Friday, March 18, 2011

Inside Virginia's win over Morgan State

We would have loved to have been in Charlottesville Thursday night to experience the emotions as retiring Debbie Ryan's Virginia Cavaliers topped Morgan State in the WNIT. Luckily for us, a few of our friends were able to give us the 411.

For example, we wondered about the atmosphere at John Paul Jones Arena for what could have been Ryan's final game. From the Richmond Times-Dipatch's Vic Dorr Jr.:

The game drew a small turnout (1,124) that for much of the evening seemed more drowsy than devoted. But with 20 seconds remaining, the U.Va. pep band began chanting Ryan's name. The chant soon spread. Youngsters seated behind one of the baskets displayed a hand-lettered poster: "Thanks, Debbie."

We were also eager to know what Ryan had to say about everything. U.Va sports information ace Amy Mulligan was on top of it: 

On pre-game emotions:"It's just really hard. It's hard to coach right now; it's hard to do everything right now. I love these kids sitting next to me, I love my players, I love the people I coach with and I love everything about this place, so this is hard. It's really, really hard. My emotions - I just can't control anything that's coming. Normally, I'm pretty under control and in control of everything that happens to me. But right now, I'm in control of nothing.

"I think I have a great staff and I really didn't have to worry about coaching tonight. The players took that out of my hands right away. They took care of business and that's all they needed to do. They were pretty much on auto-pilot tonight."

On message to team:"I told them that it gave me a chance to stay a little bit longer with them. Our rallying cry is that we really want to stay together as long as we possibly can, so that's really what we're trying to do. But I don't want to put pressure on them. I think that they're a lot more resilient than I am in this, so they're just out there playing. That's all I want for them to do - go out there and play and have fun. They've earned this. They're going to get better as basketball players by doing it and I think it's great for them."

On coaching final games of UVa career:"I put pressure on myself everyday, so I don't think there's any more or any less. I've just been trying to enjoy every minute that I have on the court with them. Even with my staff and it's in a staff meeting. All I'm trying to do is be the best I can be under the circumstances; try to be the best coach I can be on the floor and enjoy what I'm doing."

Finally, we were curious what Loyola coach Joe Logan, whose Greyhounds upset Old Dominion on Wednesday in what he termed the biggest win of his career, thought about facing the Cavaliers in a second-round game (Sunday, 4 p.m. at Loyola). Thanks to Mel Greenberg, we even know that:

“What a great reward,” Logan replied. “I beat (ODU’s) Wendy Larry and my reward is going against Debbie Ryan. They’ll be tough.”

Click here for Virginia's photo gallery of Thursday night's game.

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