Jayhawks Preview Sweet 16 Matchup With Tennessee

March 23, 2012

Kansas Women’s Basketball
Friday News Conference Quotes
2012 NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal vs. Tennessee
Friday, March 23, 2012
Wells Fargo Arena | Des Moines, Iowa

Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson:
Opening Statement:
“We are excited to advance to the Sweet 16; it’s a quick and easy trip, a familiar trip. I am just glad they weren’t going to take us to Ames and stop at Hilton, to be honest with you. We are really excited for this game, and the players are excited. It is a tremendous opportunity for us to go against arguably one of the best teams in America and one of the best programs in America.”

On KU’s biggest strengths:
“Angel [Goodrich], obviously, carried us in both games [opening two rounds], plus we received a big contribution from Chelsea [Gardner] in the first round vs. Nebraska. I thought our perimeter, or outside game, along with Angel, stepped up and made shots. I knew going into the Delaware game that we needed more production with those guards around Angel. To get more balance was important. When [Angel] needed to give up the ball, they stepped up and knocked down a shot. We didn’t have very good rhythm shots in the first game, and our shooting was much better in the second game. At this point in the year, it is very important to share and play together, and that is on both ends of the floor, and obviously defensively.”

On losing leading scorer Carolyn Davis and responding as a team:
“The initial reaction is how gut-wrenching it is for those players. Your heart goes out to Carolyn, obviously, and you turn around and circle the players, because they all know what that meant. They all felt bad for Carolyn because they are all sisters – just being able to get past the emotion and getting back to the fact that you can’t let what you don’t have keep you from using what you do have. I am a firm believer in that. We talked about that on the bus when we were coming back from Manhattan [Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.] that night. We realized what we had lost but talked about what we still had – to be able to ask players to do a little bit more. They have responded–not every night, because we had two tough losses in the stretch. We had to kind of reinvent ourselves on the offensive end. Angel has carried us with Aishah [Sutherland]. Both of those two as upperclassmen, leaders in the program, have been really solid. Our young kids in the program have stepped up and played really well. They have been consistent, which is really hard as young players. We have had balance to get wins on the road. It all starts with Angel, even before Carolyn went down; she has carried us and has been our guiding force on the floor.”

On the rarity of an 11 seed advancing to the women’s Sweet 16:
“I think, on the guys’ side, players leaving early have been a key factor in that. [Kansas men’s basketball coach] Bill [Self] and I have talked about that and the significance. In the coaching circles, you compare the two and it is more about the guys leaving early [NBA Draft], the one and done; two and done. Then you have some mid-major seniors who can make a freshman look silly at this time of the year. That kind of experience, or not having that, is a difference.”

On Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt and her legacy:
“I think [of] two things: First, how she drove this sport and carried this sport long before it was ever popular, long, long before people recognized how high profile the sport could be. And [of] the push and the pull and tug and all the battles she went through for those of us, a little younger than her and younger than me, obviously, to have the opportunities we do have. I will say [this] about Pat, and I am not claiming to be in her inner circle or one of her best friends–don’t misunderstand me–but I have clearly admired her success from afar. I have admired and respected how she has handled success. I have never gotten the sense from Pat that success defines who she is. Pat is an unbelievably loving, giving, compassionate person. I have gotten a couple of notes from her that I will have forever. To me, that is the most impressive thing. When people in their careers, in or out of basketball, have the kind of success she has had, it often defines who they are. I have never gotten that impression about her. She has always reached out to help people. To me, that is who she has always been. She has never been afraid of hard work, which I think has been a trademark of her teams.”

On Kansas Guard Angel Goodrich:
“You can measure how tall she is, but you can’t measure what is under her left chest. She just plays and plays hard every day (hard, scrappy). She competes; she holds herself to the highest level. She holds herself from an accountability standpoint every single day. In practice if she misses a layup or misses a box out and turns it over in practice when she subbed out, she runs down and back. I never say a word to her, and that makes everyone else do that as well. She loves to compete, and she came to Kansas to be a difference-maker and take the program and to elevate the program. It is fun for me to be able to watch her to be able to do that. She is a phenomenal player. It is an opportunity to be a program shaper and a chance to play in the Big 12 Conference, the best league in the country. She was excited about it and made a real commitment.”

On Goodrich’s effort – floor burns and charges:
“People that love to compete do that; people that love to win do that.”

On rewards of this season:
“It all goes back to when Carolyn (Davis) went down and we went through the emotion of all of that–to circle the wagons and know that the goals and expectations weren’t going to change. Life isn’t about the hand that you have been dealt but the way you play the hand. We talked a lot about that as a group. We could feel sorry about Carolyn but not about ourselves. It would get us nowhere this year or nowhere in life. So, for myself and my staff, and others to share this with them, to watch them is pure joy. It has been a lot of fun. They are really a good group of people and fun to be around. So, it has been fun.”

Kansas guard Angel Goodrich
On being a team leader:
“I’m one of the captains and leaders on the team, so for me it’s just going out there and keeping my team together, being strong, and knowing what I have to do to help my team win. Like I said: keeping my team together, being able to play my game, be aggressive, dish the ball to an open player, and just doing what I have to do.”

On why she chose KU over local schools:
“Well, I was looking at OU, OSU, and the different schools around me, but when I went on a visit to Kansas it was like a family atmosphere around me. I wanted to go somewhere where I felt I could fit in, and it just felt like home to me because I was really a person who really just liked to be at home. When I went there I got along with everyone, it was family-like, and it felt right for me.”

On the Cinderella role:
“We’re just blessed to be here. With [winning] the first two games we feel like we have a little bit of momentum going into this next game. We’re just glad that we have this opportunity to be here. We’re excited to just get out there and play. We just want to show what we can do on the court.”

On playing a lot of minutes:
“Yeah, that is a lot of time. For me it’s just giving my all. When I get to the media [timeout] I try to control my breathing, try to get my breath back. It’s just whatever it takes to help my teammates get a win.”

Kansas forward Aishah Sutherland
On improving her game since teammate Carolyn Davis’ injury:
“Well, when she did go down everyone had to step up. I was the second leading scorer on the team but I had to do more stuff. I just did what I had been doing all year but more than usual. As the underdogs we still have pressure; we still feel the need to win. We still want to win for each other and go as far as we can.”

On KU’s Cinderella role:
“We’re excited to be here. We’ve worked hard all season and it finally paid off. We’re going to keep playing as hard as we can to keep going to the next level.”

On Tennessee star Glory Johnson:
“We’re definitely going to have to box her out. She’s a great rebounder, and we’re going to have to rebound just as hard as her. We’re going to do drills in practice to be able to stay focused, box out, and not trying to just go for the ball, but be able to see her before we catch the ball.”

Kansas forward Chelsea Gardner
On playing a Cinderella role:
“We’re happy to be here. Our goal was to come to the NCAA tournament, and, since we’re here, we’re going to work hard and together as a team.”

Kansas guard Natalie Knight
On her tournament experience:
“It’s been really exciting for the team, the coaches, everybody–parents, everybody. Just been living it up so far!”

On keys to winning the Tennessee game:
“Definitely boxing out and rebounding, being able to take care of the ball…we’ve got to limit our turnovers.”

Kansas forward Bunny Williams
On coming in as an 11 seed:
“That gave us more drive–being an 11 seed, giving us like a little push. I think we just want to play harder, want to win.”

On knocking off two higher seeded teams:
“I think right now we’re all excited. We’re all anxious to get the game started. It’s going to be a good experience.”

On this week’s game plan for Tennessee:
“We’re really focusing on defense and rebounding; they are a great offensive rebounding team. Our coaches always have a great game plan for defense. I think that rebounding will be the determining factor on defense.”

Kansas guard CeCe Harpe
On being the underdog coming into the tournament:
“I think it has been a really great experience coming in as an 11 seed. Nobody expected us to win and go this far, so I think it’s good to come out and prove people wrong. And also to get our fans involved, it’s been really great.”

On their defensive performance so far in the tournament:
“I think the Big 12 Conference has prepared us to do so well defensively – also defending the three. I think it just carried over into the tournament to us defending the 3-point line well because Nebraska was a great 3-point-shooting team. And then Delaware had Elena Delle Donne; she was a great player. We just had to buckle down on defense to get the wins.”

Kansas forward Tania Jackson
On being in the Sweet Sixteen:
“It’s a great feeling, you know, being the Cinderella story that everyone keeps saying we are. We were excited to get in, but we weren’t satisfied…not content with just getting in, so just getting here shows how much strength we have and how we faced adversity throughout the season.”

On rallying after losing leading scorer Carolyn Davis in February:
“We had other people step up. The last, probably, four or five games everyone has contributed in her own way, and I think that’s really what helped us get to where we are now.”

On the focus on defense in practice:
“I think communicating has been a key to how successful our defense has been.”

Kansas guard Monica Engelman
On the tournament experience so far:
“It’s been exciting; it’s been amazing. I’ve spent a lot of time with my teammates, just enjoying the whole experience.”

On being the underdog in the Sweet Sixteen:
“It’s always good to be the one that people aren’t looking to win.”