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March 28, 2008

Marissa Coleman

Brenda Frese

Laura Harper

Marah Strickland


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with our press conference. Start with an overview of getting to Spokane and what the season's been like and then we'll go to some questions.
COACH FRESE: I tell you we're thrilled obviously to be here in Spokane and very excited to be one of 16 teams left in the tournament.
Obviously you know how difficult it is to be able to advance each and every round and we take nothing for granted.
I tell you, just tremendous season, obviously, for us, and being led by our veteran leaders, Crystal Langhorne, Marah Strickland, Ashleigh Newman, Kristi Toliver, tremendous year that they have had and just wanting to continue to advance. And getting ready for Vanderbilt, very difficult matchup playing in the SEC, very talented. From our end just need to be ready to play and execute for 40 great minutes of basketball.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for coach.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Jade Perry and Ashleigh Newman, they had a really good game for you in the last game, but is it as much the lift they give off the bench as the defense?
COACH FRESE: I tell you, Jade and Ashleigh are unsung heroes and I think a big reason why we are here today is just their play. In our last game against Nebraska, the energy and the spark that they provided, I look at Jade and the lift she gave us when we were in early foul trouble in the first half against Nebraska, Ashleigh and her defensive intensity. Need to have both of them provide that kind of spark, that kind of energy to be able to allow us to continue to have that kind of depth off the bench.

Q. Could you talk about Crystal Langhorne a player that gets her number retired before she retires.
COACH FRESE: Well, I mean when you're the all time leading scorer and leading rebounder in the history of our program, and Crystal is by far the most decorated player to ever come through our program. And what she's meant to Maryland it only seemed fitting on senior day to be able to honor her and lift her jersey into the rafters. And I think that the most special thing about Crystal is not only what she's been able to do to produce on the court, with the numbers the accolades, being an All-American, just what kind of person she is off the court. And academic All-American, what she does in the classroom, and just how she carries herself as a person.

Q. Can you go into more detail about the off the court?
COACH FRESE: I tell you, Crystal does all the little things for us. Like I alluded to first on an academic front, just, a communication major, has always from day one been able to take care and handle her academics. What she does in terms of being a role model, out in the community, how she carries herself, how she handles herself, and I think that the most special thing about Crystal is just how she handles pressure. Never is phased or caught up into any kind of pressure, and especially the little things off the court that a lot of times girls can get caught up into with drama and different things that go on and she's never been phased by any of it.

Q. Can you talk about how much this Vanderbilt team kind of reminds you of your team two years ago that won the title and how hard it is for a young team to take that next step once you've reached, you almost hit a plateau, how hard it is to get over that plateau.
COACH FRESE: I think that when you look at it sometimes it's kind of good and bad. In the fact of you can play as really free and really loose because you have nothing to lose and I think when you look at Vanderbilt you see that. You see that how they have played through their last 15 games and they're extremely talented. Obviously when you have a veteran-led team you have the experience factor, but you also know every step and what it means and what you have to do in order to advance.

Q. Do you have any sense of the four teams here that have things in common just in terms of what you guys have all done from a basketball sense?
COACH FRESE: What we have in common? I mean that's a difficult question for me given the fact that my focus has been on Vanderbilt, I got to be honest.
I think that probably the interesting thing from all of our ends is I'm not sure the critics out there who they really feel like deserves to advance. I think we're kind of all kind of underdogs I guess would be my first guess and probably assumption in terms of just the bracket. I'm not sure the critics out there really have a sure favorite of who they think is going to advance out of this bracket.

Q. I believe on Selection Monday your team was the only one with a couple of babies around, can you talk about the dynamic and what they brought to the team and how they changed the team or had changed you at all?
COACH FRESE: Yeah, I mean, obviously from our end it was, it's been a special season. And for our team to really go through an entire pregnancy with their head coach is the special dynamic. And I think that's something that our young girls and women some day as they go through it will remember for the rest of their lives.
I think that's what makes it so special is our team is a family and every step of the way of how we have approached the season, how our team has been able to do so many things with or without their head coach, but it's really a family and we all take care of each other and we all help each other out to the best of our ability.
So it made sense on the selection show just to have everyone there. It's our extended family together.

Q. As you went through that did you get advice from other coaches on how to deal with the pregnancy during the season and the lack of sleep all the things that come with that?
COACH FRESE: Yeah, most definitely. It has been neat to kind of see within the coaching fraternity those that have had kids and the ones that have reached out to be able to give such great advice. Really, I've only met one other coach whose had twins, so the dynamic is a little different because you can't travel, you're restricted from that at an earlier rate than if you were just having a single baby.
But the coaches that have reached out and really talked about it in this crazy profession just trying to reach and achieve balance and really balancing all of it between your team and your family has really been probably the special thing to me.
The other thing I would say in the coaching fraternity is, just the ranks, I mean the number of officials that have shared with me that they come from a family of twins or assistant coaches who are twins or within their family, I think that that's been probably the most special thing is just that whole extension that people have shared with me throughout the season.

Q. Do you feel like you've achieved that balance yet, there are those of us who have kids who feel we have gone years without figuring it out?
COACH FRESE: I think we're constantly working through that balance your entire life and I think you kind of sometimes go in and out of it.
You're asking me in five and a half weeks post, if I have achieved balance? Absolutely not. But I think that's the goal, that we all want to strive for that goal. But I think just having the tremendous amount of support that I have at Maryland within my staff, our team, my family, really helps you to try to get closer to that.

Q. Vanderbilt had mentioned that they had yet to play their best game I wonder if you feel like you've seen your team play its best game and how much does it worry or how much do you stress playing 40 full minutes?
COACH FRESE: Obviously I don't feel like we have played our best game in the tournament. I don't think as a coach and as a team you ever feel like you've played your best game 40 complete minutes but I think that's what you strive for. Day in and day out you strive for your best practice as well as your best game and your most complete game. So that's always a goal. That's where we continue to set the bar and want to continue to aim for.

Q. Could you take us through a typical day for you when you're balancing baby schedules and basketball schedules. Just what a typical day is like for you?
COACH FRESE: Yeah, obviously it starts really early. In the morning in terms of the daytime it's always I try to get up and spend as much time as I can, I guess if you're asking if I'm back home and I'm in Maryland. And to spend the early morning with the boys, so I kind of have that bonding time. Whether there's a feeding or a diaper changing of some sort that I can do. Then I head into the office, I get prepared for practice mindset and focus and goals on this team. And then when I come through back at night trying to reconnect obviously with the boys and then you kind of find those moments when they're asleep then you're working, back and forth, just every second, every minute you find that you're not going to have time for you so much to speak. Although I did get a massage out here.
Which was, there is my balance.
So you got to squeeze those moments when you can. But definitely just trying to balance all of it.

Q. On Selection Monday you, the team I cover, Stanford, was distraught that they didn't get the number one seed visibly and you guys were elated. Did you feel pretty confident that you would get a number one seed and what did that mean to your team?
COACH FRESE: I think that the committee always has difficult decisions to make. Especially with how our game has grown. Obviously we're extremely excited to see that we would receive the number one seed and I think there were a lot of teams worthy and I think they had difficult decisions between the one and two seed. I think we're all fully aware of it is just a number in front of your name and you have to go out and you have to be able to play.
But we do feel good in the sense of that the non-conference schedule that we put together playing 14 games in 31 days winning the NIT, the amount of top-ranked teams that we played, the ACC Conference, you know, how difficult it is there. And just looking at the body of work that we displayed. Our three losses were all against Top-10 ranked teams.
So I compliment the committee, but at the same time I think there's a lot of deserving teams and Stanford is one of them. They're a great team and have had a tremendous season.

Q. When Vanderbilt was here they compared you guys at least the team that they think they seem to feel that you guys resemble was Tennessee. In looking at film, who do they resemble that you've played this year and what kind of matchup problems or defense adjustments defensive adjustments do you think you'll have to make?
COACH FRESE: They're a unique team because they're not characteristic of the teams that we face in the ACC, so I would have to probably think back to our non-conference schedule, just the fact that they run so many sets, they all can shoot it, their post players can go inside and out. So I think they're unique to probably anyone we have played. So I think they're kind of a combination of a lot of different teams that we have had to play and we have played some teams that have post players that can step out and shoot it and just with their versatility.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Coach thank you for joining us.
COACH FRESE: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. The obvious question is Marah, who won the fight?
MARAH STRICKLAND: I think that I would have to say I won the fight, actually. It was a good battle between me and Laura, but I came out on top.

Q. For Laura and Marissa, Vanderbilt looks a lot like you guys did two years ago, a very young team, trying to break through to the next level. Can you guys talk about what that was like making that championship run two years ago?
LAURA HARPER: Obviously when you have no pressure and you just have that air about yourselves it's easy to play and be loose and have a chip on your shoulder. But I don't know, we're a very veteran team, so we know what it's like to be that team, so it's kind of like I think we're ready to counteract and just play our game.
MARISSA COLEMAN: When you're not expected to win like we weren't not expected to win our year, then you just go out there and play free, there's no pressure on you. You don't have to worry about living up to any expectations or anything like that. But like we're we were saying we're a very veteran team, battle tested and experienced. So we're very confident going into tomorrow's game and for the rest of the tournament.

Q. For all of you, we talked to your coach about how life has changed since the twins came out. What's it been like for y'all? She described it as a family atmosphere, do you believe this whole experience brought you all closer together as a team?
MARAH STRICKLAND: I think that it's definitely brought us together as a team. Just having the babies around, watching coach be so motherly with them and taking care of them. And it definitely feels like we get to be their big sisters and so it's a lot of fun.
LAURA HARPER: Obviously they came at a good point in the season because it's more like bringing us together type thing. Being together at her house, holding the babies, just spending more time as a team with Coach B being there, kind of picking her up, it just helps our like connectiveness grow bigger.
MARISSA COLEMAN: I think that on top of all of that I think it showed us how great our coach really is. She's fought through a lot of stuff all season. She came to practices when none of us knew how bad she was really feeling. She was back so quickly after she had the twins, she surprised us at the NC State game, she came down to the ACC tournament. So she's kind of like Super Woman. There's not many people that can have one child let alone twins and come back and do what she did and be so important to this team.

Q. Can you follow-up a little bit on, what is that, as young women, what does it mean to have a role model like that? Does it kind of show you that there's more possibilities in life than maybe what you might have thought?
MARISSA COLEMAN: I think it was an inspiration to all of us. Especially she got a lot of criticism for her timing when she got pregnant. But she barely missed a beat. And there wasn't a better time, we talked about it, for her to have the twins with all the veterans on this team, a lot of us have been through all the stuff. And we knew what was expected of us, so when she was gone it was just extra motivation for us to go out there and play that much harder.
LAURA HARPER: Also with her being a role model it gave us like a release to see someone working that hard for her to be at our Senior Night a week after she gave birth and just wanting to be a part of this team it shows how much she really cares and it almost makes us to work harder to see what the types of battles that she went through for us.

Q. Could you talk about the assistant coach that took over, he was a first year guy too and all of a sudden he's running the show quite a bit. What was it like adjusting to him?
LAURA HARPER: Well obviously getting adjusted to a new coach is something that we have to deal with. But he came from the summer and he was very confident himself and all of us and he instilled so much confidence in just us as a team and us as players. So it made that transition a lot more easier. It made it feel like we were actually players and he always said it was a players team, he was just kind of guiding us along the way.

Q. Brenda talked about the need to play 40 great minutes. Do you guys feel like you've done that yet and is that a concern that y'all have the rest of the way?
MARISSA COLEMAN: We haven't done it so far in this tournament. We have done it throughout the season. And I'm not going to say it's a concern, actually thinking about back to our first two round games I think the reason why we didn't play complete 40 minute games is I think we were putting pressure on ourselves to get out of College Park. Because that was one of our main goals because that's where we got knocked out last year. I think now we're going to play more free and more confident and you're really going to be able to see Maryland basketball.

Q. I read somewhere you have family members around this area. Can you kind of explain that who they are.
MARISSA COLEMAN: My mom's whole side of the family is from Portland, Oregon and she has family in Seattle as well. I lived in Portland until I was like four. So some of my family is from Seattle and Portland and they're going to drive to the game tomorrow.

Q. This would be for Laura, tell me a little bit about playing with Crystal and what she's meant to the program at Maryland.
LAURA HARPER: Obviously coming in from high school I felt as though I was going into college with the post player coming out of high school. So playing with her the whole time I feel like I've learned from the best and I've stepped my game up just playing alongside someone who is so good.
I just feel like we kind of compliment each other. And her being so strong, her on the left, me on the right. And being able to watch in practice it's invaluable to be alongside someone for four years in a row and practicing for four years in a row.

Q. Laura, two years away from looking back from a National Championship, what does that mean today, to this team today? I know some were on the team, some weren't, but that's that mean as a group today?
LAURA HARPER: Obviously being in this spot and thinking back to two years ago winning a championship and actually seeing like the clips on the TV in the hotel, it's just a good feeling for this team. It just, it's almost indescribable because we didn't think about anything for that run. We didn't think about playing games, we didn't think about what anyone had to say about us, we were just playing for us, for each other. And just to get out of College Park and realize how much pressure we put on ourselves, it kind of just reminds us what how innocent we were and how much fun that was. So just to get back to Maryland basketball and just play free play and relaxed is what two years ago means to us.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, ladies.

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