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GEORGIA TECH PRE-TOURNAMENT QUOTES

March 21, 2009

Photo Gallery | Press Conference Audio

Georgia Tech Head Coach MaChelle Joseph
Opening Statement

“First of all, I’m excited to be back here in Iowa. We’ve been here three times in the last 16 months, so it seems like our home away from home. It’s a very exciting time for our program. The fact that we’ve had the opportunity to be in the NCAA tournament the last three years in a row is just a compliment to our players, our administration and our staff. They’ve been committed to becoming a better team and a better program. Like I mentioned to our players, the reason why we’re here is because the last couple of years we’ve been willing to do things that no one else has been willing to do and that’s working hard, staying in the summers to lift weights and doing the little things. The thing that I’m most excited about this team is the fact that we only play two upperclassmen, so we have 10 returning letterwinners next year and the fact that we’re getting significant contributions from so many young kids. I think not only is this a great experience for us this year, but it’s something we can really grow and learn from and become better as a program in the future. We’re excited to have the chance to play Iowa again, like I said earlier, last year we were here with a totally different team. We had a senior-dominated team, but we lost three seniors that started for us for four years and we were able to come out here and have a lot of success. The good news about that is that most of my team has been here and played here. A year ago at this time we were in Des Moines playing Iowa State, so we are very familiar with playing in Iowa but we’re also very familiar with playing teams on their home floors in the NCCA tournament because we’ve had that experience now two years in a row. We’re just happy to be here and like I mentioned to several people earlier, this is my 10th time either playing or coaching at the University of Iowa and this is the first time that I’ve been here when there’s no snow on the ground. This has been a great weekend so far and we’re looking forward to our matchup with the Hawkeyes.”

On the season as a whole
“Well it’s interesting you said we weren’t playing well at the end. We won eight out of our last 11 games which seems to be a mystery to me. We have one bad loss and that was to Clemson in the ACC tournament but right before that we beat Virginia who was ranked 18th in the country. Every team has a bad game and unfortunately for us, it was our last one which I think affected our seeding. I the same time, down the stretch we won three in a row; two on the road then one at home against Virginia. Throughout the course of the season with this team I’ve felt that we’ve been on a journey. We have 10 freshman and sophomores. Those two classes were ranked in the top five in the country so we knew they were going to be impact players. We lost 70-percent of our scoring and rebounding from a year ago, for us to even be here with an at-large bid with two upper classmen who play significant minutes is a huge accomplishment for this team and this program. It makes us excited about the future and where we’ll be a year from now. Over the course of this season we beat several ranked teams: Carolina when they were second in the country, we beat Michigan State at home by almost 15 points; we beat the University of Georgia by 15 points. We have some very significant wins, not to mention we finished 8-6 in our conference and our conference received two number one seeds. Obviously there was a lot of respect for the ACC in that room when they were doing the selection. It’s just unfortunate that we finished ahead of Virginia and Virginia ended up with a 5 seed. You wonder sometimes, with all the different seeding, what went into to, but I do know this: in the future I think our young team learned a very valuable lesson from losing that game to Clemson in the last game of the season because obviously that really affected us.”

On differences between this year’s Iowa team and last year’s
“Well their guard play is better. They have more true guards in the lineup. Last year they were huge, they were over 6’3″ at every position except for point guard, but that kind of worked in our favor. This year they have two guards that are playing extremely well outside of Kristi Smith. Obviously I think they’re more balanced inside and outside. I think they made a tremendous coaching move when they moved Ausdemore out to the four. She’s a very difficult matchup at the four position because of her perimeter shooting. Obviously I think they’re more dangerous. It’s a huge compliment, when you have three seniors that have scored over 1200 points in their career, that’s tremendous balance. Anytime you have a point guard and a center, you’re going to be good and you throw in a point, a wing and a point, you’re special. I think that’s why they won a Big Ten championship a year ago and tied for second this year. Again, I think they’ve done a great job of highlighting the talent that their players have done a good job at playing that style.”

On Alex Montgomery not playing
“No, Alex will not play in this game. She’s not 100%, in fact she’s not here. She’s back in Atlanta rehabbing. That’s a difficult challenge for this team to lose your leading scorer and leading rebounder. She got injured in the last two minutes of the game against Clemson, so obviously that was a very difficult loss, but we’ve had that 17 day layoff to get ready without her. We’re learning to play without her, so that’s really going to pay off for us in the future. We’ve had other people step up in the last couple weeks and it’s been exciting to see actually. To see these young freshman and sophomores to say, `hey, there’s an opportunity for me there and maybe this is a chance for me to get better.’ So we’re anxious to see what kind of team we’re going to put on the floor. The bad news is that we don’t have Alex, but the good news is that we’re a totally different team without her and that could be a good or bad thing for Iowa. I’m not sure they know exactly how to prepare for us because I would say you prepare for us trying to stop Alex. She does so many things for us on the floor, offensively and defensively. Obviously it is a loss for us but we’re a completely different team without her. We’ve had to change positions. A lot of players that were playing the perimeter are now playing inside and vice-versa. We’re a very versatile team, we have several players that can play inside and outside and that’s one of the things you’ll see, we’ll use our versatility.”

On defending the three-pointer against Iowa
“Like I mentioned earlier, it’s tough when you have all three, a point, a wing and a post that are capable of putting up big numbers. We’ve played three of the number one seeds to get to the tournament this year. The only team that we haven’t played is Oklahoma. I guess that’s why we got sent here. Hopefully we’ll get a win and we’ll get to play the fourth number one seed. We’ve played the Marylands of the world, who have not only two great perimeter shooters but two great post shooters. We’ve played the North Carolinas, we’ve played Connecticut with the best point, wing and post in the game. We’ve been there and done that. We understand how difficult it is and what a challenge it is but at the same time, we welcome that opportunity. Kristi Smith is one of the best point guards in the Big Ten, if not the best. She’s had a tremendous career at Iowa and she’s going to be very difficult for us to defend. When we played here last year, Ausdemore was nine of 10 from the field. She missed her first shot then made nine in a row so obviously she’s a tremendous concern for us defensively. What we’d like to do is be disruptive and make people play faster than they want to play. Like we mentioned, we try to make you play ugly. We’re willing to do the work that other people aren’t willing to do. We want to work hard and we’re a blue-collared team. We’ll get after you defensively and hopefully get you playing at a speed that you’re not normally comfortable playing at.

Georgia Tech Senior Jacqua Williams
On the benefits having already played at Iowa last year

“More or less, getting used to the atmosphere here. Being able to come here again is just an opportunity to say we’ve already been here and we know what to expect. It will just be a great opportunity.”

On the team’s defensive mindset
“The idea is to shut them down and get all the hustle points, get all the loose balls, and out-rebound them. That’s what our defensive plan is. Defense and rebounding, that’s what we’re going to do.”

On concerns about a long layoff since their last game (17 days)
“No concerns at all. We’re just excited to get back out there and take care of business. We’re just excited about this opportunity.”

On their offensive game plan “We just like to attack, hit the open player, run our sets, get the ball inside, and take the open shot. We just try to play a smart offense.”

Georgia Tech Sophomore Iasia Hemingway
On the benefits having already played at Iowa last year

“It’s like our second home, we’ve been here twice and we’re just excited to play again. We came down here last year and we have something to finish that we didn’t last year.”

On the team’s defensive mindset
“We’re a blue-collar team. We come out and we try and make them look ugly by getting hustle points and stops.”

On defending a half-court game against Iowa
“Iowa shoots a lot of three-pointers so we have to contest the shots. We have to make sure our hands are in their face because they shoot off the pass. We just have to execute the game plan.”

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