. tip-off time . . .
“We do have some MVP sleepers. If there was an All-America team, we’d probably fill it, but we’ve been practicing early this week because they were on spring break so we had been practicing in the morning. I know they know the significance of this game so I know they’ll be awake.”
On the team’s schedule . . .
“We used our shootaround time last night so we’ve already practiced once. We’ll practice again today and then we’ll come over and play tomorrow.”
Virginia junior guard Telisha Quarles
On the season . . .
“This year has been up and down, but over the last week in practice we’ve really been together and we’ve been practicing well. I think we’re going to be all right in the tournament.”
On the NCAA Tournament . . .
“It’s do or die. We’re pleased to be in the NCAA (tournament) and we’re just going to try to make the best of it.”
Virginia sophomore post Schuye LaRue
On breaking her nose . . .
“I got elbowed in the face by a scout player in practice two days ago, but it doesn’t affect my play. I also cracked my nose last year. I don’t think I’ll wear a face mask because you can’t see anything out there. I just can’t play with it on.”
On playing in the NCAA Tournament . . .
“I think it’s a good thing to be accepted into the tournament. Because you’re out if you lose so every game you have to concentrate and play really hard since you’ve got nothing to lose. You’ve got to go out and try your best to win the game.