Pac-10 Semis Post-Game Quotes

It was a crowded press room Sunday night in San Jose after Stanford's 67-52 win over USC in the Pac-10 Tournament semifinals. Head coach Tara VanDerveer was joined by four players at the podium, with the Cardinal answering questions on the three-point explosion of Candice Wiggins, interior defense, resting players, the Arizona State match-up Monday in the finals and much more.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer

Opening statement:

"First of all, I think that having played USC, we knew that it was really going to be a tough match-up for us.  They came out; they battled.  They're big.  They're physical.  I thought it was a very physical game.  They're very athletic.  But it was just too much Candice [Wiggins].  She was feeling it, knocking down threes and opening things up for a lot of people.  I thought we were running.  I thought Mel [Murphy] did a great job for us.  Brooke [Smith] scoring and passing.  Everyone came in and really helped our team.  [Kristen Newlin] had a really good game, hitting her threes and knocking her free throws down.  Michelle [Harrison] came in and contributed.  Basically, when I felt we had that big lead, I thought it was great that we could put people in off the bench.  They got good experience, and we got some people rested a little bit and ready for tomorrow."

On Wiggins' many three-pointers coming by design versus USC's defense or by her hot hand:

"It was total design [smile].  We do run some things for her, and we did run that.  But again, she just really recognizes when she's open.  She doesn't need a lot of time.  She catches it and she looks...  And honestly, with all of the threes, my favorite player for her - aside from the one three that bounced way up and then came back in - was her breakaway.  She's dribbling the ball away from everybody.  I just think she's fabulous.  We do try to design some plays for her, but they were on her a lot and people were screening for her and getting her open.  I think a lot of it is that they have to double Jayne [Appel].  Jayne was very frustrated today, but they have to double Brooke.  Brooke made a great pass.  She was doubled and saw Candice on the backside and zips it out to her.  Candice is wide-open, so she knocked it down.  I think a lot of it, honestly, is that people are so worried about Brooke and New and Jayne that they decide, 'Alright, let's see what they've got on the perimeter.'  Candice let them know what we have.  So did New.  She had a nice three - two of them."

On whether she thinks USC is an NCAA Tournament team:

"Yes, I do.  I definitely do.  They have struggled with so many injuries during the year, and I think Mark [Trakh] and his staff...  There are certain teams who maybe have our number.  Mark said to me that this is the third time we have played them in this game, and we've gotten this game.  But I definitely think they're a Tournament team.  We saw that more last week when we played.  They've improved a lot.  They're big; they're physical; and they run nice stuff."

On Wiggins' two games in San Jose impressing coming off injuries:

"I think honestly, with Candice, if she is ready to go, she can just play.  She flat-out loves to play.  She brings great energy to the court.  When she sprained her ankle, she came in for a little spurt against Oregon State.  She played really well against Oregon.  When she injured her hamstring in that game - she could have played last week, but I said we're going to sit her.  I think the rest helped her.  Like she said, she watched.  She's hungry.  She hates missing games.  I'm assuming that it feels good.  She warms it up; she stretches it.  There was one time in the first half where Charmin [Smith] said to me, 'It looks like Candice is limping.'  I took her out right out.  Candice told me, 'No, I wasn't limping.'  So I put her back in."

On putting Wiggins back in the game with a 19-point lead at 12:53 in the second half:

"Some of it is not just Candice obviously.  It's Melanie Murphy, I think is doing really well.  I feel like we have Mel or Candice on the court right now, either together or one of them maybe with Markisha Coleman to help.  Mel has been playing a lot, and I just felt like we are going to need both of them tomorrow.  I try to rotate them a little bit, in the same way that I rotate maybe Brooke, New and Jayne."

On Stanford's interior defense versus USC:

"Their post players are really good.  I thought they were hitting some face-up shots.  One of the things I encouraged our team to do was to really run the floor.  Maybe get their bigs tired a little bit so that they wouldn't have the legs at the end of the game to shoot.  If you saw New and Brooke, I thought they ran really well.  Jayne wasn't in there long enough to really get going.  I think between the three of them, they run the floor exceptionally well.  I think [USC] just got a little bit tired, and you could see they just didn't have the same spring at the end that they did in the beginning."

On the play of Stanford's freshman class:

"I think they're doing great.  So far, this has been a really big weekend for Michelle.  She came in and did a really nice job for us yesterday, getting the ball inside.  She had some great passes to New yesterday.  I can't remember who she got today.  Mel is a great passer inside.  They're really understanding what we're doing and how we want to move the ball and screening.  I also thought Michelle did a nice job defensively against us.  I was a little bit worried putting her on Eshaya Murphy, but she really got in there and worked hard on her.  She did it on both ends.  Plus, she rebounds.  That's the thing I like best about Michelle's game - she gets on the glass.  She had a nice O-board in the first half, and she was rebounding in the second half, too."

On any anticipating that Arizona State will pressure Melanie Murphy:

"No, I think they'll come out in a zone tomorrow [laughs].  They are going to climb all over us - yes.  We look forward to it.  We've taken them twice.  In bridge, we would have the rubber match already done, but this is a third one.  They're going to be super aggressive.  Charli [Turner Thorne] does a great job with their team.  They are going to work to be up all over us the whole game.  Whoever has it, they will really be defending us as aggressively as they can."

On beating a good team three times in the same year:

"I don't know.  I just think that the teams we're playing in the Pac-10 [Tournament], like Arizona State, help us get better.  Regardless of the outcome tomorrow night, we're going to come out, compete and want to win.  They will make us do the right thing.  They will make us take care of the ball.  They will make us rebound.  They will make us defend.  They will make us play transition defense; they really run well.  I think that this is the benefit of playing the tournament and playing them three times.  This gets you ready for the NCAAs.  It's all good, as long as everybody on both teams is healthy and we can turn around 10 days from now and look at the NCAA bid.  One team is going to walk out as the Pac-10 Tournament Champions.  We experienced this last year when we were in that game, and it was upsetting to us that we didn't get it.  So we're going to work really hard tomorrow to get it."

On Wiggins' statement performance after being passed over as Pac-10 Player of the Year:

"Well, I don't know.  I think there are a lot of great players.  But that thought did cross my mind.  I think she's fabulous.  When I did bring that up on the bench, there are some little things sometimes that motivate people.  Maybe it motivates her...  She doesn't say a word.  She just says congratulations to Devanei [Hampton].  She doesn't get caught up in that.  She's very humble.  I think she really understands the big picture.  Be healthy.  Play hard.  And it's all about your team.  That's where she's at."

Junior guard Candice Wiggins

On how often the rim looks that big:

"Well, I don't think I have ever shot like this, so never.  It's just one of those games where you feel like you are in rhythm.  I shot really bad in warm-ups, so I knew that was going to be a good sign for the game.  That always happens.  I was just really trying to open things up.  They were in a zone.  Last time, I was able to watch USC - two games, actually - and see how we really needed perimeter shooting, so I really focused on being able to open it up so they didn't have to play us zone the whole game."

On the chance of seeing the same open shots in the finals:

"Arizona State does a very good job - they play pressure defense.  They really don't let a lot of three-point attempts go up.  I assume they are going to be playing their same defense, so if I get shots, then I do.  But I'm not just a three-point shooter.  There are other ways we can score.  We can get it inside.  We're not just a one-dimensional team.  I'm not worried."

On her eighth three-pointer bouncing in, high off the back iron:

"Actually, the shot felt really good going in.  When I shot it, it felt like it should have went in.  Then it hit.  It was one of those shots where you're like, 'Alright, this is my day.'"

On saying anything to her teammates when her shot feels that good:

"No, my teammates do a really good job of finding the open players, so it's not necessary on the team to say that.  I'm just trying to get other people going."

On defenses forgetting about her when clogging the paint:

"It's just one of those things that works hand-in-hand.  When you have such a great interior game like we do, it's important that the guards pose a threat for the other teams.  I'm really aware of that and just try to hit open shots.  Yeah, other teams do get kind of lost on the outside because they're really focused on our posts."

Fifth-year senior center Brooke Smith

On the difference in the paint once Wiggins was hitting three-pointers:

"Well, they were playing a bunch of different stuff.  They were playing a little bit of 'box and one' for a little while.  Yeah, it is always nice to have perimeter players hitting shots because it just forces their defense to focus more on the perimeter game as well.  It will open things up sometimes more than others, but yeah, that's nice."

Senior forward/center Kristen Newlin

On her day blocking shots and defensively:

"I just wanted to provide a defensive spark for the team.  You get some [blocks] some games, and some you don't.  I wouldn't know if that's my best or not.  It was just what they gave me."

Freshman forward Michelle Harrison

On the experience of her first Pac-10 Tournament:

"It's been really exciting.  I've been taking it kind of...  That atmosphere makes me think back to high school days, when you start doing tournament time.  It kind of grows, and the crowd grows.  The competition grows.  I'm just trying to look back and let myself relax.  I can play at this level.  I've been playing it for a full year now.  I'm confident that I'm doing what Coach wants me to do, so I'm having a lot of fun with it."


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