Gopher Volleyball Blog: Pre-Tournament Press Conference

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Purdue University streamed all of the pre-tournament press conferences and will be available at a later date on Gopher All-Access. Below is the full transcription of head coach Hugh McCutcheon's press conference along with team participants Ashley Wittman and Alexandra Palmer.

2012 NCAA Regionals
Pre-Match Press Conference - Minnesota
Mackey Arena, West Lafayette
, Ind.; December 7, 2012

Minnesota Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon

Opening Statement
"We are very happy to be here and obviously excited to be at this phase in the tournament. We think it's a great setup and facilities here at Purdue and so we look forward to a good match tomorrow, so we'll see what will happen from there."

On what goes into stopping a great player like Ariel Turner...
"I'm not sure anyone has figured that out yet. She's probably going to get hers and it's about us taking care of it. Purdue is more than just her, there are a lot of dynamic weapons on the team and so it is about trying to deal with the patterns that they have, so then we can get in our own rhythm and get in some defensive spots so we will have a few points in transition. But she's a handful and a good player and that's what good players do, they score."

On how difficult it is to defend so many offensive players...
"The reason that the Big Ten is such a strong conference right now is because every team has different ways of attacking you. You get used to dealing with balanced offenses, but more importantly it forces the athletes to read the game and make the right choice at the right time. That has always been the most important skill in our sport and our team has gotten better as the season has gone on. Purdue has a great offense and we will do our best to see the game and see the spots to score a few points there."

On the initial expectation of being the new coach at Minnesota...
"The driving factor for me was trying to get a different rhythm to life relative to the fact that we had a couple young children and with the national team we were traveling very extensively around 130-150 days a year with most of the road trips 30 days in a row. My goal in life was to be a dad, not necessarily a coach and I just figured college volleyball was the right way to give a little bit more balance. We don't work any less hard or that it's any less competitive, but I just don't have to raise my kids over Skype. If I go on the road it's three or four days at a time. I don't know how to pack for a three day road trip, but I can pack for a 30 day road trip, no problem. It has been great that my kids and my wife get to be a part of the matches at home considering when I was with the national team we would be playing in other countries for four years. I get to battle in the great conference and train some really good student athletes and human beings, but the family component has certainly been a great addition for me in my life."

On the fact that they have played Purdue before...
"I think it's good. At this point it comes down to execution. None of us want to be working where we get in a situation where we get surprised a lot and when you're playing a conference opponent there's a lot of data. They know us and we know them and we'll go to battle. It is not a negative by any means because at this stage in the tournament everyone is strong. People might infer that on paper we would be favored going into tomorrow's match, but I think it will be evenly matched."

On tinkering with the lineup...
"We were just trying to be a little smoother. Our highs were pretty high and our lows were pretty low and we wanted to be in the middle of the wave. Morgan has done a nice job and if she gets into trouble we know that Lindsey will come in and take over. We just want to be as smooth and consistent as we can be."

Ashley Wittman, Junior Outside Hitter

On the challenges of taking on Purdue another Big Ten team...
"I wouldn't say there are any challenges, but you just have to know that we have played them before in our conference. It's been a while, so both teams have gotten better and worked hard so there is no taking them lightly. We just need to focus on our game and worry about what we are going to do out there on the court tomorrow because in the end we are controlling ourselves."

On the strengths of Purdue and the keys to win...
"One thing that we are going to have to focus on is that Turner will get a lot of sets. That's one thing we have known about Purdue for a couple years now. Otherwise it's working on our game and playing disciplined and focusing on what we do, so then we will be good in the end."

On growing up a Minnesota fan and getting the program back to the higher level that it is known for being...
"It is about carrying on a legacy that past Gophers have done because this program has been great for years and years. We want to continue that legacy and get farther and farther each year and not stay the same.  With McCutcheon coming in he pushes us to get better and better to do the best to our ability."

Alexandra Palmer, Junior Setter
On how playing conference teams prepares for the tournament...

"Playing in the Big Ten is like playing in the championship game every single night we're out on the court. It prepares us ultimately for the outside pressures going into the tournament with the atmosphere and the crowds, so I think we're ready."

On Purdue having the home advantage...
"Ultimately it doesn't, it depends on personal players views and how they feel about home crowds. With us going in and playing, we are going to have a lot of fans coming in combined with the Purdue fan base it is going to be great and a really fun atmosphere to play in."

On the turning point of becoming a better team...
"We were applying what we were learning in practice and were able to not only compete really hard and be able to apply what we were learning in order to get better every single day to get us to where we are now."






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