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April 6, 2003

Geno Auriemma

Diana Taurasi


COACH AURIEMMA: I really don't know what I can add to that game. That was as good a game as I have seen played. We have not played anybody defensively as good as Texas, as physical and as hard to get things done as Texas. And for our guys to win that game and for us to make the plays that we made down the stretch and for our young guys like Wil and Jessica, to play the way they did inside, it's pretty remarkable, it really is. I don't know how else to explain it.

Q. Diana, I saw you and Jess looking at the stats and shaking your head; what do you see on the paper that you didn't see on the court?

DIANA TAURASI: The rebounding I thought throughout the game we were getting beat up on the boards. The physicality of Stacy Stephens, she's an ox in there. You can't move her. But we got the rebounds the last 5 minutes, so I guess we shot out of character right there.

Q. Can you talk about the last play when they came down court, what were you thinking at that point in time, and did you get a hand to the ball when she went up with it?

DIANA TAURASI: She got the ball. At the time I didn't know if we were up two or three, I had no clue. I forgot if we were up 2 or 3. That's what I was thinking. As she was dribbling down. I didn't want to get too tight. She got a lay up. It slipped out of her hand. I tried to get as far from her as possible and I tipped it away but it slipped from her hand. I know, I forgot. (Laughter).

COACH AURIEMMA: And she's our smartest player.

Q. Diana, down 9 with about 12-and-a-half to play; what are you thinking there mentally?

DIANA TAURASI: I can remember we came back in a huddle and we just couldn't get anything going. Offensively, defensively we couldn't get consecutive stops and that was kind of bothering us, so we just said settle down, get a couple of stops, come down and hit some shots. I think the turning point was when Maria stole that in rebound pass and hit me for the 3; that changed the momentum a bit and we just made plays, everyone made plays.

Q. Geno, you have often said that you have Diana and nobody else does; can you talk about some of the plays that she made down the stretch tonight. I think she had 11 points in the last 9 minutes or something?

COACH AURIEMMA: Yes. You know, we are the kind of team that has to score, you know by helping each other get open. And we don't have a lot of players that can break people down off the dribble. So when Texas started taking things away from us and our ability to pass the ball, I thought we were dead in the water. As Diana said I think the 3 she made kind of loosened her up a little bit. I think the fact that she was able to get free a couple of times, we started setting a couple of better screens late in the game. It's just, you know she was out of it there for a while because they were just so physical, she couldn't move out there. And it kind of frustrated her and it frustrated the rest of our team. We got in a hurry. But when she got into a little comfort zone there the last 7 or 8 minutes then you can see the rest of our guys were comfortable also. I say it over and over again; we have Diana and they don't. I'm not going to be able to say it anymore after Tuesday. But that's probably the big rest reason why we are here and why we want to be.

Q. I'm (Inaudible) flexing your biceps looking strong; you guys weren't that strong, you got those boards, games, open summer weight room; is that what you think or is it pure heart (Inaudible).

COACH AURIEMMA: I think it's a little bit of both. Ashley Battle made a lay up and she made two free throws so you can spend -- that's not worth all of the biceps she has. She is a big strong kid she didn't get a lot done today. I think what happened was, you know, when you win to a certain extent like we have -- I'm sure Tennessee feels the same way, you know -- in a game like this lose balls just seem to find you and if you work at it really hard you put yourself in a position, like Willnett gets that rebound or she gets the stop at the other end, that happens to championship teams because they put themselves in that situation. I'm not sure we are stronger than Texas, don't get me wrong, but I think we are a little fresher than them the last three minutes.

Q. Is it fair to say this is a top-5, top-10 win for you? You've won 500, but this was pretty good?

COACH AURIEMMA: Yes, I will always remember this one. This was pretty good. You know, because the way it happened, No. 1, and where it happened. How many times do you win? You are not here very often and then to win the game when you are down 9 and to win it the way we did -- there hasn't been many games in those 500 that I think I will remember more than this one.

Q. Geno, could you speak to the contributions from Willnett Crockett?

COACH AURIEMMA: You should have been at shoot-around today, her high school coach was here. You have not seen a poorer excuse for a basketball player than Wil this morning. She looked so scared, so nervous, every lay up she took there was a 50/50 chance that it might hit the rim. It was awful like nothing you have ever seen. Then for her to come out tonight and play the way she did. Remember the Tennessee game at that Civic Center, so many huge plays she made down the stretch, I think Willnett is just one of those kids that senses when the moment is and tries to do something to help. It might be a little thing. It usually is a little thing. It's a loose ball, a rebound. It's not a big thing. It not something that, you know, you look back and say that's the reason we won because she got a put-back. But it's just something -- I don't know what it is, I can't explain it. I can't explain it. As I said to her, I can't believe it was her that made those plays. As much as she hates to practice, why would she make those plays and have come back to practice again tomorrow. But the kid, I think she is a contradiction, I can't figure her out. Every time this year when the game has been on the line she has made something happen to help our team win and I don't have an explanation for it. It's not something that happens every day in practice, trust me.

End of FastScripts...

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