The Arizona women’s basketball team held a press conference on Saturday, April 3, ahead of their first NCAA national championship game in program history.
The three participants were head coach Adia Barnes, senior Aari McDonald and senior Sam Thomas. Here are some highlights from Saturday's virtual press conference.
Barnes on her relationship with Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer: “I have so much respect for [VanDerveer] and it started when I was a student-athlete at Arizona. We always played against Stanford. In my career in Arizona as a player we beat Stanford one time and it was like on a buzzer-beater from like 80 feet. [VanDerveer] has such a good program and she's such a great coach, one of the best in the business so I have so much respect for her and what she's done. It's one thing to be successful one year … . But to have sustained success, that's really meaningful and I hope I aspire to do that one day.”
McDonald on if the ultimate goal was getting to a championship game when she committed to Arizona: “Yes, coming in, I knew that this is the ultimate goal that I wanted to achieve, along with my teammates and my coaches. I mean, this is what we talked about, and to see it finally coming full circle and it's happening like, it's crazy.”
McDonald on what it will take to beat Stanford: “A couple of things that we have to do to win will be shooting and knocking down shots. We’ve been shooting great in the tournament so far. The second thing is rebounding and something that we can't do is not communicate early and often to each other. Whether that's offense or defense. And another thing, you have to be stagnant on offense.”
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Thomas on the reason she takes pride in doing the little things: “Growing up, my dad always just taught me defense. He's kind of old school. He always says defense wins championships so it's been instilled my whole life just to play defense. I think now coming into the college level, I'm realizing how important defense is and with playing at Arizona, our defense really ignites our offense so I think that just really gets the team going. And then having everyone around me being able to be just as defensive-minded as I am, I think that's what has carried us so far."
Thomas on the meaning of the championship game: “It does mean a lot. People don't see the behind-the-scenes, our trainers, doctors testing early in the morning because we have to get those results before practice, just being here in a bubble for longer than two weeks now. I mean, mentally, it's probably the toughest season ever, but just to be able to know that we're here now in the national championship, everything is paying off.”
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