SDSU Women's Basketball Press Conference Quotes
Jan. 3, 2012
SAN DIEGO -
Coach Beth Burns
"We have two games left before it starts for real. I'm going to piggy back on what someone asked coach Fisher. When you have five freshmen and seven new players, the important thing in any game is that there is an opportunity where younger people can play and learn, make mistake, and still win the game. I think that's really important. It's hard to get (experience) unless you get on the floor. I think that as difficult as scheduling is, when you have an opportunity to play a game that allows you to get a little bit deeper into your bench, in case somebody gets that ankle sprain or gets sick down the road, and allows them to get confidence and some game and film experience, it's a huge deal.
"This is kind of unique year in our conference. That's a blanket statement for a unique year in conferences across America, but in that, we only have eight teams instead of nine and we're starting (conference play) a week later. Normally, we'd be ready for conference play right now. It's important for us to keep our focus, gain momentum with our home game tomorrow night against Longwood and a difficult road game against Bakersfield on Saturday, to put us in position to go into the league on an upswing. Our focus right now is to keep people healthy, get better and better (every day) and keep (opponents scoring) in the 20s and 30s, although if you noticed we also held ourselves in the 50s. With a young team, what we work on is what we get good at and what we're going to be best at. Everything else kind of goes out the door. What we've been able to do is build on that improvement defensively and really focus this week on the kinds of things we need to do offensively; changing those 50s to high 60s and 70s. We'll have the opportunity tomorrow night to do just that.
On how things changed defensively between the Cal Poly game and the contests last week:
"(The Cal Poly game) was [Dec.] 21st, it was our last game (before break) and it was an afternoon game where they were released afterwards to go home. Again, we have seven people who have never done this before. The confident side of me would want to say, they're young, they've been here a long time and maybe they had one foot out the door. The logical side of me, however, saw that it was such a poor (defensive) performance. My assistant coaches did a terrific job of really breaking it down and looking at it for us when we came back that first day (after break). Our players are smart enough to know that defense wins (and that's) Aztec basketball. If you go anywhere in our locker room, it says, `Defense Wins'. If you look at the pictures up (on the locker room walls), it's of people who get steals and turnovers.
"We just focused in, and you're right it was a prideful thing, but it was also the improvement of our younger players. We've had really great defensive players here, but we've also had, what I like to say, the ghosts of Paris Johnson and Jessika Bradley's past, where perhaps some perimeter players thought they were pretty good defenders and they were not. We had to not only clean up what we were doing on the perimeter, but those young bigs (posts) have to figure out that they're the second line of defense. It's concentration and then hopefully, with young teams they get it and then they get confident from it. I couldn't have been more pleased with both games (last week). We guarded them and disrupted what they wanted to do. Let's see if we can do that again tomorrow night."
On the team's rebounding:
"We're better as rebounders. This is by far, statistically, the best rebounding team we've ever had. Rebounding is recruiting in a lot of respects. If you have somebody who is kind of passive, who doesn't go to the glass, you can do all the drills that you want. When you have Chairese Culberson and Erimma Amarikwa, they go to the glass. Chelsea Hopkins goes to the glass. So we're trying to put ourselves in packages to allow us to do just that. We open up (conference play) against TCU and UNLV, the best two rebounding teams in the Mountain West. We'll find out if we can rebound next week. We're going to keep getting better at it, but we're going to find out."