NCAA Press Conference (Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo) (Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)
CHICAGO – On the day before its first round matchup against No. 7 seed DePaul, the No. 10 seed BYU women’s basketball team participated in a press conference and practiced at the Allstate Arena.
Head coach Jeff Judkins’ opening statement
First of all we are excited to be here. It has been a while for BYU women's basketball to get to the NCAA tournament. We are excited to play against DePaul, which is a very good team and in a very good conference in the Big East. One of our goals this season was to play in the NCAA tournament. For these three seniors this is something they worked very hard and sacrificed to get the opportunity to be here. Hopefully we can play the kind of basketball we’ve been playing all year and be able to do the things we need to in this tournament.
Haley Steed on her emotional struggle to get healthy for the tournament
Obviously being here is awesome. It has been a long road and I feel like we have been waiting a long time for this and are trying to take all of it in. But, more than anything we just want to focus on winning our basketball game. This is definitely a different environment and a different feeling in your stomach being here. Hopefully, we will have a good practice and it is just great being here.
On being in Chicago
We actually came to Chicago last year and did a lot of fun things. This trip is more about winning basketball. I’m sure we will eat at nice places and do fun things as a team, but we aren’t worried about seeing too much.
Kristen Riley on if winning and guaranteeing their spot in the tournament was a goal
Last year we half thought we would end up making it, but we didn’t. Having the feeling the past 10 days or so just knowing that we were going in really released a lot of stress. It was a goal of ours to go to Las Vegas and win it all so we wouldn’t have to think twice about it.
Dani Peterson on what it means to her to be in this tournament
It means a lot to me and to our whole team. Growing up this is our dream to play in the NCAA tournament. It is something we watched growing up and it’s a huge accomplishment. Only 64 teams are in here and to be one of the best teams still playing right now is a huge honor to us individually and for our program. We are really excited to showcase our team and the skills we have.
What DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said about BYU
I really don’t think they are a team that has weaknesses. They have the Haley Steed leadership factor and they are fourth in the nation for assists. That means you are a really, really good offensive basketball team. It is a place where we always strive to be. This is a down year for DePaul in assists and we are averaging 16 and we are always in the top 20 ourselves. But, in our league Notre Dame and UConn are probably the top one or two, so when you look at team like Brigham Young that shares the ball and has 19 assists a game that means they are a well-oiled machine.
It’s not just Haley Steed, but they have a great inside presence with Riley and three really strong inside players and then their primary game. There is not a weakness on the floor. Lexi, the freshman, reminds me very much of Natalie from Notre Dame, she’s not as experienced but she is really, really, really good.
They are really a tough team to guard on the defensive side of the ball. Because they are so proficient offensively they probably don’t get enough credit for how well Coach Judkins has them prepared defensively. They do an excellent job of taking away your strengths and making you come over the top. Riley is a coach’s dream. She’s very, very special. I’ve done this long enough to know that this is going to be a really good game and we are going to have to play our best basketball to beat a really good Brigham Young team.