NCAA Reaction: Wiggins, Smith & Newlin

After receiving the good news of a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and the chance to play at/close to home through the entire regionals, Stanford players answered questions on Selection Monday. Junior Candice Wiggins updated us on her health. Fifth-year senior Brooke Smith discussed the team's postseason goals. Senior Kristen Newlin assessed the strength of Stanford and offered a message to fans.

Junior guard Candice Wiggins

What do you think about a possible LSU rematch?  That come across your mind when you saw the bracket?

"Yeah, I think we're really excited.  But right now, it's not about LSU or Connecticut or anybody.  It's about Idaho State.  So that's what we're focused on.  Obviously that would be something in the future.  Right now, that's not what I'm concerned about."

You all said that you wanted to use the Pac-10 Tournament for momentum.  How have you kept that going through practices the past week?

"We're really just trying to build momentum.  This is a whole new season.  This is like another second wind.  Right now, it's about us being in shape and like Tara [VanDerveer] said, wanting to play with each other and keeping it going.  I am excited to be practicing now, and I'm feeling really good.  I'm just excited for the Tournament - it gives you energy."

Do you feel like you are 100 percent?

"I always feel like I'm 100 percent, even if I'm not.  I love playing, and that makes me forget about any injuries when I play.  I'm ready."

Can you tell us how the various body parts feel right now - the hamstring, the ankle and anything else?

"The hamstring feels good.  I think I'm really starting to get my strength back with that.  No problems.  We keep it wrapped, just to keep it warm.  My ankle is great now.  The swelling has gone down; the pain has gone down.  I think that was about all I had hurt.  Everything else feels great."

How did you feel physically immediately following three games in three days at the Pac-10 Tournament?

"The feeling of winning the Pac-10 Tournament was so great that your body just...  It was fine.  I wasn't in pain.  I think I was really tired, maybe, because I hadn't played a lot previously.  I feel good."

Considering Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and JJ Hones are out, is it pretty incredible the versatility that this team still has?

"I think that really shows the versatility of our team.  People have stepped up countless times.  I have been gone, and people have picked up the slack.  I just think we're a very deep team.  We can count on everybody to be ready to play.  I think that really shows our depth."

Fifth-year senior center/forward Brooke Smith

What have you thought about how you want this last NCAA Tournament to be for you?

"Yeah, it's obviously my last Selection Show where it was going to affect me, so I'm really excited to be playing.  I'm excited to know who our first game is going to be against.  We'll take it one game at a time.  We have to keep winning to keep playing, and I just want to play in college as long as I can."

You talked in October about doing all the little right things along the way this year to accomplish the goal at this time of year.  Do you feel that things are still clicking to do that?

"I think we're trying to build momentum going into the NCAA Tournament.  I think we had a productive weekend at the Pac-10 Tournament, winning that.  I think we're all really excited for the Tournament time to keep going.  As a senior, along with [Kristen Newlin], Clare [Bodensteiner] and [Markisha Coleman], there is definitely a sense of urgency.  You do want to make this experience last as long.  You love playing with your teammates, and that's what you really want to keep doing as long as you can.  We're working hard, and we're trying to extend every day that we can."

The talk way back when this started was that anything less than a Final Four would a disappointment.  Is that still the mentality?

"I think so.  That's still the goal of our team.  Obviously we know that we can't talk about the Final Four because we have games that lead up to that.  Our focus is definitely going to be on Idaho State and winning that game on Saturday, first and foremost.  We still have the same goals that we had at the beginning of the year."

Senior forward/center Kristen Newlin

What was your reaction to Fresno and the #2 seed?

"Just excitement.  Watching the Selection Show is always about anticipation.  I was just excited to know who we're going to play and where we're going to play.  We're excited to be at home for our first game."

Stanford in a number of years has received a bad seed or a raw deal.  Do you feel this is a pretty fair setup?

"We can't control where we're playing.  We're excited to be in the Tournament, and we are very happy with the two-seed and that it is in Fresno.  We just have to be ready for our first game, and that's all we can control right now."

Florida State is a possible second-round match-up.  Do you remember anything from the game last year, looking ahead to the rematch if you win and they win?

"I remember they were a tough team.  I don't remember a lot or if any of them graduated.  Right now, we just want to get past Idaho State.  We want to look ahead and we want to be there, but we have to take one game at a time.  Whatever happens in the second game, hopefully we'll get there."

This team has gone through a lot of adversity.  The season has probably not been as smooth as you would have thought.  Where do you feel this team is now at this point in this season?

"I think we're coming along really smoothly.  We can't control all the things.  We never want injuries to happen.  If we could plan it out, we would be perfectly healthy.  But I think our team has responded, especially after losing JJ at the point guard position.  Everyone has stepped up, which they needed to.  Candice has played with us the weekend, so she feeling healthy.  Hopefully so will everyone going into the Tournament.  It's just a new season and it's now our never, so we all just need to step it up."

This team has played with a number of lineups and identities this year.  What do you think is the team's strength right now?

"Just going inside.  I think we have a tremendous post rotation, but once we go inside, we can kick it back out.  We have players on the outside who can shoot.  Basically, it's pick your poison with other teams.  Hopefully, everyone will step everything up a notch in the Tournament.  We're playing at home in front of our home fans - that is just going to add to the excitement."

Any personal excitement for you as you saw other teams in your bracket you might have an opportunity to play - an LSU or a UConn?

"We can look ahead, but right now our focus is Idaho State and the first two games.  Of course, we want to be playing in those games against whoever that might be.  But in order to get there, we have to play those first two games well."

Playing at Maples Pavilion and then in Fresno, you have a chance to enjoy a homecourt advantage.  Do you have a message to give to the people in the Bay Area who could travel to watch these games and root you on?

"We need all of your support we can get.  We're a fun team.  The NCAA Tournament just by itself is going to make it a fun atmosphere.  I think it's great for women's basketball that we get all of the support we can.  All year long, we have had the best fans.  I'm sure they will continue into the NCAA Tournament."

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