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March 9, 2010

Geno Auriemma

Tina Charles

Kalana Greene

Maya Moore


Connecticut – 60
West Virginia - 32

THE MODERATOR: Let's start with questions for our players.

Q. Kalana, can you talk about the extra gear you guys seemed to find? There was like 33-29 or something, and you went on like a 27 to 3 run to end the game. Talk about that. It seemed like you just picked up the intensity and everything else. Talk about finding that extra gear there.
KALANA GREENE: We just wanted to keep playing defense. Our defense was pretty good the entire game. We were not having a great offensive night, so you know you can rely on defense. I think we got key stops and dominated the boards tonight.
Tina started hitting a lot of big shots at the end, and that's what we need. She got her confidence back, and people made plays when they needed to make them.

Q. Kalana, a lot has been made this weekend about the winning streak, but this is what you really wanted, a championship. Talk about what it means to get this championship now.
KALANA GREENE: Yeah, we have a lot of miniature goals during the entire season, and every championship that's thrown at us, we want to win it. The streak doesn't really matter to us because we can win, what is it, 71 games and to not win the Big East Championship and it won't feel like anything.
Tonight we could have gone -- won 71 games, lose tonight and it wouldn't have the same feeling, so we wanted to finish off the right way, especially our last game as seniors in Hartford. I think this is one more step into the main goal.

Q. Kalana, you've already had a pretty remarkable season, and to top it off by being the most outstanding player in the Big East Tournament, can you just talk about how that fits in with everything else that's gone on for you this year?
KALANA GREENE: I think this year I brought a different approach in practice, and it prepared me for games. I mean, tonight in this whole tournament I just wanted to come in and just help my team win in whichever way possible, rebound, play defense, and knock in a couple shots. I just wanted to play hard and just leave it all on the floor and build a lot of momentum going into the tournament.

Q. Maya, whatever WV cut the deficit at the end of the first half and then at the beginning of the second half, what were they doing different and what were some of the emotions running through you guys' heads?
MAYA MOORE: I think they did a great job of trying to speed us up, trying to get us out of our rhythm offensively. It took us a little bit to get back in it. When we made our run, I feel like we were finally playing together, finding each other, hitting back doors, hustle plays. We have to do a better job of handling other teams trying to speed us up because I think that is one area where it can mess up any team if you go too fast and don't handle the defense.

Q. Tina, you spent a lot of the game it seemed like alone at the top of the key with the ball in your hand. They were laying off of you and trying to dare you to shoot or do something with the ball. I don't recall another game where you were put in that position so often. Did it surprise you, and what did you -- how do you think you did in that situation?
TINA CHARLES: It wasn't really surprising because Coach just prepares us for every situation. He always tells me I'm going to get doubled and triple-teamed and everything like that, and throughout the whole tournament all I've been doing is posting up and trying to dominate. So the fact that I was open and they were giving me the shot, it wasn't surprising. I just had to knock it down.

Q. Maya, 72 down, six more to go. You had sort of an off-night tonight. Tina's free-throws were pretty tough tonight. Do you have any concerns going forward or do you think the defense will be able to carry you all the way?
MAYA MOORE: I'm not worried. You know, this is a tough part of the year. A Big East Tournament, you're playing the best teams in the Big East back to back to back, and it's not necessarily going to be easy. It's going to be hard. I think we can take away a lot of good things from this tournament, and we found out some things about ourselves and some things that we need to fine-tune and work on. We're going to overcome those things just like we have everything else this year.

Q. For either Tina or Maya, when you were struggling to find your shot and when Tina is double-teamed down there, how great is it to see Kalana come to the rescue to keep you guys in front?
MAYA MOORE: She's great. She's a critical part of our team. She can do a lot of different things on the court. When she's coming in offensive rebounding playing tough defense, she's stepping up and being that constant leader for us by example. Kalana is kind of like our safety net. She sometimes doesn't get the credit she deserves, and it's just great that she's being recognized for all the intangibles that she brings to our team.

Q. This is for any of the players. Obviously, you work all year in practice for conditioning purposes and for everything else. Have any of you ever felt fatigue in a game? Did you feel it tonight? And do you ever have that experience where your legs are tired?
KALANA GREENE: I think you're mostly tired mentally more than anything. Physically you're always going to be tired. You practice every day, and I think practices are harder than games for the most part. So playing three games back to back is not necessarily that hard compared to practice sometimes. But I think when you get tired mentally, that's when you need your teammates to help you pick it up and get out of that funk.
For us, tired is a state of mind. We try never to be tired, keep good body language, and not show the other team that you're tired because that's when you see a weakness. When we see other teams are tired, we got at them even harder when they're tired. You never want to show other teams if you're fatigued or tired.

Q. Talk a little bit about the defense. You held them to 32 which I think is the lowest in a championship game. You guys have been an unbelievable defensive team. Talk about how that helped carry you through games when offense isn't there.
MAYA MOORE: Yeah, our defense has to be there, because as we've seen the past couple days, we are capable of missing a lot of shots. Hopefully we won't miss as many as we have the past couple days, but if that happens, we have to be able to rely on our defense and not let the other team score, and I thought we did a really great job tonight of communicating, knowing where they wanted to go with the ball and trying to stop that and playing really good team defense.
If they got in the lane, Tina was there to block a shot and just carry in the rebound. And our defense triggers our offense. You know, we can get stops like that and gives us momentum and it's a big part of us being an offensive team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach?

Q. Can you talk a little bit about what Maya said basically, Kalana as the safety net? This was her second double-double of the year, but she picked a heck of a time to come up and play well tonight.
COACH AURIEMMA: Yeah, every game that we go into, we understand how difficult it's going to be for us to just get Maya and Tina whatever shots they want. I mean, the better the teams you play against, the more difficult it's going to be to get your two best players open shots. That's why they're good teams.
So somebody has to step up and make plays, and I thought all year long Kalana has been really consistent in providing -- whether it's a defensive spurt or an offensive spurt or a rebounding spurt, there's been numerous times where she's provided that whatever it seemed like we needed at that time.
We really, really harped on the rebounding thing. After yesterday's game that was a really huge point of emphasis today, and I thought that second half it seemed like every shot we missed, she was offensive rebounding it.
I think she's developed into a real trustworthy player, you know, more so than any other time in her career. And it couldn't happen to a nicer kid at a better time.

Q. If I can just follow up on the question about fatigue that I asked your players, have you seen any signs of it in your team here in the 33rd game this season? Do you sense that they go through spurts where it's a little harder for them to do things than they might normally be, and when you see that, what do you try to do about it on the fly?
COACH AURIEMMA: I think if there was any fatigue, it shows up on the defensive end, you know, and I haven't seen that the last two games. I think Tina -- Kalana was right. I think where it gets you is mentally, the wear and tear of the games and having to concentrate on the offensive end. That's where it shows up sometimes mentally. Their legs and their ability to play, I haven't seen it on the defensive end, and on the offensive end, it can show up.
At this time of the year I don't know any team that isn't dealing with that, to be honest with you. I mean, I think every team in the country at this time of year especially, you know, if you've invested as much time or as much effort as we have on the defensive end throughout the season, but I didn't see any signs of it on the defensive end.

Q. Given the premium you place on defense, are you able to appreciate the way West Virginia plays, their tenacity, and do you feel like they'll be a tough out for anyone in the NCAA Tournament?
COACH AURIEMMA: Yeah. Obviously we know them, they know us, but when they get in the tournament and you haven't played against them, you're going to be in for a rough night. They have good defenders at every position, and they're very physical at every position, and they make it very difficult for you to get the shots you want. You're going to have to make plays against them.
You're not going to be able to just run stuff and say, Well, we're going to be able to score this way. You're going to have to create against them, and if you can't do that -- you saw what they've done the last three nights. They took a pretty good offensive team against DePaul. DePaul is a pretty good offensive team and they shut them down and they shut down Rutgers yesterday and essentially did the same thing to us in some ways.
Yeah, I wouldn't want to play them in the NCAA Tournament, no way.

Q. Earlier today you told ESPN that it didn't bother you at all that Tennessee wasn't one of the 41 teams that was involved in the streak. But going forward in the NCAA Tournament, would you like to bump into them? Would you like to get that as part of this whole two years' experience?
COACH AURIEMMA: I don't look forward to playing any team or not playing any team. You know, if they're in our bracket, we'll have to play them hopefully. If they're not, you know, we're going to start the NCAA Tournament trying to win the National Championship, and we're going to have to play whoever is in our way to get there. If it's them, great; if it's not, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it either way.

Q. Can you talk about the streak of winning three straight here in the Big East Championship? I mean, that must mean something I would think to you to win three in a row.
COACH AURIEMMA: Yeah. You know, usually the best team wins this tournament, so if you've got the best team going in, you'll usually find that they're going to win the tournament. I think we've had the best team the last couple of years.
The players expect to win this tournament, and maybe that's why we've won it now as many times as we have, because there's no sense ever of not winning it. It doesn't matter what year, it doesn't matter who's on the team, doesn't matter where it is.
I know there's some teams in our league, they bitch and moan with the tournaments here; it's not at a neutral site. I would hope it would be at a neutral site some day. I think that would be pretty cool. I think you get more calls at a neutral site. I don't think you get as many calls when you're at home. Same with the NCAA Tournament; when you play NCAA Tournament games at home, you don't get calls. They figure you're already at home; you don't need any calls.
So I think our players come here expecting to win the tournament every year. They expect to be in The Finals. They expect to win it. I think we had a stretch where I think we won it like eight or nine years in a row or something like that. But to do it now with the quality of teams that we have in our league, I mean, we had to beat two top-ten teams. We might not play two teams as good as Notre Dame and West Virginia in the first two rounds of the -- in the first four games if we're lucky enough to get that far of the NCAA Tournament.
It's always a huge sense of accomplishment when you can win our league, especially now. Maybe not as much back in the day, but especially now, because of who's involved, who you have to beat.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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