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March 10, 2012
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Stanford Â– 77
California Â– 62
THE MODERATOR:Â Coach, some opening remarks, please.
COACH VANDERVEER:Â First, I want to congratulate Cal on a great season, and we wish them the very best in the NCAA Tournament.Â Hope they get a great draw and they play really well.Â They were an excellent opponent for us.Â Today we kind of had to go with something different.Â Nnemkadi shooting her threes.
I thought our team worked really hard defensively.Â We got out and got some transition.Â For us, I think the big difference, we got great games from Nnemkadi and Chiney, but the big difference for us is how Amber played.Â I thought she really stepped up big on the big stage, knocked down her free throws, took the ball to the basket, ran our team, and worked hard defensively.Â Different people came in.Â So we got more contributions from more people, and that's what we need.
The usual kind of day at the office for Nnemkadi and Chiney, double‑doubles.Â They're outstanding teammates and team leaders.
Q.Â Tara, what does Nnemkadi's face‑up game allow you to do?
COACH VANDERVEER:Â I think Nnemkadi as a freshman, I don't know that I could have seen this coming.Â But she's worked really hard on her perimeter shot and we saw it as a sophomore.Â When we were at Connecticut she was really killing it in the pinch.
Earlier on this year I told her you'll be shooting threes this year, and she did.Â She has great touch.Â Shot, high‑arcing shot.Â I think it gives us more flexibility.Â We can move people around, take advantage of match‑ups a little bit better.Â But Nnemkadi's such an intelligent player.Â You can put her in different spots.Â She did stuff today that we've never gone over, never practiced.Â I said, Nnemkadi, can you do this, and she said yes.
Q.Â You've been developing more range with your shot all year, and now, if I read the stat sheet right, these are your first threes of the season made?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE:Â Made, yes (laughing).
Q.Â Is this something that you've been consciously working on with an eye toward moving to the professional level next year?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE:Â I mean, at this point I'm still focusing on our season.Â I've definitely worked on my three.Â It's not necessarily that we run plays for my three.Â But when I do shoot my outside shots, it's pretty far out there.Â It might as well be a three.Â It's good that I kind of built confidence in myself.
Tara's always known all along that she thinks I can shoot out there.Â But Chiney always says there is a psychological barrier when I see the line.Â Today it was more so we just need to score.Â So when I was in the rhythm things kind of fell through.
In the first half it was also easier to shoot because I had made some outside shots and the basket is more comfortable for me to look at.Â We were recognizing what we needed on offense.Â My teammate his confidence in me, and I had confidence, obviously.
Q.Â Tara, what is the case that you would make for Nnemkadi as "Player of the Year" at this point over Brittney Griner a lot of people, including ESPN have anointed Griner as the "Player of the Year".Â What is the case that you would make on her behalf?
COACH VANDERVEER:Â Well, I guess, maybe I just look at kind of what the qualifications of the "Player of the Year" are.Â For me, a "Player of the Year" would be a great teammate, a great leader, which Nnemkadi is.Â She has the numbers to back it up.Â She can score in a lot of different ways, and you saw it today.Â She rebounds.Â She scores.Â She place defense.Â She blocks shots.Â I think she does everything.Â She gets steals.
So she physically backs things up.Â But I think she brings intangibles to the game that are really special.
I think she also is playing with, in some ways maybe a less experienced cast in terms of her guards and perimeter people.Â But that's for people to vote on.Â She's got my vote.
What she wants to do is something that would be great.Â She'll be an All‑American. Â But I think she wants to just keep her season going and keep playing with her sister and her teammates as long as she can.
Q.Â Coach, can you talk about Susan's effect on the team in terms of conditioning?Â Three games in three days, you guys held up beautifully.Â Where is this team in terms of conditioning, as you look back to some of your other teams?
COACH VANDERVEER:Â I think that's a great observation.Â The players could address it better than me.Â But as a player, she was a player.Â She really understands kind of what it takes.Â I think she's done an absolutely fabulous job for us.
But maybe Nnemkadi and Chiney, especially, because this is the first year they've had her, they could address that.
CHINEY OGWUMIKE:Â I think Nnemkadi knows the effects a little bit more than me.
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE:Â I think having Susan on the team has really changed the mentality of our team.Â She pushes us to our limits.Â We work hard for each other.Â We worked hard in the summer and preseason.Â We still work hard even to this day.Â It's not just about playing and recovering and laying down.Â She's huge on actively getting better with every step of the way.
I'd definitely have to say she's a huge contribution to our performance on the court because we're able to have more stamina.Â We're able to run up and down, and eventually tire teams out.
I tell her every day she's a big reason why I have developed into the player I am this year.Â Obviously, along with Tara and the coaching staff, but physically, she's really added to my game.Â I'm very thankful for Susan and I'm sure that the youngsters are going to look forward to a really fun spring.
CHINEY OGWUMIKE:Â Let's just finish this season first.
Q.Â How sweet was it to go against your rival for the actual championship in the Pac‑12, and what does that mean to you guys?
COACH VANDERVEER:Â I mean, for me, it doesn't matter who we're playing for a championship.Â But any time you get a chance to cut down nets, whoever the opponent is, you want to bring your A‑game.Â I think that's what we did today.
Q.Â With a successful 28‑game winning streak, how high up on the one line do you think your team should be come March?
COACH VANDERVEER:Â Are you saying in terms of like seed?
Q.Â Yes, seed.
COACH VANDERVEER:Â 1, 2.
Q.Â Nnemkadi, can you talk about you guys are done with the Pac‑12 now.Â You've been to four straight Final Fours, and I know that's your next goal.Â Can you talk about the postseason and what you'd like to achieve?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE:Â I think at this point it's very obvious what we'd like to achieve.Â However, it takes one game at a time.Â I know it sounds cliche, but it's really our mindset.Â We're just excited for today.Â We went undefeated in the regular season‑‑ or, sorry, the Pac‑12 season.Â We won the tournament.Â There have been a few bumps, but we learned.Â I think that's what's best about this whole Pac‑12 experience.Â We've had great competition.Â A lot of people may not‑‑ may think otherwise, but the teams out here are very hard to beat, especially twice and three times with Cal.Â That was not a cake walk.Â We're very thankful for everything that we've achieved.
But the postseason is here now, and we're very excited about it, and we're going to find out on Monday where we're going to be.Â Doesn't matter where we are.Â We're going to go there and play and have fun and win.
Q.Â Chiney, what exactly happened early on in the game when they called a flagrant foul on Gray?Â What exactly happened?
CHINEY OGWUMIKE:Â Well, it was the first play of the game Gray always likes to get in deep position, and she was‑‑ she had her hands and she was trying to post up.Â I think she just got kind of confused my face for my arm or something.Â But just got a few elbows to the face in different places, but it happens.Â Obviously, you saw I got a foul too in the game.Â We're two physical teams.
I think the great thing about the Pac‑12, and this season in particular, we're playing and they're allowing us to play physical and push through.Â I think that really helps us when we think about come later times in March.
There are bumps and bruises.Â My face probably won't look the same tomorrow, but I'll take it.
Q.Â Is it cheek or nose?
CHINEY OGWUMIKE:Â Little bit of both.Â But, I mean, it's okay.
Q.Â Nnemkadi, you got clouded too, and it looked like you were having some contact lens problems or something.Â What was going on?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE:Â Same story as Chiney, elbow to the face.Â Everything was okay though.Â I was seeing double vision for two possessions, but I pushed through that kind of stuff.
CHINEY OGWUMIKE:Â That's why she could make her threes (laughing).
Q.Â Amber, you had 13 points today.Â Very nice game.Â Does the game come any easier with the excellent post teammates that you have?
AMBER ORRANGE:Â I think it helps a lot.Â They get a lot of attention, so if they can help off of me, I can look to be more aggressive defensively and look for my shots.Â It's all about them.
Q.Â Can you elaborate what it's been like?Â I know your season's not over, but the last couple seasons being able to play with your sister and what you two have been able to help the program do?
CHINEY OGWUMIKE:Â I think her senior leadership is really special.Â That's what I was saying.Â Someone asked me how does it feel to win a conference championship tournament in the tournament?Â I said I think it's great.Â I think the thing that really helps us is we have consistent senior leadership.Â When your senior is playing as hard as she can, it's contagious.Â We had that last year with Kayla and Jeanette, and the legacy started with Candice and those before us.
It's just really great, and to be able to say my sister is the one that's out there, it's a really neat experience.Â I cherish it.Â I can't ask for a better two seasons with her.
So I know when we're old and sitting together and looking back, I'm going to be like, man, that was perfect.Â We still have things to work on, but I'm really enjoying this journey.
Q.Â Were you really pushing her to shoot those threes?
CHINEY OGWUMIKE:Â Oh, yeah.Â Oh, my gosh.Â I have to tell you guys this story.Â So yesterday we were talking to Nnemkadi, and Nnemkadi shoots some pretty long range shots.Â She air balled early in the game, but it doesn't matter to her.Â She has quick memory whatever.
But I told her yesterday, Nnemkadi, your foot's on the line sometimes, and you're still trying the shot.Â When you realize your foot's behind the line it's like, oh, it's a three.Â Oh, man.Â I said, okay, your three's going to come.Â When it's low regulation, you're just going to have to shoot it, and that's what she did.Â And I said, oh, the irony.Â I told you, I told you.
Next play down she was looking calm and collected.Â And she was like, we ran a play, and I had it on the wing, and she was like, ball.Â And I was like okay, okay, and she shot it.Â I'm excited.Â She worked so hard in the off‑season.Â Every day after practice she gets extra shots up.
It shows how much‑‑ even some of the girls on Cal, everyone's game is developing.Â That is the special thing about the Pac‑12, we keep working to get better and better.Â The competition is getting higher and higher.Â It's a testament to the great players and coaches and facilities and the people we have.
Q.Â We were wondering, do you think that Nnemkadi and Chiney are the best post‑tandem ever in women's college basketball?Â Who are they comparable to?
COACH VANDERVEER:Â We've had some great post players at Stanford.Â I don't really like to compare.Â I would just say today I love coaching them.Â They're doing a great job for us.Â I do think they have a special connection being sisters.
So even if had you two other great post players together, but if you just look at the Pac‑12 at Pam and Paula McGee.Â I think they were pretty awesome.
There have been great players over the past, and we're really fortunate to have watched an excellent exhibition today from them.Â I enjoy coaching them, but I'm not really good at comparing that stuff.
We'll go back to the gym and have more to work on Monday.Â They're doing a great job for us, but there is always more.
Q.Â You played Connecticut this season.Â The other teams that are being mentioned as presumptive 1 seeds would be Notre Dame and Baylor.Â You haven't played them this season, but you did spend a fair amount of time with those players with USA basketball this summer.Â Could you talk about basically how you feel your team stacks up to those teams?
NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE:Â Every team has a different style.Â Obviously, come March Madness, there is always talk about who should deserve what seed depending on who they played or how they play or who they've lost to.Â I think we do a really good job, and I'm not just saying this to say it.Â I think we do a really good job of focusing on us.Â Granted there are standout teams.
Baylor has Brittney Griner, Odyssey Sims.Â Notre Dame has Sky, Dev and Nat.Â As Stanford women's basketball, we do a really good job of focusing on us.
It's difficult for people to include us because of how far away we are.Â We're three time zones away.Â But we try our best to take care of business here come the tournament.Â Wherever we go, we'll play there.Â We'll play whoever.Â It's all about having fun and living in the moment and enjoying ourselves on the court and leaving it all on the floor.
I think it's just about the Stanford culture tradition about what we're really fighting for here together as a team.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports