UTC Women’s Basketball Team Meets the Media Ahead of Big Dance Game With Louisville

(gomocs.com) LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team took the court Friday and met with the media as it continues preparation for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Mocs took the podium Friday afternoon to talk with the media. Seniors Jasmine Joyner and Queen Alford, along with Kentucky native, junior Chelsey Shumpert took questions along with UTC head coach Jim Foster about what they expect to see and how they prepared for their first round game against host Louisville.

Following the press conference, the Mocs took the court at the KFC Yum! Center for its 90 minute session.

Chattanooga played the Cardinals in Louisville in late November in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge. It was the third game in as many days and the Mocs fell 63-47. Joyner had just two points, but was a force on defense with 15 rebounds, seven blocked shots and three steals. Alford led the Mocs in scoring that day with 20 points making 7-of-17 shots and was 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.

The game is set to tip off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2.


Q. Chelsey, since you’re kind of close to home here, are you going to have friends or family coming out tomorrow?
CHELSEY SHUMPERT: Yes, ma’am. I’m going to have a lot of family come. They are travelling from Ohio, [Paducah,] Kentucky of course and a few friends from Lexington.

Q. Does that make you more excited, more nervous?
CHELSEY SHUMPERT: No, I played in my hometown earlier this season. So, no.

Q. Jasmine, what do you remember from playing Louisville earlier this year in November?
JASMINE JOYNER: I know they’re a long team, very athletic, very quick. So we had problems with our press breaker the first time, but we’ve been working on it since then.

Q. Same question for Queen.
QUEEN ALFORD: Louisville is the type of team that wants to speed up the game, and I think this game we have to definitely slow down and see the floor very clear. That will make a huge difference in the outcome.

Q. For any of you, I’ll have each of you answer – having Louisville have the home court advantage, and having played here before and knowing how tough it is, is that changing how you guys are approaching the game at all?
JASMINE JOYNER: We’re just approaching the game how we’d normally approach the game. I mean, nothing different. Like I said, we’ve matured as a team from last time, we’ve become tougher. We worked on little things that we went through from the last game. But we’re just going to approach it like any other game.

CHELSEY SHUMPERT: Yeah, basically what she said. I mean, it’s tough playing away rather than at home, of course. But if we keep on playing how we know how to play, I think we’ll get it.

QUEEN ALFORD: For me, I don’t think it has anything to do with us playing Louisville the first time. It has everything to do with who we played in our non-conference schedule that’s going to prepare us for this moment.

Q. What are some of the best examples of teams you played this season and how you want to play?
QUEEN ALFORD: I want to say UConn. UConn is a team you can look at, you can pick from, and you can get better with just looking at and just playing against. I think that was one of the best teams that we played.

Q. We’ll go down the line again — Jasmine, Chelsey, Queen, if you could talk about playing in the NCAA Tournament this time of year and how it’s a special way to close out a season?
JASMINE JOYNER: It’s a blessing to be able to be here again. I’ve been here all four years, so that’s a really good blessing. It’s my senior year, so I don’t want to take advantage of it, so, like I said, we’ve been working hard in the gym just trying to make an appearance in the NCAA and maybe go to the second round. So like I said, we’ve been working hard, and being here is a big blessing.

CHELSEY SHUMPERT: Yeah, I’ve been here — this is my fourth year as well. You know, we’re just driving to go to the second round and have a different outcome and different mentality than we’ve had in the past.

QUEEN ALFORD: I agree with them. I think it’s a huge blessing and an honor to be here and to be in this position again. Here we are, 365 days later. We have the same opportunity. I think it’s an honor to be given another chance to do something different.

Q. Coach, defense for you has been pretty solid all year. Are you trying to change your approach at all going into the tournament? Are you just going to stay with what’s been working?
COACH FOSTER: We’ll just be who we are, who we’ve become more so.

Q. Coach, do you mind sharing some of your thoughts about this match-up again, and do you look back to November at that all —
COACH FOSTER: As little as possible. We weren’t a very good basketball team when we played here. We played three games here. We were in the process. We had a freshman in the mix, a point guard who had never been a point guard, and then she got injured, actually in the Louisville game, and missed a couple games.

Then sort of felt — my analogy was we were in the spin cycle of a washing machine, and we couldn’t practice because we had games it seemed like every other day, and we were playing sort of the cream of the crop.

So when that cycle stopped, and we hit the bottom of the machine, we started to become a pretty good basketball team. We figured out who we were, and the point guard started to behave like one, like she’d done it for a lot of years, instead of half a year, and the freshmen played with a lot of confidence. The upperclassmen figured stuff out. So we got to be a pretty good basketball team.

Q. Has there been a single factor in that? Has there been something that’s been the biggest difference maker in your eyes?
COACH FOSTER: I just think it’s the resilience and toughness of the players starting to evolve. Because, you know, we scheduled — we opened the season at Rutgers, and then we had Florida and Indiana, and then the schedule got tough. We played Connecticut and Notre Dame and Louisville and Green Bay and Florida Gulf Coast. We played a very ambitious schedule. I think the players learned quickly we’re not as good as we need to be. We need to get better.

They walked into this gym with that mentality. It’s amazing what can start to happen when players want to be coached and want to come in the gym and work hard.

Q. What does Louisville do well, and how are you going to defend that?
COACH FOSTER: Well, they have two dominant players and a bunch of role players. And the role players accept their roles, and the dominant players like their dominance. So we’ve got to guard them accordingly.

Q. They were very complimentary on your defense when they were in here for the press conference. The shot blocking in particular they remember. I think one player had seven. Talk about your defense?
COACH FOSTER: Well, I think we’re an eclectic defensive team. We change on the fly. We sometimes go into a game with a game plan and five or six minutes into the game decide we’re going in another direction based upon how that team is choosing to attack us. We’ve become versatile enough to do that. So we have some thoughts and ideas going into the game, but we are very willing to change them relative to how they’re going to come after us.

Quite frankly, we need to take care of the ball. We didn’t do that here. Did we guard them here? I don’t think we were very good with the ball. And we’ve become a lot better with it.

Q. Jasmine and her shot blocking, is that something she works at or is it just because of her size and her arms?
COACH FOSTER: No, I don’t think — if it were that easy, there would be a lot of shot blockers. First of all, I think you need to be extremely disciplined. Secondly, I think you need a group of referees that understand.

I remember — I’ve been around a long time, and Dee Kantner, who is one of our best officials, was doing a game at Vanderbilt at that time. I had a 6’10” player, and it seemed she would get in foul trouble, and I remember Dee standing there next to me one day, because that’s where we were at Vanderbilt, and I sort of informed her that women can and should be allowed to block shots.

So I ran into Dee a couple years later, and she said: You know, your comment to me, I would go in the mirror before games and I would look in the mirror before the game as I was warming up and say “Women can block shots. Women can block shots.”

So just letting you know we’ve got a woman that can block shots. She’s pretty good at it.

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