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Duke-Winthrop Quotes
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 03/21/2014
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First Round • No. 15 Winthrop vs. No. 2 Duke
Cameron Indoor Stadium • Durham, N.C.
Friday, March 21

First Round Quotes  – Duke

Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie
Opening statement:
“We’re very excited to get started. We’ve had a great five-game run and we’ve been improving and have come a long way. We’re really becoming a much better rebounding team and everybody has stepped up in different ways. We’re just really excited to play. This is a great time of year. We’re just really excited about what we hope to gain by playing and seeing an improvement from there.”

On injuries at the point guard position:
“I’ve been looking for any place, ever, where something comparable has happened. I thought to myself, ‘We always wanted to make history, but that’s not exactly the kind of history we want to make.’ It’s obviously been a very difficult situation. I’ve gained great personal strength from the team and their resiliency. They’re young, too. They just bounce back. I’ve had some difficult private moments, just not even being able to believe some of the news that’s been given at times. All-in-all, it’s been quite a year that way. A season is a lifetime. I’d say that fits for us. What’s made it incredible is a great, super staff that just marches on and an incredible team that just keeps going and adjusting. This group has only played five games together, and four out of the five we’ve been dominant rebounding. That’s better than we were doing before. We look for every opportunity to grow and get better. We all have faith and I don’t think we’ve ever been too bitter. I know I’ve had some of that myself, and I had to work my way out of that, but usually it was pretty easy to do, coming to practice, being motivated by the team. Some coaches talk about being great motivators, but sometimes the team motivates.”

On Ka'lia Johnson’s contributions:
“A-plus impressive. Unbelievable. It’s interesting when you get into the character of a person. Ka’lia is a lot better commander than a follower. That’s the thing about Ka’lia. She doesn’t exactly like to sit on the sidelines, so we have had an enormously enjoyable relationship, from her freshman year onward because she’s been developing and growing into many roles, but I think it’s really interesting that she’s been absolutely dunked into this role and she is quite comfortable with it because it’s part of her personality. She comes from a military family and understands the way things are supposed to be. Do we have precedence for a three guard to become a point guard, and to do as well as she has done? We’re very proud of her, and Ka’lia hasn’t gotten much press for that. That’s her nature. She just likes to be in charge, and when she’s in an in-charge position, she flourishes, and that’s something that’s really going to help us next year. She’s evolving, and for her professional career, playing the three, the two and the one is a lot better than just playing the three.”

On Duke’s first-round opponent, Winthrop:
“All of these teams are really good and people come ready to play. They all know how to win and the women’s game has tried to catch the men’s game, with more equity across the board. They’re a super team. They are guard driven. They are very quick. They have one of the best players around in Dequesha McClanahan, and Erica Williams has really come on for them. I’m amazed at how physical Wlliams plays, because she’s just a freshman, and she takes on everybody. If you watch them play South Carolina, a No. 1 seed, this team almost beat them at South Carolina, so that’s a terrific game for us to learn from. They’re very well-coached, but guard driven. They’re quick. They’ll try to get into the gaps. Transition defense will be very important to us and shutting down the gaps, going after McClanahan and Williams, and making sure nobody gets too excited.”

Duke Forward Haley Peters
On competing in her final NCAA Tournament:
“It’s our last go around, our last new season of the year and like [Coach P] said, we just want to make the most of it. Being able to be in Cameron [Indoor Stadium] for our first two games is really special thing for us going out, and we’re just trying to extend our season for as long as we can, play as many games as we can, and grow as much as we can, and just make the most out of it.”

On what the team has learned from adversity this season:
“We’ve been remarkably consistent throughout it all and what our mindset is and everybody just believes in us as a team – our teammates and ourselves individually. When things have happened, I think we’ve been pretty quick to readjust our mindset and get back on the same page. I don’t think that any of us have spent much time thinking about how hard it’s been or how tough it’s been. It’s just been focusing on the next step and where we go from here and what do we need to learn about each other and how do we need to grow to be as good as we can be in our situation. I think we’ve done that.”

Duke Guard Tricia Liston
On competing in her final NCAA Tournament:
“I agree with Haley [Peters]. Playing in Cameron is really nice for us, being able to play in front of our home crowd and fans again, but we’re just trying to take it one game at a time and earn the right to play another game with this team because after that we’re moving on and we won’t be able to play under coach or with our teammates again. I think it’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that. The tournament is a really fun time but at the same time, any game can be your last so we’re just taking it one game at a time and really living in the moment of it.”

On playing the point guard position:
“It’s a little bit different, but last year I did some of the same things, so I knew what to expect and I knew that I was going to have to play some of the point guard. Ka’lia Johnson [Duke Forward/Guard] has also done a great job of also fulfilling that role, but I think that everyone was forced into stuff out of their comfort zone with the circumstances we’ve had this year so I have had more than any others have had to do. I’m happy doing whatever it is playing the point guard or whatever it is for us to be successful in each stadium.”

Duke Forward Elizabeth Williams
On playing for the graduating class:
“I think that [Haley and Tricia] said it, that playing for this team and the opportunity to bond on and off the court is great and the seniors have definitely been great leaders for us and I’ve learned a lot playing with them.”

On role changes due to injury:
“I think that all season we have tried to play inside-out but I think that even more now it is a big deal for us because we’ve had such a big size advantage over a lot of teams and lineups. And defensively, staying a big presence with Haley playing the top of some of our defenses and Tricia playing the back is being able to communicate more.”

First Round Quotes  – Winthrop

Winthrop Head Coach Kevin Cook
Opening Statement:
“First off thank you all for being here and supporting this great sport of women’s basketball and covering us, we do appreciate it. We’re very happy to be here and represent Winthrop University and the Big South Conference. For Winthrop, our first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. I’m proud of these three players here and the whole team. We deserve to be here and we’re looking forward to tomorrow at 11 a.m.”

On this opportunity:
“It’s a great opportunity, I’d like to echo what a couple of the players said, we have nothing to lose. This is one of the elite programs in the country. We’re going to come in with no fear. If we can survive the first five minutes of the game I think we’re going to be golden. That’s what happened to us at South Carolina. We dug ourselves a 14-0 hole, but we learned from that game, we’ve matured since then and in a nutshell, this is a one game series. You don’t have to win four out of seven, three out of five. We have to win one game and we are really looking forward to it.”

On Duke’s seed:
“Once again, they’re one of the elite programs in the country. That seeding could’ve gone either way. Maybe they may have taken in to account the injuries, but I still think they’re pretty good, injuries or not. They play pretty well even being banged up. What do they have nine or so Kodak All-Americans?”

On what the team looks like at their best:
“When we’re playing at our best, we’re up-tempo. As you saw in the finals of the Big South Tournament, we put it in overdrive. Like Duke, we have five players that average over 30 minutes a game. When we can get some contributions from our bench, that’s icing and we’re going to need to hit some 3-balls tomorrow, no doubt about it. We’ve got some capable players to do so. We’re looking forward to them getting in there and making a couple. One being Zoe Vernon who only lives 10 minutes from here. So we’re excited.”

On Zoe Vernon:
“Zoe can shoot the eyes off the basket. She’s a tremendous shooting and again, she’s coming off a knee injury… it’s her freshman year, so she’s adjusted to that and she can shoot with anybody that I’ve seen.”

On Zoe Vernon recruiting process:
“One, she’s a 4-point student. She could’ve gone anywhere academically. She was recruited by the Ivy schools. We’re just happy that she’s at Winthrop and I know that she’s very excited about playing here tomorrow and being so close.”

Closing statement:
“Again, really want to thank everyone for coming out and hope that you make it to breakfast with us tomorrow at 11 in the morning. We look forward to it.”

Winthrop Guard Dequesha McClanahan
On the culture change of Winthrop’s women’s basketball team:
“I think a lot has changed for myself, as well as my teammates, especially Tiffany Charles, who’s been at Winthrop with me for the last four years. We came in with the mentality that we wanted to get something out of our senior year. I’m very proud to have Charles and [Samiya Wright], who’s been with me for four years. We’ve all had the same mentality. I could just tell that, from freshman year to now, a lot has changed and we’ve matured. We want something more out of our senior year.”

On playing in the first NCAA Tournament game in Winthrop history:
“We know we have nothing to lose. We’re going to come out, play hard and leave it all out there. Whatever happens, happens.”

Winthrop Guard/Forward Erica Williams
On playing in Cameron Indoor Stadium:
“It’s a great opportunity. Playing here at Duke is a big deal for us. We’re out here to play basketball, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

On playing in the first NCAA Tournament game in Winthrop history:
“It’s just a game. We don’t take it as strongly as the other games, or less as another game. It’s just another game. As we play our game, then we should be okay.”

Winthrop Guard Tiffany Charles
On nearly defeating South Carolina:
“Basically, from that game, we learned that we can play with anyone. We have the talent. Once we’re able to work and play our brand of basketball, we can hang with any team.”

On matching up against Duke:
“We’re a small team and we know that Duke is a big team. We’ve seen a lot of that this year. It’s nothing new to us. One person we have been keying on is one of [Duke’s] shooters and their post player. We just play our brand of basketball.”