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March 11, 2011

Chiney Ogwumike

Nnemkadi Ogwumike

Tara VanDerveer



THE MODERATOR: We've got the Stanford Cardinals, congratulations, we have Coach VanDerveer, Chiney Ogwumike, and Nnemkadi Ogwumike. Coach, an opening statement?
COACH VANDERVEER: First, I just want to compliment Niya Butts and Arizona on a great season, and I hope they're able to play in the postseason and the NCAA. They have some really terrific players and we got them on their third game in three days, and I thought they did a really good job.
But they had trouble guarding Nnemkadi and Chiney inside. Nnemkadi came to play. She was aggressive. Finished inside really well. And I'm so proud of how Chiney has improved so much during the year, offensively, has a lot of weapons, go right, go left, high post shot working for her. She is a worker and a defender. She really worked hard defensively.
I think they just brought just great energy to the court. Kayla Pedersen getting the ball inside. Jeanette didn't have -- maybe an A-game for Jeanette. But other people picked up the slack really well. I thought our inside presence was really well. Sarah Boothe coming in going 5 for 6 was really well. And this was a great game for Melanie Murphy too.

Q. Chiney, during the broadcast when you walked over after you lost your tooth, I heard you whisper it's the second time. Can you elaborate what was that about? What were you trying to --
CHINEY OGWUMIKE: I've been known to get the butt of hits to the mouth, and I'm not that reliable about putting my mouth guard in, which is bad, but I advocate everyone wearing it. And I just had a tooth that just got chipped, and then I re-chipped it again. So it happens. Got a big hit in the mouth.
But I should be wearing my mouth guard more, which I will. And you guys can hold me accountable to that too.

Q. Describe how anxious you guys were to start playing today after having a week off?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: I think we were very anxious. I wouldn't necessarily say we had a week off because we've been practicing all week and we've been practicing really hard. I think everyone's just really excited about tournament time.
Everyone came out hard, and I think we were just really ready to go because Tara was telling us that this is a new season, and we need to define who we are.
Obviously, we've had preseason and regular season. It's tournament time now. If you don't know who you are by now, then those teams aren't really going to be as successful of down the road. I think we're doing a really good job of accentuating our assets and just really working hard as a team and collaborating.

Q. In the second half, you guys have such a huge lead, how are you able to still be focused and bring that intensity with the huge lead that you guys accumulated?
CHINEY OGWUMIKE: I think the ability for our team to play so many people and to utilize so many players on the court forces us always -- like we look at another player that we play with, and we're like okay, we have to do well for them. And everyone brings energy when they come in. And that's one of the things we've been trying to do is concentrate on every possession. And I was really proud of how we tried to maintain that concentration.
Even though we did make some mistakes, we had good moments. And I'd like to say that everyone on our team had a good moment at some point. It's really a great effort.
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: Well, I mean, obviously we were up by a lot. But at the same time we always go into the second half no matter what the score is thinking that it's 0 to 0. We play like it's 0 to 0. We never let the score affect us.
Quite frankly, I honestly couldn't even see the scoreboard, so I think that kind of helped too. But for the most part we just played hard for 40 minutes. That's what Coach was telling us before the game. You have to just keep playing hard for 40 minutes. Nothing's guaranteed. Doesn't matter what your jersey says on the front or the back, so I think we did a really good job of just maintaining our poise and playing hard.

Q. Can you talk a little about your three-point shooting? Are you guys concentrating on getting the ball inside and perhaps giving up a little bit of that three-point shot at this point? Do you feel like at some point in a few days you may need that back?
COACH VANDERVEER: You know, I think that we just try to go with what's available. I thought people did a great job of getting the ball inside. Kayla Pedersen with 7 assists, Melanie Murphy got the ball inside really well, 6 assists. We're going to make that pass, and someone like Chiney going 10 for 13 or Nnemkadi at 15 for 22, we're going to take that.
I have the ultimate confidence in our three-point shooters. And Lindy hit one. Jeanette hit one. If it's going to be open, they'll knock those shots down.
But I just think that when you have -- when you can go inside to somebody like Sarah Boothe, going 5 for 6, why not?

Q. There is still another semi to be played. But if it plays out according to seed and UCLA advances, can you talk about UCLA and your match-ups with them this season and what they present?
COACH VANDERVEER: UCLA has had a great year. I think Nikki's done an awesome job with her team. They have a lot of weapons with their perimeter game, with Campbell and Morris, Gardner, they go inside really well with Nyingifa. They have people coming off the bench. And they're a very aggressive, athletic team. They play a little bit different style. They like to press and trap. You have to take care of the ball against them.
This team, they weren't really extended a lot, but I thought we did a good job taking care of the ball and making good decisions. Our team is confident because we've done well in the past, but not overconfident. And we know that we'll have to board, we'll have to play great defense, and a lot of different people will have to step up for us.
I think Nnemkadi would like to play against UCLA. She didn't get to play last time. So we know we have to play really well against either team.
CHINEY OGWUMIKE: I agree completely with everything she said.

Q. You weren't able to play in that last game, how would you see it come at you?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: I'd be excited whether it's UCLA or Cal. They're both great teams. But however, if it's UCLA, she's right. I didn't get a crack at them the last time, and that was a really good game and they're a really great team. I love playing against people that give us a challenge, and I would love playing them again.

Q. You mentioned that you hope Arizona could make the tournament. Why? What do you see there that makes them a tournament team?
COACH VANDERVEER: I think that Arizona finishing fourth in the Pac-10, getting those two wins coming into this game, they've got a lot of offensive weapons. I think Lucet is playing really well for them. Davellyn Whyte is a terrific perimeter scorer and Ify Ibekwe is a big time player. They don't have a lot of depth. But in the NCAA you're not playing three games in three days. You're playing one game and then you get a rest. I think they've earned it.
I'd like to see a minimum of four teams going, and I think they'd be a good pick.

Q. You scored the first two baskets. Then did your lens pop out?

Q. Is that something that happens frequently during games?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: Actually, yes, I don't know why, for both of us. A lot of our teammates have asked us what brand we're using, I'm not really sure. But, yeah, my lens did pop out.

Q. When you put it back in, you talked about your eyesight, was it never quite good?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: Oh, no, it was fine. I just had to put it back in.

Q. Are you guys feeding off each other a little bit at this point in the season? Get started, and maybe Nnemkadi scores inside, and then maybe Chiney. Is it a situation where you're feeding off each other's energy?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: I'd have to say yes. It's funny, because I was thinking about it the other day. It's like when Chiney gets a rebound, and it's like I get a rebound. When Chiney scores, it's like I scored. We have an a invisible extension between us. It's a lot of fun to play with her. I'm proud of the way she's playing and she's having a lot of fun.
That goes with all our other teammates. This year our team is very special because we're very close. We're each other's best friends. I guess you could say, yeah, we are definitely feeding off each other. We give each other energy during the game.
CHINEY OGWUMIKE: I agree completely, again. I think sometimes it's just natural for a sister to look for a sister. I usually know where she is, I know where she's probably thinking about going. And sometimes that really makes it easy in the sport of basketball.
I also consider Kayla our sister because she can pick up on what we're saying and the communication we have, and basically the rest our team, because we're all there for each other and we have each other's backs. If one person's struggling, they always say the right thing to keep them in the game and make sure our minds are correct. I really think it's the sisterhood of Stanford in general.

Q. Would you welcome a close game in the final? If you have another blowout, is that going to put your team in a good, competitive mood going into the NCAA Tournament?
COACH VANDERVEER: You know, I'm not going to -- I don't try to script it. The most important thing for me is that our team stays healthy. That is the most important thing. Obviously keeping the same attitude that they have. What I found is that players, if they want to play with each other, they keep it going. They know that we could only have a total of 7 more games, and you have to earn each game.
Whatever the score is, it doesn't matter to me. The most important thing is that everyone's excited to play, and they stay healthy ask keep improving.

Q. Can you compare this year's squad at this point in the season to last year's squad at this point in the season embarking on the postseason run? What do you bring this year that you didn't have last year? What maybe have you lost?
COACH VANDERVEER: I think that this is a very different team. Last year at this time a lot of our offense went through Jane. Jane is a great passer, but she wasn't even 100%. So we had to figure out how to play without Jane a little bit in the tournament. And we weren't ready to, nor were we really good at it.
This year we have a lot of different weapons, you have Nnemkadi, Chiney, Sarah Boothe, Kayla, Jos. We have more options. Jeanette maybe struggled a little bit in the first half, and Melanie Murphy came in and did a great job. Toni Kokenis, Lindy La Rocque. We just have more options. These are young people that are really mature. And I think we're a very close team, but we're a very unselfish team. They will do whatever it takes.
I think especially young players are taking coaching well. There are some people that heard some things they didn't want to hear at halftime, and they came out and responded really well. I think they're just willing to do whatever their teammates need them to do to be more successful. We just have more weapons and different weapons.

Q. You set your season high in points of 32, breaking your previous mark of 24 which you had against Arizona earlier in the season. Do you think your excellent play was because of the match-up against Arizona, or were you just feeling confident and good about yourself right now?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: I would have to say that I guess I came out with a more aggressive mentality. I think they call me the analyzer. I think way too much. So when you're playing sometimes you just have to play. Not sometimes, most of the times.
I was talking to Tara and she was saying that we have to put the hammer down. I think I assumed that role, and it helped me be more aggressive and more productive on the court.
So I'd have to say with the help of my coaches and my teammates I was playing hard. It's also exciting to play during the tournament. I don't want to make it seem like I was waiting to play, but a lot of things are going on. You have to go through the scouting reports and we're practicing hard. There are a lot of things going on during this time.
The focus kind of gives you an adrenaline rush. It's also really exciting to be able to share an experience like this with other people. So I think all of that mixed together is kind of why our team is playing a little more aggressively.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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