#AztecWBB-New Mexico Postgame Quotes
March 15, 2013
LAS VEGAS -
San Diego State Postgame Quotes
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by San Diego State. Coach, if we could start off with your remarks on today's game.
COACH BURNS: First, again, we'd like to congratulate New Mexico on a great season, great atmosphere yesterday and today. They have a lot of really, really skilled pieces. Appreciate that we've had battles with them three times over, and their young players are really going to be something and continue to develop.
For our team, you know, I really couldn't be prouder. What we do is hard to do. I'm not self aggrandizing it. I'm saying it's just effort. Get down, get in a stance, get after it. I think the way we've opened both games has been really impressive to us.
New Mexico has very good skill positions. If you allow them to run their stuff, they really can be good. We know we have to give that extra effort to disrupt what they want to do. I thought we did that just in spades early.
We got a little bit of fatigue in the second half, which led to a little bit too much fouling, a few more O boards than we would have liked. Overall I couldn't be prouder of our effort.
I thought Malia started the game great. When you're pressuring people, to have someone that can erase things at the cup well helps us. Today Kiyana Stamps was big off the bench. She's versatile, can play multiple positions. I thought the lift she gave us was very impressive.
Final comments, for those of you that were here yesterday, people wanted to talk about Chelsea and her assists. Chelsea says she does what's required. We were struggling a little bit offensively today. I thought you saw what she does. We needed her to score a little bit more, and she did.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student athletes.
Q. Chelsea, the general theme up here when New Mexico was at the podium was that you guys have this knack of jumping on people early, setting the tone right out of the gate. Is that easier said than done?
Chelsea Hopkins: Definitely easier said than done. When you start the game, you have to set the tone, the dynamic. That's what we live to do against every opponent. We want them to feel our presence, we're going to set the tempo of this game, we're going to maintain it. That's what we look to do every time we go out on the court.
Q. Malia, I want to talk about the defensive effort, you held New Mexico to 20% shooting from the floor. What was working for you on the defensive end?
Malia Nahinu: Well, we knew that this game would be a tough game, and we needed to come out with energy. As Chelsea said, Coach Burns always instills in us to come out and fight for what we want and come out strong in the first five minutes and really play defensive.
Our program is built on defense. We want to maintain that forever.
COACH BURNS: Great answer there. That was an answer (smiling).
Q. Chelsea, we've asked you this a zillion times. Do you feel like you're in the NCAA tournament if you don't win tomorrow?
Chelsea Hopkins: Well, we definitely don't want to leave any doubt in terms of tomorrow's game. I feel like the body of work kind of speaks for itself. We're on, what, like a 17 game winning streak. Not that we really pay attention to that kind of stuff. We work so hard. It's definitely been a goal of ours since the beginning of the season.
I think if we get the opportunity to get in, we could definitely turn some heads. We have the opportunity to win a few games. Definitely think we can compete with anybody in the country.
I hope we get that opportunity, that chance. We're going to play it one game at a time starting tomorrow. We're going to look for our shot.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions for Coach Burns.
Q. Getting back to what I asked Chelsea a minute ago, when you jump out of the gate the way you have the last two days, how much of an impact does that have on just draining the morale out of teams?
COACH BURNS: Obviously that's the plan. I think we have an experienced, older team. They were so excited. Our practices Monday and Tuesday were, I was like, Stop, stop, because our level of energy and excitement. You make them stay to task, stay to task, they can finally get to the tournament, a chance to cut down some nets.
I steal everything I say. Somebody said it first. Our separation's in our preparation. I have terrific assistant coaches who, as we speak, somebody's is in a Wyoming room, somebody in a Fresno State room. We've been breaking them down for the last three or four weeks. You can't overburden them. You have to give them key things.
You get confidence from great preparation. They trust in what they're being told and then they do it and have success with it.
With that said, you can't know. You can't know. You can come out with great energy. Every 50/50 ball goes to the other team. I think we're confident. We have quick hands. We've beaten people.
If you're playing somebody for a third time, the first five minutes are extra critical because we want to find a little doubt early. I think we've done a really good job in both games of doing that.
Q. I think these first two games you've held these two teams to 10 points below what you did in conference play, 13 below what you did overall. Are you maybe a little more impressed than even you thought you could be defensively this far in the tournament?
COACH BURNS: Ask me tomorrow. You play to win the game. I'll take Mark's question before he asks it, but you play to win the game.
I think for us, separation is important. How we win is important. I think our team understands that.
But more than anything, our team is not playing what's our RPI. They love to play. It's fun to play. If we play great defense, take the ball off the backboard, then I allow them to run. If they make a shot, then they have to run one of my plays, which sometimes are offensive, so they'd rather be able to run their own.
When we take it off the glass, we're really good. I think they have fun playing that way. That's really been more the difference. We have skilled people and they have some experience playing together.
I go back to January 9th when Fresno put 80 on us. I said in subsequent press conferences, We'll never know. Coaches don't need wake up calls. We're always awake and worried.
Really, credit to Fresno. Probably my disappointment overall is that we should get at least two and potentially three bids, because I'm telling you right now, Fresno and Wyoming, they could win a game. They could win a game and get in.
I've been in this league a long time and I'm glad I am. Mountain West this year is a lot better than Mountain West last year. We had three 20 game winners. New Mexico has a win over Texas Tech who I'm told is already in the tournament. We schedule ourselves to put in position to protect ourselves so we wouldn't have to win three in a row.
I think the things, like we've had double digit leads, we've never trailed in these games. I'm looking at notes because I never know these facts things. We've had big margins of victories against quality teams. It has got to help us.
You all know when I'm immersed in this, I have no idea what's happening in the conference tournaments nationwide. Bottom line is if you don't walk in the front door, there's a lot of upsets, sometimes your heart gets broken. We'll do the best that we can to not be in that position.
But I really think we have more than one team in the Mountain West that could get in and could win. If anybody's listening, anybody, I think that could happen.
Q. Back to the margin of victory. How much have those kind of games helped your second line players? What have you made of them so far in the tournament?
COACH BURNS: I think, too, getting healthier. Desi (phonetic) and Kiyana didn't start the season. As they get healthy and play, they really are capable of playing starter minutes.
I think we're in a situation where we've got to play to win and we've got to play the people who are ready to play to win. I think more than anything, when you're allowed to have separation, kids can get in and get some experience because they can make a mistake and it's not going to be crucial.
Q. They talked about hedging the ball screens higher. Is that something that you tweaked or something you did better?
COACH BURNS: Well, again, they can shoot it. Look at when they played teams in our league that are more zone teams. They can really shoot the ball.
I think we've gotten better at it. This is where we've really gotten better. At the beginning of the conference, I would say our team is going to guard ball screens this way, and that was it. We had to do what we thought would be most effective as a team.
Now I can say, if it's Durbin, do this. If it's Halasz, do this. We couldn't have done that two months ago. And now I think if they allow our staff to do the work to give them the nuances of what they're good at, we're savvy enough and experienced enough, with very little breakdown, we're literally guarding ball screens different ways depending on who's the guy with the ball.
Like this last eight, nine, ten games of the stretch have been really big for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, coach.
COACH BURNS: Thank you.
New Mexico Postgame Quotes
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by New Mexico. Coach, some comments on today's game.
COACH SANCHEZ: Sure. I'd like to congratulate San Diego State and Coach Burns not only for tonight's game obviously, but for an outstanding season. She represents our league very well. She'll represent our league very well in the NCAA tournament.
Her team is exceptional. They show you what championship teams do. That's a very good team. We had to play our best. They took us out of a lot of what we wanted to do. I just wanted to congratulate them.
That being said, I'm really proud of our kids. They battled till the end. It's tough. You start off 12 0. They continue to battle and continue to fight. That's what I expect from them and that's what they do.
I'm proud of my seniors, those four kids. They're not kids anymore, but they've represented our program and our university with class, with integrity. They're ambassadors to our program. They will not be forgotten.
It's one of those things, tough game for us, but we'll get better. We'll work in the off season and hopefully we'll be back here and maybe the next game.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student athletes.
Q. Talk about that 12 0 run and how hard it was to come right out of the gates and have them dictate so early on.
CAROLINE DURBIN: Yeah, they're really good at jumping on you early. I think they did the same thing against Nevada yesterday. They did it by getting out and running. They have everyone sprinting the floor as hard as they can. That's tough to guard. And they find each other really well.
KHADIJAH SHUMPERT: I also would agree. I think it was really hard for us because it kind of caught us by surprise when they came out and they just went on a 12 0 run, but...
Q. Did they show anything different for you this third time or the same as the first two games?
CAROLINE DURBIN: Pretty much the same thing. Pressure defense. Very good defense. They help well. They guard the drive, as well. I mean, their defense is pretty phenomenal.
Offensively they ran pretty much the same things as well as just getting out in transition. They're really good at that.
KHADIJAH SHUMPERT: The only thing that I would say was different than last time we played them was they hedged really high on ball screens. That was a tough transition for us.
Q. As a senior, talk a little bit about this season, but also the whole career.
CAROLINE DURBIN: It's not what I expected, the coaching change and everything. But I've really loved having Coach Sanchez. She really gave me a lot of opportunities. So I'll always be grateful for that.
That's about it. (Tearing up).
Q. Can you talk about the senior class that's leaving, those still on the team?
KHADIJAH SHUMPERT: Coming in as a freshman, our senior class definitely personally helped me a lot, taught me a lot of things.
It's going to be really hard losing Caroline, Jourdan, Chin and Jayme. When I go out there, I want to play like Jourdan, do something like Caroline. It's going to be really hard for me next year not to have them around.
Q. Caroline, can you talk about the transition between coaches. Seemed like you as the seniors were really leaned on by the staff to help with that transition.
CAROLINE DURBIN: Yeah, last year especially those seniors, we relied on them a lot. They kind of showed us the way, how to lead this year's team. They were a great example for us.
We had a much different team this year, a lot more depth.
But, again, I think those seniors last year showed us kind of how to lead, get everyone onboard, do what Coach wanted, all the staff wanted us to do.
Q. Talk about the foundation that you have been able to build under Coach Sanchez, what you have to do next year to take it a little further.
KHADIJAH SHUMPERT: I definitely think this year has been a really good year foundation wise with the freshmen that came in, who we still have for next year.
I think next year it's gonna be really tough obviously without our seniors, but I think we have something to build off of, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions for Coach Sanchez.
Q. Getting back to the start of the game, the 12 0. Was the way they did it surprising in any way?
COACH SANCHEZ: No, not really. That's the biggest thing we said, is they can't get loose early. They're notorious for doing that. They jumped on us right away. We were tentative on offense. We backed down a little bit, were on our heels. Those are the things we talked about.
That's what championship teams do, not necessarily on offense, they started it with their defense. That's what they're known to do. It's very good, a very daunting defense that they have. They guard you. They defend. They deny.
When we got on our heels a little bit, then they started their transition. We know they were capable of it. We wanted to prevent it early and we didn't.
Q. The size obviously was apparent. They were out rebounding, points all coming on layups early on. Can you talk about their size advantage.
COACH SANCHEZ: Well, we just didn't box out. The first play of the game was very indicative. The big kid shoots, misses, we don't box her out, she gets her own rebound and puts it back again.
They do have a little bit of a size advantage with a big kid. You got to get back to fundamentals and boxing out. That's what hurt us early, in my opinion. We didn't box out the first shooter. They go back and they're so good. Even the guards are good at getting their own rebounds because they pursue the ball like crazy.
If you look at the rebounding total, 32 38, we had 15 O boards, they had 11. I think we battled, and I'm proud of our kids for that. But you look at what they did to us on our offensive end, their defensive end. We had to earn everything. We were played on our heels. For a team like that, you can't do it.
Q. Seemed like you were able to slow them down when you were able to hold them into the halfcourt offense. Was that not something you had tried to do at the beginning?
COACH SANCHEZ: Well, we did want to make it a halfcourt game. What sparks transition is turnovers, which you can't give. We only had 13 turnovers. That's not bad against a team like that.
Shots that aren't really within the flow of your offense. If you don't take good shots, you turn the ball over, that will spark a transition. That's what happened in that run.
We didn't take good shots early, and it led to some of their transition baskets. When we got in a flow, in our halfcourt sets, started running some things, we did it well. We cut it to 12 at one point in the first half. Our runs were few and far between, then they turned up their defense.
Q. Talking about the turnovers, that's one of the things you talked about all season long, that contributed to a lot of the losses. Is it a positive sign that you were able to hold down the turnovers against a team like San Diego State today?
COACH SANCHEZ: Yeah, I think so. I really do. We've had 29 turnovers against them. So they're a very good defensive team. 13 turnovers. You look at our stat line, except for the field goal attempts and total, 11 for 54. Not 54, but that 11 should be a halftime total. We were 11 for the game.
So, again, you have to credit San Diego State and their defense and their schemes. It's nothing that you don't know. But once you still get into it, it's easier said than done.
Play with poise. Play with heart. I think our kids did that. But we had to attack the basket early and take it at 'em. And we just didn't do that.
Q. Can you talk about your offense. You couldn't hit anything really. Why do you think it was?
COACH SANCHEZ: It was because of their defense (laughter).
I mean, I can't say it enough. They took us out of everything that we wanted to do. Their defense is terrific. We were on our heels a little bit in the first part. They went on a 12 0 run. We got drives to the basket, but we looked at the defense instead of the rim.
Again, you got to credit San Diego State. It's what they do, and we know what they do. But it's easier said than done, you know, to go out there and trying to find a little bit of a bend in the armor. We did it in some spurts, but it wasn't enough, and it was few and far between.
Q. San Diego State, I think their RPI today is 47. May fall after this game even though they won. In the latest bracketology from ESPN, they're a 12 seed. That would indicate if they don't win tomorrow, there's a chance they may not get an at large berth. Can you comment on that, whether or not they deserve an at large berth?
COACH SANCHEZ: If you don't get San Diego State in at this point, it would be an absolute travesty. It would be completely unfair to them. Their body of work speaks for itself. They ran through the league. It's not their fault that their RPI drops when they play teams of a lesser RPI. They're a very good basketball team.
They will prove it once they get to the tournament. If by chance they don't win the championship, then I think our league should get two in.
That would just be ridiculous. I can't fathom a fact that San Diego State is not in right now, regardless of what happens tomorrow. They deserve it. Their program deserves it. Their staff deserves it.
I know I've seen stranger things happen in my 24 years of coaching, but that would not be the right thing to do.
Q. Looking forward, how do you replace the senior leadership? What are some of the building blocks you have that are coming back, coming into the program with the incoming freshmen?
COACH SANCHEZ: It's a good foundation that both classes, last year's class and this year's class, have left us.
Do you replace a Caroline Durbin? Probably not for a while. But it starts in the off season. You can't get better individually during the season. That's when your team progresses.
It starts in the off season when we get to working individuals. We're limited in time constraints what they can do. They've got to come in and do the extra work. And this group will. The group that's coming back will do that.
We have Khadijah Shumpert coming back, Jordyn Peacock, Bryce Owens, Sara Halasz, Deeva Vaughn. I'm going to forget some people, but we've got a very good core foundation. Ebony Walker, a transfer from Texas Tech will be eligible next year in the post. Whitney Johnson is a freshman really that will be back.
With the incoming players and our freshmen, we're pretty excited about what we're building. The standard again is set until somebody knocks San Diego State off. That's the bar and that's the standard. That's the level that we want to get to.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH SANCHEZ: Thank you.