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March 8, 2010

Geno Auriemma

Tina Charles

Kalana Greene

Maya Moore


Connecticut – 59
Notre Dame - 44

THE MODERATOR: We will open the floor for questions first for our student athletes.

Q. This is for Maya Moore. How does Coach get athletes who are prolific scorers to buy into defense the way you guys buy into defense because your streak of holding opponents to less than 50 percent is also stunning?
MAYA MOORE: Well, I think it starts -- you've got to recruit a certain type of player. You recruit players that are competitive people, so when you get to Connecticut, everything is competitive, offense and defense. And I think it's something that we have bought into. You know, we're still constantly trying to improve our defense every day. We've by no means made it, but it's something that has been a staple of our success.

Q. Tina, was this win bigger for you because it got you to The Finals or because of 71?
TINA CHARLES: I think this win is big just because this is the second win for us in the postseason. So I guess I'll say it's neither, but yet we are happy that we're going to The Finals, of course. But just the way we're playing, you know, we've been sitting around like coach said, putting an emphasis on, and just the fact that we're still able to compete, and some of us play longer minutes and do back to back games, I think that's really good.

Q. Tina, at the half it was 25-22. You guys aren't really used to having teams compete with you that closely going into halftime. What did you guys tell each other at halftime? What was the mood like in the locker room?
TINA CHARLES: We were just missing shots, and Coach said that we're a team that we're used to making all of our shots, and how are we going to react. We just went out there, and I think Kalana just bear down, and she started making her shots?

Q. Maya, whether it's Rutgers or West Virginia in The Finals, what are your thoughts on just the championship game and what you want to focus on?
MAYA MOORE: It's going to be another battle. You know, at this point you're not going to meet a team that's not physical, that's not aggressive. So we're going to have to definitely come out and have a better first half, take that mentality that we did in the second half and transfer it over to the first.
You know, this is postseason, so everybody is going to be coming at you with everything that they have. So we have to be ready to respond tomorrow more than anything.

Q. Kalana, just talk about the difference between the first half and second half tempowise.
KALANA GREENE: I think we had a lot more pressure on the ball. We got a lot of defensive rebounds in the second half that led to transition points for us.
Whenever our defense is great, we create turnovers or limit them to one shot. We get points in transition. I think that was the big key. Tina blocking a lot of shots in the lane and Maya tipping passes and getting steals, and that definitely led us to getting transition buckets.

Q. Maya, Coach has talked often about what it takes to accomplish what you did tonight as a team with the 71 straight wins about the focus and you never can have a bad night; the team can't have a bad night collectively; someone always has to come to work ready to play. What is your perspective about what has happened in the last two years, why you've been able to do this and what it takes to do it?
MAYA MOORE: You have to have great leadership, first of all. It starts with Coach Auriemma and goes down to our seniors and spreads to the rest of us, somebody to come every day, like you said, with their hardhat on and really make sure that they come with that competitiveness that you have to have every day, and then it spreads down to the rest of us.
And especially this year, we've had to all, I think, collectively take more of a responsibility of our team because we don't have as many players, and it's just what the chemistry this year calls for. Tina has absolutely stepped up and really come to work every day this year, and I think we definitely feed off of that, and our seniors play with that sense of urgency. So when you have that every day in practice and you have that every day in the game, it's hard not to bring that enthusiasm that you see us play with every day, because we know how special our team is, and we know what kind of a special thing we've got going over the past couple years. So we're just trying to go out and play every game to just make the best of it.

Q. For Tina and Kalana, we know by now how you guys feel about all of this because you told us all year about how these things really aren't that important in terms of the streak. But when will you allow yourself to look at what you've done and feel a sense of pride or at least express how you really feel about winning 71 straight games? I mean, when are you going to feel comfortable enough to do that?
TINA CHARLES: After the season, the last game we play we can look back and see what we've done. That's always been -- you don't want to sit there and celebrate about wins when you've still got a long ways to go. We don't play on our season being over any time soon. We're looking at the next game.
Right now we're going to take a little bit of time to see what we did wrong with the game and try and correct it for the next game we have tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach?

Q. Two questions: First off, how is Carolyn after getting hit in the head? And second, is it some relief now that 71 is over with that the rest of the games you can sort of put the streak away?
COACH AURIEMMA: I mean, I can't speak for everybody sitting out there and everybody else that's anywhere that has a microphone or a pen that's going to ask me about it, but I'm sure that -- I don't know that 71 changes anything.
Now, it's -- maybe it is, I don't know. I think the more important number for us right now, again, is what Kalana just said about winning the Big East championship. I'm coaching tonight. I'm not thinking about what number this is. It really is I'm thinking I can't believe that anything is more important than winning -- than playing in the Big East championship for these kids. I want to try to keep the focus where it is.
But Wednesday, Thursday, Friday -- probably until we get together for the NCAA tournament, you know, there may be a little bit of a looking back for everybody. But then you've got to get back to focusing on the things that are important, you know, short-term.
As far as Caroline is concerned, I couldn't tell whether it was a knee or an elbow that caught her in the back of the head down low, and they were just being, I think, cautious. She may have a concussion; we're not sure until they evaluate her. They're doing that now probably. And obviously if she has a concussion, she's not playing tomorrow.
But just by the looks of it, that might be the worst of it. We were worried it might have been worse, but that's about the worst of it.

Q. One of the things you say all the time is nobody ever knows how fragile this all can be, and when you see her laying like that, especially after the way she played, I mean, does that -- do you think about that?
COACH AURIEMMA: Well, you know what, for me what's fun is when I was in the locker room at halftime, I was walking out of the locker room, and I said it maybe four or five times to Jack or whoever we were walking out with, I said, Come on, it's impossible for us to lose, right? There's no way. We're going to win 97 in a row. Do you know how easy it is? Do you know? All you have to do is listen to what everybody says.
We put up at whopping 25 in the first half. If I would have told you that before the game and said, Hey, we're going to get 25 at halftime, if I would have said that, you would have said, He's an idiot.
We're just looking for things to pick off. We got 25 in the first half. Our defense was great. We were lousy on the offensive end, and Notre Dame I thought played great. But they didn't shoot the ball that well, either. So it was just one of those games where you're going to have to grind it out, and that's how it is fragile. It's fragile because you can go like Kalana, 7 for 17, and you could have -- go 3 for 10 from the free-throw line.
There's so many things that could go wrong, and the other team has to take advantage of it, and you're one injury away from it all falling apart maybe. That's why, you know, I said all along, I don't care about the streak. It's going to end. I just want it to end the right way. I don't want it to end because we got a kid injured. I don't want it to end because somebody got in foul trouble and fouled out. I want to have our best guys out on the floor, the last three minutes, and somebody beats us, and I'll be the first to shake their hand.
Other than that, I want to play for the Big East championship tomorrow night.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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