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Aztec Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Beth Burns, who starts her fourth season back at SDSU, spoke to the media Wednesday.
Beth Burns, who starts her fourth season back at SDSU, spoke to the media Wednesday.

Nov. 6, 2008

Aztec Basketball 2008-09 Media Day
Wed., Nov. 5, 2008 - Cox Arena

Head Coach Beth Burns

Opening comments
"It's that time again. It has been a long summer, because in our sport is all about March. I won't tell you that (the turnaround) has happened quickly. So many people have said to me, "Gosh, (the turnaround) just happened so quickly." Not if you have lived it day-by-day. Relatively speaking, if you step back (to the beginning, we made) a blue print and just like all construction delays in athletics, which are usually injuries, it slows you down. Last year's pain when we lost Tamika Lipford and Shanna Demus (to injury), is this year's gain in that people got valuable minutes and experience. We grew up right before our eyes and were able to do that in a very public setting. That's very important in our game, because when you're the new kid on the block, you have to go and introduce yourself to the neighbors. They don't know that you're there. In our game, if you get in (the NCAAs) you get to play (at home). Everything we do is important. It's important that we gained confidence from what we accomplished a year ago and that nationally we started to get a little more attention. That stuff does matter when it comes down (to earning a bid).

"We are really, really looking forward to the season. I heard coach (Steve) Fisher say earlier that players think they can always play a game tonight, and coaches think they need another month (to prepare). That's just the nature of it. We will roll out there and play Monday night (in an exhibition) against a team from Australia and get some kinks out. We have some freshmen who are really going to make a difference for us and the (exhibition) is important. When you build, first you get competitive and then you get competitive depth. In the Mountain West Conference, you have to have competitive depth if you've ever taken a jog in Laramie. You add the (pressing) style that we aspire to play and the difference in our team will be the freshmen.

"The key to our team is Quenese Davis, because she has been fabulous. She is going to be the straw that stirs our drink. I put Paris right behind that in terms of it's time to grow up and be ready. Q learned a lot of lessons a year ago. Jene' hadn't played in a year and kind of evolved, but Q has hit the ground running. She has a little bit of a rock in her shoe. She wants to make this year really matter and she's been fabulous in practice. If you have good guard, everything else flows from that. Q had been really good and it will be a key for us."

On how Quenese Davis' game has grown:
"Maturity, toughness, leadership - all of the intangibles. She came with the tangibles. She is very skilled, but (in her first year) she did not have much help around her. She was the No. 1 assists leader for freshmen in the country on a team that only averaged 58 points a game. You can imagine that if she had more around her what she would have been able to do. She has to be able to be tough when times are tough. That's maturity and growth. It helps her having Jene and Paris, but with all that aside, she can stand alone for the first time."

On if the team is ready to play a game right now:
"You have to start, which is why only purists can watch basketball Nov. 15, because it's frightening to watch. People are out of bounds, people get screened, people get beat - it's a bit of an adjustment. The only way you get good at it is to play it. Our challenge and extra self-imposed pressure is that we can't have a slow day. Everything is going to add up to a resume. Each game is critical for what we do. We're going to get the young (players) in early, because to win the Mountain West Conference, it's not going to be with just last year's returning group. That's not enough to take us where we want to go."

Player Quotes

Paris Johnson, Sophomore Center

On not being able to fly under the radar
"It means we have to work hard everyday. They are coming for us, so we have to be prepared to give them all we have and show them that we are not going to back down from anything even though they know everything about us. We just need to go in there as a full force and dominate."

On having five starters returning and how it will change the game plan for the start of the year
"We have to be leaders on the court for (the newcomers). As freshmen, they may be shy or sacred, but we have to let them that this is the place where we are coming to. We are trying to get to a place where everyone is on top. We just have to be there and be leaders and help them through everything and anything."

On having another year to play with fellow sophomore Allison Duffy
"It's great, because Allison is such a great competitor. She's strong and going against her is good for me, because she has that solid body and it prepares me to go into games like BYU and TCU against their big girls. That's just about working together and figuring out our similarities again and getting back to the way it was before the season ended."

Jené Morris, Junior Guard

On being picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference:
"It was a good thing. We are excited about that, but at the same time we have something to work for, because we didn't get first (place). We will use it as momentum to carry out through the season. As a team, we know from last year that it's not where you start, it's where you finish. Anything can happen by March. We are definitely excited about it, and it gives us confidence going into the season. And I think we need that, because it's what we lacked last year - confidence. As a team, we are just really excited."

On looking back to last season and the championship game with New Mexico
"We didn't win (last year), and that left us hungry for this season. Before that there was never a benchmark for our team of where we should go, and I think last year definitely gave us that starting point. We are going to use that to go on this season. It was amazing making it (to the championship), but (the loss) hurt a lot and we know what it means to be there and not be able to win it."

On how hard the team's non-conference schedule will be this month
"It will be hard playing against UCONN, because we're at their house. That's an experience that not a lot of people get to have, especially in the Mountain West. I think that will definitely prepare us for when we go to play away games in the Mountain West Conference, like at New Mexico and dealing with altitude in Wyoming. As far as Hawaii is concerned, that another great experience that we will get to have. I think it will definitely help us this season, playing (the level of) competition, playing against adversity, playing in unfamiliar territory. If we make it to the NCAA tourney, it can help us past the post season, if we make it there."

On the development of her game last season
"My redshirt year (in 2006-07) definitely helped with that. Coach Burns and my teammates helped me come out of my shell offensively. It was difficult at the beginning of the season just working my way (back into playing) and competing again, (especially) in a new conference. My teammates and coach burns helped me throughout the season and gave me the confidence. They told me that I was just as good an offense player as I was defensively. As the season kept going, I kept improving. This off season, I worked a lot on offense and confidence is the key for me. I just need to stay confident and my teammates will help me with that."

On playing host to the NCAA tournament this season at Cox Arena
"We don't want to be hosting the tournament and not be in it. I think that is a big goal for us to play in the NCAA tournament and be able to play on our own floor."

Quenese Davis, Junior Guard

On looking back to last season and the championship game with New Mexico
"It shows how much our program has come and how much we have worked, how hard we worked and how everyone from the start of our season last year grew and matured. It was great to just upset all those teams. Nobody had confidence in us, but we had all the confidence in ourselves."

On how hard the team's non-conference schedule will be this month
"With going over to the east coast and then coming back and then going to Hawaii, I think that is all just preparation for us to get ready for the Mountain West Conference.

On having five starters returning and how it will change the game plan for the start of the year
"Having everyone back is good, but we also have a lot of newcomers on our team. Everyone that's back has to help the new ones to help them get to where we are. They are not going to be exactly where we are, but will be up to pace."

On how the development of Morris' offensive game has helped her game
"(Her offensive game) takes a lot of pressure off of me, because not everyone is worried about me. I like dribbling the ball and creating, and I don't have to create as much anymore. I can just give her the ball and I know she is going to score."

On playing host to the NCAA tournament this season at Cox Arena
"(It adds) determination for us to get there. We want to be playing here at the end of conference play."