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April 2, 2022

Aliyah Boston

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Target Center

South Carolina Gamecocks

Finals Press Conference

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I mean, I'm just really excited. I mean, we're blessed to be able to be here and we're all ready to rock and roll on Sunday.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I mean, it's an exciting time because you just get to see how the world and women in sports have been able to develop. I mean, Title IX is something that gave us all on opportunity to play and do sports that we love, so for us to be playing now in college during the 50th anniversary it's like, wow, look at the progress that we've made over time.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I definitely do see it, because, I mean, I feel like we're making people have to like be proud and accept them women's sports because we're putting on a show every single night we step on the floor, on the court.

No matter what sport it is, we're impressing people, so they have no choice but to accept what we have going on.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Just consistency. We've all played a lot, a lot more games since we've last seen each other. I think it's just making sure we stick to play playing Gamecock women's basketball and doing what we needed to and really understanding scout.

Q. Is there anything you do different? (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I mean, I just think I've been doing the same thing all year, just being consistent. I'm just going to make sure that I'm dominant coming into this game on Sunday.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: It means a lot because it just shows how representation matters. Like I feel like we can say that and we can look at representation for older women in society, but also representation as this is a young girl from the Virgin Islands who I didn't know how to (indiscernible), but still was able to look up to me.

And so it just means a lot, but it also shows me why I need to continue to work as hard as I do to just make other people proud, especially people back at home.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: No, but I did comment on her mom's Facebook. I think we were going to see if I can meet her when I go back home in the summer.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I think we've just worked a lot better together, started to mesh a lot more. I just think we've been consistent. We've just continued to move the ball. We're understanding where people need to be, what plays were working.

When looking at UConn, I mean, they just continue to move the ball and they're aggressive. That's what they do.

Q. 18,000 people in the arena last night. People are showing up and packing these arenas. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, it's a great environment. You think about people on social media and they always have something to say about women's basketball. Nobody watches it, nobody really cares.

I mean, 18,000 people last night for March Madness was amazing. Looking at the little girls in the stands, it's like, wow, we are really helping young girls. Because, I mean we were in those stands. I remember being in the stands watching the Final Four games.

To be playing and girls coming up to me after games asking me to sign something or take a picture, it's like we're really making an impact and women's basketball is something that's going to continue to grow.

Q. (Regarding the biggest challenge.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Biggest challenge?

Q. Yeah.

ALIYAH BOSTON: I mean, I just think they're a good team and they're probably going to come out with different game plans and different strategies.

So just making sure that we were able to adjust as the game goes on.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Their post players have a lot of length, but I think being able to play against length throughout the season is definitely going to help me.

Just understanding that they're long, and so I've just got to make sure I'm focusing on that.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I think looking at both teams, I think we've both grown offensively and defensively. We played them early on in the season and we've had a lot of practice on both sides of the floor, so I think it's going to be a pretty fun game tomorrow.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I don't know. People in the crowd might be like they were probably hoping for this game, but, I mean, we're just playing to make sure we were in a National Championship. We been working hard throughout the season, the entire time for this game on Sunday.

For us to be here, we are just ready to work.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: One thing about UConn that sticks out, I would just say how they move the ball. I think they know where everybody is and that's pretty good.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I mean, we're going to attack it the same when we have been attacking it all season. We've had played teams that had great offenses, they almost have similar offenses to UConn and we know they have different ways that they could come at you?

So it's just really understanding personnel and knowing what they want to do. And part of it goes into knowing their plays, knowing their sets, you're able to recognize it as they're starting.

So just making sure we're able to zone in on those and have a lot of communication on the floor, we should be pretty good.

Q. I read a story that you did some work with Tim Duncan last year. Where and when was that? Tell me about it and what you guys did.

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, it was after COVID, right before the season. I went to Texas to work out and we just had a good time. It was pretty fun. He helped with some new things.

Q. San Antonio?


Q. What kind of things did he teach you and show you and what have you?

ALIYAH BOSTON: He just showed me some different moves. Just working a lot on just repetition and getting my shots up and different post moves and just working on reading the defense.

Q. How well did you know him before that?

ALIYAH BOSTON: I knew of him and we spoke once or twice, but we really got to know each other while on the trip.

Q. You see any similarities in the numbers you put up? He was a guy who did double-doubles, had assists...

ALIYAH BOSTON: I think Tim Duncan is a man of -- I mean, I'm not there yet.

Q. Right, but I mean, you both play all-around type games.

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Is he going to be following?

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, he's been following the games. Yeah.

Q. Has he reached out to you?


Q. He'll just be watching on TV?


Q. This year obviously with the NIL, there is opportunities for all the players. (No microphone.) Is it odd to keep that stuff on the back burner and go through this? (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I think my agent does a great job of that. Coming into the season when knew NIL was going to be passed Coach Staley said, we want you guys to get your opportunities, but keep the main thing the main thing.

The main thing has been winning a National Championship. So when it comes around this time, March Madness, my agent already made a note that I'm 100% going to be focused on these games.

Anything that has to do came before or it's going to come after. Right now this time is just for making sure that I'm focused on these games.

Q. Right now nervousness, edginess, excitement?

ALIYAH BOSTON: I think it's more excitement. Not really nerves, just because this is what we've worked for all season. Now it's here, so no reason to change up what we've been doing or how we've been feeling going into any game.

Q. Are there times like last night where, Hey, maybe I need to score more at this particular juncture, get the team going?

ALIYAH BOSTON: I definitely think that comes with just being able to read the defense and seeing and understanding when I need to score sometimes. If I think, let me just go see and I can attack the basket, get somebody in foul trouble. I definitely think a lot of us have grown throughout the tournament definitely with maturity and knowing when I need to be able to attack the basket or when I need just let me other teammates shoot.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I'm definitely going to leave that up to the people in the crowd and what they think. Coming into this game I'm not really looking at it as Aliyah versus Paige. It's South Carolina women's basketball versus UConn and just making sure that we're playing a team game.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I mean, we played in a lot of great gyms against a lot of great teams, so we know there will be a great crowd. Our basketball fans are definitely going to be there cheering us on. No matter how many people are in the crowd and the noise they make, they're not the ones on the floor.

So just making sure that we lock into what's happening within our circle is definitely going to be beneficial for us.

Q. Did you see any of the UConn-Stanford game?


Q. Who do you think had more fans, UConn or South Carolina?

ALIYAH BOSTON: It was tight, but I know our Gamecock fans came through.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I think there is definitely great respect from both sides. I think both coaches have done and amazing job developing their programs. I think a lot people see that and the development South Carolina and just UConn and their consistency.

People know that it's going to be a great game and they have two talented coaches going head-to-head. I bet their just super excited to watch.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: The intangibles, I mean, everything. Going for hustle plays, making sure we're giving way more effort. A National Championship is on the line and we're two teams coming to compete and we want to win, so just making sure that we do every single everything.

This is the last game of the season for both teams, so we want to be the ones on top.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I mean, I'm excited. I think this is -- I'm like super excited. Coming in freshman year, got cut short; last year Final Four ending wasn't the way we want it to.

But now looking at this third year where we have a chance at a National Championship, so I'm excited to give it everything I got.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: No, I don't think so, because I feel like when you start looking at it as, oh, I'm playing UConn, South Carolina, Stanford, I feel like you just need to focus on I'm playing for a National Championship to make sure you stay level headed.

You can get overwhelmed whether you want to believe it or not if you're thinking, oh, I'm playing UConn, playing against this, this. You don't want to overwhelm yourself, so it's like, no, we're playing a National Championship game tomorrow, and so I'm just excited for that.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I mean, it matters just because we've both gotten a sense of each other, but at the same time, we both plays a whole lot of games since the Bahamas.

We just have to look at what each team is doing what how they're playing each other and just making sure we understand what's happening on the floor.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Maybe like once a year I get back. Usually it's after the season I'm able to go back home for a little bit.

Q. (Regarding being recognized.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yep, and my hair color gives it away automatic.

Q. Do you know if they're having any watch parties there?

ALIYAH BOSTON: I would assume so. They're usually posting about it on Facebook book that there will be watch parties.

Q. I know I asked you about Tim Duncan, how old were you when you first met him and under what circumstances?

ALIYAH BOSTON: Oh, I don't remember how old I was when I first met him, but came down to St. Thomas because there was like an All-Star Game happening and I was able to watch and meet him after the game.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I don't know.

Q. 12?

ALIYAH BOSTON: No, I was older than that. Sure, 15.

Q. What do you think of the city so far?

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yes, this is my first time and, I mean, I love it. This is my type of weather because I enjoy -- I'd rather be cold than hot, and so I'm enjoying it. It's nice.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I repeat, no weapon formed against me shall prosper because I feel like in this world, no matter what's happening, there might be people who are not against you even if -- who are against you even if they're in your face saying congratulations.

So just making sure that I pray that over myself that no weapon formed against me shall prosper, it just keeps me calm because I know that God is protecting me and He's camping his angels around me every single day no matter what I'm doing.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I mean, it's exciting. I mean, 50th year of Title IX and playing a National Championship game. It just shows how much time has passed and how we have been able to develop women in sports. Not just basketball, but overall.

Having a sold-out crowd here for March Madness is like, wow. Who would've thought? If women were not given the opportunity to play we wouldn't even be here right now, wouldn't even be talking.

So I'm just excited to see everything that's happened and I'm excited for the future to see how much more it's going to grow.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Honestly, I think everything.

Q. Okay.

ALIYAH BOSTON: I really think everything. I think just being able to do a lot of different things on the floor is just exciting.

If I'm able to just make that one more pass and they hit a three, I mean, that's three more points on the scoreboard; somebody else is getting theirs.

I like doing everything.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: You said it yourself. Hey, it's March Madness. Playing them in November was pretty nice. That gave us a good feel. We've played a lot of games since then, and coming in here it's March Madness, like you said. Everybody is coming to play every night.

This is the last game of the season, so just making sure we come in focused, not really worried about what happened in the past, because that's not the same game that we're about to play tomorrow.

Q. What would it mean to beat UCONN for a National Championship?

ALIYAH BOSTON: I mean, it would mean a lot, but it's not what would it mean to beat UConn to win a National Championship. For me it's more of what would be like to win a National Championship, how would you feel.

So that's really my goal. I want to win a National Championship. I came to South Carolina to bring a National Championships back home to Columbia, and so that's the goal tomorrow night.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I mean, we have been keeping it fun all year. We try to stay relaxed and poised no matter what game we are going into, because that's just when we know we play our best. We're not tense, not focused too much on one particular thing.

We're just keeping it fun and understanding that we're playing for each other and playing for everybody who supported us this entire time. We are just locked in and ready for that.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I definitely think having a strong fan base, especially that travels to Minnesota to watch us play is exciting, and we love them for it. We definitely feed off their energy. They keep the crowd loud. You hear them if they think the ref made a good call, if they think they made a bad call you also hear them.

We also understand that none of those people in the stands are going to be able to win this National Championship game for us, and so just making sure that we stay locked into what's going on in our circle and what's happening on the court is what we need to do tomorrow.

Q. (Regarding 29 double doubles.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, it was Coach Staley. After we played Buffalo the night in the Bahamas, Coach Staley was like, you're not the being dominant. This is not the Aliyah Boston that we're expecting, we're looking for.

It just flipped a switch. I'm glad she said something because it got me upset. I'm was like, I'm doing fine, like I'm playing good. That's what happening in my head.

But she was able to point it out, and the next game I just came out and I was like, you know what? I'm not going to be denied. I'm going go crash the boards. I'm going to do what my team needs me to do.

It's helped us out every single game, and so I'm just going to continue to do that for one more.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Absolutely. I remember right after the game she was like, you're not being dominant. This is not what we expect. This is not what we need. We need you to step up.

I was like, okay. I was very upset and she knows that. It definitely worked out and I'm so glad she said something, because if she didn't, who knows what I would've been thinking.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I think my biggest message has been to continue to be consistent. She's said it all year and she's not going to change up anything because it's this game. She knows we need to be locked in and she knows that we are.

We are just going to make sure we understand what UConn is going to do offensively and defensively, making sure that we key into different options they might have, and just making sure we're ready for tomorrow.

Q. What are you going to need to do tomorrow to get the job done?

ALIYAH BOSTON: Continue to play the way we've been playing, making sure we're executing on offense, making sure the defensive intensity is up, because it's been working for us this entire tournament and all season long.

So just making sure that we continue to do that and making it hard for them.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I think thinking about Paige being Player the Year last year and me being Player the Year this year, I mean, that's not really the focus. The focus is just winning a National Championship.

If I was to tell you our defensive plans I would get in trouble, so you're going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Q. How do you think you guys have grown?

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I think we've grown as a team and we understand how to play with each other, what everyone likes to do. I think we've gotten -- we just gelled a lot more. Our offensive execution has continued to grow and our defensive intensity has stepped up a whole notch since we played them in the Bahamas.

So just making sure that we keep all those things in the forefront of our mind going into this game, it'll keep us ready.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, you said it. The reason we came to South Carolina is to bring National Championships back to the university. Coming in thinking about our freshman class, I think we were just a special class and we had a special team our freshman year, and we have a special team against this year.

So just being here, the National Championship game, it's exciting. I have chills right now. You can't see because I have my hoodie on.

It's exciting because we want to be able to compete and contend for a National Championship. For us to be able to do it tonight, I mean, we're blessed. God has definitely guided and kept us through it our freshman, sophomore, and junior year now, and just so excited for the opportunities.

Q. I got two for you if I could. Players as they mature, making quicker decisions. Doesn't seem like you do that or you (indiscernible). I just wondering what that process is like to be in that moment? (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I mean, usually people try to make the game go faster, make quicker decisions, but I slow it down. I think being able to read the defense. I mean, I slow it down so I'm able to read the defense.

Sometimes people still try to speed me up, but I don't know how to describe my brain. I don't want to sound like I'm super cocky or anything, but there are just so many pieces that move at the same time in the game.

It's really hard to understand. For me, I can remember every single happens in a game no matter good or bad. Sometimes it's sad because I can't ever forget what happens in a game. When I catch the ball I already know if somebody is open on the weak side, and sometimes it might take me a little bit longer to pass the ball us because I am trying to see if the defense is split and I could get an opportunity to go and score.

But, I mean, I see it all. Sometimes speeding it up it's like, Oh, let's just get the ball out of her hands. I still see what's happening, so it's a lot of thinking that goes through my head. It all happens at the same time that makes it all one level and one motion.

I try to slow it down so I'm able to get a better understanding and really what's happening and see if all the things switching in here is correct. That's really what I try to do.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, I think about that when I watch the WNBA games. They can't even double her because she's just going to kick it to the weak side. People really accept their defense and say, I can guard her, I can do this.

So I really -- when I watch I'm like, okay, I think I'll just go baseline here because she's obviously playing high side or this and that. I'm able to understand how some of these other teams play already and how people play defense.

It's like, all right. I'm already excited for it.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: I definitely think that's so important. For me, people say it all the time that representation matters. Being a person color it really does matter. To see that it's somebody of color talking about inequities and everything that's happening in the world, I think it's important.

It might be easy for a white person or someone else to speak about what they think is happening and what is inequity to them, but in reality you still don't know what it's like being a person of color.

For Coach Staley especially having the platform that she has and being my coach, it's just special to see because it's like -- I mean, I see this woman every day and she's not afraid to use her voice and be who she is, which just continues to give me a boost because I know that I have a platform and if I think something is wrong or not happening that I should be able to speak up on it.

It's crazy, because coming into college I didn't really have a big platform and always thought if you have a big platform you probably should not be the one speaking because people are going to have their opinions. Oh, well, you shouldn't do this, and you don't need to be talking.

I mean, people did it to Coach Staley the entire season last year. We made personal decisions not to stand for the anthem last year. That is what we did as a team, and everybody on social media had something to say. Why don't you stick to sports, why are you all worried about politics, why are you all doing this.

That never really shied Coach Staley away from saying anything. I think that's something that you can take into life in general, because not everything is going to go your way always. And not even sports related. Just everything in life.

So being able to speak up and use your voice, especially being a person of color where people might not, oh, we don't really need to hear that. We're going to listen to someone else. It's like you need to have your ground. Sorry of that went too deep. I just really wanted to get that off.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALIYAH BOSTON: Yeah, well, I hope you guys know Henny is definitely No. 2 on the team with dancing. I definitely say I'm No. 1 for sure. She brings the energy. She's is always funny, always laughing.

On the court she's has different bursts of speed. She controls the game, controls the tempo, gets us in direction. She's a great leader on and off the court.

Zia, I mean, she's a comedian. I don't know if you heard that anywhere else, but she's really a comedian. The mood is always light around her. On the court you know that we can depend on her to knock down a shot, to attack the basket, and on the court, I mean, she makes everybody's lives hard and we love that for her.

Off the court she's really funny. I mean, she just brings different personalities. Sometimes hits you with some great sarcasm and other times she's able to be serious like she really understands when to do what. I think that's really great.

But together on the court they're a deadly combination and they work well together and they're really understanding where each other needs to be and what needs to happen.

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