Daniel Novinson: Coach Tara VanDerveer, thank you so much for your time here on KZSU. When we were interviewing you last game, prior to Santa Clara, you mentioned three things you needed to do. You said you needed to do a good job rebounding, you said you needed to do a good job defending the threes, and you needed to do a good job offensively kicking out of double and triple-teams. How do you feel that you did in those three categories?
Tara VanDerveer: We did all three of them better in the second half. As far as defending the threes, we really made some good switches, but in the first half we had some people fall asleep and give Santa Clara open looks. We had really gone over that and I was really disappointed and upset with it. In the second half, that didn't happen. In the first half, I thought we did a really nice job of getting the ball into [redshirt sophomore center] Brooke Smith, and she scored well or she passed it out and she did a great job. She had a great game. As far as rebounding, I thought we did a good job on our defensive boards, and we've got to get serious about "O" boards if we want to go anywhere. That's been our focus in practice, and I'll go over that before this Utah game.
DN: What else are you going to take from the Santa Clara game as far as improving your team?
TV: I think we need to run the floor better. I think against a Utah team that plays some people 40 minutes a game, you've got to run on them; you've got to get them tired. Actually, I think the pace of the game helped us against Santa Clara, where some of their shooters maybe got tired in the second half.
DN: Why do you think improvement occurred throughout the game? Do you think that you started out a little bit slow?
TV: No, I think our team started a little tense. I think people wanted it so badly that they were working too hard. We had a lot of really good shots in the first half not go in, and then those shots dropped in the second half. I really want to credit [senior forward] Sebnem Kimyacioglu. I thought she was huge for us. She made some big, timely threes. She played great defense for us. [Freshman guard] Candice Wiggins obviously had a phenomenal game, as did Brooke Smith and [fifth-year senior guard] Susan Borchardt. This was not a particularly good game for [senior guard] Kelley Suminski, but we also had some people come off the bench helping us. We're going to need more from Kelley, more from [sophomore center] Kristen Newlin, and the same kind of effort from everybody else.
DN: Next on the slate is a Utah Ute team you had a very tough time with in the season opener. What does this Utah team do well?
TV: They shoot the ball really well. #10 [junior guard Shona Thorburn] is an excellent point guard, an excellent floor leader. They back pick, they screen, they're a very tough team to guard and they're really a very tough team to zone because they can just bomb, as you saw against Iowa State. [Utah made eight three-pointers in their 73-61 opening-round victory.] Their shooters are #4 [junior forward Kim Smith], #32 [senior guard Lana Sitterud], and #10. They're a very good defensive team and they also get on the "O" boards. They've had an excellent year, and they've played great teams. There's only been one team that's had their number and that's been New Mexico. We've really studied that tape and tried to see what [New Mexico] did to them. They went inside and that's our plan tonight.
DN: How else are you looking to attack, other than going inside?
TV: We want to run. We want to get on the "O" boards and do a better job defensively. We want to pick up the tempo as much as we can and we could look to press. We've got to just put it all out there and not save anything for tomorrow.
DN: What did you learn from the first game against Utah [a 63-57 Stanford victory on November 19, 2004] that you can use tonight?
TV: We did press really well. We defended pretty well. Our zone did not look good against them the first time, and I think we're really impressed with Thorburn and Smith. They're really big-time players.
DN: Should we expect to see [senior forward] T'Nae Thiel tonight?
TV: T'Nae is cleared to play. I hope she doesn't have to play, but if we need her, she will play.
DN: Finally, I'm sure you've been watching as much of the Tournament as you can. You've seen the Pac-10 do very well; do you think this shows how strong the conference is?
TV: I'm really excited that every team won their first game, and the Pac-10 has five teams in the Top 32. I was very disappointed to see Southern Cal lose in a great game to Michigan State. That was a heartbreaker. Oregon is playing and I know they're down right now [to Baylor]. Arizona State is putting up a good fight right here [trailed Notre Dame 28-23 at the time], Arizona's going to have their hands full with LSU, but the team I'm most concerned with is Stanford. We want to have a great game tonight, but I'm really excited for the conference.
DN: Thanks so much for your time.
TV: Alright, thanks for coming.
Daniel Novinson is a freshman at Stanford University. He's broadcasting women's basketball on KZSU - listen along at kzsu.org or 90.1 FM. Daniel welcomes any feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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