PRACTICE DAY, 3/23/12
DUKE UNIVERSITY (Blue Devils)
HEAD COACH - PRESS CONFERENCE
Joanne McCallie, Duke, Head Coach
Can you talk about how (Elizabeth Williams) has held up with a stress facture - how's she playing, how's she feeling?
"I think Elizabeth is an incredible warrior. I think she is doing well under the circumstances. I don't think she is playing to her highest level, in a sense of what she has done statistically in the season. She is doing everything she can to help our team. I think she struggles after obviously any practice, or any activity. That is when the soreness is greatest. We got a terrific training staff. Summer is working with her 24/7. She always has something hooked up to her leg. We are really grateful she can work through it. Work through it and play and be able to keep needs.
Are you changing your play due to Elizabeth's injury
Well we've just been trying to play the way we play. She has played quite a few less minutes, you know in the first two games anyways. Trying to not play her, as much is key. She is a 34-minute game player but other than that I would say not. She knew she would have to deal with this and wear that air cast and do the things she has to do and just try and free her up to play her best and do what she can.
What do you make of St. John's and this (Sweet Sixteen) match up?
They are just a terrific team, a talented group of individuals and well coached. Played very hard and they have quickness in all five positions. They press, they run, they are terrific in position. They defend off and on ball extremely well. You know it is just great to see. Their coach has been there for ten years now. And it is great to see her and her staff's efforts overtime. I just think they are a terrific basketball team. They have beaten a lot of good basketball teams and this is a tournament with a lot of good teams and we are excited to play and we have enjoyed trying to figure it out. To me, they are quite a lot different than Vanderbilt.
Well again, the quickness in all five spots. Talking about the athleticism on the court, Vanderbilt is a great team too but there is a lot of quickness there on the floor to deal with.
Your team has had a few bumps in the road, but they are playing well now, what makes you feel now that your team can get to the Final Four?
We just stay in the moment really. We've been working to get better. We had a great regular season to win the ACC outright given the schedule we play was hugely significant for this young team. The bump we took in the NCAA tournament and the lessons there were pretty extraordinary for us having played in that championship for four straight years, that was a big hit. So learning for that, I think we are sharing the basketball. If we continue to share the basketball, 28 assists in a NCAA game is extraordinary. Our record, I think, is 30. So I think if we continue to find a way to share the ball, and that's not always easy, simply because of different kinds of defenses. But, if we can find each other and keep our offensively balance why simply understanding defensively what to do. Of course, rebounding is the x-factor. We are kind of just in the moment. St. John's is a great team and that is all we are thinking about. That is all you really can think about at this time.
Stanford has already played here this year, and of course they are a 2-3 hour drive. Is this an advantage for them because they are going to have a lot of fans and everything?
That's women's basketball, there are different circumstances. We were obviously at a disadvantage at Vanderbilt. But it is what it is, if someone is at an advantage that's ok too. That is part of the tournament, so sometimes teams can feel advantaged or teams can feel disadvantaged. But I would rather just get ready for the next opponent. I don't think you have a lot of time to think about if you have an advantaged or disadvantaged.
Has Chelsea (Gray) talked about coming back here?
We have talked about that quite a bit. Obviously being in Nashville, we didn't talk about it a lot prior until to won the two games in Nashville and then we talked about it a lot of on plane ride home in terms of taking her home, bringing her back to California. Chelsea (a native of Stockton, Calif.) is one of the best point guards in the country and you could argue that she is the best passing point guard in the country. She has developed a great deal this year and to bring her west or for her to bring us west, whatever way you want to look at that, I think is a great thing for our team. We're very excited for her.
You get friends, coaches, old teammates and people who are going to make the track down here to see her. That can put pressure on a kid, is that part of the conversation you have with her?
I think for Chelsea, she does very well with the support from her family and friends, it's just a rarity and it's a nice thing for her. I would say her maturity as a leader of our team and a point guard has really risen. She just wants to win and compete. That really seems to trump everything else. I feel good about it for her. It's a shot in the arm for her in this archousous journey, which it is. The NCAA tournament is so tough, with all the traveling but I think it's a nice shot in the arm for her in a good way, and she will mange just fine.
You have a young team, have you had to do anything special to get the youngsters ready for the March Madness experience?
We had a lot of communication, and one on one communication as we developed as a team. We have had tremendous adversity this year, which really forced our hand in maturity. Losing Amber Henson to injury, losing Richa Jackson to injury, Chloe Wells, we've had a lot go on so I think by having those things go on we have grown up a great deal. Her average age is 19 years old, we are quite young, but I do think we have some wisdom from those experiences. Now that you ask me that question, I know that there were coloring books on the airplane, so I'm not sure what that means.
Can you talk about the teams that are here?
I think it's a great regional. I would agree, that it is a very tough regional. I think they all kind of are. These teams are terrific. As you know, Stanford has a long history and Tara does a great job there. And Don is doing a great job with her South Carolina team and they are so scrappy and they play so hard. It should be tough, because you are trying to advance and it gets harder as you go.
STUDENT-ATHLETES - PRESS CONFERENCE
Chelsea, how many miles is it from here to Stockton?
Gray: It's about 75 miles, not that far at all. It's about an hour and a half drive.
What's the scope of folks making the trip down the 99?
Gray: I have a lot of tickets for family from my teammates and it's about 50 people.
Chelsea when you found out what the brackets were like, this is probably something you've been aiming for, can you tell me a little bit about the experience coming back here and how excited you are about it?
Gray: We have really stressed that we're taking one game at a time, starting with the first game against Samford and when we played Vanderbilt, but it was an exciting road. I mean, Nashville was a great host site and we had a lot of fun there and it's good to be back home, but we're here to take care of business.
Shay or Haley, if you want to weigh in a little bit on your teams passing and how you've really been able to move the ball so effectively to get this far, your coach said that's the key this game too and also your take on St. John's.
Peters: I think our last two games we've taken big steps forward in terms of executing offensively and moving the ball and not really taking dribbles where we don't need them and you kind of saw the result of that in the last game, we had 28 assists. That's something for us to just keep building on and to not bug out of if we get in tight situations, just trust the stuff that we have and our ability to execute it and score with it.
Shelby: Like Haley said, 28 assists last game was obviously good so...it doesn't hurt that everyone was hitting their shots and we had a pretty good shooting day. I think we just need to roll off that and continue our team chemistry and everyone just play together; that's been a key for us since day one.
Chelsea, what do you make of St. John's and they've never been this far, but just a month ago they beat UConn on their home court, so there's a little momentum I'm sure that comes from that.
Gray: This is probably an exciting process for them. I'm excited to get on the floor with them. I know they're an excellent penetrating team and we're definitely going to have to clog the lane and have extreme help side. We'll have to go over a lot more stuff on the court to really know exactly what they do.
Shay, can you just talk about being the only senior starter and what you've had to do to help the young kids get ready for this kind of experience?
Selby: Well obviously we have four freshmen that have never been in this situation; the sophomores are pretty mature for their age, they got to go through this last year, not too worried about them. But I think our key focus has been just staying focused and knowing that this is a business trip; of course it's nice to travel and see all of these nice places, but at the end of the day we have one goal in mind and that's what we're here to do.
Haley can you talk a little bit about Smith and her injury and how it has impacted her and how it impacts you on the floor?
Peters: I think she's done a great job handling it. She has said that it's more of a mental thing than a physical thing for her, just trying to put the pain in the back of her head and she's done a tremendous job with it. Her production has been pretty much the same as it's been all year and she's just playing hard, diving on the floor still and it just doesn't seem to effect her and she's a great teammate to have on the floor and I know regardless of how she's playing she attracts a lot of attention and that opens the floor up for a lot of us on the outside, cutting to the basket, anything like that. But she has done a great job with it.
Chelsea, playing so close to home, is it added excitement or added pressure?
Gray: It's just added excitement, I mean, I've played in front of those family members before in the past, but it's just an added excitement.
Chelsea, following up on that, your coach just said that you guys weren't allowed to talk about you coming home until after you got through Nashville, what have the conversations been like getting Chelsea home to northern California?
Gray: It's been more excitement from the team. I think a couple of them have never been to California, so I was just excited to have the opportunity to play in front of a lot of my family members and friends. So it was more of an exciting process; I mean it was always in the back of our mind that we wanted to go to the next round, but we also took one game at a time.
Your coach just said you brought some coloring books on this trip out here. What's up with that?
Selby [Laughing]: We had a bag of fun for the long trip over here. We had coloring books, 3-D glasses, and catchphrase; I guess we kind of forget that we're kids at heart, we're pretty goofy and it was something to occupy our time and it sure did.
Who put those [coloring books] together?
Selby: Some of the coaching staff and we didn't even know they were going to bring it until we saw it and our eyes lit up.
What were the coloring books?
Selby: I think we had a Dora, we had Thomas the choo-choo train.
For any of you, why don't you talk about the match up a little bit and the keys to coming out of this game with a win?
Peters: We'll they're a great penetrating team, offensively they have talented guards that like to go into the paint and that are quick and fast on the floor and offensively they're really aggressive, they'll trap you and try to throw you off of your game a little bit. I think some keys for us is to stay really poised and execute well, ball-fakes, things like that and not let ourselves get sped up by their pressure and to make sure that we shut down the paint and shut down penetrators.
Selby: Taking care of the ball will be key, we don't want any turnovers to fuel their transition offense.
Following up on that line of questioning, I know that there's been a lot of talk about your bigs, but it seems like you're a pretty balanced team, that your guards can withstand that kind of...You've been in the ACC.
Selby: Like you said, playing in the ACC, it's one of the better defensive conferences and playing against teams like Miami and Maryland, where they're going to get after it, it kind of prepares us for...I think our guards do pretty well in taking care of the ball and starting the offense, and executing things and I think that's really going to be key for us, like I said earlier, just turnovers and taking care of the ball.
STUDENT-ATHLETES - LOCKER ROOM QUESTIONS:
Tricia Liston, Duke, So., Guard
How excited are you to be playing in the 2012 NCAA Fresno Regional?
We're really excited, especially me, I've never been to Cali and I'm from Chicago. So we're excited to be here and we're ready to play. Just taking one game at a time and trying to come out and play our game.
What do you think it's going to take to be successful during the Regional?
I think coming out with the same energy that we've come out with the first two games and being really focused on just doing the things on defense and offense that we always usually do. Just playing with the energy and aggression that we need to come out with (to get) the win.
Allison Vernerery, Duke, Jr., Center
How excited are you to be playing in the 2012 NCAA Fresno Regional?
We're really excited! The trip was exciting coming all the way out here to California. This time of the season is just all about the fun that we can have from all these games. We're here to just enjoy it and make the most out of the tournament.
What do you think it's going to take to be successful during the Regional?
I think just being focused and coming up with a lot of energy like we have done in the past. We've had really good group cohesion so just keeping it up.
What are you looking forward to most about tomorrow's game?
We have been practicing for so long and we had a long break between the end of the regular season and the NCAA tournament. So were just looking forward to finally coming out and playing hard.