The Duke women’s basketball team (the two seed) is currently in Norfolk preparing for their Sweet 16 matchup against six seed Nebraska. This afternoon, Coach P, along with Haley Peters, Elizabeth Williams, and Tricia Liston participated in the team press conferences. Apparently, it’s illegal to video tape the press conference, which I got in trouble for (I honestly had no idea because I had been doing it at regular season games).
So, this is my dictation of what I remember of the press conference.
Coach P started off the press conference talking about the opportunity to get out on the road (they played the first two games of the tourney at Cameron Indoor Stadium) and getting the chance to visit Elizabeth Williams’ family last night. “We earned the right to play in Norfolk”. She went on to talk about Williams and how she is a perfectionist, but “an amazing person”.
Coach P talked about the tough Norfolk Region and how their first two opponents, Hampton and Oklahoma State, prepared them for this. She talked about the OK State comeback and how it “was a very moving thing to watch…everybody played a role”.
When asked about how the team has “replaced” point guard Chelsea Gray, Coach P didn’t really care for the word. “We cannot replace Chelsea Gray. I’ve never had an injury like that.” But she has enjoyed watching the evolution of her team since the Gray season-ending knee injury.
“The leadership of Haley Peters and Allison Vernerey…to step up and take advantage.”
“For Alexis [Jones], she’s had to grow up quickly. She’s a fun girl to coach. She’s a listener. Alexis is pretty unusual.”
Coach P also talked a little about the Nebraska team they’re going to face tomorrow afternoon. “They’re really good…they use the trail better than anyone I’ve ever seen. They have a senior point guard…They’re very well coached. Exactly what you’d expect at this time of year.”
After Coach P, it was the players time.
Peters, Williams, and Liston talked about Nebraska. Peters: “Offensively, they’re a great penetrate and kick team.” Williams: “Being disciplined on defense,” is what Duke needs to do to win. Liston: what makes them so good is defenses have “to guard five interchangeable shooters”.
Williams talked about playing close to home: “It’s exciting. It’s a business trip. We’re here to win the next two games”. She also talked about Coach P’s comments about being a perfectionist and how to overcome that: “Relaxing on the court. Trusting my teammates.”
Peters and Liston both answered questions about the first two round games at Cameron and the tournament in general. Peters said that “you have to step up your intensity, especially defensively”. Liston said “our first two round games presented challenges” that they obviously exceeded.
Peters was asked whether they feed off the success of the men’s team, who beat Michigan State last night to advance to the Elite 8. “We’ve been competitive with the guys. We watched the game and were cheering for them. We’re really focused on what we need to do.”
Liston was asked about the loss of Gray. “It’s been a growing experience. We’ve done a good job getting to the team we want to be. Lex is not trying to be Chelsea. She’s done a great job staying true to herself.”
*I also had a chance to watch the first 15 minutes of practice. There was a lot of chatter going on (positive encouragement during drills). You can check out my Facebook page for some video of practice.
Now I’m off to the Nebraska press conference.
*For those wondering, the Virginia Zoo was nice and it was an absolute beautiful day to walk around outside. Especially since I’ll be in the arena all day tomorrow.