MaChelle Joseph Speaks To The Media

Nov. 16, 2010

Opening Statement:
“First of all, I just want to thank all of you for giving me this opportunity to be here to talk about my team and my program. Obviously we’re off to a quick start. We’re 1-1 right now. We lost a game the other day at Old Dominion by two and missed 14 free throws, so we’ve been doing a little bit of free throw shooting since then. But we’re very excited about this season and this team. We just had a freshman, Ty Marshall, named ACC Co-Rookie of the Week, and Alex Montgomery, our only senior right now playing, is averaging a double-double. We’re really looking forward to the schedule that’s ahead. I don’t know too many teams in the country that are going to play UConn and Tennessee in the same week. To have the opportunity to host UConn on Sunday afternoon at 2:00, we’ve already sold 4,500 tickets. We’re hoping for a sellout. We’re really anxious, we have two games before that-tomorrow night against Kennesaw State at 5:00, and then Friday against Prairie View A&M–and then Sunday Nov. 21st against UConn. But this is definitely the most talented team I’ve ever had. It’s the deepest team I’ve ever had. I’m just really excited as we progress to watch this team grow and come together.”

On defining players roles:
“A blessing is a curse sometimes. We have so much depth and so much talent, but we also have a lot of versatility. We’ve got players that can play two, three, four positions. Alex Montgomery already at this point has played the point, the wing and the post. So it’s been very interesting to find the different combinations. The other thing is, with our team it takes us a little bit of time–we press for 40 minutes–it takes a couple of games deep into the season to get our legs underneath us and to understand the intensity level that we have to maintain at 40 minutes to press. We’re on a journey with these young players, these four freshmen, to develop them–the two Swedish players that I have, and Ty Marshall and Dawnn Maye at backup point guard. I think one of the things that affected us the other night on the road at Old Dominion is that our point guard MeMe [Metra] Walthour had to play 40 minutes. It’s just one of those things about developing our point position. We could have used Sharena Taylor–should have used Sharena Taylor–a little bit at the point. And then also Dawnn Maye, the freshman, we have to get her more acclimated at being able to run the team. It’s one of those things, I think we’re definitely a better team today than we were when we got on the bus and went to Old Dominion. I think that that was a very physical game. We were up by 10 in the second half, and if we hit our free throws, you know, we win by ten. But if you miss 14 free throws, you’re not going to beat anybody. The good news is, it can be corrected, but we do have a tremendous amount of talent. Obviously, it’s been great to see what Ty Marshall has been able to do filling in for Deja Foster, but obviously we miss Deja Foster. That’s a kid that got over 100 offensive rebounds a year ago. She averaged almost 10 points a game, and she was our second leading rebounder, so that’s something that we have struggled to replace.”

On expectations of Danielle Hamilton-Carter when she returns:
“Well, throughout the course of the season last year, she was able to practice with us and [Danielle Hamilton-Carter] was consistently one of the top three players on our team. She’s one of the most versatile post players we have. She can put the ball on the floor. She can score facing up. She can score with her back to the basket. She’s very athletic and agile. She reminds me a lot of Brigitte Ardossi in the fact that she’s very skilled offensively. She can play the four or the five, so she gives us a lot more versatility. She runs up and down the floor better than any post player that I’ve had since I’ve been here. I also think that on the back side of our press, she’s going to add a lot because of her athletic ability. She’s used to being a go-to player inside. She played on the under-20 Swedish national team this summer. She was their go-to player. She finished fifth in the European Championships in scoring, so she’s proven on a high level that she can get it done in the paint and facing up. I’m very anxious to get her on the court.”

On mental ability of team:
“I think that playing with and against the very best teams in the country in the preseason is going to help. It’s one of those things like Old Dominion, going on the road and playing in front of that crowd, in a program that’s been historically one of the best programs in women’s basketball. You know, you lose that game by two early in the season, but that’s a game that helps you win in the ACC down the road-at Duke, or at Maryland, or at North Carolina. That’s how you grow and get better. I think playing the UConns and the Tennessees and the Georgetowns early in the season is going to prepare us for what that next step is. That’s why we put this schedule together, because we want to be challenged before we get to ACC play. I honestly believe that this team, when it’s all said and done at the end of the year, this will be the best team we’ve ever had.”

On how much time coaches have put into preparing for UConn:
“We started scouting pre-conference opponents this summer. We did breakdown tapes and just started looking at personnel and that sort of thing. Especially knowing our schedule, knowing that we had this many games-we have five games in ten days-we really had to plan ahead. One of the things about UConn is that you don’t go into the game trying to stop Maya Moore. A lot of people get caught up in that. Nobody’s been able to stop her in four years. I don’t know that anybody is ever going to shut Maya Moore down. One of the things that we did when we went up there two years ago is, we played fearless. We decided to try to take away the inside game–limit her touches, but not over-concentrate on her. We decided that we couldn’t get beat at the three-point line. We took away a couple of things, and then we just played fearless. I think that’s one of the things for us, is not to get caught up in pre-conference in our opponents. We need to stay focused on us, on Georgia Tech, play Georgia Tech basketball, and be very disruptive, because that’s what we do. I think then we get people reacting to us, rather than us reacting to them.”

On mix of up-tempo players and half-court offensive players:
“I think we’re getting there. We’re getting the pieces. Ty Marshall is our leading scorer right now, a freshman, and she’s averaging 17 points a game. They’re not layups. Most of those shots are jump shots. She’s really added a new dimension. It’s been great to have Alex Montgomery on one wing and Ty Marshall on the other. The thing right now that we need to develop is that we’ve got to establish our inside game. If we want to win a championship and we’re serious about competing with the best teams in the country, you’ve got to have an inside game. You can’t win on a perimeter game alone at this level. One of the things that helped us be successful last year was the play of Sasha Goodlett and Brigitte Ardossi. So we’ve got to develop an inside game. I think that with Sasha Goodlett, Nisha Adams, Chelsea Regins, and then you throw in Dani Hamilton-Carter–I think that long term, that’s going to come together. It’s just a matter of us right now starting to begin to take those steps forward.”

On whether UConn is as good now as they were when they began their win streak:
“They’re definitely that good. Any time you have Maya Moore-the best player in the country and one of the best players in the world-on your team, you’re going to have an opportunity every night to win. Not only that, but those kids know how to win. You don’t win 80 games in a row and be a part of a program like that, you understand winning, and you have a tremendous amount of pride. That’s the thing about UConn–they don’t know how to lose. They only know one thing, and that’s winning. And winning breeds winning. That’s one of the things we said around here four years ago. You start winning, then you expect to win, then you start winning games that maybe you shouldn’t win. Then it just kind of steamrolls, and I think that’s what’s happened at UConn. They don’t know anything but winning. Losing is not an option. You’re not only playing against the five players on the floor. You’re also playing against the tradition and the perception that they don’t lose. It’s just like when you go on the road, you’re not playing five-on-five. You have to remember, you’re playing against the crowd, you’re playing against, sometimes, the officials. The odds are stacked against you. I think that with UConn, you’re not only playing against those five players; you’re playing against that tradition.”

On players’ excitement level for UConn game:
“It’ll be a historical moment for anybody. When and if it happens, it’ll be a historical moment. We’re very excited about the opportunity. The challenge for me right now is keeping my team focused on one day at a time. We obviously have two games before we get to that game, and we’ve got some work to do between now and then. But at the same time, I think that our kids have been very, very excited. Since we went up there two years ago, we have confidence against them. Two years ago, with five minutes to go in the game, we were ahead at UConn. So it’s not a situation where we’re intimidated, and I don’t feel as though we’ve ever backed down from anybody. It’s a matter of being able to come out here and make plays and play with a tremendous amount of confidence. We’ve won a lot of games at home over the last four years. Our kids know how to protect our home floor. We knocked off a national champion in Maryland a couple years ago. We understand what’s ahead and what the task is, and our kids are excited. And we’ve got some talent. We’re going to be exciting to watch. That’s going to be an unbelievable environment, an unbelievable game, a great matchup, and you never know what’s going to happen. And that’s why we play the game.”

On the freshmen progress:
“I think that the Swedish kids are figuring out how to play defense at this level. It’s much more physical. It’s much more intense. But offensively, they can help us. They’re both great three-point shooters. We’re trying to bring them along. I feel like by January they should be impact players, because on the offensive end, they’re already there. It’s just bringing them along on the defensive end. Obviously this program was built on defense and rebounding, so that’s a key for our success. They’re being brought along a little bit slower. Dawnn Maye, however, one of the top 25 recruits in the country coming in here. We’re really expecting big things from her. We’re looking to bring her along over the next couple of games. We feel like she can compete with the best players in the country. We need her to step up. And you know Ty [Marshall] has been a pleasant surprise. There was only one other school in the country that offered her besides us. She’s a special player, a very special talent. The thing that separates her is that she’s got ice in her veins. You never know if she’s 5-for-5 or 0-for-5. She just plays the game very consistently. She has a very businesslike approach to practice and games, and she never seems to get rattled. I’ve just been very impressed with her consistency over the course of the exhibition games and the first two games we’ve played.”

On Ty Marshall’s confidence level:
“0.4 seconds, she’s on the free throw line shooting two, and we’re down two. You know, it’s a tough situation to put a freshman in. But she’s going to be back in that situation again. It’s tough when you lose a game like that, but you know that that’s going to happen again. I know her, and she’ll step up and make them the next time, and it may be for an ACC Championship or in the tournament. It’s unfortunate, as well as she played in that game, that that happened, but everything happens for a reason. I think she’s bounced back from it. We put .4 seconds on the clock yesterday and had her up there shooting a 1-and-1. You’ve got to put them back in those situations. They’ve got to overcome that fear. She’s such a tough kid. Next time, I’d bet my next paycheck that she’d step up and knock those down.”

On the team’s belief that they can beat UConn:
“It’s going to take a team that has tremendous confidence in their system. It’s not going to be one or two players that’s going to get it done. It’s got to be a total team effort. It’s going to have to get done on the defensive end. You’re not going to go in and beat UConn by outscoring them. You’re going to have to get defensive stops. You’re going to have to play one possession at a time and enjoy the moment. Take it one play at a time, and not get caught up in the end result. A lot of people get a lead on them and get caught up in the end result. You can’t look ahead and you can’t look behind with them. You have to take it one possession at a time and one defensive stop at a time. And obviously you’ve got to make shots. What I felt like we did when we went to UConn was we were very disruptive on the defensive end. I don’t know a lot of people that go into UConn pressing them. I think that kind of caught them off guard, that somebody had the nerve to come in there and press them for 40 minutes. We’re going to play Georgia Tech basketball. We’re not going to adjust our defensive system for UConn. We’re going to go in and play the way we play. That’s the way we’ve played for four years, and that’s the way we’re going to continue to play. You just have to have tremendous confidence in what you do.”

On how big the game is against UConn:
“This UConn game is huge for our program in a lot of ways. Number one, it’s great for our fans and for the city of Atlanta and all the surrounding female basketball players and fans around this community, that we can bring a two-time defending national champion here to play. That’s huge. And one of the best players in the world in Maya Moore-not too many people get the opportunity to see a player like her in their lifetime. Just them agreeing to come here and play against us is a huge compliment to our program. And then the opportunity to compete against the very best–the only way to become the best is to play the best. And that’s why we’re playing UConn. That’s why we’re playing Tennessee. We’re playing those types of teams and those types of programs because we know that that’s what we have to do to get to where we want to be–and that’s to be an ACC Championship team and program.”

On Maya Moore playing close to home:
“We contacted them. One of the things I believe in is taking our players back if they’ve come a long distance from home to play here. We’re going to Washington this year to take Alex [Montgomery] back to Seattle. But we contacted them a couple of years ago and sought them out for a home-and-home. Obviously we agreed to go up there first, and we did that. We agreed to let them come here in Maya [Moore]’s senior year. We also felt like that was going to be better for us and this program, for her to be here as a senior and for us to have this tremendous opportunity.”

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