Here are the postgame quotes from UConn Huskies women’s basketball players Bria Hartley and Tiffany Hayes as well as head coach Geno Auriemma after their 72-26 win over the Kansas State Wildcats in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Monday night.
Quotes courtesy of UConn Athletics:
Bria Hartley, Sophomore, Guard
On Tonight’s Play On Defense:
I think it was definitely close to a perfect game on defense, but you can always do better. We came out today with a lot more intensity then we did last game. We used that last game to play better defensively and we were able to get in the passing lanes, get steals and get some points.
On What Tonight’s Overall Performance:
We just came out really well defensively. I know they would have like to have a lot more open shots to score more points. We just concentrate really hard on what we can control on defense. We just focus on what we do.
On The Focus On Team Play And That Fact That Anyone Can Make A Big Contribution To The Team’s Success:
We all know our roles on this team, and we know what we’re supposed to do. The main thing for us when we are doing really well is that we are communicating. We’re all talking to each other; we’re all on the same page just making sure we all know what’s going on out there. When we’re together like that, we are just a hard team to stop.
Tiffany Hayes, Senior, Guard
On UConn’s Play In The First Half:
I think the last game we had a lot of breakdowns on defense, especially in the first half, and it motivated us to come today and really be focused on defense. We talked a lot on ‘D’ in this game, so I think that led us to getting steals and them not being able to score with open looks.
To see what Auriemma has to say as well as Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson and her players, click on the read more button below if you’re on the home page.
Head Coach Geno Auriemma
We were just talking earlier that our defensive effort tonight was about as good as I’ve seen all year long. There really were very few open looks that we gave up, and I think our pressure was as good as it’s been at any time all year. In the first and second rounds, you don’t have a lot of time to prepare for teams, so you have to hope that we are paying attention, and we were yesterday and today on what we decided to do and how we were going to play these guys. Our team did exactly that, and I’m very happy for them. We talked about the 30 wins and how important that is to them and how important going to Regionals again is and how rewarding it should feel for them. Those are things some people take for granted and we didn’t want to do that. I’m happy for this group.
On Tonight’s Defensive Effort Leading To An NCAA Tournament Record Low 26 Points Allowed:
I don’t know that we did anything extraordinary in practice between Saturday and tonight. What I hope what happened is when you start to sense that we’re one win away from getting to the Regionals, you start to understand that every possession is important. If you are a competitor, you don’t want to give up a shot in the first half or the last five minutes of the game. Sometimes you just get that the players are really locked in and in‐tune with each other and everything seems to be right. We just really executed really well tonight. We made Kansas State play a little quicker than they really wanted to and that probably led to a lot of their missed shots. Their ability to control the ball and the tempo was gone, so that just made it worse for them.
On Kiah Stokes’ Effort Tonight:
I’m sure when I said going into the season that Kiah Stokes was going to be really, really important to us. Maybe people believed me, maybe they didn’t. But we’re a different team when’s she able to play as well as she did today. She probably had more threepoint plays today then she’s had combined the entire season. Those are signs she growing up a little bit, maturing a little bit. She starting to understand what we’ve been harping about all this time. I think the real sign for Kiah will be what happens next Sunday; whether she can build on this. If she does, I know we’re headed in the right direction, and I don’t know of any reason why she wouldn’t.
On Going To The Regionals For 19 Straight Years:
I think I might have said this at some other point in time, but I believe this with all my heart, that if you set this up the right way and you are fortunate enough to get the right kind of players and you create a culture that rewards some of the things we do like contesting shots whether it’s the first three minutes or the last three possessions. That kind of culture and people buying into can pretty much get you to the Regionals every year. If you get pretty good players, and we get obviously better than pretty good players, and we immerse them in how we want to compete and what’s expected of them, of what’s not tolerated and what’s expected of you, then that can get you to the Sweet 16. I’d like to think we have created a culture that allows for those things to happen. When you bring up going to the Regionals for 19 straight years, that’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of.
On How Far His Team Has Come And Are They Ready To Take The Next Step:
When we started, they surprised the hell out of me those first five, six, seven games. I didn’t think we could do that. I didn’t think we could defend a team like Stanford and Texas A&M like that. I just didn’t know that we had it in us because I hadn’t seen it. Maya (Moore) was such a huge factor for us in so many ways, that without her I just didn’t know. So we jumped right out the gate with an unbelievable amount of energy and intensity. I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe we can do that.’ Then somewhere along the way we lost ourselves, and I wasn’t sure if we were going to be good enough. I wasn’t sure if we would get it back. But then we got it back, and now how far can that take us? I don’t know. We could lose Sunday, and we could go to the Final Four and win a National Championship. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve said that. It’s been a long time since I’ve said to myself, and to our staff, that we could lose next Sunday or win a National Championship, but neither of those things would shock me. Certainly losing next Sunday would be disappointing, but this team is capable of anything and they way we are playing right now, we are capable of doing a lot of great things, but we are going to have to step it up a little bit even from tonight.
Kansas State University Head Coach Deb Patterson
I want to first start off by saying what an honor and privilege it was to coach the senior class we brought to the floor today. It goes without saying they have made a tremendous impact on the success of our program during the year. It is extremely beyond disappointing to have taken the floor and competed so ineptly tonight. Tremendously disappointed for our seniors and our team. Credit to UConn on their play on both ends of the floor. We were obviously dominated in every phase of the game tonight. Why I could not tell you, but we definitely did not look like the team we were all year.
On what makes UConn so special
They were aggressive, they throw double teams, sped us up a little with the press, and our transition from the press into the offense was not in‐depth tonight and that got us rattled. The physicality and the steady play of UConn defensively, we just did not respond well to it. We were not making quality decisions being guarded. We were throwing over the defense, we were not spacing the floor well. It was the unrelenting nature, and we made it easier and easier for them as time went on.
Brittany Chambers, Junior, Guard
On what it like to play against UConn defense
They have five players committed to the defensive effort at all times. You do not find a lot of holes. We had some open shots early in the game, but we did not convert. When you play against a defense like that, they make you do things you do not want to do.
On UConn’s defense during the stretch of 11 minutes in the first half in which KSU did not score
Besides forcing the drives, they are an unbelievable defensive team. We had a lot of open threes and its unacceptable missing that many wide open shots. I felt like we dug our own hole for a lot of the half.
Jalana Childs, Senior, Forward
On the comparisons between UConn and Baylor
All five players were committed to defense and made it hard inside and out. They got us to do things we did not want to do. Forcing shots, we had open shots and we could not covert. It was a great defensive effort by UConn.
Photo credit: AP Photo