Lady Tigers Preview Matchup with No. 1 USC

by Matt Dunaway
Women's Basketball Media Session - Feb. 10 The Nikki Caldwell Show - Week 11 +0
Lady Tigers Preview Matchup with No. 1 USC

BATON ROUGE – LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell along with Raigyne Moncrief and Jasmine Rhodes met with the media Tuesday to preview the Lady Tigers upcoming game Thursday at No. 1 South Carolina.

LSU (14-9, 8-3 SEC) has won four straight and six of its last seven games to move into a third place tie with Mississippi State in the SEC standings.

Tip time is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT from Colonial Life Arena, and the game will be televised by FSN. The telecast also will be available on http://www.watchespn.com/ and the Watch ESPN app for those outside of the FSN viewing footprint.

The LSU Sports Radio Network will carry the game on its flagship station Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live. Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, will call the action.

For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.LSUsports.net/womensbasketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/LSUwbkb, @lsuwbkb and @NikkiCaldwell on Twitter, @LSUwbkb and @LSUNikkiCaldwell on Instagram.

LSU Women’s Basketball Media Session
February 10, 2015

Opening statement …
“We’re excited about the challenge that we will be facing on Thursday. South Carolina is one of the best teams in the country. This gives us a chance to see how far we’ve grown from the first time we’ve played them in early January to now. I do feel as though we’re a better basketball team. We’ve been playing very tough on the defensive end. When you’re on the road, there are a few things that we always talk about and we concentrate on. It starts with our defense and our board play. We also talk about how we’ve got to make layups and free throws. We have to take care of the basketball. Those things are going to be keys for us.”

On what the team has learned from the first South Carolina game…
“One thing that they are very good at is distributing and sharing the basketball. They did a nice job of attacking us, not only from the inside but also outside. They’re a team that defensively, with their size advantage, you have to be creative in pulling them away from the basket. You’ve got to make the extra pass because they come over, and they lend tremendous help. There are a lot of good things that we did in that last game against them. We watched, and we’re going to see those things today on film. We’re going to show the team because we can be better than what we were during the first part of January.”  

On using the fullcourt press as a weapon…
“Being able to press gives us energy. We enjoy extending our defense. We enjoy the results of it when we are able to turn teams over. That’s what we’ve been able to do in SEC play is turn our opponents over. More importantly, we’ve been able to capitalize off of those turnovers. Against a team like South Carolina, they do a nice job of taking care of the basketball. When we played them the first time, we did turn them over more than they typically do. We’re going to definitely look at our defensive scheme and how we can apply more pressure to the basketball.” 

On who on the team has grown the most…
“I’ve got to name a few people. I like the play of us moving Anne Pederson to the four (position) in SEC play. She’s a mismatch for a lot of players if you’re not able to extend your defense and play along the perimeter spacing wise. Rina Hill has done a really nice job of just calming the waters if you will. Her effort and how hard she plays defensively really sets the tone for us. She may not come up with the steals like (Danielle) Ballard and (Raigyne) Moncreif but her positioning to allow those two or DaShawn Harden to really get in the passing lanes and really contribute to our defensive scheme. Those two (Hill and Pedersen) have really done a great job of being leaders by example. Their work ethic and how much time and energy they put in the gym outside of practice have been very impressive, and it has only helped our team.”

On her message to the team going into the South Carolina game …
“My message to this team is going to be very simple. You’ve got to roll your sleeves up, and you’ve got to be ready to go to work. This game is played at a high level of energy and intensity. Those are things that we can control. We’ve got to continue to be great teammates, and we’ve got to have tight huddles. We’ve got to make sure that we are after those 50-50 balls. Those things generate your energy, and you’ve got to believe. You’ve got to believe in what we are doing. You’ve got to believe in one another, and you can never underestimate your own abilities. We’ve talked about that too. We’ve talked about how greatness exists in all of us. We are going to go out there and compete. We are going to enjoy the process and enjoy the grind of playing a very good basketball team like South Carolina.”

On the keys to being to pull an upset …
“I think you’ve got to draw on the experience but also know that it took a lot of hard work to prepare to get to that game. You think about the 6 a.m. workouts in the offseason, you think of pushing the (Marine) Hum V, all the weight training that we have done and all of those things to lead up to this game. Then, you also have to realize that you have to stay in the moment. You have to enjoy one possession at a time and don’t over think or over process the task at hand. I like the fact that this team has been exposed to the type of environments we will see Thursday at South Carolina. We’ve played at Tennessee, which was a hostile environment. We’ve played at Mississippi State. We’ve been in that type of environment so we know how. We’ve got to generate our own type of crowd if you will but that crowd and that noise and that volume should come from within. That is what we are going to focus in on. How can we continue to be our own fans within the game?”

On Danielle Ballard‘s return …
“Danielle makes a huge difference because that’s one more person that you’ve got to put on your scouting report. You’ve got to recognize how good she is as a basketball player. More importantly, she’s a player that gives us calmness where certain teammates are now in their respective positions. They are not feeling that they have to carry the load obviously Raigyne Moncrief and DaShawn Harden in particular. You’ve got a player that defensively gives you four of five steals here and there. Danielle is a player that can also get on the offensive glass, and she is one of the best rebounding guards in the country. She brings a balanced attack for us. Now, can she make up that deficit that we had in our last outing against South Carolina? You can’t say that, but I know that our team is better than where we were when we did play them before.”