Feb. 10, 2009
"We are looking forward to this weekend. It's going to be a great matchup between two top teams and we're going to throw the record books out the window. It's obviously a tougher situation going over there to play them but we're going to have a good week of prep to get ready to play a big game will be huge."
How nice is it to have Dev and Rama back this time around?
"Dev was just getting backing rotation last time and we've just looked at film and you can tell a difference in where she was then and where she is now. Again, we know them well and we know how to position ourselves to gain an advantage. If it's not about Lexi having 37 it's about getting contributions from everybody."
How do those two match up against Stanford's big lineup?
"Tara has changed her lineup and gone really big. They're big, we're small. We're quick, they're not as quick. It's a matter of countering what they're doing. We're going to have to come up with an effective game plan. I think the biggest thing will be to receive contributions from everybody."
How big was the game last month in terms of the confidence level of your team?
"It was a big confidence builder. What Stanford has been doing is fantastic. I think they are better than the sixth team in the country. They're playing great basketball and dominating the conference with 20, 30, and 40 point wins. To be able to play that game here in front of that crowd and get the win was huge. It gives us the ability to know that we can play with them."
Do you remind your team that you we're in this same situation, ranked ahead of them, last year and make sure they don't take the ranking for granted?
"No, and they don't. The good thing about these kids is that they respect Stanford so much in terms of what they do every game and every year. We are a different team than we were last year, it's about where they are in their heads right now."
What's it like now having two top ten programs in the Bay Area?
"It's been nice, and Tara has said that too. We like that fact that it's a tough road trip in terms of teams having to prepare for two games instead of just one. It makes it harder on those travel teams to come in here so it's been a great thing for us."
How do you approach Alexis Gray-Lawson this week in reference to what she did last time you played Stanford?
"I don't think we tell her anything. We just watched film, and what we talked about was balance. We're getting more balanced scoring now, we had four girls in double figures on Saturday. Tasha has come out as a scoring threat, Dev is in a different place, Rama is back, so we're a different team than we were a month ago. It's not going to be one person's game and we talked about that and what we can do to be successful and balance this weekend."
How nice was it, not only having a week off, but to have your starters only play 24 minutes?
"It's really nice and we don't get a lot of that. The Washington trip is a tough road trip, so to go up there and feel like you are in control of both games is nice. It creates a feeling of confidence coming into this Saturday."
Players play the game, but when you match up with Tara, is it a different approach for you?
"No. She is so good at what she does. She's been in it forever and has coached at the highest level. When you get to the tournament, you can take advantage of the other coaches that don't know you as well, but in conference play where people know you, you try to think like they will think. What will they do against us? They know us as well as we know them. That's why it's a battle and that's why the analysts think the games have been so close as of late. At some point, it becomes something of a chess match."
Because they know you so well, do you spend more time worrying about it than you would most weeks?
"I don't think we spend more time on it, but it factors into the equation a bit more. There's a balance there, I think we sped as much time thinking about what they're going to do to us as we are going to do to them. As coaches you sit around and talk about it a lot and come up with a game plan that you give to your team but you don't hash it out in front of them. It's more a behind the scenes thought that you present to your team."
How does this game compare to the Duke-North Carolina rivalry?
"The Duke-Carolina game is a fierce, hated rivalry whereas this involves a little more respect. Our fans will root for them when they're not playing us and vice versa. It's pretty hated down in that triangle area, but there's a mutual respect here."
Is this team making steps towards dealing with adversity and coming out on the upper end?
"Yeah, this was the first weekend where I felt like I got to sit down a few times and just let the team play. I didn't have to coach every possession. There have been games where I felt like we were coaching on every single possession and the kids were grinding it out. I think we've been through the spectrum from 20-30 point games and grind it out games. As a coach, I think you would first think you want the 20 point games, but the grind it out games tend to help more when you need to grind it out down the stretch. Putting your teams in that situation where they then succeed gives them confidence when they need it in late February and March. I think we've run the gamut on all of it this year."
Winning the Pac-10 title is huge, how do you make sure they're hungry for it without getting it into their heads this weekend?
"As an older team, you don't have to talk about it a lot. I think they understand the importance of every game and the importance of the regular season Pac-10 title. One game never makes your season, so I'm not going to make the approach to this game any different than any other. They know the importance of it."