SDSU Women's Hoops-Wyoming Postgame Quotes
March 9, 2012
LAS VEGAS -
San Diego State Postgame Quotes
COACH BURNS: First I'd like to congratulate Wyoming, the position they had themselves in in the semifinal game. Tell you what I shared with our team was these are the things we did first game against Wyoming, second game against Wyoming, these were the results. These are the things they did.
Now, they lost twice. They did two different things. So what are we going to expect different? We don't know. We have to prepare for that.
I think I figured it out it was going to the offensive boards. I deduced that at about five minutes in that Joe decided, Well, we're going to struggle in transition, so we're sending five people to the offensive glass. I think they caught us. That made a huge difference in the first half.
Their strength, their speed to rotate to the backside and push us out a little bit, combined with a lot of free throw shooting, was the difference. At halftime, you know, we discussed I felt we were winning every other phase of the game. If we could control the defensive glass, then we do what our team likes to do best, which is get out and run and not listen to me call a play.
If we control the glass, we have an opportunity to do that. I thought we did a terrific job in the second half of adjusting. I also think we have a lot of good teams in our league. Everybody has good players. But I think, if not the most, we at least are one of the deepest teams in the league. And our bench saved us in the first half. They came off the bench, and everybody contributed in some way.
I think it's hard when you have a young group for everybody to understand how valuable those two minutes are. I think the difference is what we were able to do off the bench in the first half, straighten things out, then go forward in the second half.
Q. Chelsea, can you talk about your performance today. You seemed to have good control of the offense. On defense you were making plays.
Chelsea Hopkins: Honestly, I was just trying to do whatever it takes to win. I wanted to be aggressive. I wanted to limit my turnovers. I had six I think last game. I was definitely trying to be more conscious of what I was doing with the ball.
For the most part our game plan was to attack them off of ball screens. I knew that when I got the opportunity, I needed to be aggressive and I needed to create opportunities for Courtney and Kalena. That's basically what I did.
Q. Courtney, you talked about the motivation you had coming out of that Colorado State loss. Where is the motivation right now because the approach seems pretty businesslike for you guys?
Courtney Clements: You know, the motivation for us right now is that we want to go to the NCAA tournament. We're very well aware of the fact that even though we won our conference, there's a possibility we could still not get into the NCAA tournament.
If it means that we have to win the championship to get to the NCAA tournament, that's what we're going to do. That's our main focus right now.
Q. Kalena, can you talk about your performance today. How does it feel to be back in the championship game?
Kalena Tutt: Five for five shooting, that's something I'd like to continue because it's very rare that I score (laughter).
To be back in the championship means a lot. Last year we had a fluke kind of a season. I knew we didn't deserve it's not our team chemistry to lose in the first round. So to come back to a championship where San Diego State belongs is pretty good.
Q. Chelsea, you really pushed the tempo in the second half. That seemed to get everybody going on the floor. With that said, you played in front of family and friends here. How big of an impact was that today?
Chelsea Hopkins: Honestly, it's the best feeling in the world. When I made the decision to transfer to San Diego State, I knew I wanted to play in front of my family and friends. I feel blessed I had so much crowd support from my family and everybody that showed up to support the entire team. It feel goods to have the loyal fans that drove all the way from San Diego to come and back us. We knew we wanted to get the win for them, for the program. So we're just really excited.
Q. Wyoming was talking about in the second half Chelsea's penetration. Can you talk about that, how that opened things up?
COACH BURNS: Well, we really had talked about everybody takes a different approach. Chelsea off the bounce, whether you know it's coming or not, there's certain things in basketball you can prepare for and do a walk through, say, We're going to do this, we're going to do that. But to get in a stance, to stop her when her motor's running is really difficult. The best thing about it is how she shares the ball sometimes to a fault.
What I really had her focus on was, I want your first one to be to the cup, take it to the cup, then see how are they going to adjust. Are they going to leave Courtney? Are they going to step up? Sometimes she's so like all good point guards, get everybody involved and do the right thing. I felt for this team, for what we were facing, for her to just guns blazing, take it hard. Then, like she said, ball screens, do different things, opens it up for everybody else. You have to have a help defender to stop her.
I thought she did a terrific job.
Q. I know coaches don't like to compare players of past years. Where does she stand among the players you've had? What kind of leap has she made?
COACH BURNS: All of those players have won championships, so ask me tomorrow.
That's a good answer, huh (smiling)?
Q. Can you draw any ties between this group and the 2009 group?
COACH BURNS: No, because the difference in age. They're all new, but the difference of the maturity of a Chelsea Hopkins coming in. I told Q, I say this lovingly, Q has been texting me, Jene has been texting me, Paris has been texting me. Q as a freshman was the best player for both teams. I just hoped it was more for our team than their team.
Chelsea came in with such experience that the enthusiasm and the talent level of the freshmen, even though they don't really understand what all this is about, when someone at that position can be that experienced, it's made a world of difference.
But this team is really different from the Q, Janay, Coco. They're really different. They're younger. They're more excited. They're more enthusiastic. Maybe a little bit less businesslike. They don't love it any less. Those guys certainly were passionate about it.
This team, really to a player, is really one big happy group. Maybe that's because we've won a lot of games. But I think it's because we've had pretty good older leadership to involve everybody. We don't have somebody in there feeling left out. Everybody feels a part of it. I think that's been important.
Wyoming Postgame Quotes
COACH LEGERSKI: We talk all the time about being able to play 40 minutes. And I thought the first half was a tremendous basketball game, up and down, both teams scoring, rebounding. We were making some free throws.
And then in the second half, San Diego State stepped it up to a different level, specifically with Hopkins. We could not get her slowed down in transition. That became an issue for us.
Then we missed a few free throws. You could just see the drain of a season starting to wear on this group.
But I'm so proud that they ended up turning things around in January from what we were doing in November and December, and played tonight just a tremendous effort by a young team that I'm very proud of.
Q. Chaundra, 50 points in the paint from them tonight. How tough of a team are they to defend?
CHAUNDRA SEWELL: They're really tough. They have really quick post players, strong girls. Just a diverse group of inside players. Kind of have to be ready for anything when you're playing inside with them.
Q. Chaundra, you were in a lot of foul trouble tonight. How hard was it to defend them 'cause they're good players but also because of foul trouble you were in?
CHAUNDRA SEWELL: Yeah, that makes it tough. You have to watch your fouls and be very careful in that situation. With how physical they are inside, it made it that much more difficult to defend them.
Q. Ashley, coach talked about after the first five minutes in the second half, you were right there, then they made that run. How much did that hurt you guys?
ASHLEY SICKLES: We talked. Teams are going to make runs. You have to go out and make a run yourself. We tried hard but we weren't able to get the run we needed to go ahead and keep winning.
I think our team went out, we did extremely well. We've done a lot better than people anticipated at the beginning of the season. I think our team did awesome.
We're all coming back next season and looking for a good season then.
Q. You all do come back next year. Winning a game here and experiencing that, knowing what it's like, seeing the type of play that goes on, what is that going to do for you towards next season?
ASHLEY SICKLES: I think it just gets us motivated. We have to really work hard in the post season, you know, on the court and off the court, and just come out next year with a fire, come out knowing that we're going to take it to every team that we play and produce as many wins as we can.
Q. Kayla, can you reflect on this season a little bit, particularly the last two and a half months, where this team has kind of come.
KAYLA WOODWARD: Like Ashley said, a lot of people weren't expecting us to be very good this year. They thought it was just going to be, you know, kind of just working on, like since we're younger.
I don't know, I think we set the bar high for years to come. I think we need to go out next year and prove people wrong next year.
Q. Chaundra, getting a tournament victory here, playing this team tough for 25 minutes, do you think that will carry over into the off season?
CHAUNDRA SEWELL: Yeah, I think what we've done here at the tournament, what we've done all season, is really going to motivate us, get us excited for the years to come. We're all very excited for what the future holds for this program.
Q. Chaundra said a diverse group of post players. What makes them so effective down there in the block?
COACH LEGERSKI: I look at it a little differently. I think their point guard was able to get to the basket. When Hopkins is able to get to the basket, you end up rotating and trying to take her away. She is such a tremendous passer, has great court vision. So all of a sudden she's able to find players that are within two, three feet of the basket.
You know, it makes it very difficult because you have to give help, but then when you provide help, she could also find the open person. So that became a bigger issue.
So I see the points in the paint, but so much of that I look at is because a point guard is creating all that rather than just, say, we couldn't handle somebody at the block.
Q. You mentioned Hopkins. Did she just step it into another gear? What did she do different where she was able to take over there?
COACH LEGERSKI: I'm an older man. I remember driving that standard. Most of us go from first to second, maybe to third before we get up in speed. Hopkins goes from second to fifth. She can move in a hurry, make a lot of things happen. That is really where it was at.
And we did not have an answer. And then you have Clements running the other side who can score in a number of ways, putting it on the floor, shooting the ball from three. Her midrange game is very good. That puts so much pressure on everybody individually defensively, and that's not what we do best.
We have to be able to rotate. We have to be able to help. San Diego State was just very good today. I give Coach Burns credit. She has 'em playing at a very high level and they really came out in the second half. Like I said, they jumped a couple gears.
Q. How much did you think those free throws hurt?
COACH LEGERSKI: When you take a look at it, we shoot 36% in the first half, they shoot 58%, the free throw line was a big benefit. We were 8 of 10. That became a big part of it. All of a sudden you start missing the front end of a one on one, you start missing two shots, we go to 50%.
Not the difference in a basketball game, but maybe the difference in keeping the game, maybe breaking a run, giving you some hope. Free throws missed are very difficult. You could see it in the expression of the players. They know they're missed opportunities.
Q. It's tough right after a game, but just reflect on what this group accomplished, particularly after the New Year's.
COACH LEGERSKI: I told them in the locker room I couldn't be more proud of a group. I remember our last non conference game, we end up going out to Eastern Michigan, a very talented team, and we got beat really good. They had to make a decision of what they wanted to do as a group.
I kept working with 'em, pushing 'em. They responded. For this team to be able to come out here and win a game in the Mountain West tournament, I couldn't be more proud of 'em to be able to get to this point.
It's very difficult. They're going to find this out next year. This just didn't happen. You have to put so much work in to even find a way to get a victory out here. This league was very good, very evenly matched.
When I reflect back, and I'll do that over the next couple weeks, I'll be very proud of the effort I was able to get. We were so undersized most of the year. Brenna Freeze steps up, has to play on the inside at 5'10", starting three freshmen. I'm pleased with where they're at. We have a great deal of work to do.