IOWA CITY, Iowa – On Saturday, the Marist women’s basketball team held a news conference and practice at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena, site of Sunday’s NCAA Tournament first-round game between the 11th seeded Red Foxes and sixth-seeded Iowa.
The news conference lasted from 3:30 – 4 p.m. and practice followed from 4:20 – 5:50 p.m.
Here are some quotes from Marist, as well as Iowa, which had its news conference and practice earlier in the day.
Marist Head Coach Brian Giorgis
It's great to be in Iowa City, great to go up against an opponent like Iowa who is scary similar to us in many ways. Very talented team. Extremely well‑coached. What we call like a better version of ourselves.
Hospitality has been great. But this is a time that we always look forward to. With the three seniors to my right here, it's a time where we get to take the target off our back that has been on during the whole conference season and now we get to go out and try to slay one of the bigger schools or a couple bigger schools.
We're looking forward to tomorrow. We know we have a tremendous opponent in front of us and I don't think we'd want it any other way.
Q. The offensive potential of both these teams, is this going to be a team that you think might be in the 80s or 90s, or do you see some of your top defenders stepping up?
COACH GIORGIS: Again, they're very talented at all five positions. Stopping them is going to be, you know, a heck of a chore. They're playing on their home court. Chances are you usually shoot better on your home court. I'd like to hope that we can score, you know, up in that level and stuff. Can we hold them down? I don't know. Again, they're playing in the Big Ten. They're going up against Penn State and stuff. Even though this has been the best year of our conference with four people in the top 100, it's not the same as the Big Ten.
Q. How do you gauge the success of your program? You've been here nine straight years. Is that the success level? Do you feel after having been here so many times that you really need or want to win this first round game for it to be a successful season?
COACH GIORGIS: Oh, it's been a successful season. We don't have to win a game tomorrow to say this year's been successful or not. Twenty-seven wins is pretty good. When you beat a team like Oklahoma, you've done a pretty good job. When you lose to Ohio State by three at the end, you don't have your two best players there, on their court, it's been a really, really good year. Like I say, I think we're dangerous when we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Our kids know they've had a great year.
I know, especially with these seniors, I remember after last year when we lost to Michigan State by five in the opening round, they were really hurting, and more than usual, because they had won games in each of the two previous years against Georgia and against Iowa State. They last year felt incomplete because they didn't win one. To win the national championship, we don't look at things like that. We just try to knock off, be as big a pain in the rear to everybody as we can, to show we can play with the big boys. That's what they'll be trying to do tomorrow, and hopefully we can take one down or two down or whatever.
I know this group has always wanted to get to a Sweet 16 because it's been a while. The toughest road to go through is going through somebody on their home court, which we've never faced in the first round, then a team like Louisville. I don't know what Idaho will do with them, but if we get our first round. Two extremely tough opponents. But that's not going to determine our success, how we do against them. We've had a great year.
Senior captain Leanne Ockenden:
Q. Leanne, this game is going to feature 10 players averaging double‑digit scoring. What kind of defensive challenge is that going to be for both teams?
LEANNE OCKENDEN: It's going to be a challenge. Any person can step up during the game, especially their five starters earning double‑digit points. The team has been working on our defense. Hopefully I can step up for the team and they can follow me.
Senior captain Emma O’Connor
Q. Is it easier to prepare for a team that is so similar to you or would it be harder to prepare for a team that is totally unlike you?
EMMA O'CONNOR: I mean, I think it's a little better to prepare for them because they are similar to us so we kind of know the type of tendencies because we do some of the same things. I think I'd rather do that than playing against some girls who are way bigger than me and Tori. I like this matchup a little better
Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder
Q. Marist prides itself on its motion offense. What have you seen by the way they run the motion and how do you defend something like that?
COACH BLUDER: I'm extremely impressed with their motion offense. The way they read screens, and Brian (Giorgis) is able to get them to read screens, is amazing. That's why I'm sure they're a lot better team in March than they are in November because it has to take a lot of time and a lot of work in order to get your players to understand the different reads and counters to how you handle screens. They do as good a job as I've seen anybody do with that situation.
Q. Going back to Marist having five players in double figures, at this time in the year when it comes down to who makes tough shots, how difficult is that challenge to know everybody they put on the floor can score?
COACH BLUDER: It's very difficult. But I think we have the same threat. It kind of counters each other or negates each other. They're in the same boat with us. We have five players that average over 12 points a game. They have five players that average over 10 points a game. I definitely think it's a difficult situation for both coaches, but it probably negates each other.