Delaware coach Tina Martin tossed some funny and imformative stories during her 15-minute press conference on Saturday at the NCAA Bridgeport Regional.
On how Elena Delle Donne has improved as a player:
“She has learned to recognize defenses better since she was a freshman. We’ve seen it all; from a box and one to a triangle and two to junk defenses that throw multiple players at her. She now knows on the floor where to look for openers and cutters.
“She’s always had that beautiful shot you see. I can not take credit for it. She just has a good feel for the game. And she has the heart of a competitor.”
What she means to the state of Delaware:
“Besides Vice President Biden, I don’t think there is more important individual in the state right now. She carries herself so well. He has put her ego aside. She embraces her team and they embrace her back; a humble kid who works really hard and is very talented.”
On how Martin felt when Delle Donne first picked UConn, then came back to Delaware to play volleyball:
“We knew Elena would chose between the top programs; the BCS schools, if you will. I followed her career since she was in the 8th grade. I even wrote her a letter then – totally within NCAA rules. But other than that, I had no connection to her. I watched and wondered like everyone else to see where she would choose to play.
“Geno Auriemma is one of the best coaches in the country – I think he is the best – so I was happy for Elena. Then ironically I was in Italy on vacation for the first time in 10 years [when she left and enrolled to play volleyball at Delaware]. When my former AD called to tell me Elena had enrolled, it was 2 a.m. in Italy and I was this has to be crazy. And then the next thing he said was, she is going to play volleyball. I knew at that point that the young lady was stressed out. It had to be so overwhelming.
“But I knew things would calm down, and they eventually did. I left her alone, gave her space [when she played volleyball]. Then she started to come around [the basketball office] and said she wanted to play. I was happy, then I started to immediately worry how would I get her the ball.”
On whether Vice President Joe Biden will attend Saturday’s game:
“I can’t speak to his schedule, but he sometimes calls me out of the blue and says, “Tina, this is Joe, if you don’t know, Joe Biden. And I say, ‘Yes, Mr. Vice President.’ It’s amazing. He’s an incredible man, but I don’t know yet if he will be here. But he’s a good luck charm. We have not lost when he is in the stands. If there’s any chance President O’Biden can let him come. We’d appreciate it.”
If Elena’s more famous in Delaware than Joe Flacco, the former Blue Hens’ QB who led the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl championship:
“Mr. Flacco is a tremendous football player. I can’t say if he or Elena is more popular, but I will say Elena has a leg up because she is a Delawarian and Mr. Flacco is from the New Jersey area, if I am not mistaken. But I will give the edge of Elena because I am her coach.”