Gator Sportshop
Gator Ticket Office

Women's Basketball Headline

The Gators met with the media Monday prior to UF's NCAA Second Round game vs. Penn State Tuesday

Monday March 24, 2014Media Monday: Butler, Lewis & Needles Preview NCAA Second Round Game at Penn State

The Gators met with the media Monday prior to UF's NCAA Second Round game vs. Penn State Tuesday

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Florida women’s basketball squad put together a stellar second half against Dayton Sunday, downing the Flyers, 83-69, in the NCAA Tournament First Round at the Bryce Jordan Center on the Penn State campus to advance the Orange and Blue to the NCAA Second Round for the ninth time in program history.


The Gators’ victory sets up with a clash with third-seeded Penn State (23-7) Tuesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. The Nittany Lions defeated No. 14 seed Wichita State, 62-56, in the first game of the day Sunday to advance to the second round.


Florida head coach Amanda Butler and Gators Kayla Lewis and Carlie Needles met with the media at Monday’s pre-NCAA Second Round press conference. Transcript below:



UF Head Coach Amanda Butler

On how Penn State has changed since Florida saw Penn State at the Junkanoo Jam in the fall to now:

“I don’t know that there have been a lot of significant changes. We didn’t get a chance to play them there, obviously, so my assistant that was scouting that game as a potential opponent could probably speak about that a little better than me. I have great respect for (Penn State head coach) Coquese (Washington), a great coach, a great program with great players, especially senior-led. Inevitably there is going to be growth and improvement and changes that make them a better unit throughout the year. Playing in a fantastic league like the Big Ten, you’re going to find things out about yourself, good and bad, that help you become a better team. I think all those things have taken place with them. Kayla (Lewis) mentioned (Talia) East. (Maggie) Lucas gets so much attention and focus – it’s well-deserved no question, but I think there are so many other players, like (Ariel) Edwards, on that team that have evolved into these really, really big roles that they didn’t have a year ago and that’s one of the things that makes them one of the best teams in the country. I think they have good balance. You make a bad mistake and think: hey if we can stop Lucas – first of all you probably can’t stop Lucas, second of all there are a lot of talented players on that squad.”


On if they take anything from the scout yesterday between Penn State and Wichita State or if the focus is on the Gators:

“It’s a mix of both of those things. Certainly, we’re going to take any information we can get from anywhere to try and increase our chances. I thought Wichita State obviously had a great game plan and played with a lot of spirit, energy and great strategy and gave themselves a chance to win. There are a lot of things we can watch and maybe see some overlap and similarities between our team and their team. I think this time of year, especially when you’re playing the second game, you’ve got one day of practice and maybe squeezing in some film sessions. It’s a lot of mental preparation. Your emphasis is really on you and what you do with your stuff and hopefully you can pick up a few things here and there. That was a great game yesterday, great game for Penn State’s fans and Wichita State obviously has a lot to be proud of as well. I wished I could have watched more, but I was a lot more concerned with Dayton.”


On how Penn State compares to SEC Team and if there are similarities, how much the staff uses that as a point of reference:

“I think Kayla (Lewis) mentioned and put it really well: their size is imposing. A lot of times when you talk about size, you first think about their inside game, but they have great size on perimeter. I think some of the teams she mentioned – South Carolina, Auburn, Tennessee on down the line. That’s something we’re used to facing, I think that’s a great confidence booster from a mental preparation standpoint. What it’s going to feel like to actually play Penn State is going to feel different than what it felt like to play Tennessee and Auburn – they are different teams. Making that height comparison I think really sells them (Penn State) short. They are a lot more than big, but certainly big is a lot of the same things that we’ve faced. They have good athleticism on the perimeter, led by a very capable and quick, dynamic point guard. There are a lot of teams that I think we can draw parts of game plans from the past two months and trigger memories from our kids and say: hey, remember when we did this against South Carolina, or: we repped this in our bye week before we played Georgia – that sort of thing. That’s, hopefully, going to be important, but you have to make those things important when you actually hit the court. Other than that it’s just information.”


On if Penn State vs. Florida is a match-up between speed vs. size:

“Gosh no. I think it’s part of it, but I hope – and I know – that it’s a lot more than that. I think when you get to this point in the season and you’re playing a team like Penn State at Penn State and there are so many seniors, emotion, some of those things, the intangibles really are going to be a big part of what’s going on. Will speed versus size be an issue? In some match-ups I think it will, but Penn State has some speed as well, they’re not slow. In some instances, we have size on our size and it’s not about being bigger, it’s about being smaller. Kind of like Carlie (Needles) said, that’s one of the things we’ve tried to use to our advantage – making people uncomfortable with our size. A lot of people look at it as a lack of size, but we dwell on our size as being a positive.”


On how much the game comes down to defensive play in postseason:

“I think that’s game by game. We, last night, finally put together a segment of really good offense, then I think it kind of bled over into us playing some good defense for awhile. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which comes first, the chicken or the egg on that. It really depends on each team and what matters most to them, what they’re going to take the most pride in. It’s obviously going to come down to one stop, but when it comes down to one stop, then also is one opportunity to score for another team. It’s really hard to say it’s just this or just that, just size or just speed or just defense. When you have two really, really talented squads with a great deal of desire and passion to advance, it’s going to be a combination of a lot of different factors.”


On the history of the team this season and the opportunity to go to the Sweet 16:

“We haven’t really talked about that specifically. They’re a smart bunch, they know what’s at stake. You don’t have to point out those obvious things. There’s also not any reason to try to generate anymore emotion, it’s already there. One of the things that’s a great, great strength is our leadership. You can listen to these two (Kayla Lewis & Carlie Needles) speak, who are leaders, and we have two senior leaders. I totally trust the conversations that are going on when the coaches aren’t around. I also trust that we don’t have to come into the film room or the locker room and generate excitement about anything right now. Those guys are handling that because they are excited about their opportunity, they’re excited – like Carlie said – for the chance to play a team like Penn State at Penn State, that’s going to be a whole lot of fun, and then the obvious implications that follow if you get a chance to beat them, a chance to advance and do something that this squad hasn’t done. I really trust our leadership, it’s a great opportunity against a great team. I’m sure Penn State feels the same way and I think it’s going to be a fantastic match-up for everybody tomorrow.”


RS Junior Guard Kayla Lewis

On having seen the Lady Lions earlier in the Bahamas tournament and then scouting them yesterday and what they saw:

“It wasn’t our first time yesterday seeing Penn State play, we had the chance to see them in the Bahamas, it was good to see them again, but teams change a lot from November to March. It’s good to see a team play, but it’s different to play against them, you get a feel for the emotional things and intangible things that you don’t get to see on film, so it was good to see them play. As far as comparable to the SEC, they have a lot of size like a lot of teams in the SEC have – big teams like Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina, which have those 6-3, 6-4 kids, multiples down low. We have seein it before.”


On what has changed since the Gators saw the Lady Lions in the Bahamas, if anything:

“Well we can’t really say, we as players haven’t seen them play as much as Coach Butler and our other staff watching multiple games of them throughout the conference season. You have some things that aren’t going to change – they aren’t going to get smaller or bigger. Maggie Lucas is still going to be a great scorer, you still have players like (Dara) Taylor, who are still going to be quick. The things that are big themes I don’t think have changed on their team, people’s roles definitely change throughout the season. Yesterday I know No. 5, (Talia) East had a big game, the first double-double of her career. Things like that you have to take mention of from November to March.”


On how crowds in the SEC may have prepared them for what Tuesday’s atmosphere will be like:

“Definitely playing in the SEC and playing teams with great crowds like Kentucky, like Tennessee, like South Carolina that have a really big crowd definitely has prepared us for something like this. As a team, we’ve overcome so much and seen so many challenges, having a big crowd is something that we smile at (and say), ‘let’s do it, what else ya got?’ That’s kind of the attitude our team has and has had all season, so we’re excited.”


RS Sophomore Guard Carlie Needles

On how the Gators’ speed matches up with Penn State’s size:

“Something that we’ve known all year is that we’re smaller than everybody else. We’re a team that likes to play in transition and that’s kind of a flaw for teams that are bigger – they can’t really play in transition as much as we do. We’re going to try to use that to our advantage like we have been all year and play great help side to try to force them to do things they’re not comfortable with. Sometimes playing someone who is smaller than you is a little more uncomfortable than playing someone that is the same size as you.”


On playing on Penn State’s court for a trip to the Sweet 16:

“Playing in the NCAA Tournament is already an opportunity, but being able to play a team on their home court in the NCAA Tournament to go to the Sweet 16 is a huge opportunity for us and we’re excited for that challenge. It’s going to be a hostile environment in here, it’s always hostile when you go play someone else on their home court. We’re excited for it and who doesn’t love to play in front of a bunch of crazy fans. We’re excited about that and we don’t see that as a disadvantage for us, it’s just exciting and we’re ready to take on whatever the crowd gives us tomorrow night.”


On the basketball atmosphere on campus in Gainesville with both men’s and women’s teams in the NCAA Tournament:

“It’s awesome. Gator fans and Gator Nation is so supportive, everyone is just really excited for us and I’m glad that both of us (women’s and men’s teams) have the opportunity to keep playing now in March because a lot of people are at home dwelling on their season and the things they could have and should have done to still be playing right now. Everyone is really excited for us. Our band is here cheering us on and they’re excited for us. It’s really awesome. That’s the reason whey we chose to come to Florida and play for Florida because of the fans and the following that we get here. It’s a great experience and a great atmosphere in Gainesville.”


Florida Athletics - A Championship Experience with Integrity - Vision Statement
  • University of Florida
  • NCAA
  • FOX Sports Sun / FOX Sports Florida
  • IMG
  • SEC Network

© 1998 - 2015 University Athletic Assoc., Inc., FOX Sports Sun & IMG College. All Rights Reserved.