home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 17, 2017

Karl Smesko

Jordin Alexander

Taylor Gadinjan

China Dow

Coral Gables, Florida

COACH SMESKO: We're excited to represent the Atlantic Sun Conference in the NCAA tournament. We know that we have a great competitor to go up against, in Miami. They're an excellent time, very well coached. Good at every position. So we have our work cut out for us, but we're excited for the opportunity, and we're preparing to give our best effort.

Q. Taylor, how much momentum are you hoping to carry over from winning the way you did in the title game, having to rally and all that?
TAYLOR GRADINJAN: I mean, I hope so. It's always good to go in with a lot of energy and momentum, so if we could remember what it feels to win like that and carry it over to tomorrow's game, we need to come out with energy and bring it the entire game, and hopefully we get the outcome we want.

Q. As a follow-up, the 2 and 5 or whatever it was at the start is obviously not something that you all are used to over there. How difficult was it to believe that this was going to be a process and that there was still a lot of basketball to be played? How difficult was it to not get too down just based on the early results of the season?
TAYLOR GRADINJAN: I don't know. We were still learning in the beginning of the season. We had a brand new team, and we were still trying to come together. So it was a struggle in the beginning just to come together and start playing well together and learn each other's abilities. So we knew that was going to happen, so it didn't really get us down, but we had to keep fighting through it. And I think that's one of the reasons why we're so good now is that we fought throughout the season because we knew we had to keep improving if we wanted to make big things happen.

Q. Jordan, not to give away any secrets or anything, but what have you guys seen looking at Miami and what can you say about the kind of challenge that they'll be tomorrow?
JORDIN ALEXANDER: Yeah, like Coach said, they're a great team. I think one of the biggest advantages for us is our preparation. Coach is one of the best in the country in that aspect, and I think the team is really embracing that. And if we can go out there and just execute our game plan, I think, yeah, we'll be in a good position.

Q. Ladies, how does it feel to be closer to it for China, and Jordan?
CHINA DOW: It feels good. You know, I came here my freshmen year, but it feels good to be here with this team because everybody was doubting us. But I think it feels great. I think it's going to be fun. We just gotta enjoy the moment.

JORDIN ALEXANDER: Yeah. No. I'm so excited. Yeah, it's been a dream for me like ever since I was a little kid to play in a NCAA tournament. So I'm really excited for us to have an opportunity to compete at this level.

Q. How is your shoulder?
JORDIN ALEXANDER: Yeah, no. It's feeling good actually, so yeah, I've been doing some rehab on it and everything this week. So it's feeling good today.

Q. Popped it back in? Was that accurate? What happened?
JORDIN ALEXANDER: Yeah, yeah, it just like -- yeah, it popped out and then it popped back in on its own. So it's not like a full dislocation, but yeah, it's all good.

Q. Ever happen before?
JORDIN ALEXANDER: Yeah, it has happened before, so I like knew the feeling and everything. So I just had to like get the strength back. It's like really weak right when it happens.

Q. Taylor, what advice have you had for teammates whom this is their first NCAA tournament game?
TAYLOR GRADINJAN: I mean, just coming in, being excited and still being able to control that excitement. We're here for a reason. We do have a game plan to follow. We can't slip up, because we're playing a good team, and basically just sticking to what we know and not letting the excitement get to them?

Q. Karl, I recall over in Naples -- or I'm sorry, over in?

Q. Thank you. I'm sorry. It's been a long day. I remember we talked when you were 2 and 5, too, and you knew it was going to be a process, but was there something that you could point to that said, okay, this is where we're starting to get it? Was there a point or was it just like a natural progression?
COACH SMESKO: Yeah, it was pretty slow and incremental. I think one of the reasons and maybe the biggest reason we were able to make progress during the year is we have a great staff, the assistant coaches. And we had so many new players, and they needed a lot of talking to and getting on board with how we do things. And our assistants did a great job of getting people back into the program and how we do things and the attitude that you need to have.

And that with, you know, we have leadership with Jordy and Taylor. But we definitely needed the assistants' help to get people progressing and just having the attitude that, yeah, this isn't where we want to be as a program, and the only way to change that is to get a little bit better each day and have a good attitude about it and pull this together.

I can remember when we were 2 and 5, you know, we talked about it. And I told them, hey, I've never been 2 and 5 as a coach, so this is new for me, too. So the only thing I know to do is to go back to work and compete at it and try to help you as best I can and hopefully you guys will have the same attitude.

Q. Going through that adversity, going through having a chance to host and then losing the finale at home and all that and having to go into a place and deal with more adversity. How much did what you went through in November ultimately help you last weekend?
COACH SMESKO: It's tough to say. You would think that it did. Our players and our fans are very close, and our fans are also very honest to them, where at the beginning of the year, you know, they would have to hear that you're not playing like FGCU.

This isn't what we're used to seeing. So to overcome that and to start feeling confident in the way we were playing, and then, you know, to have a setback and be able to respond well to it -- I thought we were all really disappointed when we lost our last home game so we wouldn't be able to host. But I did think there was a feeling within our locker room that everybody in there thought we could still win the tournament if we had the right attitude. So it was pretty comparable to having the right attitude after a slow start. So I think it definitely helped us.

Q. Finally, I'm sorry to filibuster, but you're the only team of the four that's sort of on a quote-unquote normal schedule. You played a few days ago. Everybody else has been off 11, 12, 13, 14 days. One, do you like that for the women's tournament, how that seems to be so common? And two, is there any advantage in being closer to a normal routine than the teams that have been sitting around for a couple of weeks?
COACH SMESKO: You know, we've done both, and you may think one is an advantage over the other, but I'm not sure that you could really prove it. Like when we had -- I think the year we played St. Bonaventure, I think we had two weeks that time. I would have to check to make sure. But you get a chance to take a couple days off, and then you get to really hit fundamentals for a week and then you can get to the preparation, and I enjoy that. I think the players enjoy just getting back out there and playing another game.

So I'm not sure one's an advantage over the other. I think you could have arguments either way.

Q. For any of the three players, there's a degree of athleticism all over the floor for Miami that's about as good -- I guess maybe as you guys have seen, including their interior players. Just how do you approach that and how do you address that?
CHINA DOW: I mean, honestly, I think when we was in the tournament we got a little taste of athleticism playing Ohio State and stuff. And I think we'll be fine as long as we go with what Coach tells us to do. As long as we do everything we need to do, I think we'll be fine.

JORDIN ALEXANDER: I think our defense is going to be huge, little things in that area, and yeah, boxing out. So I think that'll kind of help combatting that athleticism a little bit. Just doing the little things that Coach has been preaching all year.

Q. This is kind of for any of the players. Does it ever get tiring? Maybe that's the wrong word. But you -- the program gets so much notoriety for threes. It's the hashtag, all that. But there's obviously much more to the system. It's not like you're coming down and jacking five 3s a game. Is it a little bit frustrating or do you think maybe it's a little bit of a misunderstanding that that's all this program is five out, just going to shoot it, first one to touch it is just going to jack it up? Have you ever found that to be disappointing or frustrating in any way?
TAYLOR GRADINJAN: I mean, I don't find it disappointing. I think it's more our fans thinking we're really good three-point shooters. And it is something we do, and we always work on it, and we take pride in how our shooting percentage is, but no, it doesn't limit us to just our three-point shots. And we know as players very well that that's not all we do. We're taught very detailed, complex stuff day by day, and we don't take disrespect people that say raining threes or anything like that. We just know that's what they understand about us.

Q. Karl, you have a smile on your face evaluating Taylor's answer there to some degree. Do you want to give us a critique of perspective?
COACH SMESKO: I think she's doing excellent. I think they've all been doing a very good job up here.

Q. You seemed pleased with her perspective.
COACH SMESKO: It just -- she understands how we play. She's been here the longest. So she has a very good understanding of how we play basketball at FGCU, and I thought she did a good job saying -- hey, she knows there's more to it than threes, but she doesn't get offended if somebody wants to emphasize the threes, especially, I mean, Taylor is pretty good at threes.

Q. Taylor and China, I think you're both back next season. So to Jordin, just can you talk about this one and only opportunity for you?
JORDIN ALEXANDER: Yeah, I mean it's been an incredible experience so far. I couldn't have asked for a better way to go out. And yeah, just have the opportunity to be coached by one of the best coaches in the country and play for such great teammates and everything, it really has been an awesome experience.

Q. Karl, do coaches call you in the summer and ask you to kind of explain the system? I mean you can't look at one or two games and figure it out.
COACH SMESKO: You know, I mean we get called by coaches from time to time, particularly at the college level, who want to better understand what we're doing. And I have sat down with coaches before. It's not something I really like to do. But when I think about it in terms of I like learning from other people. So it's only fair to take some time to help teach other coaches as well.

But we have a style that you have to be really committed to, so it's not something, like we will sprinkle in some things from what we see from others, but our style isn't something that you could really sprinkle in. You've gotta be committed to it and teach it every day or it just isn't going to work for you. And I think sometimes when we go over it with people, they're like, wow, that's really good. I don't know that I want to invest that much into making that exactly who we are.

Q. I'm guessing you're okay with that?

Q. China or Jordin, we've asked the men recently about the university-wide success athletically and the baseball team is just having a tear right now, and the men were talking about you guys. This is the first year both basketball teams are in the tournament the same year. Can either of the newer ladies on the floor I guess offer your perspective on -- maybe Jordin just because it's one year in -- what it's like seeing that, being within that?
JORDIN ALEXANDER: Yeah, I mean it's awesome to be a part of a whole athletic program that has so many great programs within it. And yeah, it's great for the school also, you know, having so many teams doing so well, and I think it kind of brings the teams together, with all the teams doing well, it kind of helps our support also from students and everything.

CHINA DOW: Yeah, it's fun. And all of our fans appreciate it too because all fans go to every game. But I think it's fun. It's enjoyable on campus to liven up a little bit and do what we gotta do. It's sports.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297