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Steffi Sorensen, Marshae Dotson, Sha Brooks & Coach Butler

Wednesday March 25, 2009NCAA Tournament Second Round Post-Game Quotes

Storrs, CT

Steffi Sorensen, Marshae Dotson, Sha Brooks & Coach Butler

The Gators talked with the media following Tuesday's NCAA Second Round game against top-seeded Connecticut.

 

 

 

 

Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler

 

Opening Statement

“Obviously, we’re very disappointed. I’m sure you guys may be shocked, but we really didn’t come in here just to keep it interesting or be one of the ranked teams that could keep it under 30 (points) or whatever it is that (UConn has) been beating ranked opponents by; we came here to win.

 

“We’re very disappointed. At the same time, Connecticut is fantastic. There’s just no two ways about it; they’re very talented. I love how hard they play combined with their talent. I’m exceptionally proud of my team and how they battled today. I thought that we really executed with a lot of pride and with a whole lot of toughness. That was important for us and I think we went out and did that. There were a lot of things that were out of our control that I thought had an impact on the game, but there are always going to be things that are out of your control. We did the best that we could and we had some fantastic individual performances that aren’t necessarily reflected in these statistics. Just a fantastic year – a big step forward for our program – and a very special group of women that I was privileged to coach this year.”

 

 

On what she told her team when she called a time-out with 12 seconds to go

“We were trying to execute a play. Clearly, we were going to lose the ball game. There’s a big picture here. Obviously, 12 seconds and me making the fans mad -- or whoever is disappointed – I could care less. It was an opportunity for my team to get better. If there’s time on the clock we’re going to draw-up a play, we’re going to execute it and we’re going to score, and that’s what we did. So, that’s what I was thinking.”

 

On the team not making shots

“We said this in the locker room, it was an off shooting night for us and I felt that we had some very good looks. Every time that Sharielle Smith shot the ball, I thought it was in. Every time it left Steffi’s hand, I thought it was going in. Obviously, Sha wasn’t on the floor, so we were relying on other people to take a bigger offensive role and I thought that they were trying awful hard. It was one of those nights. We knew that scoring was going to be important; there aren’t many coaches that are going to say that -- we’re supposed to say defense and rebounding. But, when you’re playing a team like Connecticut -- that’s so offensively gifted and talented – you’ve got to score with them because chances are, defensively, whatever you think is going to work, it might work some of the time, but they’re just too darn good. It was important for us to hit some of those shots and we missed them. They were good looks -- I thought we took high percentage shots. They were just in and out too many times.”

 

On what she was thinking when Sha picked up two quick fouls and how the team had to adjust their game plan

”I can’t share with you exactly what I was thinking – I don’t think that would be appropriate; my mom would not be proud. However, we weren’t going to change how we were playing. We were going to play with toughness because that was part of our game plan; that was going to be one of our chances to play with them – we had to play very physically tough. There’s always parts of the ball game that are out of your control and that’s one of the things that’s out of your control – the way that the officials see the ball game. Was it frustrating? Absolutely. Did it diminish our chances of being able to play with them without our leading scorer on the floor? Absolutely. But, at the same time, it’s one of those things that’s out of your control and you just have to bounce back and be resilient and continue to encourage your team to play the way you taught them to play – the things you tried to instill in them as far as game plan for that game – and that’s what I thought we did. The foul count – how many free throws they shot, 29; how many we shot, 12. -- I can’t control that.”

 

On how the program has developed this year and the SEC’s struggle in the NCAA Tournament

“Vanderbilt is still in – they advanced to the Sweet 16. The only SEC team that got to play on their home floor was LSU and I think that’s undeniable and that’s the way the tournament is formatted. We lost on UConn’s floor, Auburn lost on Rutger’s floor, Mississippi State lost on Ohio State’s floor, and that’s the way that the tournament is formatted. Home court advantage is very strong and those are the factors that we’re dealing with again that are out of our control. It’s what we think is best for the game right now so that the game continues to grow, attendance is where it needs to be and the attention to the four teams that are playing at each site is what it needs to be. I don’t think it was an off-year in the SEC at all. There are a lot of those factors that play into the outcome of the ball game – home court advantage is huge. I have all the confidence in the world in Vanderbilt. They had a fantastic year and won our conference tournament. They’re also down one of their best players, which is truly amazing to me – the job that Melanie Balcomb is doing right now. LSU has an opportunity to advance on their home floor. With the way that they have come on here lately, I would fully expect that to happen.

 

“In terms of our program, I’m very proud of where we are and very proud of how we battled in this ball game in particular. Just like Sha said, I think that this is just the beginning and this team, this collection of women, set the standard for the future of this program. That didn’t happen by coming and playing UConn tough or beating Temple. That happened every single day with the work ethic and the standards and the expectations that they set for themselves that I’m sure the younger players will carry on and our incoming freshman class will quickly adapt to.”

 

On if Florida had the toughest assignment in the NCAA Tournament

“I guess we’ll find out when we see how the tournament plays out and if (UConn) ends up becoming the eventual, undefeated national champions. There’s no question that it was a very tough draw – it was very challenging. But again, I go back to our program and where we want to be and clearly Connecticut is one of those programs that sets the standard in women’s basketball. It was a great experience for our younger players to be here and to compete against a team that does set the standard and understand what it feels like to compete at this level in post-season, because, just being quite honest, that’s where we want to be. We want to become the best and you have to go through the best to do that. So, this was a great opportunity for us. Was it tough? Abso-dadgum-lutely it was tough.”

 

 

Junior Guard Steffi Sorensen

 

On Sha Brooks having limited playing time due to foul trouble in the first half

“Anytime your point guard goes out, especially Sha Brooks, your team’s going to feel it. We tried our best. We came out aggressive and we were trying to stay (in the game), but they went on that run and they knocked down those shots and we left them open. A team like UConn, if you leave them open, they’re not going to miss and that was evident tonight. Certainly, Sha came back in the second-half and you can’t ask for more from your senior point guard. To battle the adversity she faced in the first half and come out and shoot the ball like she did -- I’m proud of her for that.”

 

 

On Coach Butler

“One thing that I’ve always said about Coach Butler is that she’s passionate. When I’m playing out there, I’m the same way. One thing that we really have in common is that I have a lot of pride in playing for Florida and wearing the jersey that I do and I know that she knows that about me as well. So, when she’s coaching on the sideline, I believe in her and I know she believes in me and our team and what we’re trying to do. That’s something that you look for in a coach because you know that even if you miss your shots, you know that she’s looking at you like, ‘You’re going to hit your next one.’ You always believe in her as a coach and what she believes in and what she’s teaching us. I bought into that and I think that’s why our team has had the season that we did because we bought into what she’s coaching, what she’s teaching. I’ve always respected her and it’s been an honor to play for her.”

 

 

Senior Guard Sha Brooks

 

On her thoughts when she had two fouls in the first two minutes of the game

“I guess I was thinking that I can’t believe I just got two fouls that, to me, weren’t really fouls. I have no control over that and I have to completely stay focused and have some confidence in my team. I knew that (Lonnika Thompson) was going to take over and do the best that she could do. Marshae (Dotson) stepped up and everybody else stepped up to play tonight. I wasn’t really so much worried as just a little bit frustrated.”

 

On what the team has accomplished this season and where the program is headed

“The program is going in the right direction. Our team, this year, has set the standards high. We’re no longer the underdogs. People have to look at us and think, ‘Florida’s coming to play. You really have to worry about Florida.’ This year we had a great season. People didn’t expect for us to get this far, but we did. We worked hard and we’re going to continue to work hard even though me, Marshae, Aneika (Henry) and Kim (Critton) are leaving. Our program is going to continue to build.

 

On Coach Butler

“Coach knows I love her through the rough days and the not so rough days. She’s been a great coach to me. She’s taught me a lot within these two years that she’s been at Florida. She’s taught me to be a whole lot tougher than I was my freshman and sophomore year. (To Coach Butler) I thank you. I really, really thank you.”

 

 

Senior Forward Marshae Dotson

 

On Coach Butler

“She challenged us every day in practice; she challenged us today at half-time. She’s very encouraging. She challenged the people that weren’t playing to step up. For Sha, she challenged her to come in the second-half and try to do the best that she could. She’s very competitive and that brings the competitiveness out in us too – we feed off her energy.”

 

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