Women's Basketball NCAA Press Conference

COLLEGE STATION, Texas --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team had a full day of preparation and some relaxation in anticipation of its NCAA first round game against #24 Nebraska Saturday evening at Reed Arena on the Texas A&M campus.

Following breakfast at the hotel, the Lady Mocs headed to Reed Arena for a short practice in the men’s basketball practice facility before heading to Kyle Field and the Texas A&M Hall of Fame. After a quick lunch at “Whataburger”, a Texas favorite of Wes Moore, a native of the Lone Star State, the Lady Mocs returned to the team hotel for a short rest.

At 3:30 p.m., UTC got the chance to answer questions from media outside the Chattanooga market. Questions ranged from the feelings of the team returning to the NCAA after two years to how the win over Tennessee affected the confidence of the team. The media also asked questions about the school’s current win streak, 19 straight games, and how assistant coach Katie Burrow’s NCAA experience may affect the squad.

The game is set to tip off at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET. and will be carried live, regionally by ESPN2 and on ESPN3.

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Wes Moore, Head Coach

Opening Statement:
“I’m really proud of this group, they have worked extremely hard this year. I feel like they play with a whole lot of energy and they have a whole lot of character and toughness about them.  We have had a lot of close games; especially the conference tournament and they always seem to find a way to get it done. I’m excited, especially for the two seniors, to be able to participate in this event in their senior year as they did their freshman year. I grew up in Texas so we’re excited about being here and we are looking forward to a great opportunity.”

On his friendship with Gary Blair:
“We are both from the Dallas area. I was reminding him today that the best high school football team we had at R.L. Turner High School was back in 1966 and we played his high school Bryan Adams. In ‘66 I was young and I remember playing at the old Cobbs Stadium in Dallas. Bryan Adams scored first but then R.L. Tuner scored 31 straight and beat them 31-6. The quarterback, ironically, was Bill Montgomery at my high school and he went on to play at Arkansas where Gary Blair was. We have a good time together. He is a really great guy and what he was done here is amazing and the facilities here and the resources here are very impressive.”

On their 19-game winning streak:
“We don’t really talk about it. The year we beat Rutgers in the NCAA Tournament I think we went into that game with a 26-game winning streak. It’s more about their consistency and their effort night in and night out. I think, also, our depth helps a little bit, so if a player or two is struggling on a particular night there are a couple of people who can come in and pick up the slack. I think it is more about a consistent effort and I reminded them that we probably would not be seeded even an 11-seed as we are if we had let a game or two get away from us, and we easily could have. Even in the conference tournament we did not shoot the ball well at all in the championship game but we had 21 offensive rebounds and forced 19 turnovers. They just find a way to get it done and they have done that all year long. It’s an honor to coach them.”

On the pressure of the NCAA Tournament:
“I’m not sure. Our conference is a whole lot of pressure, and so in a way I hope that they feel a little bit less pressure. Right now we get to be the hunter instead of the hunted. I think that is exciting to trade roles. The freshmen have felt it at the conference tournament but hopefully they have gotten that out of their system, because we are going to need everyone hitting on all cylinders to have a chance. Hopefully we can get everybody ready to go.”

On the other three teams in College Station:
"I haven’t watched any film on anybody else, we have to focus now. We have a couple of assistants that are laying the groundwork on the other teams but we have our hands full. Our plate is full with Nebraska. I think Gary Blair has done an unbelievable job, they started out young, and they started out looking young. They just kept getting better and better and I think they are peaking right now. For Wichita State, Jody Adams is from right outside Chattanooga and played for the Lady Vols. I’ve known her for a long time; she has done a great job of putting Wichita State on the map this year and getting them in the tournament. Then Nebraska: I remember the 30- or 31-game winning streak a couple of years ago and that’s when I first took notice of that program. They are very well-coached and very fundamental. They are all great teams, and at our level when you get in this thing you’re playing a great team and we understand that. It’s an exciting opportunity.”

On the time before the game:
“I don’t know how smart I was today, we practiced for an hour and fifteen minutes this morning and now we are going to have an hour and a half on the game court. On the game court we are mostly going to shoot. We are not taping and I’m not sure if we are even going to practice or shoot tomorrow because I want them fresh.  We will definitely watch film and go over some things in the hotel, but if you go and shoot then go to the hotel then back and forth it’s a long day and I want them to be rested. I want energy and for them to be excited about playing and hopefully chomping at the bit to get out there.”

On their win over Tennessee:
“I think we have drawn from that all year long. I had Geno text me and Van Chancellor call me and they said, “Did you realize you just beat the premiere team in our sport?” You definitely gain confidence from that and we forced 26 turnovers that night and shot 53% in the second half. There is no doubt with our kids, if you can play with Tennessee you can play with any team in the country. I think that confidence has helped us when times have gotten tough and we’ve had to fight through something, and hopefully it will help us tomorrow. I will remind them once or twice more before we go out there about that win.”

On Chattanooga’s tournament experience
“My staff; Nikki West is in her ninth year and Mike Murray is in his seventh year, and they have experienced the NCAA Tournament. But we realize that we only have two seniors that have actually played.  We took a two-year hiatus and we have to still draw a little bit from the staff to help them through it. Yesterday we had a police escort to the airport. Then we got on a charter flight and got here in two hours. This is big stuff for us and this is the way it should be – the little guy having a chance to knock off the perennial power. This is what makes it fun and I hope our kids can feel that tomorrow night. I hope they can feel relaxed and excited. When you go to the conference tournament and you go 19-1 everybody expects you to win and it’s not that easy. We have some good teams in our league. I hope our kids say let’s see if we can be the underdog, let’s go out here and see if we can make some noise.”

Kayla Christopher, Senior, Guard

On returning to the NCAA Tournament:
“It’s really exciting to be back. I forgot about how exciting it was. We knew we could get back here. It took us a couple of years but it made us even hungrier to get back. We knew all along that we would come back.”

On assistant coach Katie Burrows’ college experience in the 2004 NCAA Tournament:
“I don’t know if she brings it up as much as everybody else does. It’s kind of a known thing around Chattanooga. It’s really cool to have her on staff with us because she has been in that situation. It helps us and makes us hungry. We want to get to where they got. I think we have a really good opportunity this year so we are going to make the best of it.”

On playing big teams:
“We played Tennessee and Alabama. I don’t think we are intimidated by the Big 10, SEC or anybody like that. It does give us confidence to know that we can play with basically anyone in the country.”

Kylie Lambert, Senior, Guard

On returning to the NCAA Tournament:
“I forgot how exciting the NCAA Tournament was. We were definitely hungry to get back and I am glad that we are.”

Ashlen Dewart, Junior, Forward

On getting a bid to the NCAA Tournament:
“It’s really exciting to be here. It’s a new experience for me and the rest of the team. It’s a great opportunity and I’m glad. I think we have worked really hard to be here but we are not done yet. We want to make a statement. Nebraska is a really good team. Their post is a very good player. She can shoot, she can drive and she can do it all. It’s going to be a challenge but I think our team is up for it.”

On the team’s attitude going into the NCAA Tournament:
“I think it has been a journey with this team and it started off with the win over Tennessee and staying strong throughout the conference, both regular season and tournament. It is a huge bonding aspect for this team and I wouldn’t want to be here with anybody else. We’ve worked hard together, we’ve earned this together and we are not done yet.”

Alex Black, Junior, Guard

On their 19-game winning streak:
“I don’t think it brings pressure, but it’s a confident booster and gives us more momentum going into the NCAA Tournament. At times, we maybe have had some pressure or it’s been nerve-wracking, but it just feels good to get another win under our belt. That confidence boost is greater than the pressure.”

On having a head coach with plenty of NCAA Tournament experience:
“Since a lot of us haven’t been here, it’s reassuring to know that he has, with what he’s telling us and how he’s coaching.”

Taylor Hall, Junior, Forward

On if rebounding is a key to tomorrow’s game:
“I think it is, with every game. Making sure that they don’t crash and get the rebounds and making sure that we do crash and get some things going that way. We saw on film that they do a really good job of crashing. So we need to keep them off the glass to stop the second-chance points.”

On if NCAA experience is a factor to the game:
“A lot of us haven’t been here, but we’re kind of a veteran team so hopefully that will show, the nerves won’t get to us and we’ll be able to perform like we should.”

On Chattanooga’s 2012-13 season:
“Well, we started off on a really good note and we have been able to build on that throughout the year and just do the little things right and keep our momentum. Hopefully, our momentum will carry us through this as well.”

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