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April 1, 2006
DEBBIE BYRNE: We're joined by the Maryland team along with Coach Frese. We'll ask the coach to make an opening statement and then we'll go to your questions. Coach Frese.
BRENDA FRESE: All right. Well, obviously we're extremely excited to be here. We obviously also want to welcome Pokey Chatman and LSU to the ACC tournament part two. And obviously want to extend an invitation out, we would love to have them come join our league, if they would like to be a part of it.
But we obviously feel very fortunate. We kind of feel like the new kid on the block kind of coming in here crashing the party. Knowing that this team and this program is obviously ahead of schedule. But I'll tell you, we're just enjoying and loving every single minute that we get to be a part of this.
It couldn't happen to better people. I tell you. These kids are the ones that have taken us for this ride. They're a ton of fun to be able to be around and I'll tell you, I think we lead the nation in smiles with how much fun that we're having. But we are definitely honored to be a part of, it's a special place, making history in our conference, and to really be a part of coming here to the Final Four, and when I think back to four short years ago, when this team and this season went through a 10-18 season, to the point of Debbie Yow, when she hired me here at Maryland and having the same vision that we shared together. And to be living out that dream is something that I tell you is really a dream come true.
Obviously from our first opponent, North Carolina, I think you could ask the players, at this point I think both teams could give the scouting report that they know each other inside and out. Both teams are excited about the match-up, having split with North Carolina during the season. North Carolina obviously has a wealth of talent and we're just going to try to go out and execute our game plan, and we're probably the only team in the country though that is hoping for overtime, because in overtime that's our time. So just looking forward to getting out on the floor tomorrow night.
DEBBIE BYRNE: Thank you, Coach. We'll go to your questions now, please.
Q. Brenda and any of the players, to what extent does the fact that you're playing a very familiar opponent help you get over whatever concerns you have about being here for the first time?
BRENDA FRESE: I think it gives us a tremendous amount of confidence. You're not having to use that first 10, 20 minutes, the first half of the game to get used to each other's style. We already know from the tip that this game's going to be a track meet, both teams love to score, they love offense. And I think you're going to see a game from the tip that's just going to be up tempo right away.
Q. For those of us that didn't have chance to see the game with North Carolina that you won, what went right that game in bringing that victory to you?
BRENDA FRESE: I think that one we gained a lot of confidence. We were down by about 10 or 11 at half-time. We thought that we had really not played a very good first half. We didn't handle the press well.
But the second half I tell you we came out, we boarded with them, we were able to get a lot of second-chance opportunities. We just found a way. Obviously everyone can remember the last second shot by Ashleigh Newman that sent us into overtime, and the fact that going into overtime this team has gained a lot of confidence.
Q. Shay, in the last couple years you guys were one of the few teams that haven't had as many problems with North Carolina's 1-3-1 press, why is that?
SHAY DORON: I think the main thing is we have five ball handlers on the court. Crystal and Aurelie, our post players, can handle the ball as well as obviously the guards. And it's the type of tempo we like to play. We like to play up and down and we kind of welcome the press. So not many teams press us all year because we kind of feed off of that and we do well against it.
So you just have to play smart and kind of read what happens and we do that pretty well. And with all our experience, it just helps us a lot.
Q. Coach Frese, how is your school's financial commitment helped you in building your program there at Maryland over the last few years?
BRENDA FRESE: I'll tell you, it starts with your administration. The support that we have from our athletic director, Debbie Yow, from president Mote, you know, they traveled to the ACC and the NCAA tournament, when you have that kind of support and backing with your administration and your university, you can see it across the board. If you look at Maryland athletics, every team has the opportunity to be successful because of the amount of support and backing that we have.
Q. As the new kid on the block could you offer an opinion about your three colleges who have been around the block here a few times?
BRENDA FRESE: Obviously I feel like I'm very fortunate because I get to coach in this conference, in the ACC, so I get to go against Sylvia and Gail, so I've been able to personally become better as a coach just from that level of competition. And Pokey Chatman and I, we enjoy the time that we get to spend together in the gym. The conversations that we get to have. So all three of them, just your personal relationships and professionally, I think that you can gain so much from watching, listening, and just the interactions that we have been able to have.
Q. Are you superstitious about anything and if so, what is it?
CRYSTAL LANGHORNE: No, I'm not superstitious at all. I just, I really don't have any things that I do regularly. I just go out and I'm pretty, not superstitious at all.
Q. Shay, a few years ago when you signed with Maryland could you have imagined being here, and what made you take the leap of faith that Maryland would be a good place to go?
SHAY DORON: Well, obviously me and the coach, I knew that we had the same kind of mentality and winning drive, and the most important thing for me was the coaches and I found that here at Maryland. So that's what really brought me here. But from day one where the year after we had a 10-18 season, the locker room talk was Final Four, national championship, ACC championship. So since I've been there that's what we have been talking about since day one. And that hasn't changed throughout the years and it's not going to change when I leave.
So just kind of instill that mentality, that winning mentality, that we can do it and we can play with anyone, and it's been there since I've gotten there. So nothing's changed, it's just that this team, it's a reality and we definitely expected it and for us it's not, you know, a quick thing and it's not ahead of schedule for us, it's a right-on-time thing.
Q. For the players: I realize the seeding is not comparable but at the same time are any of you drawing any parallels to George Mason because probably of the four teams you were the one that was the least thought to get to the Final Four.
SHAY DORON: Who thought that? Who always thought that? Not in our locker room, we think that not only we're not the underdogs, but we should have gotten, we could have probably gotten No. 1 seed at the Selection Monday show. But like we said, the seeding really doesn't matter at this point. Everybody has to play the same amount of games to get to the same point. We just want to play hard and we know we can compete with any team in the country. We have proven that time and time again. And to ourselves, unfortunately nobody really takes notice. I don't know.
CRYSTAL LANGHORNE: I think actually nobody even thought that George Mason would have made it to the Sweet 16 and we were expected to go further, so I think we're a little bit different.
Q. Coach, in light of the dramatic rise of your program over the past four years, do you feel like your program is still maybe fighting for recognition a little bit, within your campus and also in the community, and I wonder what you guys, what kind of changes we have seen over the year, what you think could still change?
BRENDA FRESE: I think that we don't spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting. The questions that have been out there in terms of, do you feel slighted, you know, the George Mason team and the attention they're getting compared to your team. I'll tell you, we don't at all. We landed from Albuquerque and we were on the front page of the Washington Post, Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today, I mean that's some pretty big stuff for this women's basketball team and this program.
And the women's basketball world, I think this team has really shown all season long that they have been fighting for the respect, just the fact that they have known how good they are and what they're capable of doing. So we really focus on the positives and the recognition that this program is now receiving for all the hard work that this team has put in and it's definitely well deserved.
Q. Can you kind of tell me just challenges Ivory Latta presents to your team and what you see from her as a player, what she brings to the court and the energy to her team?
BRENDA FRESE: I don't know if we have enough time to talk about everything that Ivory does for her team. I mean first and foremost, what energy and emotion as a leader that she brings for her team is tremendous. Then you go into her basketball skills, the fact that she's one of the quickest, fastest players from end to end. Always pushing tempo, can create for herself, for others. She's extremely strong. Getting to the basket, being able to finish. And obviously it's just, she's just a tremendous player.
Q. Shay, and then Coach, what has Crystal meant to your team and what does she do for you that makes your team successful?
SHAY DORON: Crystal obviously is our No. 1 option and everything goes through her and she spreads out game, especially for the guards and for the other post players, because she draws so much attention. And the great thing is that as a guard it's so easy to pass her the ball because you know Crystal is going to pass it right back out when she's double-teamed, which she usually is. And we just really trust Crystal and she's just powerful and quick, and she's just a mismatch hell for any post player in the country right now.
BRENDA FRESE: I think that the thing that makes Crystal so special is not only what she possesses as a basketball player, because everybody in this room knows what kind of talent she has, but it's what kind of person she is day in and day out, just the way she takes care and handles her business, just how she is about her teammates. I'll give you a small example, we were in Albuquerque and you all watch and witness in the Baylor game, I mean, she single handedly, her teammates were unselfish passing her the ball, she did a tremendous job against Sophia Young and we get to half-time and the buzz in the locker room is all about "Great job, Crystal. What a job. You know, keep it going, "and her response is, "Thanks, guys, for passing me the ball." And that's the kind of teammate she is; she's so unselfish. She's always about this team, she doesn't have to score a point, and as long as we win and she can do the little things, she's ultimately, she's an ultimate team player.
Q. Brenda, was Shay kind of the one who kickstarted this whole thing for you guys or a big part of that, especially getting the players you got and then everything?
BRENDA FRESE: Absolutely. You think back to year one, Shay Doron and Kalika France, who is injured, Shay was the first player in our program to verbally commit and say yes to Maryland. And again, you have to remember, I mean she committed to Maryland given the fact that our season we were 10-18 that year. Her first year as a freshman, she comes in and leads this team to 18 wins. So the fact that she believed in our vision, the fact that we had very limited time to recruit her, I got the job in April, and we had less than what, five or six months to be able to recruit Shay and get her to understand and believe our vision. So I've always, I'll always remember just how special of a commitment that was.
Q. Coaches like to talk about the first five minutes of the first half or the first half as being critical. In your mind what needs to happen the first five minutes of the first half and second half to be successful tomorrow night?
BRENDA FRESE: We need to set a tone obviously from the tip and we need to show that we came to rebound, that we're going to box out, because North Carolina is so athletic, so strong, so aggressive, and we need to show that we can, you know, that we have come ready and we're going to do battle and we're ready to go.
Q. I just want to ask you what kind of statement it makes for the league to have three teams here to be able to start talking more about the ACC when you talk about perhaps the best conferences in college basketball?
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, you know, obviously to be making history is something pretty special. The fact that it's never been done before in a conference, to have three teams and I think all season long everyone had talked about Maryland and Duke and North Carolina as three of the top teams in the country, but you didn't know how it was going to play out and what kind of success that the teams were going to have.
Now I think it really validates the three teams, the conference, just having to go head to head all season long against each other.
Q. Crystal, is there an ACC style?
CRYSTAL LANGHORNE: I think the three teams that are here, everybody plays a fast-pace game. Everybody likes to run. And I think that's a trend a lot in the ACC, everybody is very fast paced in the league.
Q. For Marissa and Crystal, you guys started the season, at least in terms of the polls, like number 14. When did y'all know or have a sense that this could be something special?
CRYSTAL LANGHORNE: I think when we went down to the tournament in the Virgin Islands, and I think we played really well and we played a Final Four team, a team that was in the Final Four last year, Tennessee and we played a great game and from that point we realized that we are a Final Four team and we can make it to Boston.
MARISSA COLEMAN: I say the same thing. After that Tennessee game we fought hard the whole game, and in the locker room everybody was very disappointed because we now that game was ours, and we knew that when we played that game, and it was in November, that we had so much room for improvement and that we could get to the Final Four.
Q. Crystal, can you talk about your relationship on and off the court with Erlana Larkins and how you plan on defending her?
CRYSTAL LANGHORNE: Well, I've known Erlana since my senior year of high school. We were roommates at McDonald's. She's a great person. I loved being around her when I was around her and we spent a lot of time together. We're just excited about the match-up, I don't think I'll be guarding her, so Laura Harper probably will, but we're just going to really need to contain her, because she's such a great player.
Q. Coach, I know this is not the first time this has happened, but it's four women coaches of the four Final Four teams, and two of you sort of second generation, you and Pokey, what does that say now about the development of women and women in sports and women in coaching and all of those sorts of issues?
BRENDA FRESE: Well, I think that you're starting to see, obviously, a change in the game, first and foremost in terms of parity, you're starting to see a lot of different names in teams that have the ability and the chance to be able to get to a Final Four. We talked all season long, I mean, there were probably 10 to 12 teams out there this year that had a chance to be sitting in the position where we're at today.
So never before in the history of our game have we had that kind of parity, and you're finally starting to see a little bit of a change in the game in terms of coaches that are retiring that have really paved the path. And from my understanding, you know, I can reflect and feel how fortunate I am to be given the opportunity that I now have from all these great coaches like Marsha Sharp from Texas Tech, and Ceal Barry from Colorado, who have invested so much time and energy to make this game be what it is now at this national stage.
Q. Brenda, I wonder if you could talk about the team's health or injury report. I guess Marissa succumbed to the dreaded virus the other day and how is everyone else doing?
BRENDA FRESE: Well, let's see, of the 10 members that we have on our team, seven of the ten had been hit with the virus. So our two healthy ones, knock on wood, up here are Shay and Crystal, and they have not been hit. And we're not planning on them to get hit until any time after Wednesday. I told them they could go ahead and have that virus hit. And Angel Ross are the only three. Aurelie is on her way out, she was inflicted with it, had to come out a day later, couldn't fly out with the team, had to come out with the band and cheerleaders and Marissa unfortunately was hit two nights ago, didn't practice yesterday. But you can, as you can see by the smile on her face, she had a little to eat for breakfast and I think she will be ready to go.
Q. How are you doing?
BRENDA FRESE: I'm doing great. Like I talked about, anyone who wants to go on the Albuquerque diet and lose a quick five pounds...
I am getting ready after the Final Four to write my book, "The Albuquerque Diet." I think it will be a best seller. Great way to trim up before you get out on the Final Four stage.
Q. Coach, I would like to piggyback on something that Crystal said, she said all the three teams in the ACC run. LSU will also run, maybe a little more controlled, but they will run as well, is that maybe just, is that where women's college basketball is going, a lot more running now and that type of athleticism?
BRENDA FRESE: In terms of the running style?
Q. Yeah, as far as the women's game?
BRENDA FRESE: Oh, absolutely. It's interesting as we gotten on the bus and with the 25-year history, they have given us, we watched a lot of the games with the old teams, watching that style of play. When you watch that film I wish I had time to go back in the history and watch a lot of those games to get even more knowledgeable. But absolutely you can see players are bigger, stronger, quicker, faster, from the weight room you look at the LSU-Duke match-up with 6'7" Alison Bales and 6'6" Sylvia Fowles, so you're not only getting the size now, you're getting the speed and the quickness that the game has evolved into.
Q. Shay, what are your recollections of meeting Coach for the first time and how is she different than the other coaches who recruited you?
SHAY DORON: Well, I think her youth definitely clicks with us more because it's just like you said, there's a wave of a new generation and you just kind of see eye to eye more with that.
But like I said, we just clicked in terms of winning personalities. Just by having regular conversations with her and hearing about her future plans for Maryland and all that just to me, I mean, it's just, it was very believable and very realistic, and with the area and the whole east coast, it's just a very recruitable school with the academics. So just like I said, just getting to know her as a person and then in the recruiting business, you have so many fake people and when you finally meet a real person, it's pretty easy to pick them out and you got to just stick with that and get to know them a little better, and I definitely felt that with Coach B and her whole coaching staff.
Q. Brenda, as many years as you've been around the Final Four scene anything being inside that's surprised you so far?
BRENDA FRESE: I tell you, from a personal end, I swear every Final Four that I've ever been to and I sit in the stands I always get teary eyed when I have sat there and thought about the day that I would have the opportunity to coach a team and be able to bring them here. And I'll tell you, it's something pretty special. This is what you grow up as a little kid dreaming about. And I know these players know this as well, I mean, to have the opportunity, the fact that this team brought us here is something that's truly special and I really feel like I'm living out a dream. I still continue to pinch myself and appreciate the moment that so many people have always dreamed about and coached their whole lives and may not ever get here. Players who work just as hard as us that may not get the opportunity to be here. So I just want to appreciate the moment to be able to be a part of something pretty special.
Q. For any of the players that want to comment, just being a slightly less experienced team than North Carolina, I just want to know how, what basically having a win here in your pocket against them how that helps mentally going into a game like this?
MARISSA COLEMAN: With our youth, I just think we play fearless, we have nothing to lose when we go out there; we just go out there to have fun and our win against them at North Carolina, that game was a lot of confidence going into the rest of our season and we lost to them in the ACC tournament and we learned a lot from that game, and watching film and seeing that we lost the game with rebounding and with our defensive effort. So I'm looking forward to the game tomorrow night.
DEBBIE BYRNE: All right. With that we're going to let them go. Thanks.
End of FastScripts...