March 25, 2013
Game Preview | Press Conference
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Michigan Head Coach Kim Barnes Arico
Opening statement ... "Like I said yesterday, we're really excited to be here and have the opportunity to play against Stanford, one of the best programs in the country year in and year out. And to be at a venue like this, and play in front of a great crowd in the second round of the NCAA tournament. So, I was happy with the way our kids played yesterday. I thought we did a tremendous job defensively against Villanova and we were able to knock down shots on the offensive end. So we're excited, we're fired up, and we're looking forward to tomorrow."
On Kate Thompson's shooting ability ... "When I got hired at the end of April, the player I got to know the most on the team initially because school had already ended was Kate because of the number of hours she was at the gym, before shooting and after shooting. She was there multiple times. Hours and hours and thousands of thousands. The kids had a shooting competition in the summer on their own and she obviously won. She really made the commitment coming into this season. You can go in the gym and say, "Oh I got 500 shots today." Well, you went into the gym and watch Kate take 500 shots, she's coming off curls. It was game speed. It was quick pace. We want to film her after the year to show some of the other kids coming in what this young lady did on her own and this was her work out every single day. What was funny for me, not really knowing each one of them, we probably went into our first five or ten games this season and after the game we'd be walking to media and Sarah would say to me, "Oh that was Kate's career high." I would be like, well golly that's 10 points! Then the next time she'd say, "Well that's Kate's career rebound." Then, "That was Kate's career minutes played." Then, again, "That's Kate's career high. Did she play before because she's breaking more and more. I've been coaching a long time and this is the best shooter that I've been around. I told Kate, "You're the best shooter in America," and she laughed at me. And I would say, "No, Kate, I really believe that." Last year she may have averaged 16-17 minutes per game so she was capable of knocking down three's but she wasn't their go-to player. She came in for us this year and was incredible. Her role has significantly changed but she has made the commitment. She's a self-made player. A lot of times kids were extremely hard at something and aren't able to see the results, so for her to have the senior year she's had I think everybody's really excited for her."
On Kate Thompson's hectic schedule as a student-athlete ... "She's incredible and she's probably going to kill me for saying this but she got a boyfriend and I told her she doesn't have any time for that with all the other stuff going on. I said, "Kate, pre-med and basketball." This summer when she wasn't in the gym working on her game she was in the lab. She had to do a fly experiment all summer long. She'd bring me these flies and we'd talk about flies. Then she'd be back in the gym. She had lab for eight hours a day. She somehow found a way. She's a special kid from a special family. We went to her house when we played against Minnesota. Her family had dessert for us one night. She said, "Coach, we didn't have a TV in my house until I got to college so my parents could see me play." She grew up playing instruments, she played the piano, she was in the band, she was a straight-A student and she was an all-star basketball player. So she's really a special kid and she's got her focus on what's important. She put the time in because she wanted to go out on a positive note. She does the same amount of time in the classroom. It's incredible."
On the game plan versus Stanford ... "Well, I think a couple of things and you know what Jenny said before I think it is really important for us to not look at the game as a whole because that can get overwhelming and to say we have to play with the best teams in the country for 40 minutes on their home court you think there is no chance. I think we need to break it down like we did yesterday and play four minutes at a time. Let's just see if we can hang with them for four minutes and if they really hurt us in those four minutes, what kind of adjustments can we make to be successful the next four minutes and what kind of changes we can make. If we are getting hurt inside, do we need to double do we need to triple, do we need to take that away. The tough part about them is that they have great shooters that if start doing that inside then they have the ability to knock down threes. So, kind of pick your poison but the point guard is playing really well right now, I thought she did a great job yesterday. They ran that two-man game and were successful. We know we have our hands full. We are playing against one of the best teams probably ever, with one of the best coaches ever. We know it will be a challenge but we know we have nothing to lose. Anytime in the NCAA tournament it is just one game and anything can happen on any given night. So, let's just play four minutes at a time and see what we can do. "
On the game from two years ago ... "I thought the game a couple of years ago, we (St. John's) played well in the first half. I thought we made a run. I haven't looked at it but off the top of my hat. I think we made a run in the first half and we went in at half time and it was fairly close. But, I thought their pressure as you said wore us down. In the second half we couldn't score. They overwhelmed us. They were physical. They had both sisters which one got tired the other one went crazy being able to score, rebound and run the floor. I mean they are really special players. So I think what is really important for us going into tomorrow like you mentioned to have the ability to score. I thought Stanford a couple years ago against St. John's they limited our scoring and were physical with us. But we didn't have the ability to shoot the ball as we do know. So hopefully that will create more opportunities, we go for stretches now were long periods of time we can't score and that makes the game more difficult but if we can score with them that would give us a better opportunity. They will focus on Kate and that hopefully will open things up for some other people. I think that is what happened with Rachel yesterday. They were really focused on Kate and getting Sweeney in foul trouble allowed us to go inside to Rachel and she did a tremendous job."
On playing a six player rotation ... "Well, that's something we've done all year long. It's the NCAA Tournament, so you have to go with your players that are playing the best at this point. I think Villanova was a really tough matchup in terms of being able to comprehend their offense and some of the young kids weren't ready to have to defend that. So, that was a really tough matchup to have to put in some of our younger kids. Maybe tomorrow, they'll an opportunity to get some more minutes but what's funny is you say that, and I look at Stanford's box score yesterday and it was 38, 38, 35, 35 (minutes per game). So, they've played four players a significant amount of minutes too so hopefully - and that's what I'm going to tell our team too, coming into the game. I mean those kids played pretty much the same minutes that you played. So at this point in the year, you can't use fatigue as an excuse to not play as hard as you can."
On the important of the three point shot against Stanford ... "Obviously, I think it's important. Jenny was able to knock down a couple yesterday, which will definitely be able to help her confidence. Sam Arnold can really shoot the three as well as Rachel Sheffer can, but we are not Villanova and that's not completely what we want to do. Obviously, the reason we won the game yesterday was because we were able to go inside to Rachel. So, you don't really want to go against that. That's going to be tough to do tomorrow but we also feel like maybe if we can get some fouls on Ogwumike - if we can get her in foul trouble early, that might be able to help. And I think teams that have been able to be successful against Stanford or at least hang around against Stanford have been able to get her out of the game. I know that's not an easy thing to do, but that will definitely be able to help us. So I think obviously, we have to be able to shoot the three but we can't just go away from scoring in the paint. When we score in the paint, we're a lot more successful than when we just rely on three point shots."
On her game against Stanford during her time at St. John's ... "No, I think you always reflect on that because I think one of the most important things for our team right now is to believe that we can be successful. Because if you come into any game and think that you can't win, you're not going to be very successful. So, I think one of the most important things is obviously that we come in confident. But, we've also got to realize that we're playing the No.1 seed and they are the No.1 seed for a reason. They're an outstanding basketball team, but I think one of the great things about our team this year is that they are very competitive. And I said the other day prior to our game against Villanova, `Let's not forget why we're here.' I know we've had a good time the past couple of days in California and we're enjoying the moment but also, we're here to win. Let's not forget that, so it wasn't just about us getting here and I think sometimes people are just happy to be there. And I feel like I'm probably one of the most fortunate people to have had the opportunity to beat Connecticut at Connecticut, and to break a streak that nobody thought could ever be broken. So, I think when I speak to that and having experienced it, the kids can really say, `Yeah, this happened and coach was there.' And that doesn't necessarily mean that we have more talent than them [her St. John's team] and we're going to be able to do that tomorrow night, but that's what March Madness is about. You've heard about Florida Gulf Coast and I'm sure all the underdogs are saying that right now. It's just one game, one night and just bring everything you have and see what happens."
On whether she is surprised how Stanford has fared with lack of star-filled team ... "Well, I think that goes to Tara obviously and the tradition of their program. It's kind of the same thing and having the opportunity to play against Connecticut for 10 years. I have played against them in years where they've had five first round picks and then I've played against them in years where they haven't had any, and pretty much all of those years, they're as successful as they are from one to the next. And I think that's the mentality of the program, and they're the greatest coaches in America for a reason. So their team chemistry is amazing, the way that they share the ball, the way that they find each other - they understand their role and they play together incredibly well. They get the ball to the right people at the right time. I mean they've lost two games on the year. That's pretty incredible, so they might not have four All-Americans but they have a great, great team. And I think that speaks volumes. Like I said, that speaks to the coaching job that Tara has done this year but also when you come into - and I know it from playing against Connecticut. You come into a program that has that mentality, you walk on campus, and you're champion and that's what we're kind of trying to build at Michigan and kind of trying to preach at Michigan. You've got to come in with a certain chip on your shoulder or with a certain attitude that, `Hey, I go to Stanford and we're going to win a championship. This is what we do here.' And I think they do an incredible job from the coaching staff down just on getting the kids to believe in their system, to understand their role, to play together, and win. I mean they're proven year in and year out. I mean to have that level of consistency is incredible and there are very few coaches around the country that can say that."
U-M Senior Guard Jenny Ryan
On hearing from U-M volleyball players and their thoughts on playing Stanford ... "I actually got a text from Mark and Leisa Rosen last night, and they just wished us all the best of luck. They reminded us that it has been done before and that anything is possible on any given night and to represent Michigan as best that we can and the outcome will take care of itself. Going into these games it's about playing with your heart and representing Michigan and doing all you can. So we know we have the support of each other, our coaching staff and the entire university and we are just going to do what they told us and play as hard as we can and stick to our guns and see what the outcome is."
On focusing in four-minute segments and how that attitude brings better focus on the court ... "I think that breaking the game down into smaller segments makes it seem less overwhelming at times. When you break it down from media timeout to media timeout, you can really focus in and value it possession by possession. If you happen to have a bad 4 minutes, it's not a bad 40 minutes, and you can look to the next one and say that we can win the next one. And so, when you get those bad bumps along the road, it is a lot easier to look towards the next 4 minutes, and say that we can win that one. And if we can win that one by 2 or 4 points, that will put us in a better position than we were in 4 minutes ago. So I think the forward-looking attitude it brings to the game, it helps you to refocus and go again for the next one, because it is 0-0 in our minds."
On having Kate Thompson on the team ... "It's anyone's dream to have Kate on your team. Kate and I were actually roommates freshman year. We got to spend a lot of time together in the gym and I remember passing to Kate freshman year. There was one practice where I tried to figure out where Kate catches the ball best to shoot at and she didn't miss. I think from that day forward I just know where Kate likes the ball and knowing you have someone that is money from that far out is unbelievable. Against Michigan State she hit one from center court and the rest of the world might laugh but it's just Kate to us. I don't know if anyone knows how much time she put in the past four years to get to where she is. She's super modest about it. It comes with a sense of confidence but that confidence comes from the hours and hours and thousands of thousands of shots that she puts up. On a shooting gun, she'll shoot 80 percent and think nothing of it. She's phenomenal and I love having her."
On what head coach Kim Barnes Arico brings to the program ... "I agree with Nya and from a strategic standpoint, Coach Arico's knowledge and expertise, trying to put us all in successful positions on the floor has added to that success. In closer games or late situations, we have a certain amount of confidence that the game plan is going to work out and that's kind of put us over the edge in very close games."
U-M Senior Guard Kate Thompson
On the challenges of rebounding against Stanford tomorrow night ... "Stanford, they are averaging 42 rebounds a game. They are very talented on the boards. They have a lot of very tall athletes. We just have to focus on boxing out and crashing the offensive boards, so that we can get some rebounds of our own."
On what her role is going to be against Stanford ... "At the end of the day, basketball is a team sport. It's all about the team. If making threes is what it's going to take, then I will do my best for the team. But we just have a lot of teamwork, and me, Jordan and Ryan, we are all going to be able to add our own things to help us win."
On the challenges of facing Big Ten defenses throughout the year ... "The Big Ten's defenses were really tough. I had a lot of troubles getting shots off. My teammates do a great job of setting me screens, and Jenny is one of the best passers out there, so when she finds me, it helps me to knock down open looks."
On what makes her a great shooter ... "Oh gosh [laughs]. Like I said, at the end of the day, it really comes down to my teammates setting me really good screens. They give me a lot of open looks. And Ryan really does a great job to find me. To be a good shooter, you just need to put in the practice. This past summer, I think our team did a great job getting shots up, and that has been key to our success this season."
On what Kim Barnes Arico has brought to the program ... "She's really inspired us. We've known that she has had success in the past and having her here with us has meant the world to our whole team."
U-M Senior Forward Nya Jordan
On whether she's faced players comparable to Ogwumike ... "I would say Nikki Greene (Penn State) and Elizabeth Williams (Duke) and Annalise Pickrel (Michigan State). I think they all kind of show a certain toughness on the post. We have to rely on our help from our guards in order to be able to limit their touches or how much they score."
On whether she prefers those kinds of matchups ... "Personally I don't [laughs] because you have to take strategic shots. You can't just take any shot off those kind of players. You have to make sure you get that extra pass or use an extra pump fake if you need to. We can score against them, that's definitely possible, it'll just take more work."
On what Kim Barnes Arico has brought to the program ..." I think personally coach Arico brought passion to our team, which we needed the most. We obviously have a lot of talented players but talent can only get you so far. It takes toughness and passion to want to win or to have that drive to win."