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A&M Meets Press, Gears Up for Monday's Second Round

March 24, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION--Texas A&M coach Gary Blair and select players met with the media on Sunday as the Aggies prepare for their NCAA second-round showdown with Nebraska Monday night at Reed Arena.

Selected quotes are available below. Full audio is available in MP3 format through the link to the right.

 

 

2013 NCAADivision I women’s basketball championship

Second Round · Practice Day

Reed Arena · College Station, Texas

Sunday, March 24

 

PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES – Texas A&M

 

 

Gary Blair, Head Coach

 

Opening statement:

“First, I’d like to congratulate our crowd. Our season ticket base was 2,900 and now all of a sudden it’s 7,200, so that’s just a good job by marketing to get those tickets out there. From here on out it’s survive and advance. We begin the second half of this journey today and we’ll see if we can continue to figure out that formula. We’re going to play a very good and well-coached team tomorrow in Nebraska. It’ll be very similar to the great battles that took place when both Coach Connie (Yori) and I’s teams were in the Big 12. Their team reminds me of the Gonzaga team led by Courtney Vandersloot a few years ago. They’re very polished, they share the ball very well, and you can tell that when they switched from zone to man yesterday, Chattanooga couldn’t handle their pressure.”

 

On Kelsey Bone and her being under Brittney Griner’s shadow:

“It isn’t just Kelsey under her shadow, it’s our whole basketball team. It was only two years ago that we won the national championship, and last year we weren’t chopped liver getting to the Sweet 16, yet Obama’s picked Nebraska to win this game already. We feel like Rodney Dangerfield at times, but our student-athletes understand the game as much as any kids I’ve ever coached.”

 

On the Aggies’ Big 12 “reunion” with Nebraska:

“I’m proud to be in the SEC, but I think the SEC, the Big 12, and the Big East are all up there as some of the better conferences in the country. Connie (Yori) was one of the better coaches in the Big 12, but Nebraska made the right move in going to the Big Ten. They’ve done very well up there and it’s a great region recruiting-wise for them. This is going to be an outstanding ball game. Neither team is going to be capable of a blowout because they’re just too well-coached, too disciplined, and do a lot of things very well. We’re going to have to stop their offense that they run to perfection. They’re not going to rush and take the shot in the first 10 seconds that they have the ball, but rather allow the play to develop and wear you out. Even when you think you have them pinned down, Nebraska surfaces and makes you beat them. I’m looking forward to the matchup. No one is going to trick me into that question: “Which one do I like more, the Big 12 or the SEC?” because the NCAA is full of great conferences. Just look at the Big East with all the teams they’re adding this next year. They’re fixing to have a pretty darn good conference. It’s just change, and we all have to adjust to it.”

 

On Nebraska’s playing style and whether or not it has changed in recent years:

“I don’t think her (Yori’s) style has changed. The only thing that has changed is the fact that she’s not a two-platoon person anymore. She used to have so much depth that she could use two-platoon subs and wear teams out. You saw Matthew Mitchell at Kentucky do that just recently subbing five players into the game. But this year Yori won’t do that; you won’t see her take Moore, Hooper or Cady out unless those kids get into foul trouble. I think that’s the way you’ve got to play today: Know who your horses are and let them score.”

 

On Emily Cady:

“She’s going to put the ball on the floor and drive on us. “We’re going to have to stop those high post drives. She plays hard every possession. She’s one of those kids that doesn’t get all of the headlines but does all the dirty work. With a player like her you never know how she’s going to hurt you. I mean, with Hooper and Moore you just expect them to score and all you have to do is contain them, but Cady is solid, she plays hard and you have to keep an eye on her.”

 

On the Aggies’ inaugural year in the SEC:

“I love the SEC. I loved it when I was at Arkansas, but more importantly I love A&M. The SEC is great, but so was the Big 12, so why do I have to have a favorite? Would you rather have Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts? I want both!”

 

On Nebraska head coach Connie Yori:

“I love to study coaches. When Chattanooga went on that run yesterday and went up 9 in the second half, Connie was never flustered. That’s how you determine who can coach and who gets into panic mode. Connie is one of the best-kept secrets in college basketball. She needs to be coaching more USA teams, she should be up for more awards, yet still, you’re never going to pull Connie away from Nebraska to coach at another BCS school.”

 

 

Kristi Bellock, Senior, Forward

 

On Nebraska’s chance against A&M:

“We are a very good team and we are very well-coached. I think we are very tough and we have a lot of keys and when everyone comes with the right mind frame and go-out-there attitude this team can be very good and very dangerous. If I was Nebraska, I wouldn’t want to play us.”

 

On her greater role on the team:

“It has been a long journey. Coach Blair has talked my whole four years about always being ready when your time comes no matter what position you play or if you are coming off the bench. Always have that mindset to always be ready to produce in a game. Now that I’m a starter, he still reminds me that I have to produce and do something good in the game to help us win. My role on the team is very important along with Adrienne and Kelsey so if I don’t do my job then it’s easier for the defense to help on other people.”

 

Adrienne Pratcher, Senior, Guard

 

On playing a former Big 12 team:

“Since we have been in the SEC, I think we came in as the underdog. We were preseason ranked to finish fourth in the league, but we finished third. Going into the SEC and being able to be the first time SEC Championship showed a lot for us, from our coaching staff and as a team. Playing Nebraska tomorrow, coming from the Big 12 where we had many games against them and competed very well, I think they beat us my freshman year, but it’s good to see two former Big 12 teams going against each other tomorrow night.“

 

On the perimeter matchup:

“Lindsay Moore; we have talked about her since we knew Nebraska was in our bracket. She is a very good point guard. In the game yesterday, when they went man, the pressure from the guards played a big factor in Chattanooga’s offense; they weren’t able to score as many 3s.  With the guards we have, we will be able to attack them and kick the ball to the open players and feed Kelsey and Kristi in the post. I think we will be just fine against their pressure.”

 

On playing in her final home game:

“It’s definitely going to be emotional for us as seniors because it is our last home game, and I think the best way to go out as seniors is to win. There is no greater feeling than playing in front of the 12th Man. Yesterday, the crowd was amazing and throughout the game you could tell we were in front of our home crowd. The 12th Man here is very important so I think it will be a great game for us, coming out with a victory for our last game.”

 

 

Kelsey Bone, Senior, Center

 

On dealing with expectations:

“I noticed it in high school, around my sophomore year there were articles written and there became all this attention. It doesn’t really bother me or phase me. A lot of times people have all these expectations for me individually, but basketball is a team sport. The one thing I can say about my progression this year is due to the credit of my teammates. They believe in me and I believe in them as well. They make me look good. When people are double or triple teaming me, they are knocking down shots and finding ways to still get me the ball. It’s a credit to my coaching staff as well because we just figure it out. Teams are going to throw defense at me and try to find ways to slow me down, but we are a team and that has been the biggest thing and the most enjoyment I’ve had this year. If I kick a pass to the backside to Pratcher, there is a 40% chance that the ball is going in the basket. Kristi is going to knock down that high jump shot. Karla is going to come in and clean up the backside boards.  For me, there are all these expectations but I’m just focused on my team. Everybody is going to have expectations of me, but as long as my team is winning and we are playing well I’m okay.”

 

On defending Jordan Hooper:

“We have played a couple stretch forward players - Sarah Watkins at Arkansas to name one. I think our big thing on defense is that we are going to have to guard her even when she doesn’t have the ball. When Lindsey is coming down the floor we are going to have to pressure her so it makes it difficult to get the ball to Jordan. They run a lot of good things for her; they run her off screens. When you do have a post player on her who is not used to playing through screens, sometimes it creates matchup difficulties. We are excited about the matchup. She is a great player and it’s going to be a great test for us moving forward if we plan on surviving and advancing. It is going to be a great matchup and a good thing to keep your eye on during the game.”

 

On coming back to the SEC:

“Growing up I always loved the SEC. When I was younger, Tennessee was winning championships, LSU was going to Final Fours, and Georgia was really good, so I always loved that conference and liked that style of play a lot. That played a big factor in that decision initially, but being homesick, I came back home. I never expected to play in the SEC again once I left. My first summer here, we thought that we would go back the first year I was eligible to play and that didn’t happen. When it finally did happen, to go back and I remember my freshman year we lost the first game in the SEC tournament and I was just devastated. So to go back in the same arena that I played that first game and to win an SEC championship, I couldn’t have written that script any better. It’s just a testament to the group of girls I play with. We are having fun and enjoying what we are doing right now. We are in a good spot.”

 

On Kristi Bellock:

“It’s funny because if Kristi doesn’t knock down that shot with the consistency that she does then teams have to pay way more attention to me. If her defender is bigger, then she will double team me. So if she is not consistently knocking down the shot it makes my life a little bit more difficult. When you start talking about the way she can push the ball in transition, or the way she runs the floor, she can stretch defenses as well. It is exciting to play with her. She is a lot like Adaora was for us last year. Now a lot more attention is paid to me than was last year. When she is clicking on all cylinders we are a hard team to beat. Lately for us, she has been that and we have been a hard team to beat.”

 

On staying out of foul trouble:

“It’s definitely important. Sometimes when teams have game plans for me, lately I’ve been helping them with their game plans a little bit. I know that they are going to key in on some matchups and they will try to get me in foul trouble again so I have to play smarter and know that my teammates have my back on defense. It is going to be very important because they are a much bigger team and they can stretch it and shoot it. It will be important for me to spend a lot of time on the floor instead of on the bench in the first half.”

 

 

LOCKER ROOM QUOTES – Texas A&M

 

 

Courtney Walker, Freshman, Guard

 

Excitement of getting her first NCAA tournament win with a great crowd:

“It was a lot of fun, to get the jitters out early. When the energy got picked up, the crowd and the sound really got us going.”

 

On Nebraska:

“It’s a completely different team than when I used to watch them at OU and OSU, but they still have the same concepts. We’ll be ready to play tomorrow and we’ll get the game plan. We’ve watched a lot of film already and we’ll watch some more, but that will really help us learn their personnel.”

 

 

Karla Gilbert, Junior, Center:

 

On yesterday’s win:

“It was very exciting. I think this might be the biggest crowd we’ve had so far this season. So it’s good seeing the support we have from the community. We’re one step closer to New Orleans.”

 

On getting to play the first and second rounds at home:

“Having the support and a lot of people’s family and friends there, one your home court, who wouldn’t like being at home in one of the biggest tournament games of the seaso? It’s an awesome feeling.”

 

On Nebraska:

“From watching film, we know that they like to spread the floor, drift a lot. They hustle for rebounds. It should be a good game.”

 

On any improvements A&M needs to make before tomorrow:

“We need to stop the ball faster. No more lane line drives, and be able to pick up faster whenever there is a mistake.”

 

 

 

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