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March 12, 2011

Nikki Caldwell

Doreena Campbell

Darxia Morris


UCLA - 55

THE MODERATOR: We welcome the UCLA Bruins. We've got Coach Nikki Caldwell, Doreena Campbell and Darxia Morris. Coach, an opening statement and then questions.
COACH CALDWELL: First off, I'm very proud of this team. I'm one of the luckiest coaches in America, because I get to come in and work and work with some unbelievable people.
I can't tell you how enjoyable it has been coaching this group, how enjoyable and how much fun we have outside of basketball. The one thing that I want for them is just nothing but greatness.

Q. How does a team learn how to win these games and close them out?
COACH CALDWELL: Play for 40. I think this group did an amazing job, pretty much for about 32, 33 minutes of the game, and then there was the run, and you knew it was coming. This group is tough, and they're resilient. But we couldn't go deep in our bench tonight, and I think that hurt us a little bit.
I think when you're playing a team like Stanford who has so many weapons -- their ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter, their ability to score in the paint -- you can't give them both. You've got to be able to take one of them away.
I thought in the first half we did a good job of taking away the paint points. In the second half, they really got on the offensive glass and got some putbacks. Their defensive pressure fouled up, and they got transition baskets off of our turnovers. So you've got to take care of the ball, late game as well.

Q. You said you knew that they would make a run at you. You had a nice lead at the half and you had them rattled. Did you have a feeling though that they were not going to go away?
COACH CALDWELL: They definitely weren't. You knew that they weren't just going to give in. They've got too much great leadership in Pohlen and Pedersen. And you know the fight that they have because you know Stanford, and you know Coach VanDerveer and her competitive spirit. They're not considered one of the best programs in the history of the game for nothing. So she does something extremely right, and she does a great job of making adjustments and getting her team ready to go in the second half.
But I like the intensity of our group coming out in the second half. I thought they really stood toe to toe with a very, very good basketball team.

Q. Why was this so emotional for you?
COACH CALDWELL: These two over here. You don't have favorites. You're not supposed to have favorites, but these two are two of my favorites probably that I've coached in my entire career. These two have meant so much. Just taking on so much responsibility for the success of this program. They've been very coachable. They've been a joy to be around.
Doreena doesn't say much, but when she does there's a lot of wisdom that comes out of her mouth. She talks a little fast sometimes, but we understand her. Rex is always laughing. Actually, Rex wants to be a rapper in her next life.
But it's them as people. This journey is short, and we potentially have six more games. But I know it's coming to an end, so it's a joyful sorrow with these two though.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the Stanford bigs and how they just adjusted well to your style of defense?
COACH CALDWELL: I thought they really got on the board and we started overextended a little bit and they were posting really hard in the paint. You saw the second and third effort of them battling, and to me that fuels a different type of energy that they had, and it also sucks the energy away from you when you've played that full clock and we've extended our defense and we get them to take that contested shot and then they come up with the rebound. That's definitely an energy boost for them.
But the Ogwumike sisters are relentless on the boards, and I thought Pedersen also in there was giving them good looks in the paint as well. But we've got to be able to, by committee, box people and just try to battle as hard as we can inside.

Q. Can you talk about the difference that Toni Kokenis made for Stanford off the bench when she hit the runner and made a couple big threes in the second half?
COACH CALDWELL: Well, when you have bench play that can come in and give you that spark, she's been able to do that for them. She's had great games against us. She's a very aggressive player as far as offensively because you've got to guard her off the dribble. She knocked down some big shots for them.
We talk about this at any given time, your number's going to be called and you need to be ready to answer the call and she did. Again, the game doesn't know your age, and she plays much more experienced than a first year.

Q. What was the mindset going into the half? How confident were you that you could hang on and pull this game out?
DOREENA CAMPBELL: Well, coming back into the half we knew that the first half was gone and Stanford was going to make a run at us. So we came out saying don't look at the score, don't look at the time. Go for 20 minutes and put everything you you've got.
COACH CALDWELL: Told you she's a woman of few words (laughing).
DARXIA MORRIS: Yeah, I agree with Doreena we look at the score and it's basically 0-0, and we need to play for another 20 minutes and go out and play hard, and that would stick us into the game.

Q. Can you talk about the tournament, the NCAA Tournament, and how you see it playing out? Can anyone beat those four teams that are regarded as the top four seeds?
COACH CALDWELL: You know, they're pretty tough. I think when you look at Stanford and them beating Connecticut early on, I think that's a great indicator of the 1 and 2s that are out there.
Tennessee's playing inspired basketball right now. It's going to be a great battle. The thing that I will say about the tournament, I think in the Pac-10 is it has allowed, or I hope we have been prepped enough with the competition in our conference to help Stanford, help ourselves. Hopefully we get four teams in.
When you look at Arizona State and Arizona, you've got great teams in this conference. We've also fared well against the Big East. I mean, we were 6-2 against the Big East and we've been able to win on the road against that conference as well.
When you're looking at those four, they've got go-tos, and they've got some big time go-tos. Baylor with Griner and Sims, and then you look at Maya Moore, I mean, at Stanford you can say their roster, the first five.
Your go-tos have got to play, your bigs. If your bigs don't come ready to play, it's going to be a long day for you. I think Stanford's got a great shot at it. They've got all the tools. They've got the players, the discipline, the heart, the competitive drive, but most importantly they've got the spirit of a team that's on a mission.

Q. I know both of you were there at Nikki's introductory press conference when she was hired a few years ago. Can you put into perspective how far this program has come since that day and maybe why it's gone that far?
DARXIA MORRIS: Yeah, when Coach Nikki first came in, I was just intimidated. I was like she came from a top-notch school, especially coaching under Pat Summitt. But we were excited and just looking forward to meeting her. She knew what she wanted from this team, but she did a good job, and we did a good job following her.
DOREENA CAMPBELL: Yeah, when Coach Nikki came here, she came with a drive and intensity that we weren't going to take anything less. She came in and instilled discipline into us and hard work and the belief that we can do anything, as long as we put the effort in and we put the time in, we can do it.

Q. Whose cell phone went off in that press conference?
DARXIA MORRIS: I don't want to say any names. But Coach Nikki wasn't happy about it.

Q. That was a great coaching job, I have to say, for most of the game not only did you take away their inside game, but you pretty much shut down transition. What is the secret or whatever in doing that? Do you focus on Pohlen? How, exactly, aside from getting back quickly?
COACH CALDWELL: Well, when we look at their ability to run the basketball at you, obviously the ball's in Pohlen's hand quite a bit. But the Ogwumike's take off. They're on a dead sprint. So we wanted to have one pirate pick up the ball and make sure everybody else was sprinting back. We had an opportunity to set up our 12 because we were hitting some shots here and there.
So that gave us a chance for our full court defense. But to this group's credit, we went into this game with the same concepts, the same defensive scheme. They just played it harder. I thought they did a much, much better job of really trying to close out and keep the ball in front of them. I thought we battled in the paint for the most part for most of the game.
But, again, it was their level of intensity and their ability to really pick up that level of intensity from the last time we played them.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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