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SDSU Women's Basketball NCAA Press Conference Quotes

Quenese Davis and Coach Beth Burns, along with Paris Johnson and  Jené Morris, spoke to the media.
Quenese Davis and Coach Beth Burns, along with Paris Johnson and Jené Morris, spoke to the media.

March 20, 2010

Austin, Texas (Frank Erwin Center)

COACH BURNS: We're excited to be here. I think, like the other three teams, we're anxious to get on the court. We're all in finishing up our conference mode, where we've had game, game, game, and it seems like forever since we've had the opportunity to play.

So, again, I think that an opportunity to play a team that we have a little bit of familiarity with, which is something that is atypical usually in a first round game. That was then, this is now. The stakes are a lot higher, and I expect to have a great game.

Q. Paris, what do you remember about last year's game with Texas? The game in December.Paris Johnson: I just remember we were really excited to play them. They were a top five team, and we went in just going all out. We played our best defense. We went for every loose ball. It was just an exciting atmosphere to play Texas on our home court, and we're just excited to play again.

Q. Play is really important in that game. You guys were able to score a lot. You were able to help transition. Talk about how important that's been over the last few games and going into this game. How does guard play really weigh in on whether or not you guys beat them?
Quenese Davis: We know, if we just start doing what we do, we'll be able to if we get into a good fold, we'll be able to open up our posts because, if they shut us down, we know that either Paris or J.B. are going to have to step up. We'll be able to get them the ball. If they close up the middle for us, we'll be able to hit them on a deck in or a lob.

Jené Morris: And defensively Texas has some great posts. Starting off defensively for the guard is the ball pressure and not allowing them to see the post players. That's going to be key in our defensive pressure is just to keep the guards pressured and not letting them get any open looks in the post play.

Q. For any of the players, the Texas victory last year, how significant was it? Was it an uplifting thing? They were No. 4 in the country at the time. How big of a win was that?
Quenese Davis: It was really big. It was our last game before we started regular season. It gave us a lot of confidence and motivation and a lot of momentum going into the conference play.

Q. How do you feel about playing Texas on its home floor?
Jené Morris: I'm excited. I know the team is excited. I think they're expecting about 12,000 fans. Whether for you or against you, it's always great to play in that kind of atmosphere, the noise and intensity. It's going to be a great game. I know we're really excited just to play with that kind of fan support.

Q. Anybody else? Does it bother you at all?
Quenese Davis: No, we're not bothered. We're more excited than anything. We know it's going to be a great game, real intense. We're just going to go out and give it our all.

Paris Johnson: I think we kind of have the experience already because in our conference, New Mexico, they call it the pit. It's a crazy atmosphere. As Jene said, just having all those fans against you or for you, it's just a great atmosphere to play against.

Q. You've had a long break. How has it been preparing for this game and having so much lead in time? Especially the way your conference shakes out, it seems like you guys are here one day and gone the next. It's kind of messy. Is it kind of strange to have this much down time in the middle as the season goes on?
Quenese Davis: I don't think it's strange. I kind of need to rest my legs anyway. Yesterday when we hit the court, we were like flying all over the place. We were ready to go. Felt like we hadn't practiced in forever. We kind of just practiced all week and got prepared.

Jené Morris: I think on top of that, you know, we've been at the hotel and at home watching the March Madness games and watching all these upsets. We're ready to start our March Madness. We're ready to get to play and enjoy the NCAA as well.

Q. You guys obviously watched some film of this year's Texas team. Do they look any different than last year when you played them? If so, what are the differences?
Jené Morris: Well, they're a different team. We're a different team. You know, they have great pressure and a post player who is amazing. You know we're going to work on stopping her. And Brittainey Raven is a great guard as well. She's improved a lot since last year. I think they're a Big 12 team; so they're a great team. We're going to look to compete well against them.

It's an opportunity to play outside of our conference. You know, we've been playing in conference and playing teams multiple times, some teams three times. We're excited to play somebody outside of our conference.

Q. Can you compare the two Texas teams, the December 2008 team versus what you've seen on film of this year's team?
COACH BURNS: I echo what Jene just said. The stakes are different, and the familiarity is different, and I appreciate it. I thought they answered everything great. But I have no shame in understating that it was a huge win a year ago. They were the No. 4 ranked team in the country coming in, had come off a win over Tennessee. It's the highest ranked team that our university in women's basketball had ever beaten.

Texas is an institution. I don't even want to say a program. That doesn't seem like that word cuts it enough. We're in the fifth year of our program. Quenese Davis was the first recruit we had, and as a freshman, was the best player for both teams. Now she's evolved to the MVP of our conference tournament.

So making physical changes when you build a program is kind of the easy part and the no brainer. You have to recruit, but it's the mental change. It's the belief. It's becoming a champion. It's becoming a winner. And no matter how many times you tell them as coaches you can, when they do, regardless of whether it was home, away, or on the moon, when they do, it makes a change in them that propelled us to become the conference champions because, when times got tough, you could always refer back to it and teach from it and learn from it.

And so I just think it's incredibly ironic, because of that, that what are the odds? I guess 1 in 64 that here we sit a year later. I don't think it's a negative or a positive. I mean, you're going to say they're motivated. Well, heck, it's March. We sure are motivated too. They're a different team. We're a different team, really different. And we've both taken different paths to getting here. So I think it should be a great game.

Q. What are the major differences you've noticed with your ball club and Texas from last year?
COACH BURNS: Well, we're a totally different style team, and we both we have great guards. That's not a secret. I'm not giving you the scouting report. We have great guards. We rely on them. They're the most consistent part of our team. That's a great part of your game to be consistent in, if you will. We both have suffered like we had two ACL injuries. They had an ACL injury. So competitive depth.

People think all teams are challenged on the road. Our conference is at altitude almost every place we go, and it's a huge difference. So we don't have the competitive speed depth that we had a year ago. We could just bring it, bring it. And the irony about last year's team is we had no plan B. We had to run and press, and if it worked, great. If it didn't, we went home. This year's team can play better in the half court. This year's team is bigger, stronger, not as quick at all five spots.

So we've had to learn how to value our possessions better. We could turn it over, steal it back, turn it over, steal it back. We were third in the country in turnovers forced a year ago. We're a different kind of defensive team. We still have the ability to do some things pressure wise, but I think we're a little bit better in the half court. By the same token, they have an ACL injury to their point guard. That changes everything.

They have everything you'd want in terms of ...I think they're the leading team in the Big 12 in three point shooting, and those big old girls that are on that block, you know, I've seen them all. Cokie didn't answer any of my mail, but I sure did write her a lot at the time. I tried. You know, they've got great size. Ashley Gayle might be the most improved big that I've seen in the Big 12. I'm obviously real familiar with her because she's from out our way, and I've seen her since she was about 15 years old.

They make it really difficult to get paint points because they defend so well in the paint. And you got to decide, pick your poison if you're going to try to keep them off the block because they shoot so well. So, again, I think it should be a great game.

Q. What has Jessika Bradley meant to the program this year? Texas was a little bit familiar with her when she was at Baylor. What has she meant?
COACH BURNS: Any redshirt has the opportunity to be with you. She was the newcomer of the year in our league. They can impact right away because they know your stuff. They know they can hit the ground running. Timing is everything. She's a very good interior defender. She's probably the best interior defender on our team coming in. She's used to Courtney Paris, Ashley Paris. She's not afraid of that.

She helped Paris Johnson get better a year ago because Paris had to go against her every day on both ends of the court. So I think the experience level that she brings, the confidence level that she brings, she's a great help defender, which enables us to get out and do our thing because she protects the basket for us. But she's our best defensive post and best defensive rebounder.

Q. Tell us the reaction of your players when you all arrived here. Tell us how you feel when you drive up and see the stadium and see everything. What was your impression of their reaction?
COACH BURNS: Of our team?

Q. Yeah.
COACH BURNS: Again, I think we play in a fabulous arena in Viejas Arena. When you play in a great venue that's similar ... you know, I've had the, I would say, the honor of playing here several times over. It wasn't a great experience, as I recall, any of the times, either as an assistant at Colorado or a head coach here. So honor is probably not a good word. But our venues are similar in that the way they darken it, make it theater lighting and bright court. I think we're real comfortable with that. I think we'll be fine with the environment.

New Mexico, Wyoming are some of the most hateful places in the world to play, and I agree that this is what I said to our media, of which you are a part of. I sure didn't complain a year ago when I got the chance to play on our home court, so I'm not about to do it now. That's a commitment that we make to our game. Our game needs people. Texas was the first ever to sell out a Final Four, I believe, in 1987. What a great opportunity for our team to play in one of the best basketball environments in the country.

I spoke at the Texas High School Athletic Association clinic last spring in San Antonio. I think there were 6,000 people at our clinic. You know, this is basketball country. Football's not bad. You know, football, I believe, is a relative on occasion in the off season, they have a little something to do with that, but this is a great basketball venue. Our team won't be intimidated, but people are always a little bit more comfortable on their home floor.