Dukes' Practice Day at John Paul Jones Arena
On the eve of JMU's first-round NCAA tournament game against Oklahoma, the team schedule included an afternoon news conference following by practice at John Paul Jones Arena.
The Dukes had the final practice of the day of the four NCAA Tournament teams in Charlottesville. Earlier the team combined lunch with a shopping trip to Fashion Square mall prior to getting down to the business of meeting the media and practicing for their first-round NCAA game against Oklahoma.
Highlights from Saturday's NCAA News Conferences
JMU Head Coach Kenny Brooks
"It's just a special season and a special team for me because of, in particular, the four seniors. I've stayed up late at night because I've been thinking of how I'm going to get these seniors to win a championship. If any group I've had deserved it, they did. For us to be able to go out and play as well as we did down the stretch to win another CAA Championship and get an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament so close to home -- it's very, very special. I'm very proud of that. I'm going to try to coach my butt off tomorrow because I don't want this to be the last time I coach those seniors. Whatever we can do to prolong it, we'll go out there and try to do. I know those kids will do the same for us and this program."
JMU Senior Center Lauren Jimenez
"(Playing Oklahoma) will be a challenge, but a good challenge."
"We are not just here to be here, we are trying to make noise."
JMU Senior Center Dawn Evans
"If there was one place we could play it would be here. For us to be 45 minutes away from JMU means a lot to us. We are going to treat it like a home court game."
"(Oklahoma is) extremely good at all aspects of the game so we have to bring our 'A' game."
Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale
"(Dawn Evans) is really good. She is a pro; she'll be playing in the league (WNBA). (She is) as complete of an offensive player that I've seen anywhere all year long. I knew she had crazy range and I know she could create and get to the rim, but I've been incredibly impressed with her ability to pass. That may be her greatest gift of all. She's a very clever, crafty passer and that makes her extremely dangerous. And then you add into the mix the intangible of what she's been able to do physically and the type of kid she obviously is, that character is something you build a team, a season, and a program around. And Coach Brooks has done that."
"I wish I wasn't playing them, because I'd be for them."
ESPN Announcing Team
Longtime ESPN announcer Beth Mowins will call the play-by-play for the NCAA first- and second-round games in Charlottesville. The color analyst is Ros Gold-Onwude, last year's Pacific 10 Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year at Stanford.
Gold-Onwude, who was recruited by JMU Coach Kenny Brooks while playing at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, also knows Dukes' assistant coach Jennifer Brown from the pair's playing days in New York City. The two visited briefly following JMU's Saturday afternoon practice at John Paul Jones Arena.
Much to the delight of the JMU team, many of the staff at the Dukes' hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott, are wearing JMU shirts,.
Some other purple sightings -- the ESPN producer wore a purple scarf today. The springtime show of purple and gold pansies can be seen at the hotel and around town.