Miners Meet the Press at the NCAA Tournament

Coach Keitha Adams

March 17, 2012

UTEP Women's Basketball NCAA Tournament Press Conference Quotes
March 17, 2012
Pete Maravich Assembly Center
Baton Rouge, La.

Head Coach Keitha Adams

"We are very excited and thrilled to be here playing in the tournament. It's quite an honor and we want to thank everyone here in Baton Rouge and LSU for giving us such a warm welcome. It's been great. We're looking forward to playing tomorrow. It's what every college athlete dreams about, playing in the Big Dance, and we're excited about tomorrow's game."

(On the 2011-12 season)

"I'm very proud of this team. We have had a great season. To win the conference and to win the conference tournament, those are two really big accomplishments that I'm really proud of. This is a new season. Anytime you get in a tournament everyone is 0-0. You know that the next 40 minutes in front of you is the most important [for your season] and you've got to take care of business."

(On defending Maggie Lucas)

"Maggie Lucas is quite a player. Their team starts with their point guard [Alex] Bentley. She does a great job of running the floor and pushing the ball up in transition and getting the ball to the right people in the right places. She's phenomenal. I'm sure Lucas loves playing with Bentley. It's quite a 1-2 punch. They're very, very good and [Zhaque] Gray can sit right over there and knock down three-point shots. Their three guards are very, very good and we're aware of that. We know we're going to have to play exceptionally well against their backcourt. They're three very dynamic guards together."

(On breaking through with 29 wins this year)

"If you look back into a little bit of history of our team, the year before we had lost 12 games by single digits or less. It had been a very challenging season for us. We had a lot of injuries and faced a lot of adversity and had a lot of close game losses that were really tough. We hung in there and we kept fighting last year and that experience set the table for us to be very motivated this year. We wanted to turn those close game losses that we had the year before into wins and we had a mindset that we were going on a payback tour from what we had gone through the year before. We really just approached each game with quite a bit of motivation."



(On needing to win the conference tournament to get to NCAAs)

"Going into the tournament, we talked about how if we wanted to ensure we were going to be in the tournament we wanted to win our way in. It was nice that we did that so we didn't have to sweat it out in the 24 to 48 hours before the selection show. We took on the challenge and we had the mindset that if we wanted to know that we were playing in the tournament we needed to win our way in."

(On recruiting internationally)

"Baiba Eglite was the first one to come here and she helped us with Kristine (Vitola) and Anete (Steinberga). I have coached a lot of international players and we have had several in my 11 years here at UTEP. My assistant coach Eva Laskaskowa is from Poland and that's the connection we have had in getting players from other countries."

(On playing a team that wants to play up-tempo in Penn State)

"I think it's a lot of fun. There's no doubt that our transition defense is going to be really important. They're averaging 75 points per game and it's a reflection of their three guards who can really push it and run the table. Their post players are really good. They can play inside. They have a nice combination of an inside outside attack. Our players always enjoy that up-tempo style."

(On why Gloria Brown comes off the bench and doesn't start)

"I have been asked that question. Last year she had a lot of foul trouble. The thing about Gloria, she'll do whatever we ask her to do but she's really more comfortable coming off the bench. To let her kind of settle into the game and get a feel for it and avoid picking up early fouls, it gives us a great boost, it gives us a great energy. It's great to bring someone in who brings that offense and defense for you."

(On only having one double-figure scorer this year)

"It's been a team that has definitely bought into it being about the team. Our depth has been something that has helped us throughout the year. Every night out we'll have 10 players that will play in the rotation. For example, in our conference tournament we played three games back to back and that depth really helped us in that setting. Everyone has a role and we've just encouraged them to take their role and to be a superstar at their role, but we've not been about having any superstars. It's been about the team and not the individual."

(On potentially getting Gloria Brown more playing time in the tournament)

"We always get a feel for how things are going in the first half. I think my coaching staff has done a great job communicating and getting a pulse for the game and different situations. We'll try to dial up a lot of players in the first half. We have had a lot of different players that have stepped up big for us on a lot of different nights. We'll have that same approach. We know Gloria is going to need to be on the floor for us with their size and their post players. She'll definitely have to be on the floor for us."

(On building the program from the ground up, starting with a three-win season)

"Thank you for reminding me about that 3-25 season. I wouldn't have wanted it to go any other way. Sometimes it's good to taste the bitter before you get the sweet. That actually makes it even sweeter. We have worked extremely hard. My coaching staff has been very dedicated. We've got a great commitment from our university and a wonderful practice facility and resources. It's the combination of the support that we have from our community and from our university and a lot of hard work. The bottom line is you've got to get players, so recruiting has been a big part of it and every year we've just tried to get better with that. We've had some really good players that have helped us. It has been a combination of those things."

(On turning the corner in recruiting)

"I think for me, when I look back in the very beginning, there was a group of kids who came and basically we didn't have any trophies or tradition. They just had to buy in to trusting me and what our vision was. Ana Valtierra, None Wharemate and Kia Dowell, those are three kids that jumped on board with us in a leap of faith and they really helped us to have that first winning season. We won 16 games I think in our third year. So the group of kids that took that leap of faith will always be special to me. There's no question our 2008 team with Isabela Piekarska, Jareica Hughes, Natasha Lacy, they were big-time difference makers that helped us win a conference championship and finish in the top-25 of the country that year. They really helped us turn that corner. There has been a lot of hard work and everybody has been invested in it to help us build it."

Senior Guard Kim Smith

(On the team's defensive mentality)

"I think all year we have been really focused on our defense. We know that when we defend well that helps our running game. We need to get stops and we need to play together as a team. It's going to be a team defensive game tomorrow."

(On being the underdog in Sunday's game)

"Any night can be any team's night. Personally we feel that even though we have been successful this season we felt like we were the underdog because everybody wants to knock us down. It can be anybody's night. We don't care what number we are. We're going to come hard no matter what."

(On gaining confidence from the upsets in the men's tournament on Friday)

"Coach was announcing it. We were out [having dinner] as a team and coach said `Another big one has gone down.' It helped us build our confidence."

(On Penn State's high-scoring guards)

"Our conference guards are legit and we've had to execute defensively against them, so I don't see any other difference. We have a game plan and we have to shut them down just like we would during conference play. It's going to be a team effort. We're not going to let this be a one-on-one type of situation. The team needs to be involved."

Sophomore Guard Kelli Willingham

(On playing an up-tempo game versus Penn State)

"I think it will be a pretty fun game .We like to get up and down and run as well so it should be a really exciting game to play."

(On what has made the team successful this year)

"I think it's just working hard all year. In practice we make sure we go hard every day and always do what coach says. She puts great emphasis on defense and rebounding and that is what has made us successful all year."

(On Penn State's high-scoring guards)

"We have great guards in our conference as well. Their guards are great. We just have to come together as a team and make sure we defend them."

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