Pre-UConn Quotes

On the eve of the most highly anticipated Sweet 16 possibly in the history of college women's basketball, both Stanford and Connecticut faced the media yesterday in Kansas City. Read what Tara VanDerveer and Geno Auriemma had to say, along with players from both schools - including Stanford senior T'Nae Thiel talking about her return to action.

Fifth-year senior guard Susan King Borchardt

On playing with Candice Wiggins
"Candice is just a really special freshman, kind of in that she isn't one.  She's very intense, very competitive and a big part of our team.  She starts it all on defense.  She's a very big part of our team."

On playing Connecticut
"Obviously our team knows this is a great traditional program.  They've had a lot of success the past few years.  But I think we are really focused on ourselves.  We want to play great Stanford basketball and do the things we've done throughout the year to win games.  We know it is going to be a great matchup, but we're focused on ourselves."

On Connecticut's mystique
"I think that we know that they've had a lot of success the past few years.  They've been doing all the hard work to make that happen.  I don't think that you could say that there isn't a mystique about them, but our team is really focused on ourselves.  We just really going to come out and play hard.  It will be exciting for women's basketball."

Senior forward T'Nae Thiel

On the status of her foot
"I'm clear to play tomorrow.  I've been doing scouting reports and walk-through stuff at practice.  It feels good.  I'm excited to get out there."

On playing with hesitation
"It's hard not to have a little bit of hesitation about it because I haven't played on it.  I've only been doing limited things in practice.  There's not really any room for hesitation now - we're in the Sweet 16.  I feel very good, and I'm just going to trust my instincts and just go."

On playing Connecticut
"I think we are just very excited because we do know how successful Connecticut has been.  It is just a really exciting game for us, and we just want to come out and play well."

Head Coach Tara VanDerveer

Opening Statement
"We had a great week of practice.  We had a lot to work on for our very important game tomorrow.  We are looking forward to playing tomorrow night."

What are your points of practice this week?
"We were looking at what Connecticut does, and how its offense is set and what they like to do.  We were also looking at their strengths and how they attack on offense.  Our team has worked really hard to incorporate their game plan."

Update on injured senior forward T'Nae Thiel
"She does walk through and she will play tomorrow, and that is great news for us."

The play of freshman Candice Wiggins
"She is very talented and came out of a very strong high school program.  She had a lot of good things working for her.  She played on the junior national team, and they played the same style of offense we do.  She came into this season with a little bit of a head start."

Connecticut junior forward Barbara Turner

On a constant in Connecticut's losses
"The one constant was turnovers.  Every game that we have won this year we haven't turned the ball over a lot.  Our offense flowed better.  Something that is consistent is that our defense has always been there.  It has just been a matter of us clicking offensively.  That is the obvious difference."

On any possible edge over Stanford
"Stanford is a really solid team.  Everybody is capable of having a great game.  Our team is going to have to focus on the fact that we have to play well, too.  They are physical.  They get a lot of things done and have great post players."

Connecticut junior guard/forward Ann Strother

"I think that if we are all on the same page, we will be tough to beat.  The last couple days of practice, we have all been really confident and been on the same page."

On being in an underdog role
"The first day you sign a Letter of Intent to Connecticut, I don't think you ever look at yourself in an underdog position.  I don't think we look too much at what the rest of the world thinks about us.  I think we want that competition."

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma

Opening Statement
"As we were coming out here, we were thinking about how each and every year these two games are probably the most difficult games that you need to win - certainly this year when you think about the level of competition that's out here.  It's probably more difficult than any other time that we've experienced in the last 10 years.  I think we have our work cut out for us, obviously, but we're also playing our best basketball of the year, and it couldn't have come at a better time.  I think everyone is pretty much anxious to go."

On facing a team like Stanford in the Sweet 16
"We've played some really interesting teams.  One of them was Penn State a couple of years ago, with the same group that ended up being really good as seniors.  I remember one regional semifinal we played North Carolina State in 1991; they were the best team in the country and that was probably the best game we played in the Tournament.  In all the times I've been here, I don't remember a lot of teams that were ranked number one in the country."

On Willnett Crockett
"She started off the season playing really well this year; I think she spent a lot of time over the summer getting ready.  Then she struggled, and traditionally when Willnett struggles, it tends to get the best of her for a while.  It's not one of those issues where she's able to bounce back after a game or two.  Generally speaking, and not just in March, in most of the big games we play she seems to play her best basketball.  She may only have 10 games in her tank all year long - four spread out throughout the course of the season and six in the NCAA Tournament  - and that's it. It's better that we try to get the six in, in March, than the six in January.  Right?"

On the physical game and the Sweet 16
"The reason I think these [games] are difficult is because the player themselves, and the coaches too, put such a premium on getting to the Final Four, and these are the games that get you to the Final Four.  Kids get crazy over this weekend.  Sometimes they play their best basketball; sometimes they play themselves out of it.  How physical will it be?  I don't know.  We played Arizona State the last two years and they are an unbelievably physical team.  So if that is the way they play in the Pac-10, I would think it is going to be a very physical game."

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