March 2, 2004
Arizona Women's Basketball
Mar. 2, 2004
Pac-10 Conference Tournament Preview
HEAD COACH Joan Bonvicini QUOTES --
"Well, winning the game at Washington gave us a great confidence boost. I think, number one, I saw a determined effort unlike any game I have seen in a long time, particularly on the road. There was no way we were going to be denied. We've won the Washington game on road, and we won our first Pac-10 title, which is a great thing and a great honor for all of us. Now we are ready to move on and focus on the Pac-10 tournament.
I can't speak for the players but I really didn't celebrate much, I was really happy, but it won't really sink in until after the season. We don't want to take time celebrating -- that is for the fans and everyone, and we're going to do that after we're all done because there are a lot more games to play right now.
(Assistant coach) Shimmy Gray told me the night before [the game] that she took the players' name plates off their lockers here and took them up to Washington. She got into the locker room before everyone else, and she had each player's name plates up, and she had pictures like that are in McKale locker room. That mentality really helped. It will continue on the road now for the rest of the season.
To play on the road you have to play a little tougher now. If we do play Stanford again, then it will be more like a home game [for Stanford]. Its not Maples, but it's close -- it is only a 15- or 20-minute drive. The bottom line is we just need to win. People have seen a lot of upsets among the Pac-10 women this year. We're a hot team right now, UCLA is hot, Washington State won one game and, for them, that's a hot team. We just need to take our time, but we are peaking at the right time.
We are playing to win the tournament, and with every game we win, we get a better seed in the NCAA tournament. That pressure is off our back as far as being in, although it's not Selection Sunday, but I think we are in. For other teams, their backs are against the wall. Some teams want to play the spoiler, like Oregon State or Washington State. UCLA has a shot, ASU, Washington, USC also have a shot, so they have their backs against the wall. They will need to win the tournament or be in the finals to get to the NCAA. For seniors, they will be facing their final game, and for some players who haven't been in the NCAA Tournament, they will be playing with every emotion possible.
This team (Arizona) is very determined right now; it was a big confidence boost getting those wins on the road to win the Pac-10. They watched Oregon State and Stanford and watched Stanford win at the end, and there are no ties at the tournament. You have to win, and then you get the automatic bid and right now we feel like we are in the tournament.
We do things to prepare for everybody. We are preparing for Oregon State and Washington State, but we do things to prepare in general. We just played Washington State last weekend, and we played Oregon State the week before. Washington State played us very well. Their win over ASU will be a huge confidence boost for them. It will be a good game; they are both very good defensive teams. We just a want to get our kids down to earth, I think our kids are very focused and very confident. We accomplished our goals and now we want to win the Pac-10 tournament.
I told them how proud I was of them, and how unselfish a team they are and that they deserved it. We have a great staff, and set our sights for the Pac-10 tournament. When we were in the championship game a year ago and lost, they didn't like that. We have enough kids returning that they understand. When playing three different teams in a row, we will have to play well and use our bench. I really believe that Stanford and ourselves are in the NCAA tournament. We are playing to get a good seed.
I saw in Aimee (Grzyb) the other day that she really started to play as a senior. When Dee-Dee (Wheeler) had to go out with some fouls, Aimee was very talkative -- her leadership of the game and her passing, I think she took it to another level.
Those games (in Washington) helped us and got us more prepared and now we just have to keep that going. I feel it all comes with practice.