The Arizona Wildcats lost to Stanford 62-48 on Monday, unavailable to keep themselves alive in the Pac-12 title race. Our full recap can be found here and below is the video and transcript of head coach Adia Barnes’ postgame interview.
On Arizona only shooting 31 percent as a team: “Well, I mean, Stanford plays percentages. They pack the paint. They force you into your weaknesses. And I think they made Aari (McDonald) really work to take pull-up jumpers, which is a really hard shot with with congestion. It wasn’t easy. I think that for us we needed some other people to be able to score. I think when we’re getting Aari to take 24 shots, it’s hard. First of all, it’s fatigue. It’s hard to do that and to go press the ball the whole time. The other thing is we just need some other productivity. I think that Sam (Thomas) did a really good job staying aggressive. But I think with the way she played, we need to get her more than nine shots. I think that they made us pay for the little mistakes. And we talked about that as a team. We don’t think we played our best game, but they make you make you do that. They make you play ugly and they make you play to your weaknesses. We were getting stops but then we couldn’t go score. So I think just the little things, being a little more efficient. The free throw box out that we missed leads to a 3. Then we had times in transition, we’d fumble the ball. All those little things, they’re too good. Those little mistakes they make you pay all the time. I think we forced them into some tough shots, but they forced us into really low percentage shots also. They’re a good team.”
On how to get other players other than Aari McDonald involved in the offense: “A lot of them have to step up and be productive. I think that a lot of times we’re looking for Aari or Aari is sometimes is taking some quick shots. We just can’t win that way. So I think there’s a combination of things. People have to be aggressive. And then when you’re aggressive, we gotta hit shots. I think Sam was hot. We kept on looking for her in the first half. We’re gonna get Cate a little bit more touches, which is hard because they’re bigger inside. We were trying, they were blocking our shots. It was hard for the posts. I think probably a more aggressive Helena Pueyo. In 29 minutes, three shots, but some of that is when they’re open, they gotta take the shots. They got to look for them because they spread the floor. So I think a combination of running offense a little faster and not taking quick shots in 15 seconds, and being aggressive. We have to.”
On the success Arizona had running Aari off the ball and if that will continue moving forward: “Not if we can’t execute when we do that. Sometimes we do that and it’s works. But then sometimes we have a tough time executing when I do that. So it’s sometimes a Catch 22. I think Shaina (Pellington) gave good minutes, but it was really difficult to play Shaina and Bendu (Yeaney) because then [Stanford] is just really heavy in the paint. So sometimes that’s hard. So you know, trying to play Shaina at the 1 with two shooters. And it’s good to run Aari off the ball a little bit, but just finding the right combinations with certain lineups that we had a tough time scoring and a tough time defending. So I think that we just have to play better. We can’t beat the No. 4 team in the country and shoot 24 percent from the 3. And if you look at our two-point field goals, 31 percent from the 2. You can’t beat a good team like that. And then 9 for 14 from the free throw line. We have to be 10 for 21 (from 3). We have to be 25 for 50 or 25 for 55 (from the field). We need to shoot around 40 percent from the 2 and 35, 38% from the 3 and we need to be 85% from the free throw line to beat a good team. We can’t have these stats.”
On how helpful it is to get to measure up against a team like Stanford right before the postseason: “Very helpful. I think us hitting some more shots, minimizing a couple of our mental mistakes, like going under on shooters, that’s the difference in the game. So I think cutting down those mental mistakes, I think that we can play with anybody. I think they’re capable. I think we showed at periods we can beat them. But they’re really good. We have to play well. We can’t have a lot of mental mistakes and little lapses or lulls of five, six minutes without scoring. I think we have to catch our stride. Our last two games have not been the best. But Stanford’s really good. They’re like an offensive machine. They have size inside and athleticism, so we have to go shoot the ball. And we have to go box out and stop the ball in transition. Those were some of the areas that we struggled with tonight. And when you don’t do those things, they make you pay. And luckily they were only 36% from the 3 because they missed some 3-point shots that they typically make. So we just have to play better to beat the Stanfords. We may be okay in the Pac-12 beating the lower teams with these stats, but we don’t beat the No. 4 in the country, which I think Stanford’s even better than that, with the performance we played.”
On if Pueyo is struggling with her confidence: “Helena should be confident because she’s one of our best 3-point shooters. She’s shooting over 40% from 3, so she should be confident. I don’t know why there’s hesitation. I thought she was doing really well on the boards, got some tough boards. I know her and Sam collided, but Sam and Helena have to be aggressive for us to win games. They spread the floor. They’re great shooters. Helena’s more than a shooter. She attacks the basket, finds people. We need her to be aggressive. But I thought that she was able to do other things. I mean, for her to have seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, no turnovers wasn’t bad. But in a game like this where they can congest the paint, we have to have her hit shots to just loosen them up. So I don’t know if it’s a confidence (thing) or maybe she didn’t feel good at that moment, but she needs to feel good because we need her to shoot. And I think Shaina, it’s just getting into a rhythm. I think just running the team when she’s in the game, we need to not hold the ball so much, but we’re talking about that and we’re working with Shaina on that. I don’t think she played bad. ... It was just difficult today. We just needed more shooting on the floor.”
On what it says that Arizona is second in the Pac-12 and played better against Stanford this time: “We’ve gotten better. We definitely are better from the last time we played Stanford, but we’re not where we need to be. We know we’re capable of playing better. We know we’re capable of doing more and our expectations and standards are high. But I look at the stat sheet I’m not happy with that. I’m not happy with getting outrebounding in the second half. I’m not happy with shooting 24 percent from a 3 or 31 percent from 2. That’s not what we do. 9 for 14 for free throws, you can’t beat good teams like that. When I look at the stat sheet, the thing I am happy with is forcing them to 16 turnovers. I think that’s good. Keeping them at 36 percent, we could have done a little bit better. But there are some bright spots in this. But the glaring things to me are points in the paint, 24 to 10. They have nine second-chance points. You know, six fastbreak points. We don’t usually give up fast break points. So those little things and it was points in the paint off Lexie curling, getting to the rim. It was backcuts. It was post plays. So the mental things I’m not satisfied with. Like for instance, during the bonus, we can’t foul 30 feet from the basket. Those are the small things that matter. And those are discipline things. So we just have to get better and smarter and we will. We’re not gonna play like this. We’ll play better. But Stanford’s also really good and they made us play bad.”
On Sunday’s season finale at ASU: “I don’t think there’s a lot at stake for the game. I think there was a lot of stake today. This was a big game. But for me ASU is a game we should win, but it’s your rival and games against a rival, if you look across the country, there’s a lot of upsets. But I think that if we are the team we’re supposed to be, that’s a game we should win. Is it hard? Yes. But everything is hard this time of year. So I think that we have to play better. We have to shoot the ball better. We have to finish better. We can’t have the mental mistakes. And I think we should win the game and I told the team we didn’t have the pressure. Like, this is uncharted territory for us. If we could have won tonight, we had a chance to win the conference. But if not, we probably will have the opportunity to face Stanford again in the Pac-12 Tournament. So we were gonna finish second if we take care of business and beat ASU, and I think we’ve worked really hard to get where we’re at. I mean, if you look a couple years ago, we were chosen to finish last. So I think we’ve come such a long way.
“I wish we would have just performed a little bit better (against Stanford). But I guess what I’m happy about our team is we fought, we didn’t give up. We were going. We were playing hard. Things weren’t falling, we were making mistakes, but we were trying. And I think that’s the thing. They were playing with passion and didn’t hang their heads when we took punches. So those are the things I’m proud about because that’s who we are and that’s my team.”