NCAA women’s tourney: Marist, Michigan State pre-game quotes

The Marist women’s basketball team, plus the teams from Michigan State, Quinnipiac and host Maryland, participated in NCAA tournament press conferences on Friday in College Park, Md. Here are some excerpts:

Brian Giorgis, Marist Head Coach
Opening Statement:
“It is great to be back here. We were here in 2006-2007 for a tournament. We come here every year for an AAU Tournament. We always know that the hospitality here is top notch. We are very excited and humbled to be back in the NCAA Tournament.”

On the defensive challenge that Michigan State presents:
“I think the biggest defensive challenge that they bring is that they are very balanced and that they can score both inside and outside. It is almost like you have to defend them straight up, which is what we don’t like to do. We like to take away certain things, take away certain players, or focus on certain players. We are kind of a poor man’s image of them. We have six players that average between 7 and 12 [points per game], they have seven players that average between that. We know we have our hands full. It is nice to take off the bulls-eye jacket, and see if we can pull another upset.”

On their prior success in the NCAA Tournament:
“You get labeled as [giant killers] because of what you have done in the past. The nice part is we have some players who are from that past and have been able to experience that the last couple of years. They believe that if they play good basketball and believe in the system, we can cause problems. If somebody has a bad day or isn’t ready to play us we have a very good chance of beating them. We know we have our hands full, we know we are the underdogs, we know why we are the underdogs. Sometimes we like that.”

On being the underdog:
“When you are a twelve seed, we have been twelve or thirteen [seed] a lot, you know that the four or five seed is a good team. They are from BCS schools, they have more resources than we do, they have a lot bigger pick of the litter than we do. They are there for a reason. We saw what they did in the Big 10 tournament; Suzy Merchant has done a tremendous job. Coming from Eastern Michigan and coming to the Big 10 and having them competitive every year. You know Suzy won’t take us lightly coming from a mid-major program. We will have our hands full. That is what the tournament is about. We like to think that we can cause some problems.”

On Casey Dulin:
“I think the great thing about Casey [Dulin]; she has been a godsend to our program the last two years. Her freshman year she played the fewest amount of minutes. We had an injury to Kristine Best in Casey’s sophomore year where Casey was rotating between the two and three. When we had that injury to Kristine Best our freshmen point guard wasn’t ready yet so Casey volunteered to play the point, and we took off when that happened. The great thing about Casey is she has the shortest memory going. We always kind of laugh because we know when Casey is in there something is going to happen, it may not be good, but something is going to happen. She will throw a pass that still confuses me three weeks later why she threw it, but it doesn’t faze her in the least. She is going to try and make that same pass or do it a different way. She is going to keep going at you. That motivates our other players. Some people make a mistake and get down. It is like water running down the back for her. She comes right back. She isn’t going to shy away. It reflects our team because I don’t think we shy away from anyone.

Elizabeth Beynnon, Senior Marist Forward
On defending Michigan State in the post:
“I think coach talker about this earlier, but I think we have to focus on the boards and being physical. That’s been one of our weaknesses, and I think it’ll have to be a primary focus tomorrow.”

On the team’s history of first round success:
“I think it definitely gives us hope. I think that our upperclassmen have passed that down, and hopefully we can do the same for our underclassmen”

Casey Dulin, Junior Marist Guard
On her role on the team this season:
“I mean I just do what [coach] Giorgis tells me to do. If I have to go get rebounds, or assists, and stop turning the ball over, I’ll try to do that. I just go out there every game and do what I can do to help win.”

Leanne Ockenden, Junior Marist Forward
On embracing the underdog role:
“It’s nice to not have that target on our back anymore. I think as a team we like being the underdog, we like that challenge. We like to go up against the bigger schools, and Michigan State is a really good team. We’re excited for that tomorrow.”

Suzy Merchant, Michigan State Head Coach
Opening Statement:
“We’re excited to be back here again, this is two years in a row for us. We really appreciate the hospitality and the way Maryland does things, it’s a first class organization here at the University of Maryland. We’ll be seeing lots of each other in the future when they enter into the Big Ten. But we’re really excited to be back, and look forward to the challenges ahead.”

On the matchup with Marist and head coach Brian Giorgis:
“Well [Brian Giorgis] is a pretty smart coach, so he’s dead on, he said it best. I think he does a great job defensively, there’s no doubt about that. They make you work for everything you get. On the other side of the ball I think they have a tremendously balanced attack. I think the one thing that makes them dangerous is that all five people on the floor can shoot it from the arc as well as put it on the floor. There’s not a lot of weakness [with Marist], and the balance is there. I think that’s certainly the same thing we’ve had our M.O. on a little bit. We like to pride ourselves defensively night in and night out, and I don’t think we have one superstar, but we have a lot of kids who play really hard and well together. From that perspective, he’s very correct.”

On what you do to stop Marist’s motion on offense:
“We’ve been racking our brains trying to figure it out. I think that’s why [coach Giorgis] is so successful, it’s challenging to guard. I think where their mismatches are at the post positions they certainly do a good job trying to attack your bigs on the perimeter. Forty percent of their offense comes from the arc, so you have to guard it there. As soon as you do that and start spreading your defense, they can drive it and cut on you. They read screens extremely well, their patience through the shot clock. For us, I’m not going to give you a lot of what we’re going to do, but I’m fully aware of what we have to do to try to be successful. I’m not sure if it’s going to be 100 percent, but I also like our team’s ability to potentially match up at times with them. We can go a little bit smaller, we’ve done that in the past, we can play really big too depending on the match up. We don’t have a lot of people on our roster obviously with injuries and adversity, but the ones that we do have are very interchangeable, much like Marist can do.”

On playing a team with a lot of potential like Marist:
“I’m from the theory I guess that at the end of the day all you can do is coach your team the best way to put them in positions to be successful. These guys have done a great job overcoming a lot adversity this year competing. The number one thing I want to see is our team competing. What happens happens, but we’re fully aware of Brian’s success out there watching them beat Georgia a four seed last year. In the women’s game, seeding is interesting just because of the home sites. You don’t know procedurally where you’re at, at the end of the day you just have to go out there and play the best you can play and focus on some of the things that you got you here. For us to focus on and worry on something that is out of our control, all we can do is to play the game that’s in front of us right now. I know they’ll have a great game plan, and they’ll do what they do well and we’ll see what happens. I haven’t really focused a lot on what they have done in the past. Our team is definitely aware of it though, I’ve seen their past success getting to a sweet 16. Sometimes I think the seeds at the home sites make things interesting in the women’s game maybe a little bit different than the men’s side.”

Courtney Schiffauer, Michigan State Forward
On Marist:
“We are well aware of what they have been able to accomplish in the past. As coach said, they are a team that works well together. We know what they have done. So far we have done our best to look at film and have a game plan set up so we can overcome their ability to work together with back cuts and things like that. They are a great team and they always do well in the first couple rounds of the tournament. We know what they are capable of.”

Jasmine Thomas, Michigan State Guard
On redemption from last year’s loss here:
“You always want to go into the tournament trying to get past the first round, second round as it continues. Getting back here it is a new beginning. It is on our list to try and proceed as the games continue.”

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