WBB: Saturday NCAA Tournament Press Conference

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -Head Coach Mike McLaughlin, senior captains Meghan McCullough and Alyssa Baron, and freshman Sydney Stipanovich represented the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team at Saturday's NCAA Tournament press conference inside the Comcast Center.

Mike McLaughlin, Penn Head Coach:

Opening Statement

“Good afternoon everyone. On behalf of our program we are extremely excited to be here and we really earned the right to be here. Our players had a tremendous season and improved throughout the year. This is a great way coming of an Ivy League championship to celebrate that against a very well-coached, disciplined and talented Texas team. It is a great honor to be here and I’m really proud of our student-athletes. We are looking forward to tomorrow.”

On whether the team feels it represents Penn or the entire Ivy League:

“The University of Pennsylvania, that is what we are so proud of, but we are affiliated with the Ivy League, which we are also extremely proud of. It is a great combination of athletics and academics. We have some special student-athletes here who have competed hard to be here. Our opportunity is here for this team tomorrow and we are going to celebrate that opportunity and come to play. We are looking forward to the challenge.”

On whether all the recent 12-seed upsets are an inspiration:

“I don’t think that’s an inspiration. It’s Texas and Penn tomorrow and whatever the numbers are in front of it, is not really our call. The players have noticed it but it’s just the excitement to be here. It’s our challenge to play forty minutes against Texas and that’s what we are looking forward to and that’s what we are preparing for.”

On Penn’s keys to victory

“We talked about it as soon as we started the scouting report on Texas. For us to give ourselves an opportunity we have to rebound the ball. They are a tremendous rebounding team. They rebound at forty percent, which is a really high number. We are going to have to be really efficient on the offensive end and score in multiple ways. We are going to really have to spread the floor at times, but I go back to what I said earlier, if we can rebound with them and give ourselves an opportunity it would be a great start for us. We are playing really well right now and we are peaking at the right time. We are confident in what we are doing and have some really confident athletes right now that are going to take advantage of the situation.”

On Sydney Stipanovich:

“Sydney has been special for us from the beginning. We had an injury that allowed us to start Sydney. Once we made that change, I wasn’t going to turn back. Katy Allen unfortunately had an injury, Sydney started and has been in the line-up ever since; 13-1 with her starting. She has been a huge impact right away. I thought that she needed to play thirty minutes for us to have success and it was hard for her to do that coming off the bench”

On non-conference schedule:

“We competed hard against Notre Dame, we play in the Philadelphia Big 5, which is extremely intense with a high level of basketball play. The Miami (FL) win was phenomenal for our program, it was special for us to win against an ACC opponent. We played against really good competition and it helped us going into Ivy League play so hopefully it’ll help us tomorrow.

On other keys for the game:

“We’ve been the best on the offensive end when we get into a flow. Hopefully we’ll be able to establish that early and get some easy basket. We do defend and work hard at the end of that court, finishing the defensive segment with a rebound at the end is going to be key for us tomorrow.”

Meghan McCullough, Senior Penn Guard:

On her most memorable moment this season:

“We had a great selection Monday at the Palestra. We held it in that great building that we get to practice in everyday. It was really cool to have our cheerleaders there and to have our band there as well. It’s nice to be represented on campus and to have the great support.”

On Non-conference schedule:

“We had a tough schedule this year and all those games have prepared us for where we are now. We can build upon each experience; we had the Big 5, Miami and we also played Notre Dame. So just learning from those games and playing against bigger girls is something that we have experience with and I think we can keep playing the Penn way and apply that to these type of teams.”

On keys for the game:

“One thing we take pride in at Penn is our defense. We’ve been able to hold teams to limited shots. So just playing strong defense that can help us transition to our offense is something that we’re going to look to do.”

Alyssa Baron, Senior Penn Guard:

On her most memorable moment this season:

“The first one has to be cutting down the nets in The Palestra. After the game (at Princeton) we got to celebrate by going back to the gym and cutting down both the nets. I thought that was pretty memorable and something I’ll never forget.”

On keys for the game:

“On defense, rebounding is definitely important. Texas rebounds the ball very well, they’re one of the top rebounding teams in the nation and I think everyone crashing on the glass will be key for us. On the offensive end, second chance points are going to be hard to come by so when we do have the opportunity to get an offensive rebound we have to convert on those.”

Sydney Stipanovich, Freshman Penn Center:

On her most memorable moment this season:

“Just the atmosphere at school. Just walking around and having everyone so happy for us and congratulate us. It has just been a really great experience.”

On blocking shots:

“A lot of it is positioning and being in the right spot. I’m not always trying to block shots, I’m just trying to affect anything that I can in the paint and be the backbone of the defense.”