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


April 6, 2004

Geno Auriemma

Jessica Moore

Diana Taurasi

Barbara Turner


Q. I'd like to ask Miss Moore, you came out in the second half, four quick lay-ups, not only sort of blunting Tennessee's momentum, but sort of keeping the spread. Was that something you exploited in their defense or were you told to be a little more active offensively at half-time?

JESSICA MOORE: I think that the way that our offense was set up and the play that we were running, we did a great job of running it and really being patient and I think that I did a really good job of using the screens and they were just great screens and I just happened to get open.

Q. For Diana, Tennessee's pulled out so many games this year and particularly this tournament. They cut a 17-point lead to 2. At any time did you think about that old destiny thing or that kind of stuff?

DIANA TAURASI: Not really. What we learned from this year is in situations like that we have to rely on each other. And I tell you, I think our character came out the most when they cut it to two. They were making their runs and every time we needed a big play from someone, you know, we got it. Whether it was Barbara, Jessica, Willnett, and we got -- someone made a big play every single time we needed one.

Q. Barbara, talk about late in the game, Jessica got hurt a little bit and it seemed like when that happened you really had a spark that really seemed to come out and help the team.

BARBARA TURNER: Well, yeah, the biggest thing during the course of the game was just our rebounding. And once Jessica went out, it kind of just put a little pressure on myself to make the extra effort to get every rebound on the defensive end or every loose ball and just try to be involved in wherever the ball was at coming off the rim. And for the most part I think I did a good job of that in the second half.

Q. Diana, at what point did you feel like you guys had this game? Was it early on in the half, in the first half when you guys were up 30 to 13 or was it later?

DIANA TAURASI: Well I thought we had a handle on it when we were up 17. And those last three, four minutes they made a huge run and we didn't respond very well. And coming into the second half, we knew it was going to be a fight. Both teams scoring, making plays are and so until probably the last couple minutes, where we had a nice lead and we really -- defensively, we just did a great job in the last two, three minutes not letting them shoot 3s and no second shots.

Q. For Diana, can you talk about the legacy of this senior class, three straight championships and also just the level of success the program has been able to achieve and sustain.

DIANA TAURASI: It's been amazing. Coming in as a freshman, I never expected this at all. I know I can speak for Maria and Morgan. It's been unbelievable. You really, you just you don't know what to say. I still can't believe it. Three in a row? You just don't do that. That doesn't happen to every team, to every person. And the success of the program is just on the coaching staff, they get us prepared for every game, they know how to put that hunger in you when you get there and it shows in games like this.

Q. Diana, can you just talk about Willnett's three-point play at the end and the fact that she's Miss April for this team?

DIANA TAURASI: Well, it's huge. That was probably the biggest play of the game. I don't know what the score was, but just the momentum out of that play of getting in there and knocking down the free throw was huge. And Willnett does that. The only thing that's sad about is that Willnett only does that once in a while, when she could probably do it every single game consistently, but that's why she has next year and her senior year, she will step up to that role and I think she will do it.

Q. Diana, can you discuss or describe the elation after the game and do you think that after your pro career in basketball you can make it as a pro NFL punter?

DIANA TAURASI: Where did it go? All the way up?

Q. Pretty far. You've got work to do though.

DIANA TAURASI: Well, you know what -- what was the first question? (Laughter.)

Q. Your feelings?

DIANA TAURASI: The feeling? You can't -- it's just, you know, tingly, um, I don't know, tingly. Feels tingly. You really feel light. You just -- tingly is the only word I can use.

Q. Diana, speaking of tingling, your guys winning last night and now you guys, could you talk about the double wins, something that's never been done before?

DIANA TAURASI: It's history. I think being from the University of Connecticut, we always think of ourselves as a basketball school and this year I think we made a definitely impact on just nationwide of how prominent our programs are and the school. The school has a lot to do with it, President Austin and everyone, they put the effort into our coaches and then our coaches go get the best players and they have been able to be dominant in the last four, five years. And this kind of caps it off.

Q. Jessica, can you talk about the injury and what happened?

JESSICA MOORE: I really don't know what happened. The very first time that I fell, it was me and Spencer and something gave in the back of my knee. And it really wasn't that bad and then I just got up and then after that play it just really, I don't know, something back there just pulled. And it hurt really, really bad for a good, like, 15 minutes. And then when I just got it moving again then it really just came back to normal. It's nothing serious, I don't think.

Q. Question for D and Barbara, when things got tough in the second half, you went inside a lot, I think you had 22 points in the paint in the second half. Was that by design?

BARBARA TURNER: Yeah, I think so. I think because in the first half, toward the end of the first half, when they made their run, we kind of got away from working the ball inside. When the defense collapsed and kick it back out and that's something that we really focused on in the second half. Early on was establishing our post game again and opening up things for our guards.

Q. Diana, for decades Tennessee was synonymous with the top of college, women's college was basketball, I believe you finished 8 and 1 against them in your career, including three years in the Final Four. Could you just talk about that kind of success against that kind of program?

DIANA TAURASI: Tennessee's been great for so long and as a little kid, that's the team everyone looked at and hopefully now I mean I think we made it. I think we're the top program out there. I don't care what anyone says anymore. I don't care. (Laughter.)

DEBBIE BYRNE: We're going to release these ladies back to the locker room. Questions for Coach Auriemma.

Q. I didn't remember exactly when Battle came in there, but when Zolman got started hitting there on that streak in the second half, did you put Battle on her? It seemed like she came in and kind of shut her down.

GENO AURIEMMA: Yeah. We tried mixing it up a lot, but we went on a stretch in the second half where we were playing man to man for an awfully long time. And they were finding their rhythm and she was getting into a little bit of a groove and we changed things up a little bit and AB was part of that change. And then we gave them a little different look and it was just enough to kind of throw them off and get them out of their rhythm.

Q. I know you said coming off the floor when they had that run in the second half, I didn't think they would go away. At the same time, they have had difficulties scoring and sustaining scoring. Did you feel at any point they could continue scoring?

GENO AURIEMMA: Well, you know, I was thinking, the NCAA tournament is like the Ryder Cup in golf. You know, you watch the Ryder Cup of golf on TV. One guy's got a five-footer for par, the other guy's got a 40-footer for birdie, and the guy misses the five-footer and guy makes the 40-footer and the match changes. And the NCAA tournaments are like that. We were up 17 and they made a run and I'm thinking, we might not be able to get the momentum back. It was all, that's all we talked about at half-time was trying to get our focus back on what we wanted to do. But I did think at one point that we were going to have a real hard time defending them. And it was really important for us to play with the lead. If we could keep it at five, six, seven, then we can change some things. So that was a big key that they never took the lead and made us be defensive. And we were always able to be a little more proactive instead of reactive.

Q. They seemed a little disappointed on TV after the game, they said in '95 you seemed like a little boy out there and you've gotten more reserved over the years. Can you talk about that?

GENO AURIEMMA: Who said that?

Q. I don't know. Whoever was back in the studio, I guess. But can you talk about the emotional differences of winning the first one and then sustaining it and winning this one?

GENO AURIEMMA: You know, it's funny, because in '95 there was -- any time you have a lot of seniors on your team, not a lot but special seniors on your team, there's always this feeling like you just -- you know, I remember being overcome with tremendous emotion for the fact that Rebecca Lobo and Pam Webber were graduating and winning a national championship in their last game. And I do remember, when you shake hands with everybody after the game and do all that stuff, I just sat down in a chair and just kind of shook my head, saying, you know, I can't believe this. You know. And I found myself doing that for all five of them. They're all -- they all kind of take a lot out of you, like D was saying. You have almost like an out-of-body experience. You feel like you're not even you anymore.

Q. How about the performance of Ann Strother, you get down on her every now and then but she came through in the big game.

GENO AURIEMMA: She always does. Ann always does. You could tell how aggressive she was going to be just in the opening minutes of the game. And there was a point in the second half where she posted a kid up and turned and scored, and that wasn't something that we called for, she just did that on her own. And for her to do that, she made that huge 3, when I took D out of the game, that's the way Ann plays. Ann is a big-game player. And she's had some of her best nights when D hasn't been all world. I think she's auditioning for next year, you know. She doesn't want Barbara to take all the shots.

Q. Just looking at the adjustments you made from the first half to second half, they always say that rebounding wins games. Not this year and not last year. What happened? You were widely outrebounded in the first half and then balanced it out in the second half.

GENO AURIEMMA: Yeah, the first half was a little bit misleading. Because it seemed like every ball that was a 50/50 ball, they got. And they scored on a bunch of those. So they really got 7 offensive rebounds and they got four that were, could have gone either way. And then the second half it happened too a couple times. But I thought the second half, we did a much, much better job of keeping a body on them and that's the most difficult thing to do against Tennessee. But the key, I think, like last year, is not giving up points off of second shots. And I don't know that we did -- I don't know that we gave up a lot of points on second shots.

Q. I asked Diana about her 8 and 1 against Tennessee, three in the Final Four, it seems you would have to be more than just a good player to be able to do that, you would have to be really a champion. Will you talk about that accomplishment for those seniors and when you recruited her. I'm sure you thought she was a very talented player, did you see that champion's heart, for lack of a better term, in her?

GENO AURIEMMA: Not really. Because she didn't play on championship teams. But you saw the competitiveness and you saw the drive that she had. But it was a little misguided, you know. She is from California. So it was more individually directed towards scoring points and not feeling like she had a good cast around her, so what's the point? And when she played some AAU ball, I think she enjoyed that. But it wasn't until she got to Connecticut and Shea Ralph kind of whacked her a couple times the first week of practice, and then everything changed for Diana. I think she got a sense of this is what it's going to be like at the University of Connecticut. It's not going to be which team makes the most 3s, you know. And then we start playing the games and she just turns it on like nobody I've ever seen. And that's why she is who she is. She's just different. She's unique. And maybe she knew when she came out of high school, but I didn't. I didn't.

Q. You talked about when you first came that Tennessee was on top of the mountain top, do you agree with Diana that you guys are now on top and you're the prominent program?

GENO AURIEMMA: Not if you go by recruiting. They just signed like the first 15 players on the All-America team. So I guess when it comes to winning, we are but when it comes to recruiting, they are. You know, that's kind of a -- you know, I don't know that somebody's going to say, well, who is the best basketball program in America? Like there's only room for one. I don't buy that. I don't feel this need to be the program and everybody else is second. I'm not one of those greedy types that I want everything and I don't want you to have anything. I'm comfortable with where we are and I'm comfortable with Tennessee being right there where they are and I would be comfortable in the next couple years if they start winning championships and we finish second, because I also understand that that's the nature of this game. This is our run. This is our time right now. '96, '97, '98, when they won three in a row, and we didn't get to the Finals, well, we got to the semifinals in '96, it was their time. And it changed for them. And it's going to change for us.

Q. Before the tournament started, you were talking about the regular season and you said maybe the team kind of wanted to get to the beach and maybe they wanted to skip the car ride on the way to the beach. Can you talk about the resolve that they showed, not just tonight but in the last three weeks, the Santa Barbara game, the game Sunday night and how they took the car ride here in the last three weeks.

GENO AURIEMMA: Yeah. Playing at Connecticut is really, really demanding. There's a lot of interest in the program. There's a lot of people that support us and want to win. And there's a tremendous amount of, I think, responsibility, I think, that the kids carry around. And I think it got to them this year a little bit. I think the Duke game stun them a little bit, you know, and I don't know that we recovered very nicely from that, but once the season ended and all we had to do was focus on three weekends in March, that became, like, a real easy thing to do, because the journey leading up to that was very, very, very difficult. Very difficult. Because when you're the defending national champions, that's a lot different than if you're a bunch of kids trying to prove that you're really good. They had to defend it every night. And it's hard to do that. Especially now, you know, when teams are better. But the last three weeks, they made believers out of everybody. Anybody who doubted them, anybody, you know, "Connecticut's vulnerable," of course we're vulnerable, everybody is. It's just remarkable that they were able to do what they did under the circumstances that they did it in. To be 18, 19 years old and to be able to do that, you know, in front of all those people and national television audience and all that, that's pretty remarkable that these kids can do that.

Q. Could you just talk about the inside play of Jessica and others in the second half, when you really took it inside and went right at Tennessee.

GENO AURIEMMA: We did it in the first half and we didn't have any success. We got the first couple buckets, Barbara got a couple buckets, I think, and then, you know, we started making a couple threes and we got shot happy, you know. All of a sudden we got out of what we wanted to do when we got the big lead. And we came in in the second half with a plan, hey, the ball has to go in the lane. I think we can get to them. I don't think Barbara's an easy match-up. I don't think Jessica's an easy match-up. But we didn't give them a chance in the first half. And in the second half, some of the rebounds that Jessica and Barbara got, they were amazing. And like somebody pointed out, Willnett's three-point play, that was huge. Huge. And, you know, those are the kinds of things that turn games around. We're not the biggest team, obviously, we're not the most physical team, and we don't have an Ashley Robinson or a Fluker or, you know, we don't have that kind of size. So it was more of a -- you know, we had to work really, really hard to get that. They're tough, those kids. Those Tennessee kids are tough. Really tough.

DEBBIE BYRNE: Geno, thank you very much. This will conclude the Connecticut press conference and we want to congratulate Connecticut on their championship tonight and their championship last night as well.


End of FastScripts...

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