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2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: Penn State, LSU second round quotes

Penn Sate women’s basketball takes on LSU in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament tonight in Baton Rouge. Yesterday the coaches and players from both teams spoke with the media about the upcoming game, including Penn State’s head coach Coquese Washington and guards Maggie Lewis and Alex Bentley.

Penn State and LSU square off tonight at 9:40 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN2 and ESPN3. The winner adavnces to the Sweet 16 and will face No. 1 seed Connecticut, who earned their way to the next round with a 72-26 victory against Kansas State last night.

The following quotes were provided by LSU Athletics.

PENN STATE HEAD COACH COQUESE WASHINGTON

On her relationship with Nikki Caldwell …

“We’ve played against each other, we’ve coached against each other, we know each other. She’s a new mother. Yesterday we were talking about babies and newborns and nursing. It’s always good to be around your friends, and in this business you become friends. We’re both competitors, and we’ll prepare our teams for the game tomorrow. Afterwards, we’ll wish each other well.”

On coaching during pregnancy …

“It’s tough but it’s certainly a joyous time. When you have a newborn, and it’s her first two or three weeks of life, it’s a different world. That’s one of the things [Nikki Caldwell and I] talked about. Especially the birth of your first child, that is so impactful on your life. It really changes your world. We weren’t talking basketball at all. We were sharing new mother stories. I just wish her the best because it’s a special time in her life right now.”

On difficulty changing pace with opponents …

“I don’t think it’s difficult at all. Nikki’s (Caldwell) right, it’s going to be about each team trying to play its pace. We want to play a fast pace, so we have to make sure that we’re taking advantage of opportunities to run and that we’re getting out and pushing the pace. If we can do that, I think that definitely will work to our favor. That works to our advantage. We have to make sure that we do that every time that we have those opportunities.”

On facing a coach on a parallel track …

“I don’t think about that at all. I think about how she gets her team to play tough. They defend well, they rebound well and they’re big. I spend a lot more time thinking about that than anything else. She’s a fantastic coach with a wonderful pedigree. She’s done a fantastic job as a head coach and she’s doing a great job with LSU. I know that she’s going to continue to put LSU in positions like this where they’re in the NCAA Tournament and playing to go deep into the tournament. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Nikki as a coach and what she’s done with this program.”

On whether experience of tournament game is helpful …

“There’s nothing like playing the game. You can scrimmage in practice, you can do all the things you want in practice but it’s really difficult to simulate in practice with the crowd, the time and score, and TV and the fans. Getting the game experience under our belt, I think it’s good for us and I think it will help us get ready for tomorrow night.”

On playing hostile road games …

“It’s one of the things we’ve talked about all year, from the very beginning of the season. We talked about the fact that when you get in the NCAA Tournament, you’re probably going to have to play on somebody else’s home courts. If we’re going to be spooked about going on the road, then we might as well just send a note to the NCAA Tournament in November saying we don’t want to play. We’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time, all season. Our kids have responded to the challenge all season long. We’ve been a pretty good road team. I know this is going to be a tough game. LSU has great fan support, and it is going to be a good atmosphere and a great environment. Our kids love playing in those kinds of environments. Whether we’re at home or on the road, we’d rather play in front of a bunch of people than play in front of empty seats. It should be a fun game tomorrow night, and I think it will be a great game for the fans to watch and everybody at home watching on TV. We look forward to it.”

On having coaching experience in the NCAA Tournament …

“In some ways, it’s different. Last year, we played at home. We got to be in a rhythm at home. There are certain things that you do at home. This year was a little different for everybody, going on the road. I actually think our kids feel more this year like we’re in the NCAA Tournament because we’re on the road, as opposed to being at home. Certainly, we’re a little bit more familiar with how to manage practice and timing and keeping your team fresh, and going over game plans as a staff this time around.”

PENN STATE SOPHOMORE GUARD MAGGIE LUCAS

On win over UTEP in first round…

“I thought we pushed the ball well. I think our strength is our transition, and I thought throughout the game we did a good job. Alex (Bentley) was pushing the ball up the court with the pass. I think that’s one thing we did well. We’re just going to have to put together a good game, 40 minutes.”

On approach to LSU matchup…

“We’re just going to be playing to our strengths. They have a big lineup, so we’re going to do what we do, and that’s push the ball. When we get one-on-one’s in the post, look for that. We like to push, so if we’re able to cause turnovers, we’re going to look to get going off that.”

PENN STATE JUNIOR GUARD ALEX BENTLEY

On impressions of LSU…

“We got to watch them a little bit. They’re big. They have a lot of post players. We watched some film on them today and, I mean, they’re strong. We’re going to need to box out.”

On playing on the road …

“I love our team on the road. I love playing on the road. Obviously they do have their crowd behind them, and they’re playing on their home court, and it’s a home court advantage. At the same time, we’ve been pretty successful on the road throughout the season, so I’m pretty confident in our team.”

On playing in hostile environments…

“In hostile crowds, all you have to do is stick together as a team. We’ve been really, really good at staying together on the road. The crowd’s fired up and everything, and the opposing team has [the crowd] behind them. Me and Maggie (Lucas), the starters, our bench, everybody, we just stay together, keep each other up, and encourage each other. That’s what keeps us together and keeps us focused on our goal.”

On style of play of both teams…

“They like to play a slower game. We like to play a fast, up-tempo game. I’m definitely going to be pushing the pace and I’m pretty sure my teammates are going to be right there with me running the floor. So, they’re just, basically, going to have to pick their poison.”

 

LSU HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL

Opening Statement…

“We are glad to be here and able to practice today and prepare for another round of games. We are going against a very good team in Penn State. They are another team that is guard oriented. San Diego State did a great of testing us in our defensive scheme and I know that Penn State will be doing the same. I feel very confident in this team getting out the jitters from being off for two (weeks) and being ready to come out and compete tomorrow night.”

On coaching against Penn State head coach Coquese Washington…

“I do not recall how many times we played each other but I am sure that we went at each other pretty tough. The thing I will say about Coquese (Washington) is that I have had an opportunity to know her more on the professional level then I did as a student-athlete. Coming from a program like Tennessee you play against some of the best competition in the country. It is like our generations coming into play as far as coaches. It is exciting to go against people that you have played against. I have had that experience in the SEC, having played against Amanda Butler and Pokey Chatman when she was around, players that you respect. You can see the evolution of the game changing a little bit.”

On controlling the tempo of the game…

“Pace is going to be controlled through our board play. Penn State does a great job of running the basketball with their guards. We are going to have to be aware of where they are at all times. We did a much better job of taking care of the basketball which didn’t lead to too many turnovers in our game last night. I do see transition defense being key for us. If you control to boards you control the tempo of the game. We have to make sure that offensively we are making those easy baskets so we can set our defense. I thought last night we had to work more in our transition defense than we did in our half court setting. We want to control the tempo throughout defense and our board play.”

On defending Maggie Lucas…

“We are going to have to defend by committee. We are going to throw different looks at her and different size players at her. She is one of those guards that is very explosive with or without the basketball. Her ability to score and get herself in scoring position is going to be key. We are going to mix it up defensively on our scheme. You can’t just shut down a player like her with just one defender. You have to make sure you are doing different things to make it difficult for her to receive the basketball. Another thing is making sure we make her work on the other end of the floor. That is a key for us as well, making sure offensively we are just as much of a threat on that end of the floor as we can be and imposing our defensive will.

On playing at home…

“Our fan base has grown from last year. For the regular season we were third in the SEC for fans. This is a great atmosphere and there were a lot of people who came out the other night to support us and to watch the game before ours. We are going to challenge our fans to come out. I know it’s a late tip off at 8:40 p.m. but we would like to have a lot of our fans out here supporting and seeing these seniors, it will be their last home game. We need to get our student body out here as well. Having the opportunity to play at home, obviously we are rested and we didn’t have to travel. The players still have to go to class. It’s great to keep them in their rythem where they don’t feel like they have to be spread all over the place and traveling. We are taking advantage of the fact we didn’t have to travel.”

LSU SENIOR FORWARD LASONDRA BARRETT

On slowing down Penn State…

“We want to dictate our tempo and just keeping them in the 50s or 60s if we can. They are a high scoring team. They have a lot of guards that who love to score the basketball. I think that is going to be very important in tomorrow’s game is us dictating the tempo on how we want to play.”

On preparing for Penn State…

“We are going to have a game plan and they are going to come out ready to play. Their players are going to play well. It all comes down to who is the toughest team, who wins the board play, who has the hustle plays and things like that down the stretch. Whatever game plan is made by either team, I think that the toughness and bringing the effort and intensity will determine the game.”

LSU SENIOR FORWARD COURTNEY JONES

On trying to make it to the Sweet 16…

“We are just taking it game by game. We are not really concentrating on getting to the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight. We are just playing our game and doing what we have to do for the moment. Of course we know in the past we have not been able to get past this little dead patch right here. Hopefully we come out tomorrow ready to compete.”

On Penn State Head Coach Coquese Washington.

“I have watched a couple of Penn State games. Just seeing her (Coach Washington) interact with her players I can tell that she is very respected. They listen to her and admire her just as much as we do with our coach.”

 

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Kevin McGuire

About Kevin McGuire

Managing editor of Crystal Ball Run and contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. College Football Hall of Fame voter. Also managing Bloguin's NittanyLionsDen.com and Macho-Row.com.

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