NCAA Women’s Lexington Regional Final
Sunday, March 25 2018
Lexington, Kentucky – Rupp Arena
Louisville – 76, Oregon State – 43
JEFF WALZ: Just first off, I just want to congratulate Scott and Oregon State. What a remarkable year they had. Very, very good basketball team, very well-coached, first-class. I had the opportunity to get to know Scott, as I said the other day, out at USA Basketball, and just really impressed with how he does things and what they do.
You know, unfortunately in this game, one team gets to be excited and one team it’s tough. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Oregon State will be back competing, like he’s built that program into a very, very good ballclub.
And then, you know, again, I just always want to thank Tom Jurich. 11 years ago, whoever thought this would be possible. To be sitting here going to our third Final Four in 11 years with a ballclub that when I was hired, it was like, I just want a program, I don’t want a good team, I want a program that’s going to compete on a national level, and gave us those resources to be able to go out and recruit and do that, and now we’re sitting here with Myisha Hines-Allen being our senior, and we have not had one players who’s finished four years and graduated from Louisville that’s not played in a Final Four.
I think a program that had never been to a Sweet 16 until 11 years ago can now say every player that’s finished four years has had the opportunity to play in a Final Four. I think that’s pretty impressive.
And then to these young women here, I can’t say enough about their character. The basketball stuff is there, that’s great. It’s their character. It’s who they are. It’s what they do off the floor. You can’t be a great basketball team and have the results you want if you don’t carry it over in your personal life. And we truly do have wonderful young women who are wonderful role models to my children, to Coach Purcell’s children, and that means more to me than winning basketball games.
When my daughters were out there in the yard, and Lola tells me she’s Lola Hines-Allen today, and Lucy, you’re going to be Lucy Durr, and then she tells Mom, you’re going to be the official, and Dad can still be the coach, you know, it’s the impact that they have on their lives that means everything to me.
It’s a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to get back to a Final Four again, but I want to thank them for being the people they are.
Q. Asia, what would you like to say back to the fans back in Atlanta, those who helped you when you were playing ball on that level there in high school, middle school and others, and how they helped you get to this point along with the coaching staff here?
ASIA DURR: Well, I don’t know where to start, but I try to represent my hometown pretty well as a person and as a basketball player. Man, I go home, we just played Georgia Tech back in December, and I mean, the place was just crazy. My fans, my family, my friends, they were just unbelievable, and I just want to thank them so much.
I mean, they’ve been with me since I was like in the sixth grade, up into high school at St. Pius. They would travel all across downtown just to come and see me play. That’s pretty crazy, and I truly thank them. This isn’t just about me and my teammates, this is about our fans, our family, our coaching staff. Without them, we can’t do it.
Q. Myisha, talk about the adjustment at halftime that resulted in the third quarter. I think you outscored them 28-12 and really took control of the tempo in the game at that point.
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Yeah, we knew we were going to have to win the game on the defensive end. If we were able to get stops and go in transition, we were going to be confident. Our shots were falling in the second half, and I mean, it all came down to defense, on the defensive end. If we wanted to win, we had to stop them. They are phenomenal at shooting threes. They have a great post player, so it was going to come down to if you guys want to win, if you want to go to a Final Four, we have to get stops.
Q. Asia, the Oregon State coach a few minutes ago came in and said that the last thing he told his team was remember how fast Louisville comes at you, and it appeared that they didn’t really adjust to the speed that you play. Can you tell early in a game if a team is just going to be back on its heels and it’s going to turn into a game like today?
ASIA DURR: Right, I think we pay attention to every play, especially in the first quarter, first two, three minutes of the game, we could definitely tell how they’re going to play, how they’re going to guard us. We definitely try to play a fast pace. We try to push the ball up the floor. We have great posts who know how to run. I mean, everybody runs on the team.
I think we did a great job of doing that again today. That was huge. You know, we love to sprint the ball up the floor, pass the ball up the floor, so that’s pretty much what we try to do.
Q. Sam, two days ago, Marie Gülich basically carries Oregon State on both sides of the court and leading them over No. 2 Baylor. What was your job today in guarding her, and what was your mindset in going up against her to keep her from doing that again?
SAM FUEHRING: For me, it was to limit her touches and to keep her off the boards. She’s a big girl, so I mean, she’s got like three inches on me, two inches, so I’ve got to use my strength to keep her off the boards.
But I feel like I did a pretty good job. She’s got really good footwork, and she had a lot of moves, but I kept moving my feet, and I think that helped the team today.
Q. Just a question for all three of you: You scored 24 points off turnovers, they scored zero. You only had three turnovers. What made this the kind of game where you only committed three turnovers?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: I mean, we took care of the ball. We took shots that we normally take. We weren’t forcing anything. So I mean, that’s why we were so good. I think defensively, too, and offensively, because we didn’t turn the ball over. We cherished every possession that we had.
ASIA DURR: I mean, I would say the same thing. Every time you take care of the ball, you get more shots, so I think that was key. Last game we turned the ball over, I think, nine times in the first half, so Coach Walz was really talking to us about that, you can’t turn the ball over nine times in the first half, which is not good. Coming into this game we were trying to take care of the ball more so we’ll be able to get more shots.
SAM FUEHRING: Yeah, I feel like we took care of the ball, and towards the end of the game we used the time for us. We did our pace, and at the end of the shot clock, we just shot, and it went down.
Q. Myisha, you had three rebounds today. Was that a testament to them keeping you off the glass, or was it because your teammates were also making big rebounds?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: I think it was my teammates. I think we out-rebounded them, too. Everyone was getting rebounds. But yeah, my teammates, they did a good job rebounding the ball.
SAM FUEHRING: They boxed out well, too. They hit me hard on box-outs. So they boxed out well.
Q. When you got here as a freshman, you played in three NCAA tournaments before, never got this far, and when you got here, they were coming off of two years before a Final Four. How do you see the program build to this moment, to where you are right now?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Well, the program was already built, so it was basically when I came in my freshman year, we had five seniors, so it was basically, if you want to be successful, if you want to keep this program afloat, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to do what the people behind you already done, and that’s play hard, play Louisville ball, and I feel like it’s just me left and AC, but I feel like we’ve done that, and we’ve gotten great people in here to help us out with that, and they’ve bought into what Louisville basketball is and what Coach Walz is wanting.
So I mean, that’s why we’re so successful and we’re here.
Q. In that first quarter, you all rotated a bunch of people on Gülich and really just kind of frustrated her. How much of that was just seeing something that maybe just putting smaller players, rotating people off of her might frustrate her?
SAM FUEHRING: I mean, we were just taught that as long as we play hard defense that she may not be able to get a shot off. Jaz did a really good job of getting under her. They over threw the lob. Myisha helped inside, because we knew if it got to her in the game, it could have been a close game.
But I feel like we rotated well, we played hard, and that’s how we stopped her.
Q. Myisha, since you played UConn, this team has gone on a pretty dominant run. What has changed since then, and how much better prepared would you be for an encore performance against them?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Yeah, well, first, before we even get to UConn, we have to play either Mississippi State or UCLA, so that’s our first focus. It’s not getting ahead. It’s not jumping ahead or anything like that. It’s one game at a time. But I mean, once you play UConn, you see how they play. They’re a great team. They’re a dynasty. So I mean, you see what the coaches want from them. You see how they perform. You see how they run the floor every time. They rebound the ball really well, and they run their plays.
So once you’re able to like play against that, you know — and you’re in a game with them, too, you know that you’re capable of doing it, too, and I think after that game, it boosted a lot of our confidence up because we didn’t know where we were standing, and I mean, that’s a high team. So I mean, when you get to play them, you can see where you rank with them.
Q. If you can talk about Arica Carter and the job she’s done as the season has gone on?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: I can start that off because me and AC came in together as freshmen, and AC has came a long, long way. Me and her laugh about it all the time. Her freshman year was hard. Coach Walz got on her a lot, but he knew that she could be great and she could do the things she’s doing now. So AC — and then the fact she sat out last year, too, and she learned all the plays, she knew what to do, she was coaching people on the sideline. So AC is just a coach at heart. She knows the game, she knows what she has to do for this team to be successful, and I’m just happy that the team is doing so well because it’s a testimony to her, because she’s a big part of it. You know, me, Asia and Sam, too, we get a lot of credit for a lot of things, but AC is the one who runs the team and makes sure everyone is in their right spots and knows what we have to do, so it’s a credit to her.
Q. When you’re not in the game, especially at the end when you’re out and it’s becoming apparent that you guys are probably going to win, what’s going through your mind in that moment, and what little things about the game are you still noticing? Are you just kind of exhausted at that point?
ASIA DURR: Well, you try to soak it all in, but then again, you’re still focusing on your teammates because the game is not over yet. We can still score, still get stops. We still want to pay attention to the game, but I think at that point like everybody was definitely like truly excited. That’s basically it.
Q. Obviously a lot of people know about the job Myisha and Asia have done throughout the season, but Sam’s development this year has really been key to you guys, and how big was she tonight, not just offensively but defensively to go up against Gülich?
JEFF WALZ: Well, Sam was outstanding. You know, you just can’t even start with Sam. You’ve got all of them. Jasmine Jones, she scores four points, and that’s all — if you look at stats, you’re like, gosh, she only got four tonight, but defensively she was everywhere. I go back and look at the stats, they were 5 of 13 from three. We held them to five three-pointers. They’re averaging eight to nine a game.
But Sam, you know, she’s not afraid of contact. She holds her own. She doesn’t keep backing down. And that’s the thing when we watch them on film. Gülich is a fantastic post player. I’m so impressed with her. And she does a great job of getting low post position, and we just kept telling them, you can’t keep backing up, you’ve got to hold your ground or she’ll dominate you, and Sam did a great job of holding her ground. Then it made her shoot over Sam instead of around her. Starting that third quarter, she scored back-to-back buckets because she got Sam on the top side, and then all she did was shoot it around her, and we’re like, Sam, she’s got to shoot over you, you’ve got to make you shoot over you, and then we made that adjustment, and then Sam was fantastic.
Q. Speaking in metaphoric terms, it’s been a long road to this point. How do you keep the girls from having this sense of accomplishment, yes, we’ve made it to Columbus but we have to win the game?
JEFF WALZ: Well, they’re aware of that. This is the whole tournament. Our whole goal is to come out and compete for a national championship, but we know you can’t do that if you don’t get to a Final Four. Now we’ve got a four-team tournament, our third one in three weeks, and they’ll be dialed in and ready to go. There’s no question about it. So we’re just — our kids have taken it game by game, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re not worried about anything else but this game tonight. We’ll sit there and watch this game tonight, figure out who we’re going to play, and then start preparing on Tuesday.
Q. This is kind of a general question about women’s basketball as a whole. I’ve seen a number of articles come out recently about UConn being bad for women’s basketball. As a team who has competed against them once this year and then year in and year out in the Big East, how would you respond to that?
JEFF WALZ: Oh, no, it’s not bad for women’s basketball. I guess when Alabama beats somebody 66 and 3 it’s bad for college football. You know, God forbid if they go beat somebody 70-21, should they quit football because Alabama is dominating people? I look at it more as if you can’t be impressed and admire what they do year in and year out, shame on you. If you want to sit there and write an article saying it’s bad for basketball, maybe you’re bad for what you do, I mean, because God forbid, if you can’t appreciate greatness, then shame on you. I mean, maybe the people that write these articles suck at their job, so they want to try to crack on somebody else. That’s my two cents.
I mean, damn, like do you know how hard it is — we’re sitting there, and Steph Norman and I have been here for 11 years, and we’re going to our third Final Four in 11 seasons, and I’m telling you, this is the damn hardest s— I’ve ever been through. I sat there and told Steph before the game started, imagine, UConn every year for like 15 years, I think they’ve been — whatever it’s been in a row, their season doesn’t end until April the 3rd, April the 4th, just about every year. Like it’s exhausting. I mean, it’s — I told a friend that when we’re finished, when it’s all finished, I hope it’s not until next Sunday, that my goal is to sit in bed for about four days and watch reruns of Law and Order SVU. I mean, I’m physically exhausted, because the amount of preparation you put into all of this. It’s not you just show up for the game and roll the ball out and go. So what Geno has done I think is amazing. I don’t think it’s bad for anything. I watch it. I watch them play and admire it. Our goal is to hopefully get there at one point in time. That’s what everybody is trying to do.
So yeah, so whoever writes that needs to look at themselves and see if they suck at their job, because I think they do. Sorry about that.
Q. When Scott was in here, he was talking about that you play at a different speed than they see. Looking at the scouting report and the film, did you anticipate you’d be able to turn them over as much as you did, and did you force the pace maybe a little faster than you normally do?
JEFF WALZ: We tried to force the pace. We tried to force the pace against Stanford in the Sweet 16 game. You know, I thought that game personally was decided in the first six and a half minutes, our Stanford game, not because of the score but because of the tempo of the game that we had it going at. There was not a media time-out I don’t think until 3:40 to go in the first quarter. So we had that thing going at the pace that we wanted, and I thought it wore them down as the game went on.
Today, we were going to try to push in transition as much as we could, but at the same time not take a bad shot. We had some — we took one or two forced shots in that first quarter because we were excited. Like Sam missed a reverse lay-up she never misses. She drove from the high post and missed the lay-up. Sam never misses that. But they were so excited. But I liked the tempo.
All we’ve been working on offensively is tempo, get the ball going down the floor, tempo, make them chase you.
Offensively if you can make a defensive person chase you, then you’re going to have an opportunity to get the advantage, and that’s what I thought we did. There were points in the first half when they switched to zone that I was getting on AC and Dana, you’ve got to get the ball up the floor, we’ve got to get tempo, get it moving, instead of just walking it up and then trying to run a set, and I thought we did a really good job of that. We go 5 of 17 the first quarter, we weren’t great, but we got good shots.
At halftime, what I told the kids was, you know, it’s a nine-point game or whatever it was at half, seven, I said, I love the tempo. We missed open shots. If you go back and watch the first half, we missed open shots. I thought we made them earn every basket they got. We challenged them. They hit the three threes. Corosdale, she hits three threes in the first half and gets nothing in the second because we made an adjustment on that.
But everything they got, they earned, which is what our goal was.
Q. Coaches that have sustained success don’t like to compare one good year versus another, but what is the most rewarding thing about this year’s team and going to the Final Four maybe compared to the past?
JEFF WALZ: It’s getting these young women the opportunity to experience it. You know, as a coach, I was fortunate enough as an assistant coach at Maryland to win a National Championship in ’06. We go back in ’09 and ’13. The coaching side of it, I tell my players all the time, I push you as hard — I push them as hard as I push them because I want them to have the opportunity to experience this.
As a player, it’s 10 times better than as a coach. Are you kidding me? I mean, it’s great. Don’t get me wrong. But as a player, you have control over everything out there. And I want them to have that opportunity to experience what it feels like. I mean, it’s a whole new thing. You get the opportunity to go to the Final Four, everything that comes with that is awesome.
And I’ve told them the past two times, soak up every second of it. You know, in ’06 when we won at Maryland, I had a good friend, Linden Weese from Texas Tech, and Roger Reding, who were assistants at Tech when they won the National Championship. They called me and said, soak in every second of it. Go to every party that the coaches offer because it’ll be maybe the only time that everybody buys you a drink. They’re like, maximize it, soak it in.
Basketball is basketball. You can watch all the time you want. We’re 38 games into it. We’re good at what we’re good at, we’re bad at what we’re bad at. You’re not going to change it. So I’m going to tell the players the same thing. We’re going to enjoy it. I’m going to let them enjoy this experience.
Now, when we practice, we practice, but it’s not going to be when you’re locked in the room, we’ve got to do this. No, we’re going to do our work, we’re going to be ready to play, but I want them to experience it and I’ll forever be grateful to Linden and Roger for that advice because you don’t know when you’re getting back. It’s not as — as I said, it’s not as easy as UConn makes it out to seem. You know, it’s a lot of hard work.
So to have the opportunity to get back — I want them to enjoy this, and then let’s see if we can’t go out and win two games.
Q. You’ve already alluded to the fans and how much of a difference they basically painted this place red today. Go a little further about the fan support.
JEFF WALZ: Oh, it was great. Our fans are wonderful. To get close to 6200 to come down and be a part of this is amazing. Our players — I’ve said it all along, I mean, we’re forever grateful to our fan base. We don’t ever take them for granted. That’s why we sign autographs at every home game win or lose. As I always say, it’s easy after you win, it’s not much fun after you lose. But it was an awesome venue tonight, today. I mean, they were loud, they were excited, and it was just — it’s a tribute to the fan base that we have, not just for women’s basketball but the University of Louisville in general.
Q. When you win these regionals, do you have a collection of Nets in your office —
JEFF WALZ: No.
Q. Do you just let the players have them?
JEFF WALZ: I let the players enjoy it. Now, we’ll put the net and the trophy out in our lobby or something like that. But it’s a great feeling. I mean, again, everybody laughs and I’m telling you, it’s the truth, I’ll sleep well tonight. I would have slept well tonight if we hadn’t won. We come out here and we compete, we give it everything we have. I’m going to go home, and my four and a half year old and two-and-a-half-year-old, all they’re going to talk about is the confetti on the floor. They have no idea. To them, if we win, there’s confetti on the floor that I get to play on. That’s it.
Q. How sentimental do you get with celebrations like that and keeping little mementos like the net and that kind of thing?
JEFF WALZ: We’ll sit there and keep it in the office, in our lobby when you walk in as a talking piece. But it’s not something I put under my pillow. You know, it’s nothing like that. I mean, believe me, it’s a wonderful experience. I’m not trying to downplay it at all because it’s a remarkable experience.
But it’s something that we enjoy, will celebrate, and then we’ve got to get prepared for the next one.
Q. You talked earlier about building a program. Is the National Championship really the only missing piece now? Is this program where you want it to be?
JEFF WALZ: Well, you know, I mean, a National Championship would be fantastic. You know, that’s why you play this is to hopefully make a big run in March.
But you know, I’m not going to be defined, our program is not going to be defined, oh, it was a bad 20 years, 15, 16 years, because they never won a National Championship. That’s not what it’s all about. It’s about the consistency of what you’re able to do year in and year out, because I’ve said it all along: Come March — I’ll start that over. I’ve said, and I truly believe, automatic bids for the NCAA Tournament should come from conference regular season championships, and then you play the conference tournament to see if you can’t figure out a way to get a few more wins to get in, because the hardest thing is to win your conference regular season, because it’s 16 games, 18 games. You have one slip-up, you might lose the league.
Come March, it’s one game. It’s like, okay, I’ve got to be ready to play well on Friday night. We did. Now I’ve got to be ready to play well on Sunday. And then you move on.
So you’ve got to be able to sit here and come out every single night, enjoy what you’re doing, but hopefully we can win a National Championship. But I’ll never define what we do by one trophy.
Q. In the third quarter Myisha tipped a pass at halftime, do a little one-two with AC and dumped it off to Sam for the lay-up, and I saw you pumping your fist and Myisha kind of went crazy. Are those kinds of moments, those big plays, do you remember those years down the line, or are those things that get overtaken by the larger scheme of things?
JEFF WALZ: I’ll be honest with you, and it’s the honest truth. The games — you remember some of the games, but like you go back — I think it was in ’13, what I remember from that year is when we got stuck down in Clemson because the flight was delayed because of weather, and Adrienne Johnson imitated every player and every staff member, and it was great until you came along, until, oh, God, this is me, because she does a fantastic job.
Those are the things that you remember when it’s all said and done. And I talk to them about it all the time. You’ll remember some games. You’ll remember the memories that are made off the court, because that’s what you constantly go back and talk about. That’s what made this year so special is just how these players are with my children. It’s remarkable.
You’ll remember some of the game moments, but I promise you, it’s a lot of the stuff off the floor.
Q. (No microphone).
JEFF WALZ: Right now I couldn’t even tell you right now. I’m going 90 miles an hour in every direction. I’m not stuttering much, so I just keep talking.
Q. You made a point in your opening remarks of thanking Tom Jurich. Have you had any communication with him since he was let go in?
JEFF WALZ: You know what, I’ve sat there and exchanged a text message or so with him just to — I’ve sent it out to him just to thank him. I wrote him a note, because I think it’s important. I’m not naïve enough to sit here and here without Tom I’d be sitting where I am. So it’s okay to give credit where credit is due, and Christine Herring and Vince have done a wonderful job. Christine has been with me — I think it’s been five years now as my SWA, and she’s been fantastic. Vince came in, and Vince has done a great job of keeping this thing going.
You know, I’d like to reach out and talk to Tom, but I’m not sure how this stuff all goes with what I’m allowed to do and what I can’t, but there’s no question that he is a big part of this, and he has a stamp on it.
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