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March 12, 2013

Jane Albright

Mimi Mungedi

Danika Sharp


Nevada – 80
Air Force – 66

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Nevada.  Coach, if we could start with some general comments on tonight's game.
COACH ALBRIGHT:  First thing I'd like to do is compliment the Mountain West.  This is our first year in it.  Everything from top to bottom is first class, all the people, all the information we got all year, the stats.  The tournament is wonderful.  Of course, the floor looks wonderful.  It's the women's Final Four floor.  Appreciate the work that everybody in such a great conference puts forth for us to play.
That being said, I was really proud of our team tonight.  I felt like our post players, we're really young, we don't have a senior on our team.  Mimi is a sophomore and Danika is a junior.  Got a point guard, this is her first year of starting.
I think our postgame was very efficient tonight.  That's something that we have been a guard‑oriented team most of the year.  Mimi, she's really I think the last two weeks of the season, we've seen this coming, and we've learned how to use her.  I think early on it's hard to know how to use someone that's tall and has good hands and good positioning.  I felt like Danika had seven assists, Amber had five assists.  We had 21 assists on 26 buckets.  That's really a team win for us.
So I thought that Aja Johnson did a good job coming in off the bench.  We didn't look as young as we've looked most of the year.
I felt like our zone was pretty good.  Dymond is a great basketball player.  I thought Mimi's size in the middle bothered them in the zone, made them alter some shots.
Obviously they always talk about our offensive rebounds.  We know to score we have to hit those offensive boards a lot, hit 'em really, really hard.  I think we had 18 points tonight on offensive boards.
Just a great team effort.  Really very, very proud of my team.  It's been a tough year for us just being young, being in a new conference.
Danika, she really showed the great shooter that she is.  She's the all‑time leading scorer in this state, Danika is, high school‑wise.  When we got her, she was a great scorer.  She's really worked on every aspect of her game.  Her assists were great, her defense was great.  Everything that she did was really, really good.
I'm really proud of these two, but I'm proud of my whole team.  I thought Arie ran everything pretty well.  We changed defenses up on them.
That's a pretty long opening statement I know, but I'm pretty excited.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Danika, about five minutes left, they cut the lead to two.  It was a 15‑4 run.  You guys finished strong.  What caused that switch in the second half to take over?
DANIKA SHARP:  We just knew we had to come out with more energy.  They're a really physical team.  We played them twice.  We knew we had to outwork them, like coach said, get the offensive boards and putbacks.  We really capitalized on that and that's what helped us come back from that deficit.

Q.  You lost a lot of close games like that.  How does it feel to show that type of effort when it matters late in the game?
DANIKA SHARP:  It feels good.  We've been working all season.  One thing I love about my team is we never give up.  We keep pushing.  To get the victory today is just amazing.

Q.  Mimi, you were fighting for position seemed like all game.  Talk about your performance and winning at this point of the season.
MIMI MUNGEDI:  It feels great to win, of course.  I mean, in practice that's what we do with the coach, fight for positioning, all that, what I was trying to focus during the entire game today and I think I did a good job on that.

Q.  Talk about what you did from last year to this year.
MIMI MUNGEDI:  I just work hard.  Come to practice.  That's basically what I did, work hard.

Q.  Danika, what do you think about SanDiego State, playing them on Thursday?
DANIKA SHARP:  Both times we've played them, we've been able to compete with them.  We know we have to contain their two‑headed monster, come out with a lot of energy like we did today, both in the first and second half and just fight.
We know we can compete, so...

Q.  What do you think of your teammate, her being able to really improve, be such a force for you guys?
DANIKA SHARP:  Mimi, we know she can score every time in the paint.  She has that drop‑step.  I know she can score down there.  It's really good to see her improve over the course of the season.

Q.  Danika, you have to be pretty loose.  You came in nothing to lose.
DANIKA SHARP:  We're feeling good coming in as the underdogs, knowing we can compete.  We lost a lot of close games.  We were able to compete with SanDiego State, so we're feeling pretty confident, like I said.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q.  Can you address the same question, about how loose this team is heading into the next game.
COACH ALBRIGHT:  Well, to be honest with you, when we lost the other night, I said, Can't be any worse than it is now.  It can't be any worse.
Really, the two things I told them before, we had two messages, mine was a little more serious.  I talked to them about being prepared because we're not young anymore.  This will be about as many minutes as we had when we start next year.
The second one is we're very capable of playing.
We see this team in practice and I've seen them when they do really amazing things.  To shoot 48%, I see that a lot more in practice than anybody has seen it in a game.
Then my three assistants came in and did a cheer for them.  That loosened them up.  If you had seen my assistants do the 'be aggressive' cheer, they couldn't quit laughing.
Danika Sharp needs to be loose because she can shoot as good as anybody.  She gets uptight.  I was really, really proud that they were loose.

Q.  Talk about Mimi, what kind of weapon is she when she's playing like she did today?
COACH ALBRIGHT:  Like I said, the last two weeks something seemed to click with her.  She's an engineering major.  I think the only B she's made is in English.  She's from Gabon, Africa.  We all have our timeline for her.  We wanted it to be when she first got here, and it wasn't, quite honestly.  She's never played at this high of level.  The speed of the game is different.
She's always been pretty good offensively, but a lot of her minutes have been limited because defensively that was really hard for her to understand defensive schemes.  But she definitely does now.  She has good hands and the kids really love her.
She has worked hard.  My Assistant Coach Camille Williams has done a great job of working, bringing her in outside of practice and working her.  That's really what education is about, just seeing young people improve, come in, have a good game like she did.  Without that, we wouldn't have been able to win.

Q.  What do you think was the key?  What sparked that run in the second half?
COACH ALBRIGHT:  Well, they've had that look in their eye.  Again, I think we got a couple of turnovers and made an offensive rebound.  But they fouled us.  They fouled the right people, people that are pretty good free throw shooters.  We got a trick play, a layup with Arie.  That gave us a little bit of distance.  They were in foul trouble a lot.  Their players started fouling out, their really good players.
I think it can go either way at that point.  It was just good to be on the end where it went our way for once.

Q.  As a competitor, you don't want to see two of their best players go down.  That hurt them.
COACH ALBRIGHT:  No.  They do an amazing job.  They defend our country.  They're just great young ladies and they're very well‑coached.  They're heady.  Some teams we think we can out‑work.  We know we can't Air Force.  They did have some odd things happen to them, some unfortunate.  That's part of the game, too.  We've had some very odd things happen to us this year too.

Q.  No.1 seed, SanDiego State.  A lot of people probably won't give you much of a chance.  What is your mindset?
COACH ALBRIGHT:  It's March.  It has to be March.  Look at Liberty's men.  Look at those stories.  We talked about Liberty's men.  They lost 20 games, they're in the NCAA tournament.  This is what they live for.  This is why you have conference tournaments, for teams like us who are very, very young, grew up.  Again, we don't have anything to lose.
In the locker room, they asked, Can we go to the guys' games tomorrow?  That's what their mindset is.  18 to 22‑year‑olds.  We'll practice, go through a walk‑through.  I told them they can do anything they want.  Some of them will study.  They have proctor three exams.  I know the band leader and cheerleaders are happy because they get to stay in Vegas for a couple more days.  So we were doing it for them (smiling).
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.
COACH ALBRIGHT:  Thank you again.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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