Pac-10 Finals Post-Game Quotes

Ridding the taste in their mouths of last year's Pac-10 Tournament finals loss, Stanford savored Monday's victory over Arizona State in this year's championship game. Afterward Tara VanDerveer praised her players and discussed the zone defense and jumbo lineup she employed in the game. Also comments from Candice Wiggins, Brooke Smith, Jayne Appel, Kristen Newlin and Jillian Harmon.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer

Opening statement:

"I think it was actually what we thought it was going to be: a battle.  Congratulations to Arizona State; they had a great season.  I think they'll do really well in the NCAA Tournament.  They play really hard.  They're extremely aggressive, and we had to work for every basket we got and every rebound we got.  For our team, we went with our big lineup a lot, and that really responded.  People got on the glass.  I thought Candice [Wiggins] did a fabulous job for us at the point.  We had some [turnovers]; playing against their pressure is tough.  We made some big shots and got a nice lead.  It kind of came back.  They're a great team, and you can't keep them down.  We made some free throws - Brooke [Smith] made some free throws down the stretch.  Candice got some big steals and a nice block.  We got the big trophy."

On the zone defense being part of the gameplan or responding to something seen during the game:

"It was something we had used before, when we had some people in foul trouble the last two games that we played them.  We have been playing it more and more.  When Candice was out, we went with our big lineup more.  I think we got comfortable with it, and I think they are starting to really understand what we need to do.  Then they knocked down a couple threes on us, and then we got out of it.  I thought we did a really good job in it - especially I thought [Kristen Newlin] really rebounded; Jayne [Appel] really rebounded; Brooke in there.  When they're in there together, they play really well together.  They were running the floor well, too.  I thought our bigs ran the floor really well."

On the formula for Stanford winning four of the last five Pac-10 Tournaments:

"I think you have really talented players.  We have really talented players - five that are up here.  We try to be consistent all year long.  We try to play a very tough schedule.  I think our players work hard in practice.  They just buy into a team concept.  They do what we ask - whatever needs to be done.  If it's Brooke playing the 'three', she plays the 'three'.  If it's Candice at the 'one', her more natural position might be at the 'two' but whatever we need she steps up.  When you have team leaders like Brooke and Candice and then seniors like New.  Then you get your young people to hustle like Jill [Harmon] does.  Jayne is just fabulous in there.  She catches things and scores; she is a big presence.  I think the formula is people playing hard, playing together and making plays."

On the expectation that ASU's pressure defense could force a quick change to Wiggins from freshman Melanie Murphy at point guard:

"Again, I think they work very hard, and they are very aggressive.  I think it's really a steep learning curve for your freshman point guards.  Mel struggled, but I think it's a good thing.  She did come back in and made some really big plays for us.  We were fortunate that Candice could step in at the 'one'.  She handles the ball really well, makes really good decisions and is flexible and can do that for us.  I thought Jill actually did a really good job of handling the ball for us, too.  So did Brooke.  We play against different things.  We play against people sagging in and tripling Jayne, which is what happened yesterday.  Different teams we are playing will 'box and one' Candice.  This is where we did get exposed a little bit, but different people stepped up.  I think Mel will get better.  Candice can step up.  Jill did a really good job for us.  I also think that Cissy Pierce really helped us in this game defensively and just putting the ball on the floor.  You have to be able to play against anything that people will throw at you.  We knew that ASU was going to do this.  We knew that they were going to do this, and we work on it every day in practice to get ready for it."

On any surprise at Wiggins' performance in this tournament coming off injuries:

"I guess when I think about it in June or July, I'll go, 'Wow.'  I do say 'wow' now, but we needed it.  Candice does what we need.  She gives whatever she can give.  I think she just leads by example.  She is the most competitive person in this room, by far.  Coaching her, I think the only other people who are in her league are the people I coached on the Olympic Team.  They would knock you down for just a nickel.  They battled.  Theresa Edwards.  Dawn Staley.  Those are some really fights.  Candice is a real competitor, and nothing really surprises me.  I just think that she's phenomenal.  She hated the fact that she sat last weekend.  I just think that she was going to come out and get after it.  She is just a joy to coach.  You don't have enough ink for all of the things I could say.  I think her teammates really love playing with her, and that's the biggest compliment.  She makes everybody better who she is playing with."

On any design for Smith playing all 40 minutes:

"Yep.  What did I tell you before the game, Brooke?  [Smith: 'That unless I got in foul trouble...']  No, I said you're not coming out.  [laughter in the room]  We really need her.  Brooke is such a big part of what we do.  She is a glue for us offensively.  I'm really proud of how Brooke is playing.  I think she is tough - she had a charge down on the other end.  She's smart - we're setting up plays for her while she's playing a different position.  She switches out onto guards and is guarding [Briann] January.  Whatever we ask her to do, she does.  I think she has been a great team leader for us this year.  We have seen her grow, and I'm really proud of her.  We need her out there.  I knew I had to take Candice out; I didn't like taking her out.  She had two fouls, and I needed to rest her a little bit - try to get her some time around timeouts.  But Brooke is in great shape.  When we can play New and Jayne together, I like doing that.  Then Jill, did you come out at all?  Maybe a little bit?  [Harmon: 'A little bit.']  Just give her a rest a little bit when she needed to sit down just a little bit, but Jill plays major minutes for us.  But Brooke, I never even thought about taking her out.'"

Junior guard Candice Wiggins

On any thought of last year's UCLA comeback late to beat Stanford in the finals:

"Absolutely, even when we were up.  I think last year's experience taught our whole team - except Jayne - that the game is never over.  Especially with a team like ASU.  I think we were up by like 15 points and there was I don't know how much time left.  I knew that wasn't over.  Teams gain momentum like that.  It was kind of scary and did remind me of last year."

On the fun for her in this tournament and winning Most Outstanding Player:

"The weekend was really fun.  Just like Tara said, I have been really wanting to play - just being able to play and to help our team win.  I think that after last year and after what we went through, this is a great way - especially for the seniors; two of them are missing - to end their senior year on a positive note in the Pac-10.  Personally, the individual awards are just stuff that comes.  I would much rather be sitting here and able to celebrate this victory than to have any award."

After her hamstring and ankle after playing three straight days:

"It's alright.  I knew at the beginning of the game that I wasn't going to think about it until the game was over.  I can take care of that.  I think that my body is healing very well right now, so it's not bad."

On finishing in their tournament what they started with the regular season championship, especially in light of the losses by Duke, Tennessee, etc.:

"Yeah, I think it shows that it is really difficult to go and win a regular season and go win the tournament.  That's not an easy thing.  It's two different ideas.  Not necessarily because of the other teams, but it did make us want to finish on a good note and provide us with momentum."

Freshman center Jayne Appel

On bouncing back in the finals after fouling out in nine minutes with one point in the semifinals:

"I think I had the mindset that I knew I couldn't foul out.  Both of my coaches talked to me yesterday about how I need to stay in the game.  I just told myself that I was going to get no fouls in the first half.  I picked up one with like 30 seconds to go.  Pretty much, that was my gameplan."

Fifth-year senior center/forward Brooke Smith

On what the team takes from this win, after using last year's finals loss as motivation pre-NCAAs:

"We talked before this tournament how we wanted to build momentum for the NCAAs.  This is the most important time to be playing well, so it was really important for us to get the momentum going into the NCAA Tournament.  We definitely wanted to do that.  Then Coach was talking in the locker room after the game how she wants to hold us to the same intensity in practice as we did last year when we lost.  We're not going to have any, 'Oh we're so great because we won this tournament.'  We're going to get back to work on Wednesday and practice just as if we lost this.  We're still going to work hard; we're not going to overlook that.  But we definitely built momentum this weekend.  That's going to help us as we go into the [NCAA] Tournament and will definitely carry over."

On the physical play of this game:

"I think that's good.  I think that going into the NCAA Tournament as well, they stop calling as much.  You have to be ready to battle and play through it and initiate contact sometimes.  You just have to go with it.  There's not much you can do about that."

Senior forward Kristen Newlin

On what the three post players are doing better of late in the jumbo lineup:

"We're just learning to play with each other more lately.  The more we play with each other, the better we become.  It poses a different threat to teams when they have 6'4", 6'4", 6'5" in there.  We know in the Tournament there is going to be a lot of big teams, and sometimes we'll have to do that to match up with them."

Sophomore forward Jillian Harmon

On playing as a guard at the top of the 2-3 zone defense:

"Well, that's kind of a new position for me.  I didn't play that at all last year.  We're so effective with our big lineup on offense that it's kind of helpful when I can play the 'two' on defense at the top of the zone.  That's a good look for us, and I think it worked out well today certainly."

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