#AztecWBB-Nevada Postgame Quotes
March 14, 2013
LAS VEGAS -
San Diego State Postgame Quotes
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by San Diego State. Coach, some remarks on today's game.
COACH BURNS: Well, first I'd like to congratulate Nevada not only on picking up a tough win the other night where they played really well. I think they had 21 assisted baskets and scored 80, but I really appreciate the competitiveness and spirit of their team and their leader in Coach Albright.
They lost so many close games this year. They were in both games with us. I just really respect their spirit. Mimi, I hope I don't say it wrong, Mungedi, her development from January to now, to think of how young she is. All of us up here know that Sharp is just a terrific player and scorer. They certainly will be a force to be reckoned with.
Was really pleased with us. One of the things, I think it's a little difficult in some respects to play this game, to start this game. I asked our team to see, you know, Are we going to show people if we're a No. 1 seed? I think they answered by the way we opened the game. Was just really proud of how hard we guarded. Then it was almost like, Now what do we do?
I think it was a bit of a challenge. We struggled a little bit to play with the lead. I credit that to Nevada, their spirit coming back. But just couldn't be prouder. I think everybody made big contributions. Saw a lot from a couple of our young forwards off the bench to stem the tide when they went at us.
Important to put this in the book and move on to whoever wins the next game.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now take questions for the student athletes.
Q. Chelsea, can you talk coming out on that 19 0 run, what the game plan was, how well you executed that.
Chelsea Hopkins: Well, I think our game plan was just to play fast. That's pretty much when we're at our best, get a lot of transition points.
I felt like early on we were really working the ball screen in the top of their zone. They were rotating over and weren't getting backside help. It opened up a lot of opportunities for our post.
I felt like Emma, she did a great job just reading the gaps, playing off me in the baseline, and it just resulted in some easy baskets for us.
Definitely what we were looking for. We just wanted to be aggressive and it worked in our favor.
Q. Chelsea, assists don't always make headlines, regardless of who you are. Players are looking to score. You seemed to be looking almost to pass first every time you're down the court. Talk about that approach, how you take that into a game.
Chelsea Hopkins: Well, honestly I pride myself on being a pass first point guard. But I really pride myself on kind of doing whatever it takes to win.
I felt like there were really easy opportunities for my teammates, so I'm not going to force a shot when I could easily have a layup from Amarikwa or Khristina Hunter that were ducking in early. I take whatever the defense gives me. This time it was assists. Tomorrow it could be points. The day after it could be rebounds.
That's kind of how I play my game. I don't want to be one dimensional. I just want to do whatever it takes to win. Assists was my game today. It worked out. We ended up getting a great win against a great team.
Q. Chelsea, were you aware of the school assist record? You came up a little bit short, but at halftime you had a good shot at it.
Chelsea Hopkins: No, I wasn't aware till I did radio after the game. But came up a little bit short. But 14's kind of cool. I'm happy we got the win overall. So I'll take it.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions for Coach Burns.
Q. Beth, coach was talking about that Chelsea had the 12 assists on 12 baskets in the first half. She said, I don't necessarily know how Beth gets her to buy into that. Is it hard to take a player and have them be so unselfish like that with the ball?
COACH BURNS: Well, Beth didn't do anything to get her to buy in to do that. I think she answered it best. The great ones are great when the level of competition is the highest. I've said to this to her on many occasions. If it came down to her last dollar, it was her and her mother, she would say I'm sorry, Mom, but she would take that last dollar if she was competing. She is one of the most competitive, in every facet of life, which is why she's already in graduate school getting her MBA. She competes.
She has a special gift. Everybody has different things they bring to the table. She has a special gift, a vision that you can't teach, a level of competitiveness, and she's been coached since she was this big by her dad Tony to know if someone's got a better one, a great point guard will give it to them and we'll all be better in the end. That's the way she plays.
We made her score too much in a couple games. We forced her to. We started watching her a little bit. She really worked on her game. She's shooting in the mid 40s from three. She can do lots of things. But she understands to play the game, and for teams to win games, you got to spread it around.
So it never surprises me. I'm glad Mark just asked her that question to call out the head coach for not knowing the records we're supposed to know at the time for those. I don't know what the record is.
I mean, she's gotten four triple doubles, ladies and gentlemen. I've been doing this a long time. I've never known that to happen. Every time she gets one, I'm like, Really? Because she does it every day. Her consistency is probably her most remarkable trait, only behind her competitiveness.
Q. It seems like coaches always the night before go through scenarios of how the game is going to play out. Was there any better scenario in your head than a 19 0 run to start the game?
COACH BURNS: I was about to call a wrap at the 13 minute mark if we could have done that.
I mean, no. Every team, like this team, is best when they're aggressive. It took us a long time to get us that aggressive on the defensive end of the floor. If you take it off the glass, you can run. For us to finish and really for us to start with Amarikwa making those first few baskets, that helps. I think the tournament scenario for Chelsea, for Courtney Clements, they've been here. They're going to be comfortable in this environment. I think that almost relaxed our whole team.
So I don't know if I could have had a better scenario, no. I would have no problem whatsoever if we continued that start for the next couple.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH BURNS: Thank you, everybody.
Nevada Postgame Quotes
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Nevada. Coach, a few comments about today's game.
COACH ALBRIGHT: Well, just congratulations to San Diego State. I think it's pretty obvious that our arms are not quite long enough to box with them. They're a championship caliber team. I'd call them a top 25 team. Any team that has two players in it that could be Player of the Year, plus some really other nice players.
They're kind of the exact opposite of our team. They have four fifth year seniors and we have zero seniors. That means they're stronger physically. I think you can look at the way they play. They've played a lot of minutes together. We unfortunately have not logged that many minutes together.
I thought that their pressure really took us out of any kind of execution that we tried to do. You can look at our number of assists. The last time I was sitting here we had 21 assists, and today we had 5 assists.
Their point guard had 12 assists on 12 buckets in the first half. That's why she's Player of the Year. She doesn't care if she scores. She just wants her teammates to be better. She's as good a point guard as anybody you will see anywhere. I don't know how Beth gets her to buy into that system, but obviously it works. She just scores as an afterthought.
I thought that Mimi got her first career double double today, that was a big thing for us. We really are pleased with that. They really D'ed up on Danika, physical bodies, hard for her to find the shots she found the other night.
We as a team have to use these two better and to some things.
The two big stats were, one, points off turnovers. What is that? 29. I should put my glasses on. Maybe I don't want to see that. 29 points. So pretty much that's from their pressure defense, and again, our inability to handle that. They're a few pounds more at every position, stronger, and they're older.
So now we'll give our kids some time off and see if we can come back and be physically stronger next year because I believe mental strength comes with that.
Congratulations again to them. Last time I looked, their RPI was almost in the 20s, so we know they're a NCAA team. It's a mathematical equation. I think they'll go deep in the tournament. There's teams capable of playing with them in this tournament, and we're sorry we couldn't put on a better show today.
THE MODERATOR: Now we'll take questions for the student athletes.
Q. Danika, just describe how tough it was to go against their defense.
DANIKA SHARP: Yeah, they were really physical, but that's just something that we have to get better at, me personally. I have to be able to handle the pressure, not turn the ball over. Like coach said, we had a lot of turnovers. That really hurt us because they got 29 points off of that. I think we should work on that more and come back ready after the off season.
Q. Mimi, talk about your first double double, going against some of those players that are so big and so long.
MIMI MUNGEDI: I mean, it was tough. But it's good that I have a double double. But the thing is their post is just bigger and way stronger. I mean, I don't think they stronger than me, but they just bigger body and they did bother me today, so...I just have to work on it and come strong next year.
Q. Danika, they came out on a 19 0 run. That had to be frustrating. You were trying to score. Wasn't working.
DANIKA SHARP: Yeah, that's just getting back on defense in transition and trying to stop the ball, getting back in the hole. We just didn't really do that because we turned the ball over a lot. That's where they got most of their points, in transition.
Q. You got it down to 12 in the second half. Talk about your mindset at that point.
DANIKA SHARP: I mean, I thought we had a lot more energy in the second half than we did in the first half. We knew we had to step up or it was going to be a blowout. We came up with more energy. We had to dig ourselves out of that hole.
Q. Danika, when you think about you have everybody coming back next year, just the experience from winning the game the other day, getting to this point, how does that bode for next season?
DANIKA SHARP: We're looking forward to having everyone back, getting a lot of experience, playing a lot of minutes with everyone else, just playing together.
I think next year should be a lot better.
Q. Danika, Mountain West, first season under the belt. What was the biggest difference between the WAC and the Mountain West?
DANIKA SHARP: Bigger, stronger, faster players (smiling). That's what it is.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions for coach Albright.
Q. I think every coach's nightmare is to play a game and not score a point. I was wondering if you were having that nightmare?
COACH ALBRIGHT: I probably will tonight. It will probably be recurring in the off season.
Again, just credit them because they jumped on us. There's an expression in basketball when you say: Take someone's eyes away. Mimi was wide open. We couldn't see her because of the pressure on our guards, that their guards were putting on our guards. Yeah, that was a coach's nightmare.
I was really proud of the way we did fight back because it could have been a situation that I've never been in.
Missed some free throws in that first half, but really, to cut it to 12 after that. It was mostly transition. Danika was right. They had two threes in transition and four more just layups.
Again, just credit them for being ready to play like a championship team, and we were in a little bit of shock.
Q. Looked like Danika wanted to score, especially from the outside. They were just on her.
COACH ALBRIGHT: Again, they've got a lot of bodies. We've got like a couple of bodies. We've recruited a couple more bodies. I think we have some athletes coming in that will help us.
They kept changing up who they put on her. She was trying to get open. I think they made us speed up. They made her speed her shot up. She knew she was only going to be open for a millisecond, millimeter, whatever that word is. She wasn't open for very long. Usually she has a little time to get her feet set.
We were setting screens pretty good, but, again, their defense is really good. I think they're better defensively than they are offensively, if that makes any sense. I know y'all might not believe that, but they're really good defensively.
Q. What was the game plan with Mimi and Danika?
COACH ALBRIGHT: You know, we talked a lot about how to defend them. Probably I think the game plan offensively was to get open. We had many possessions we didn't get in offenses. That was, again, frustrating because I think we could have gotten some shots.
But I don't really know what it does to the brain of an 18 to 22 year old to be down 0 19 and actually enter the game thinking we have a chance. We actually competed pretty well with them the first two times we played them. I think it just got us on our heels.
Q. Do you think Mimi held her own?
COACH ALBRIGHT: I think she did fine. Mimi has grown up a lot in the last two weeks. We've seen a great change in her. She was much more aggressive. They ended up calling two fouls on them in the second half. They're great officials, I never say a word. Those are the best officials in the country.
But I hope that next year she can be stronger and get some of those calls.
Q. Coach, Mimi improved a lot over the course of the season. In the off season, what do you do with her to get her better for next year?
COACH ALBRIGHT: Unfortunately the rules don't let me do much. That's the rules right now. I hope she can get a player development person and work with her, just play a lot. She needs to play. That's what we need. We're that team that if you know about that 10,000 hour rule of mastery of anything, doesn't matter whether it's playing the piano, concert pianist, anything, or basketball, Mimi's hours are pretty low in that. Just five on five playing a lot.
Our strength and conditioning people are really good at Nevada. We'll be working hard with that. I don't know if y'all saw maybe about four minutes left, we had three people that had our hands on the ball and they had one player that took the ball from our three people. Not only did she take it, she dribbled once and scores. You're shaking your head. That's just sheer strength. You can say it's attitude. It's not attitude. We want to be strong. We're not.
The quote that I wrote on the board, coaches always want to teach. The think I wrote on the board is, Every feast begins with a seed. I hope that last night or two nights ago the seed of just knowing what it felt like to be in a competitive situation in the Mountain West, that seed has been planted. I believe this year was planting the seed. We need it to grow, we need to water it, we need to get weeds out of our garden. We need to do a lot of things to get that feast and be able to participate.
Beth has done that with a very seasoned, veteran team. Her team was at out place a couple years ago and we beat them in the finals of our tournament with this young, young group. I think they were sophomores, maybe even freshmen. They will definitely have a feast in the month of March.
Q. The fact that you have everybody coming back next year, you got to think the experience you had this week is going to help with their hunger, motivation, their chemistry.
COACH ALBRIGHT: Well, I certainly believe that. I do think it fueled some things. We know we've got some weaknesses, too. We feel like we've got we still want to sign a couple players in the spring that we've got identified that can really make a huge difference in our production level. At this level it's not all about wanting to do well, it's about skill and physical strength. It's about a lot of things at this high level in the Mountain West.
Again, I think it was a good start for us as far as us just coming down here. Really when we had to kick Chanelle off the team a week ago, our team could have tanked. She was our leading scorer. They regroup. They're such great character kids, they really represent us well. We'll give them some time off.
This time last year when we lost in the tournament, we brought them back in and rode them hard. I'm not angry at them, I'm proud of them. I think our whole university has seen how tough it is in the Mountain West. Again, we want to be in it. We're not running. We're not going to leave or anything like that. We just stay in it and try to get better. We have had a good, clear vision of what we have to do to compete.
You heard Danika. Every player would give you that same exact answer.
Q. Nyasha LeSure was showing some brilliance out there today. How much has she grown?
COACH ALBRIGHT: I'm glad you said that about Nyasha. She missed two weeks with a concussion. She was cleared for practice not even a week ago. She was in our starting lineup for how many games, 16 games she was our starting forward. She just was out for almost two to three weeks.
I'm really, really proud of her. She's developed a lot, has got a lot of spunk. She was on my ballot for the all freshmen team. Really, really proud and pleased with her and believe that as a local product in Nevada, you know, her and Emily and Danika, they've got a lot invested in the whole Nevada thing.
We hope to have another person that we're signing this spring that will be invested in this whole thing, too. Not that the other ones aren't. But when you're born in the battle ready type thing, it's neat to see her be able to stay home and do what she's doing.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
COACH ALBRIGHT: Thank you y'all. Great job.