Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Coach Butts Previews Pac-12 Conference Play
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: January 01, 2013
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 1, 2013

TUCSON, Ariz. -

Niya Butts News Conference Quotes

Opening Statement:

"Heading into conference play, I feel pretty good about where we are, at 8-3. You obviously want to make the right side of the column a zero, but I feel pretty good about where we are, heading in. We are starting out on the road at the Washington schools. Washington State is first up and I feel like we are prepared. We have had--and I hope I'm not jinxing myself--but we have had six great days of practice since the break and I know sometimes coming back from Christmas can be a coach's worst nightmare, but it has been really good for us and we continue to get better every day. So I'm just excited about heading into conference play."

On last year's conference play struggles:

"We lost two more games this year than we did last year, so I am hoping we got them out of our system already, but I think going in, we have everybody--at least who we started with. Last year, that was a lot different.  We went into conference play without two people that were key to what we did and we didn't respond very well. I think this year, everyone is healthy for the most part and everybody is available for competition. Candice (Warthen) is out, but we haven't had her all year long, so our guard group has been getting better, steadily improving and I feel like we are solid right now."

On learning from last year's downfall:

"There is a lot we can take from it--never to do any of the stuff we did last year again. I think the returners, especially, know what that was like and to be a part of those games that were two or three possessions away from a win and not committing everything that they had to winning the game. I think they understand what that was like. And for the people who weren't here, they don't want to be in that position either, because during that time they were already coming to the University of Arizona and watching it, so no one wants to be in that position. I think having everybody healthy and having everybody playing right now at a high level--people are confident and that is a huge thing in basketball--having that confidence going into conference. I feel right now that we have a confident bunch."

On if the team expects to win:

"I fully think that they fully understand that we can't win if we don't play hard, if we don't rebound, if we don't defend or do the things that we do well. But they are not going in thinking they can't win these games. Going on the road, both teams are ranked ahead of us in the preseason poll, so when you have that--and I think our group has had a chip on their shoulder too and going into conference, I think that is going to help us."

On players stepping up in practice:

"That hasn't been as consistent as I want it to be in terms of that being the same people, but since the break, I have to say this--they all are. And that's why I feel so good about it, because the light is finally starting to come on. But if I had to pick one person that is most consistently out there talking, it would be Davellyn Whyte. And I think that is because she understands that this is it. This is our time, her last season, we have to do everything. It's the little things that are going to make the difference for us."

On Alli Gloyd:

"She is a very aggressive player for us. She is going to be a key factor in what we do. We are telling her every day--`be aggressive, be aggressive.' I would rather see her attack the basket and miss than to not go at all. I think she's starting to get that now. Defensively, she is a huge piece for us--especially in rebounding the basketball. She is very active--long arms and wiry. We are going to need her in every single game we play. Our attitude this year is, one game at a time and right now the only game we are even talking about is Washington State."

On feeling pressure to win:

"From a pressure standpoint, the pressure is what we are putting on ourselves, because we know we are capable. When you have that, you want to make sure you do everything in your power to make sure that happens. I think that is why we are practicing the way we are practicing right now--because we are close. Even though the conference just started, you have to have that mindset going in and I think there is pressure, but it's not pressure where we will not be able to perform under it. So I feel pretty good about it."

On concern over hitting a wall:

"With basketball, that certainly can happen. We would love to go into conference play and not have any bumps in the road, but as a basketball coach, you know you are going to have some ups and downs. Hopefully those downs don't mean losses, but you are going to hit skids, even in games. Teams are going to make runs on you. My concern for this team is that we respond to those three or four minute periods of time where we are not playing as well--maybe we turn the ball over a couple of times. That's where we have to do a better job of responding to those moments."

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