Feb. 22, 2013
CALIFORNIA HEAD COACH Lindsay Gottlieb
"I was really happy with our second half effort. Any time that you are playing without a starter and a player as important as Brittany (Boyd), I loved the way that we started and I thought that we didn't miss a beat. We went into a little bit of a shooting drought, and I think that we let lit zap our energy, but I thought we responded and came out with great energy in the second half and with our team, often great energy leads to good things happening - points, assists and steals. I thought that a lot of different people stepped up. I thought the way the stat sheet looks is very indicative of our team. A lot of people in double figures, mixing it around. I thought several people did small individual things to lead to a better collective effort and Afure (Jemerigbe) and Talia (Caldwell) really stepped up, showed that we are very balanced and versatile and we'll take it. Credit to Oregon for playing really hard and never going away."
On what contributed to the second half start
"I think that we came out with really good energy and good ball movement and went up 10-0, and then we just started missing shots. When we missed good looks, it affected our demeanor a little bit, and I thought that we just couldn't get it in a good rhythm. We talked about it in the locker room after the game and it really helps to shoot the ball well. But what happened first? Did we change our energy first and then shots went in? Or did shots go in and then our energy changed? I think this team is always in control, and I thought that we did some things to get the pace back the way that we wanted, and to be a little bit more confident. So I think the difference in that first half drought was that we were missing shots."
On Afure Jemerigbe's night
"We know that Afure is really capable. I think that she and Layshia (Clarendon) have the most ability to get to the rim or knock down the three or midrange (jumper). So the fact that often times she's the one in the starting line up whose not shooting as much, but she's capable, and when she knocks down shots it's great help for us, but she does all of the other things as well. Six rebounds, four assists, she played a lot of minutes tonight and she was huge. The more confident and in a rhythm she is in, the better the team we are."
On if the team has exceeded expectations at this point
"I've been thinking about that a little bit because as much as you want to stay in the moment, it's hard sometimes not to kind of look at the big picture. We set the goal for this season of winning a Pac-12 championship. We wouldn't have set that if I didn't think that was realistic. Where it's exceeded my expectations is this team's ability to impress me more in different ways all of the time. That doesn't mean that we do it right all of the time, but that different people are stepping up and their energy level and their ability to stay focused on the task at hand, and who they are as people. I know that I say it a lot, but they are really fun to be around and they keep letting me raise the bar. One day I might be pumping us up and the next day saying that that's not a Final Four type of practice, and they are just with us all of the way. So those are the things that I try to in the moment appreciate what this group is. Am I surprised? No, because I think that we are capable. Do I appreciate what they've done because this is them continuing to get the job done? Yes. I think that I would be silly if I didn't appreciate that a little bit."
On Mikayla Lyles
"Mikayla always gives us a lift. I think this is the way that we are built. We are built to be able to withstand somebody being out or somebody having a bad shooting night or some early foul trouble, and I think that we've come to this point where everyone not only knows their role but really embraces their role. Mikayla is the same whether she plays two minutes or 25 minutes. She's really confident in that, and that's good for us to see. That's what you want to be doing late in the year. Gennifer Brandon missed a game, and she's having an All-American type season and Reshanda (Gray) stepped up. Reshanda misses a couple of games and Justine (Hartman) gives big minutes. That's just how we feed off of it. I talked to Mikayla after shoot around, not about hey you're going to play a lot more minutes, but about we need to be dialed in on Oregon; the game needs to be intense for 40 minutes. Mikayla is such a leader that I can say that and she knows probably that mean more minutes for her."
On what she references the team to during such a winning streak
"I try to break it down for them day-by-day in terms of themes because they are not going to absorb everything that I'm thinking or watching or breaking down on film. So I try to make things so it might be, hey our defensive ball pressure and help side need to be great, we are going to trap ball screens today, the traps need to be great, we need to rotate or it might be pace, offensive boards and finish you shot. We try to break it down, so this week we focused a lot on transition defense because with Oregon that's big. We focused on attacking a zone and finishing. In a game if it's not happening the way that you wanted it to, you can just remind them, `Hey focus, you're good. You have a little bit more time than you think. Finish.' So that's how they have to thrive, from moment to moment, game to game, and we do. Like Talia said, if we're up twenty against Oregon and we don't do a good job on ball screens, they are going to hear that. Not, `Hey we've won 12 in a row.' They are going to hear that we need to do a better job on this. There are times in practice when I will reference `Is that going to work against Baylor? Is that going to work against Stanford?' But they've really been great about saying that we know we need to do this for tonight's game and the next game and the next."
On if the team will step back and think about the senior class's accomplishments on Senior Day
"They are going to see tomorrow what we are going to need to do on Sunday against Oregon State, and we're going to have a great (Senior Day) celebration before the game and after the game, but those 40 minutes have to be just true. The integrity of those 40 minutes and what do we need to do defensively, do we need to cut off a right hand? Do we need to contest a shot or switch screens? That's what they have to focus on and that's what's gotten us to this point."
CALIFORNIA GUARD Afure Jemerigbe
On her game tonight
"No not really (anything different), shots were just falling. I just try to take the open shots that are given to me and they just happened to fall today."
On if she looks at rankings and the attention
"For the most part, no. Our team is just the type of team where we just go out and play. Rankings and all of that don't matter to us. We just love the game of basketball and we go out every day just showing it."
On if she felt she had to produce more with Brittany Boyd out
"Yeah. Brittany is a great player. She pushes the ball and she makes the game a lot easier, but for the most part, yeah I think that when you have a player like Brittany out, you have to step up. Our coaches wanted everybody to step up, and I felt like that was a token given to me, and I felt like I needed to step up a little bit."
On stepping up
"I try to get my energy from defense and the little things. So starting off with offensive rebounds or pushing the ball more, seeing my players more, I think that fuels me a little bit more. So I try to focus on the little things and then when it comes to offense, it'll fall."
On the 12-game winning streak
"I did not know that (until just now). It's incredible."
CALIFORNIA CENTER Talia Caldwell
On playing without Brittany Boyd
"Brittany is a great point guard. Her pace is great, she reads the floor well, her vision is incredible, so she get's everyone easy baskets, especially the posts. She can just to a lot even with a zone that is trying to make you lull, and she can just make a zone look silly. She does a lot for us, but we all knew that we had to step up and Afure's shots didn't fall because of luck, everyone worked really hard. Her and Kai (Felton) are always in the gym, and it's never surprising when Afure has a big game because she works really hard on her shot with the assistant coaches."
On if there was a moment she realized this team could be a great team
"I don't know. We are so in the moment as a team, like it's unique. Everyone from the sophomores to the seniors, they are so in the moment that we don't take the chance to be like, `Wow we can make history or we can break records.' It's more just like we play Oregon, this is a huge game and the next game we play Oregon State and that's a huge game. It's really one game at a time, which has really helped us and it kind of relaxes you when you know that every game you have to leave it all out there. That's what I appreciate the most. That's what makes a good team. I really appreciate every practice and every game."
On what the difference was in the team's offense between the first and second halves
"Just sticking with it. You can't hang your head and sulk, and you know it's not acceptable. You've got to make the little chippy ones, we know that, and we're going to work hard tomorrow in practice and get better at that. But you can't hang your head. You've got to play the game. You can't stop one minute and think about it."
On the 12-game winning streak
"We have Oregon State on Sunday, that's all that matters."
On if she looks back and thinks about the team's accomplishments the last four years
"It's not going to hit me until after because I'm very in the moment. It's really not going to hit me until after because we all have family coming up and even with that we haven't really thought about that. We just have a game on Sunday."