DAWN STALEY: Excited to be in this position where we moved on from the first round. We had pretty good competition in here over the past couple of days.
Appreciate Howard coming and being so gracious. I know I talked to Jose from South Florida. I just hope that everybody had an incredible experience being here and we were — and I hope they think we were gracious hosts.
But we look forward to turning the page and playing a real hot and exciting Miami team.
Q. Brea, have you had a chance to watch Miami’s game from the other night?
BREA BEAL: We definitely got a chance before our game to sit down and watch a little bit, but I think definitely when I got back to the room later that night I did re-watch that game just to see how they really play together, what they have been doing, stuff like that.
So it was a lot of personal time watching them.
Q. How much of a personal challenge is it to take whoever your guarding and try to lock them down?
BREA BEAL: I think just continue doing what I’m doing. It’s not something I dwell on. It’s just continuing the pattern and habits I have next game to the next game.
Q. Victaria, I know the focus is to try to get to Greensboro and then to Minneapolis. Have you allowed yourself to process that tomorrow will be the last time you take the court and play here at the CLA.
VICTARIA SAXTON: I’m excited to see what the fans will bring tomorrow. I think it’s going to be really fun.
Q. For both of you, one key to their run in the last month and a half has been hot shooting. How do you keep that from happening tomorrow?
VICTARIA SAXTON: I just think we have to go out there and there continue doing what we do defensively, because I think we’re a great defensive team. We just have to go out there and be disciplined to what we do.
BREA BEAL: I think, again, touching back on the film thing, you really got to pay attention to personnel, who you’re watching, individuals, who is the top two, three scorers, who pushes the team.
Just realizing those aspects can get you ahead when it comes to defensively.
Q. This is a question for both of you: You both embrace the role of being two of the best defenders on the team. What goes into embracing that role? And then also, just how much pride do you take on the defensive end?
BREA BEAL: I think it’s really just dedicating myself to something like I’m great at. Just being able to continue it each and every game, putting my all into each and every game, whoever I’m guarding, just not taking a day off.
I think that means a lot more to me than anybody else I would say.
VICTARIA SAXTON: I too take pride in being able to do the small things for the team, anything to help. I just like that excites me, so…
Q. What are you going to do to center yourself in the morning? Take us into your headspace about how you prepare for such a big day like tomorrow.
VICTARIA SAXTON: There is not anything specific that I do. I mean, it’s just the same routine that I wake up and do every other game day.
BREA BEAL: I think for me, I just put a lot of emphasis on kind of cutting down socializing, whether on social media and friends and family. Not cutting them all the way out, but limiting phone calls, FaceTime calls, little things like that naturally get me in the mood and locked in for what’s to come.
Q. In the last day or so that piece from the Ringer on Destiny Littleton has been making circulation. What’s it like to see a player like that who is kind of an unsung hero get that shine and people see her story and contributions to the team?
BREA BEAL: I think just being around here for three years, like I never really knew her story. I just seen like how well she carried herself. I seen the battled, whether it was on the court, off the court, that she dealt with.
I never really understood the depth of it, and just reading that, it really like encouraged me, pushed me and inspired me. Like there is a brighter day ahead of you, so just keep pushing, moving.
So that story was really amazing.
VICTARIA SAXTON: I agree. I feel like just being around here for all these years, really getting to know her and hearing her side of the story like she’s told me before, just pieces of it and just seeing who she is and how she carries herself every day on and off the court is inspiring.
Q. Wanted to ask you about creating that fun team atmosphere we see, especially on the bench in late games. Yesterday with LeLe in the clip we’ve seen kind of circulate on Twitter. Just creating that atmosphere, how much does what play into your success and cohesion in general?
VICTARIA SAXTON: I feel like it plays a big role, because just shows how much we’re happy for each other and just want everybody to do well.
I think just when people show their emotions in that way, it brings everybody happiness.
BREA BEAL: I agree. Just showing how genuinely happy we are for one another, I think that’s one of the biggest things that keeps us going, keeps us motivated, in a good mind space as a team. It’s amazing to see and fun to see all of us enjoying one another.
Q. Speaking of LeLe, she’s the only one on this roster that’s got experience what this is like here at home. What was that atmosphere like and just what did it feel like to get that home crowd here for you in a tournament situation?
BREA BEAL: I think for me, it’s just happy seeing her enjoy this moment again, last moment like you mentioned, being in here for her and the rest of our seniors.
It’s just fun to watch her enjoy it and have a good game on top that. So I think, again, it’s just all of us enjoying one another and being happy for one another.
VICTARIA SAXTON: I feel like she is just having fun. I feel happy like getting to watch her enjoy moments like, this. Considering it’s about to be her last few games here, I mean, I love it. I love seeing her happy and playing good and everything.
Q. Another question for both of you: Yesterday was obviously a great day, really successful day. What are some things you both feel like the team needs to work on going into tomorrow?
VICTARIA SAXTON: I just feel like we just have to continue doing what we’re doing, playing together. Making sure we hit shots, and just do what we do on the defensive end.
BREA BEAL: I think really putting the emphasis on consistency from start to finish. We have to definitely hammer down on that from the beginning of the jump ball to when the clocks run out.
I think that’s going to be our biggest thing to take over.
Q. Brea, there is potential for you guys, five games left in the year. For yourself, just take us a little bit into what you like to do in terms of just staying ready offensively in the event in any one of these remaining five games Dawn could look at you in the huddle and say, We might need you to step up offensively. How do you stay ready?
BREA BEAL: I think it’s just understanding that the whole staff has trust in me and I have trust in myself, so if my name is a called I will be ready in any circumstance it may be.
So I think just believing in myself and them believing in me, having the confidence in myself, that can take me a long way.
Q. Victaria, yesterday your team was getting all the attention in the women’s tournament because of the halftime score, and then Stanford stole your thunder because Fran dunked in the game. I know that you can dunk. Wondering when we’ll see it in the second round?
VICTARIA SAXTON: Yeah, I’m still working on my dunk. It’s not pretty or anything like that. I did think that was awesome seeing her dunk in a game like that. I enjoy seeing women being successful in that type of way.
Q. Wondering, will Sania be available tomorrow, and is there an update on Kamilla?
DAWN STALEY: Sania will be dressing out. Be a game time decision whether or not she’ll get in.
Kamilla is feeling a little bit better today. Just got to keep an eye on it.
Q. Obviously quick turnaround. What have you seen in your opposition? What do you see in that matchup?
DAWN STALEY: I mean, I see a very hot Miami team that are stroking the ball pretty good. They’re sharing the ball. They’re linked up. You know, they got players that can apply a lot of pressure to the ball and be disruptive. I mean, they’re playing extremely well.
We got to somehow disrupt that, disrupt their flow, offensive flow, because if you allow them to take the shots they’re taking uncontested, it will be a long day for us.
So I think we got to pack our defense to make sure we are making it hard for them, making it hard for them to catch the ball in areas where they’re effective. We got to not foul.
Then we got to take care the rebounding.
Q. As a follow up to that, just I guess defensive rotation, how do you feel where that is for you guys heading into tomorrow afternoon’s game? When you get in a game like this against a team that’s as hot as Miami is on the perimeter, just what are some of the things that you and the rest of your staff stress to the ladies heading into the a game like this?
DAWN STALEY: I think what we have to stress is what Brea said, which is the happiness we’ve created. I think probably 95% of the time we’ve defended. Percentage is pretty high. I don’t think we’re going to fold and do things we really haven’t done actually for most of game anyway.
We will have instances where there may be a lapse here or there. There aren’t too many lapses that we’ll have. So we got to rely on what we’ve done. There is not going to be overhaul in how we approach things from the defensive side of the ball.
I mean, we got players who prioritize that side of the basketball, and that’s what we have to bring come 3:00 tomorrow.
Q. Dawn, you mentioned this team can’t really afford to have anymore shooting days like yesterday. With such a quick turnaround, how do you address that game to game or is that something you just trust will correct itself when you step on the court?
DAWN STALEY: We got to trust it’ll correct itself. I thought we took good shots; they just didn’t go in. I don’t know if Miami will play as extreme as Howard played us.
Howard did a great job just picking their poison and forcing us to shoot from the outside. You know, but Miami, they may, they may. We got to hit shots. We got to defend and we definitely got to rebound the basketball.
But we’ll shoot today. We’re not going to put any more emphasis on making shots than I players already feel. They got to knock down shots. We’re home. Should be friendly rims for us.
They got to put the ball in the hole.
Q. You mentioned Miami on this hot streak. I think won 9 of the last 11. As coach, is it a pretty good feeling when you have a team that’s maybe a little bit adrift and suddenly they click and figure it out, and does that make them more dangerous because they got this cohesion together?
DAWN STALEY: Yeah, it is. We ran into a team like that in the SEC tournament championship, so we’re familiar with that feeling, that a team has been super successful.
And we get a chance to avenge it and be more prepared and aware of it and actually do something about it.
So very aware of their success. Very aware of what is causing their success, and it will be a tale of imposing our wills on each other.
Q. Quick question for you: I don’t know if you saw this yesterday, but Tara challenged every coach in the men’s and women’s tournament to match her and donate $10 for ever three made and put that money toward humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. She then told a story about her ’96 team which you were on that played in Ukraine. When you guys were in Ukraine — this is obviously her Olympic team — that when you were leaving after a month of playing in tournaments there, you went to get on the bus and there were a bunch of local women begging, and you all opened your suitcases and wallets and gave them everything you had.
First of all, are you going to accept her challenge? There were 230 threes made in the women’s tournament yesterday, so she so far owes $2,300. Do you remember that time in ’96 in Ukraine? If so, can you tell us about it?
DAWN STALEY: Obviously Tara is a Hall of Fame coach for a reason, and probably one of the things is her memory. (Laughter.)
Which mine fades me. I do remember — we used to call the Ukraine team our sisters we played them so much. I remember just playing them here and then going there and playing them. I really don’t remember the story that Tara told, but I do remember just any stops we made that we felt like we could help someone, Cubans were one that I vividly remember helping them.
But I’m not surprised that we did that.
And as far as accepting the challenge, I don’t mind accepting the challenge, but we also have some communities here that really need us. So if I accept the challenge of helping in Ukrainians out, I challenge Tara and — I think we’re both pretty good rebounders — if we can challenge each other for every rebound to help inner city youth in Philly or Columbia. There is a lot of homelessness here. It’s prevalent in our state her in South Carolina.
So we can get two challenges going, both to help afar and nearby.
How much I owe so far?
Q. I think there were 230 threes hit yesterday.
DAWN STALEY: Good Lord. Our team is saving me some money, huh? (Laughter.)
Q. The ’96 Olympics, I think the 30 for 30 is coming out soon. Did you participate in that project?
DAWN STALEY: Is that the one — there is a lot of ’96 coming out. I participated in all of them, so yes.
Q. Apologize if you’ve been asked this before, I just wanted to get your thoughts and ask you about being on the cover of Slam. Just talk about that opportunity not just for you, but to be able to be joined by some of your players as well.
DAWN STALEY: I think the biggest reaction was probably the players. I don’t know how I got pulled into that.
But Slam has been a magazine that all of us who grew up playing the game and — sorry, playing the game of basketball, you always remember who is on the cover of Slam. Like I actually own the Allen Iverson Slam hoodie, and it’s super cool.
They always have a way of magnetically just coming up with pieces that are iconic.
Fortunately for us, they stay true to their game when they put us on the cover, so I think it’s pretty cool. I think it’s — I think we got a lot of hits from it, and I know our players really thought very highly of themselves. (Smiling.)