SDSU Women's Hoops-New Mexico Postgame Quotes
March 10, 2012
LAS VEGAS -
San Diego State Postgame Quotes
COACH BURNS: Well, first would like to congratulate New Mexico on just a fantastic run. I can't credit their coaching staff and their athletes enough. They have a lot of older athletes on their team, juniors and seniors, who this was it. It's kind of tough to have a struggle of a season. We've all been there. But to rally and come here.
I tip my cap to the people of New Mexico who really, really support their team and give them a lot of juice. I've seen every minute of the two games prior to this one and they were really impressive. Just would like to congratulate them on the run that they made.
As for us, couldn't be more excited. I think we may have skipped a step, if you will. I knew we had a talented young group. But the key was young, and our inside game beyond Kalena Tutt was such a question mark. We just weren't really sure how fast everything would get put together. I think it's a tribute to the older players on our team, the commitment they made, and the younger players on our team listening to the older players because they did I guess what you're supposed to do, which is get better and better and better as the season went on.
Now we have the grandest prize one can get in March, which is an opportunity to go play in the 64 next week.
Q. I imagine it must have been frustrating when nothing seemed to fall in the first half.
Courtney Clements: Yeah, it was. But I think we came out so strong, all the adrenaline went away, we weren't as focused as we usually are. It was a little bit frustrating. We knew we were going to bounce back. Halftime we kind of refocused and we came out strong in the second half.
Kalena Tutt: I know with the first half how some of our shots weren't falling, we can always depend on our defense. That's one thing we can control, is to stop another team from scoring.
Chelsea Hopkins: Yeah, copy that (smiling).
Q. Getting off to a good start is always the game plan going in. When you got to that point, how crucial was it in a game like this?
Chelsea Hopkins: I think the start we had was really critical in how the game played out. We came out really confident, really strong. Like they said, we kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit. For the most part since we were in the lead, if the game were to end, we were to win. I felt like we had a little bit of a cushion and that led to us refocusing in the second half and coming out even stronger.
But for the most part we had the lead. I felt like we had control most of the game. They made a great run and they did rally, but at the same time we were able to answer it and maintain the lead and get the win.
Q. Chelsea, you had a strong tournament. What do you attribute to the strong three games you had?
Chelsea Hopkins: Honestly, I attribute everything to my teammates. Everybody likes to talk about my assist to turnover ratio. I'm doing whatever it takes to make this team win. I pass the ball, Courtney makes the shots, KT makes the shots. I know having my teammates back me, counting on me to lead, help this team rally, is really what was my motivation for the tournament and the success that we had.
Q. There was a time this year when you struggled a bit. What does it feel like now to know you're going to the tournament?
Chelsea Hopkins: It feels amazing. From day one we set goals for ourselves. We knew we wanted to win 20 games, win the conference tournament outright and obviously get a NCAA bid. We feel confident and blessed to be in the position we are in. We don't want to stop here. This is the start of a new season. We'll celebrate this victory but then we'll lock in and refocus to see where we end up Monday.
Q. Courtney, when you got going in October, could you see this coming?
Courtney Clements: Oh, yeah. Right away I could tell that our freshmen were very talented. Even though they're young and inexperienced, they have so much energy. They bring that energy every single day. It just spreads to us. Sometimes being older you get bored. You've been doing the same thing for three years, four years. Our freshmen do a good job of coming in every day energetic, ready to learn. I knew we were talented and it was going to be a special team.
Q. Chelsea, could you talk about how special it was to win it here in Las Vegas where you grew up.
Chelsea Hopkins: It's the best feeling in the world. Like I said previously, when I made the decision to come to San Diego State, I just wanted to be involved with my family and friends. I wanted them to have the opportunity to see me play and to see me do what I love.
So just to be out here, I just feel really blessed and fortunate that all my family came out. The crowd support we had for the entire team was amazing. We had a lot of people that had been supportive all season, that made the trip all the way from San Diego to come down to be with us. Really excited, really grateful and happy we performed and got the W.
Q. ESPN Bracketology has you as a 14 seed. Do you think that's right or you deserve better?
COACH BURNS: The key phrase is they have us as 'a seed'. You see San Diego State. That's the first step.
Early on, I thought for us to do what we did this year would be skipping a step, but I also knew it was a transitional year in the conference. We had some people leaving, we had some people coming in. Most importantly we all had a ton of seniors a year ago.
So it was more kind of a, Why not us? We're all going to do bonehead things, we all can maybe do some good things. We knew the kind of recruiting class we had brought in to be able to do that.
With that said, I think because we all had really young, inexperienced teams, it's like two different seasons. When you look at the non conference records of all our Mountain West teams, if they played those people now. Because everybody was playing with people in different roles. Other than Vegas, everybody was a brand new group of players. I think that's why their non conference record, we're way out here in the west, once you mess up early, it's hard to get it back.
I felt ourselves with our DePaul win, and Vegas with a couple out of conference wins gave us some credibility. But if night after night you're playing somebody that potentially is a low RPI, that's going to affect you.
We'll have most everybody back. We'll beef up next year. We're too young this year to do that. We'll do the best we can to balance that going forward.
Am I disappointed in that? Not at all. There's a lot of really good teams out there.
Q. Obviously your bench played a pretty big role in this tournament. Talk about the progression of that group.
COACH BURNS: Well, I think that's the whole difference. Well, two differences. One is we have the best point guard in the conference, one of the best point guards eventually I think anywhere around.
The second part of that is I'm not afraid. You'll see, our stats are misleading. It depends on what we're playing. If we're playing a game like tonight, Ahjalee Harvey is going to play 20 minutes. Or play a game like big, strong Wyoming yesterday, then Melissa Sweat is going to get 20 minutes or Amarikwa.
That's what has been so good about this team. They don't have green eyed monsters. Everybody knows the sum of our parts help us to win. To me, that's why we won the league, because we could have a bad night, somebody getting sick, on and on, somebody always picked somebody up.
Q. Can you talk about the dominance on the rebounding category, especially the offensive rebounds.
COACH BURNS: For us, this isn't very good. We've kind of tailed the last two or three games. Not necessarily our starting group, but our young guys off the bench can really get to the rim. Ofttimes their own shots are what they're going to get off the rim, but they do go up.
I don't know if I ever had a game where somebody didn't have an offensive rebound at halftime. Yesterday they had a couple offensive rebounds at the half. We run if we control the defensive glass. As you saw in our halfcourt, we like to run. That was kind of a point of emphasis coming in. Really proud how we kept them off the glass and enabled us to get out and get such a great start. I thought that was a huge key to the first half.
COACH BURNS: Final comments. The Aztecs are here to get two championships. Just wanted to put that on record to get two. Don't leave, fellas. Get back out there. Got more work to do.
New Mexico Postgame Quotes
COACH SANCHEZ: Yeah, I want to first congratulate San Diego State and Coach Burns and her staff for just a terrific season. They've led from beginning to end. They did a nice job in the tournament. They did a nice job in the championship game.
It took hopefully everything they had to beat us because I know we gave everything we had. But that's a terrific staff. It's a terrific bunch. They set the bar high. So that's what we're going to aim for.
Q. Porche, is that a bittersweet situation?
PORCHE TORRANCE: It was a tough loss. But one thing I will say is our teammates did come out, we fought till the end of the game, till the buzzer went off. We made it to the championship. Not a lot of people expected us to get this far.
I think I'm proud of my teammates and the coaching staff for this year. Yeah, it was a tough loss. But, you know, this was an adversity year. We lost, but it was good to make it to the championship game my senior year.
Q. Porche, how much do you take with you as seniors knowing you were able to build something here at the end after all the struggles? Do you take a lot of pride in thinking you might have laid the groundwork for success in the future?
PORCHE TORRANCE: Definitely. We haven't been here since my freshman year. So to know that we started the legacy back up, to know that we are capable of making it to the championship game, and hopefully the future Lobos coming up, they can actually get past what we accomplished. So hopefully they can win a championship next year.
Q. Nikki, you closed it to four in the second half. What were your thoughts?
NIKKI NELSON: You know, sometimes you just give it your all and it doesn't quite work out (tearing up).
Q. Porche, this is your third straight game. How much of a factor was fatigue today?
PORCHE TORRANCE: You know, back to back games, normally we have a few days off. I was a little tired. But I told myself, This is my last. I have to fight through the fatigue and just give it all for my teammates and hopefully we come up on top. We were a little short today but we fought till the end and that's what really counts.
Q. Lauren, the first couple minutes of the second half, you had the two three point plays? Did you discuss something at halftime that you thought you might be able to drive and get those shots off like that?
LAUREN TAYLOR: We knew we needed to get to the free throw line more because that means we were being the aggressor. We kept saying, Get to the free throw line, get to the free throw line. If the shots aren't falling, that's where you can get your points. So that was discussed a little bit at halftime.
Q. What did it feel like when you scored those two?
LAUREN TAYLOR: Awesome, obviously. I felt like we turned the tide and had the momentum going for us. I think that picked the team up. The fans got behind us and helped us push back closer, you know, take that lead down.
Q. This has been a tough season for you in a lot of ways, starting with defections, coaching changes. When you stop and look back on it, is it a tremendous accomplishment for you? Or was it just an unusual year for all of you?
LAUREN TAYLOR: I think we accomplished a lot. I think we showed people that through every trial we stuck together. There was a core group of us who just dug in our heels and said, We're not going to give up. Then we built on that.
I'm immensely proud of the team for sticking with it through everything because we could have given up. We could have just written this year off, but we didn't.
To get to this championship game is a testament to the will of this team.
Q. You only scored four points in the first 13 minutes of the game. What was going on out there? Why were you struggling so much on the offensive side?
COACH SANCHEZ: Because San Diego State is a very good defensive team. You got to give them credit. They're the No. 1 team in our conference. They've been from beginning to end. They're a great defensive team, both full court and halfcourt. It's tough to score against them. At our place we only scored 10 points in the first half.
We know that. We remember that.
But everything that you get from San Diego State, you have to earn. Tonight was no different. They do a nice job. We tried to execute what we could. But their defense is good.
Q. Have you zoned that much in any game this year?
COACH SANCHEZ: Not the entire game we had. We mixed it up quite a bit. But, you know, they're very quick off the dribble. Their penetration even hurt us in the zone. But we felt that that was the best opportunity that would give us to win the basketball game. They didn't shoot particularly well from the three, but they hit threes when they counted in the second half. I think Harvey hit a big three there when we were cutting the lead.
I mean, good players and good players make good plays, and San Diego State did that. I give them all the credit. That being said, I give my team a lot of credit. We were led by a great group of seniors. They never gave up. They could have written the season off. Six other teams thought they should be here. They watched our team play in the championship game.
That's the thing I'm most proud of. You know, the champions are San Diego State. I give 'em a ton of credit. They're well coached. They have a great staff. But I told our kids to hold their heads high because they have nothing to be ashamed of. They did a great job, not only these last three games, but they did a terrific job during the entire season.
I've seen teams in my tenure that are much more talented than we are just pretty much hang up the season, and our kids never did that.
Q. Specifically even in this game, down 19 4, you got girls diving all over the court battling. What kept them going? Is it a sign of their character for this game?
COACH SANCHEZ: Absolutely. They have a passion to play for the Lobos. They wear their uniform proudly. As the fans are very passionate about our players, our players are passionate about playing for the University of New Mexico. We've got a great university. We've got terrific leadership in that university.
I think it's the best in the country. You don't see the leaders in other universities do what our leaders do for us; our athletic administration, our president. So our kids feel proud about playing for all of them. They get well educated. When they put the uniform on, it's a privilege to play for UNM. They handle it very well. That's why you see them never give up.
Q. The rebounding is one thing. You had 16 turnovers. Was that a particular problem, something you had trouble with?
COACH SANCHEZ: Well, we had 24 yesterday, so... We went down a little bit against a team that pressed us.
But that's plagued us all year long. Out of those turnovers, they had 15 points off turnovers to our two. Again, you give a team like San Diego State opportunities, they're going to take advantage of it 'cause they're that good. They do a nice job. They've done a nice job the entire year. But you can't give a team like that second and third chances because they will take advantage of it.