JEFF WALZ: First off, I’d just like to thank our crowd, everybody that helps put on this event. I thought it’s first-class. I think that’s what we do here at Louisville when we put on an NCAA Tournament. Everything is done the way it’s supposed to be, so I want to thank all of our volunteers, all of our support staff, everyone that makes this possible because it’s not easy. There is a lot of people that volunteer their time. So we’re fortunate enough to be able to do something like this and host. So I’d like to start off thanking them.
And then I’d like to thank our crowd. What an absolutely — just a wonderful, wonderful crowd we had today, especially with our men playing here at 6:30. You know, to get 8,000 to come out, and they were loud. They were into the game. That speaks volumes for what we can do here at Louisville athletics. Not just one sport because I’m excited to see what our men’s crowd is tonight for when our men play to be able to compare and go, hey, our men may have had 10,000 12,000, 13,000 and we get 8,000. That’s a lot of people rolling through in one day to watch two basketball games.
And then I just have to congratulate Marquette and their team. I mean, it was — we knew going into the game that they can score with the best of them, and Blockton just absolutely — she put on a show tonight. To drop 34, five assists, one turnover, I mean, we really didn’t have an answer for her. We tried to double her at times. We tried to do whatever we could. But she played great.
I thought we did do a very good job on Hiedeman. You know, she was one that I was worried about, but we did a very nice job of contesting shots early and making it difficult for her to score. And you know, it’s a ballclub that’s very talented. They’re very well-coached, and just want to wish them nothing but the best next season.
And then for our kids, you know, I was just — I thought from top to bottom, everybody gave us a lift. I thought off the bench, I thought Kylee came in in the first half and played big minutes for us. I thought she was really good. Dana came in and gave us big minutes, too. Bionca, although it’s only seven, they were seven important minutes. So I was just really proud of them.
And then you look at Asia, you know, when she saw the ball go in, I know she felt better. That was a great night for her, six assists, three turnovers.
Jaz, I mean, six of nine, seven assists, one turnover.
And I thought AC, only though she only scores two points, I thought she was a calming influence on the floor for us. I thought she did a great job.
And when you talk about Myisha and Sam, I challenged them both because we knew that’s where our advantage was going to be was in the post, and I thought they both came out and really played aggressive and played hard, and that’s kind of what separated things for us.
Q. What were you doing so well against Marquette in the first half?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: We moved the ball really well. We got the ball inside, like Coach Walz mentioned, our advantage was inside, and that’s what we tried to do. Once we got the defensive rebound we ran in transition, too, so we got a lot of open lay-ups, open looks, and I mean, Asia was hitting really well. So we’d get the ball to her — and she’s amazing. She was able to do a lot for us.
ASIA DURR: I would say the same thing as Mya. I think our tempo was pretty good. Like Coach Walz just said, we were trying to feed the ball inside the post because Mya and Sam did a heck of a job tonight as they do every single game, so I think we played hard, as well. We started off really, really, really strong and we kept on going. We had a few breakdowns. I had a lot of breakdowns. But I mean, we’re going to watch this film and see what we can take from the game.
SAM FUEHRING: To go along with what Myisha said, our advantage was in the post, so that’s where we brought it.
Q. 27 seven assists for 40 baskets. Was there an extra emphasis today on moving the ball, making the extra pass?
ASIA DURR: I mean, it’s the same thing we’ve been talking about since the first game. Coach Walz has been trying to tell us if we move the ball great, we get great shots, and I think we did a good job of doing that tonight. We try to get tempo going every day in practice. That’s what we practice, pushing the ball up the floor, and I think we do a good job of doing that.
SAM FUEHRING: We find the open man. We’re always moving. Well, sometimes. But yeah, I mean, we found the open man. We passed the ball, reversed it. That’s how we scored.
Q. Myisha and Sam. Myisha, I think you hit your first 10 shots; Sam, you might have had a career high today. When you get into a mismatch like this physically, does it change the way that you play? They want to feed the post, but do you become more aggressive, do you become more aware that you have opportunities to dominate inside?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: No. I mean, last game for me personally, I couldn’t — the ball just wasn’t going in, and I was shooting lay-ups, so I made sure I was focusing on that today, and I admit the first 10, I didn’t know that. But that works, and whatever works, that’s what we do. It doesn’t — like we try to get the ball inside. If Asia or AC or Jaz would say — we try to get them the ball. We don’t want to force it inside if it’s not working, but today it worked and we got the ball inside.
SAM FUEHRING: We try to play our game. Nothing changes for us personally, but you’re more aware of who’s guarding you. When a 6’5″ girl is guarding you, you know, because either that’s getting swatted, or yeah. But when a 5’11” girl is guarding you, you still know, but you still go up strong in the same way.
ASIA DURR: I would say the same thing that they just said, yeah. I mean, we have great post players, Mya and Sam.
SAM FUEHRING: She’s not welcomed in the post group yet.
ASIA DURR: Can I answer the question? I would say that I have y’all’s back.
SAM FUEHRING: You can ask AC that question.
Q. Myisha, you kissed the Cardinal bird. I think you hugged a bunch of babies and kissed some people coming off. Talk about your emotions coming off that floor and your last game.
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Can we come back to that one when I’m good? I’m good. I mean, it was my last game here. I wanted to go out with a win, and my teammates got that for me. I’m just so thankful to just make it here this far and have great teammates around me and wonderful fans that actually come out to the games and know what they’re watching and just support us, from my freshman year all the way up until now. The fan support has been amazing. I was hugging the kids because those are faces I see every single game. They weren’t new, so it was like, you feel a connection, like they’re actually a part of you. I mean, I consider everyone that I’ve met here my family, and I hope that I made a good impression on them. I am just so thankful that (tearing up) —
Q. What did you say to the Marquette fans?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: During the game I got heated and I looked at one of the fans, and I don’t remember what I said, but I think I just pointed up to the scoreboard, and that’s not me. That’s not who I was, so I was going over there apologizing and just telling them, that’s not me. They’re awesome fans, and they traveled this far to support their team. I mean, Marquette is a great team, too. It was just not me that I did that, so I was just going to go apologize.
Q. Sam, Coach was saying that he was concerned about Hiedeman and really shutting her down. You all rotated a bunch of coverages on her. I think there were several times early on where you were fronting her. Was that something you felt like you all had to do to really kind of confuse her and not let her think that it was going to be a guard on her and maybe that kind of shook them up in other ways?
SAM FUEHRING: I don’t think it was about confusing her, it was just about making her she does not score because she had 32 last game, so that was our main worry. We were trying to make other people beat us. But no, it wasn’t to confuse her. I mean, we just switched on to her, and then a big guy to guard her. That’s sometimes scary because you don’t want to get crossed up or anything. But yeah, it wasn’t too bad.
Q. Myisha, you mentioned the last few minutes before you left the court there. Knowing this was your last time-out here, what did you want to make sure you saw or took in before you left?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: I was just worried about getting a win. It didn’t matter how I played. I just wanted to get a win. I could have played phenomenal, I could have played crappy. As long as we got the win, that’s what was most important, what I was most satisfied in and looking forward to.
Q. For all three of you, you guys the last couple games of the regular season and in the ACC Tournament were kind of getting off to some slow starts. Was it a relief today that you came out right away and were able to put some distance between yourselves?
ASIA DURR: I wouldn’t say relief. I just think it’s one game and done from here on out, so we’ve just got to come out, stay on top, and just keep on going forward, so that’s what we were trying to do today. We knew we had a great ball team in front of us, well-coached team. They have a great coach. They have great players all across their team, so we knew we had to come out strong, and that’s what we did.
SAM FUEHRING: It’s not really a relief. It’s like kind of just getting back to where we started in the beginning of the year. Just knowing that it’s still there, that we didn’t lose it. I wouldn’t say it was much of a relief. We’ve just got to stay that way because we ended bad today.
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Yeah, like what they were saying.
SAM FUEHRING: Good answer.
Q. You touched on this earlier about trying to get the ball inside. It’s not rocket science, obviously, when you have that kind of size differential. Is that pretty standard, or is anything different about today versus other games where you had a physical advantage?
JEFF WALZ: Well, I thought we were a lot more patient. It’s not — you go to the Arizona men’s game, they had significant advantage in the paint but had a hard time throwing it in because they were collapsing in on their big guy. So teams do different things. Even though you have size advantage, it doesn’t always make it easy throwing the ball in there.
But I thought we did a great job of reversing it. Instead of trying to throw it in off the first pass, we got the ball worked around, so then the defense had to shift. And when you can get them to shift, then you’ve got a better opportunity to do a little high-low and throw it in.
And then Sam and Myisha finished, which is a big thing. I thought they finished well. They finished over people. They finished with some contact, and that’s what you have to do at this time of the year. You’ve got to be able to finish.
Q. 24 points for Myisha Hines Allen. What was she doing to well this game that set her apart?
JEFF WALZ: Well, she was a lot more active. I mean, just some of the rebounds that she went up and got, it’s pretty darned impressive how strong she plays. You know, she wanted the ball. Instead of just sticking her hip out and calling for a little wrap-around pass, she actually gotten toes to the ball and we like to say, and she was demanding it, and then she made some good strong moves. And then for Myisha, you can normally tell how she’s going to play by the way she rebounds the basketball. When she starts to go after them the way she did, then you know some good things are going to happen at the offensive end, also.
Q. I know you knew Asia could do it again at some point, but when that first three went in, and she looked like she took a deep breath, what was your thoughts?
JEFF WALZ: I mean, there was no question. I just kept talking to her the past two weeks. I mean, it’s what you do; you play basketball. Stop worrying about making every shot. I’m trying to get them all to understand that if you made every shot, it would be a tie game, and then they wouldn’t need coaches. So like I appreciate when they miss a couple, because then it’s called job security. If you think about it, you made every single shot, why pay anybody to coach? So like I told them, when you miss, I’m clapping. Just don’t miss too many of them.
So I tried to make her — you’ve got to laugh. It’s a game of basketball. Now, it’s what we do. It’s our livelihood, there’s no question about it.
But at the same time, you’ve got to be able to make it fun for the kids, and that’s what we try and do. Now, we work hard, but I’m as sarcastic as probably any coach out there. I want them to be able to laugh. I think laughter is a key to success. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
And I think it just calms them down, it gives them a little peace, and I was just really, really pleased that she came out with the confidence that she did today.
Q. What did you think about your defensive pressure initially? I think you got, I guess, the first basket came off a steal and turnover, and then there were some other pokes away inside that really led to easy chances. Obviously that was a focus for you, but how pleased were you with that execution?
JEFF WALZ: I was really pleased. I thought Jaz came out right there off the get-go and disrupted a hand-off and got her hand in, and boom, then it goes down for a lay-up. No, we only turned them over seven times, so we ended up with nine points off turnovers, they had 10. But what I thought we did defensively in the first half was we contested shots. We made it difficult. There weren’t easy looks for them, and that’s what we had talked about. We had to do everything we could to make it difficult for Hiedeman to score and Blockton to score, and I thought we did that the first half. Now, Blockton put on a clinic there in the second half. She was very, very impressive.
Q. Improving and peaking at the right time at this time of year is always of tantamount importance, but today four players in double figures, five with three assists or more, you out-rebounded them 42-26, you shot 63 percent. What do you say at halftime or even at the end of the game to continue the momentum on the uptick?
JEFF WALZ: Well, I challenged them at halftime because I knew Marquette would not quit. This is a ballclub that’s got too much fight in them. They came out in the third quarter and showed that. We just did not come out defensively with the same intensity. I think we gave up three straight lay-ups in transition. Now, we scored, but that was not the goal, to just trade baskets.
And I thought Kylee Shook with four blocks was big for us today. You know, we challenged them especially after the game, I talked to them, and we have to get in this gym here tomorrow and watch some film and just talk about our passing. It was bad. We threw it to them quite often, which we just got sloppy, and those are things that we have to address and take care of. So whoever we play next, when they press, we’re prepared for it, because when we did make the right decision on a hard cut, we ended up with 21 fast break points, and a lot of it came from attacking their press.
Q. When these three especially who were up here are playing like they did tonight, do you feel like you guys are kind of unbeatable?
JEFF WALZ: Well, I wouldn’t say that. I think we’re pretty good. If you want to be — I worked for Paul Sanderford for six years, a gentleman that should be in our women’s basketball Hall of Fame if we can figure things out from that end of it. I mean, he only played in three Final Fours and one National Championship game. But we can’t — hopefully we can get a little smarter and get him in.
But he always told me, if you want to be a good team, you have to have two players. Every night you know what they’re going to do. Like you don’t even have to look at the stat sheet, you know what you’re going to do. You want to be a really good team, you’ve got to have three of them. You want to be special, you’ve got to have four. And if you want to be great, you’ve got to have five.
And right now, we’re at a point, we played tonight where five of them showed up. Even though on the stat sheet Arica Carter comes up with two points, but she controlled the tempo. She did a great job for us. Jaz goes six of nine, seven assists and one turnover. And our bench, I’m telling you, our bench came in and did a good job.
So we have to have — you have to have five. If you want to win a National Championship and compete at that level, you’ve got to have five show up. And now I know Asia feels better after this ballgame tonight, just kind of a weight lifted off of her. I know what Myisha can do. Sam is always — the one thing I’ll say about Sam, that kid, she competes as hard as anybody I’ve ever coached. She’s on the ground more than anybody. Defensively the kid has taken 38 or 39 charges on the year. So it’s going to take all of them. If we all five show up and then our bench adds, then we have a chance to make a run.
But from here on out, you’re playing everybody good, just like tonight. If you have a bad night, you’re going home.
Q. And then you said towards the end of your speech that you miss the old Big East. Did this game bring back any memories of the conference?
JEFF WALZ: Oh, I told the Marquette fans, I thanked them for coming down. They have a great ballclub. You know, we’re very blessed to be in the ACC, there’s no question about that. We have great games in and out. But when you had Terry up there and just go through the entire old Big East, it was a battle. It was a battle. It did remind me because we had great games up there, they had great games when they came down here. You knew every fight it was going to be a fight. I just commended Carolyn. I think she’s done a remarkable job and has that program right back on the verge.
Q. And then where do you see this program probably a year from now, pretty much all the players that they played were juniors?
JEFF WALZ: I don’t want to play them. I’ll tell you that. I mean, not at all. They’re really, really good. They sure are.
Q. Going forward, Jeff, you look at these two games, fairly decisive; where do you feel like this team took a step forward in these two rounds, and how much does that help you going into the regional?
JEFF WALZ: Well, we needed a game like this just to give a little confidence back, I think, offensively, for Asia, for Jaz. We’ve been playing good basketball. You know, to win the ACC Tournament is not easy. You know, I mean, they’re great teams. We figured out a way to win three games in three games by a total of 10 points, and that’s what prepares you for this.
NC State is battling; Virginia Tech, I’m waiting to see how they continue on in the NIT because it wouldn’t surprise me if they win it. And then you’ve got Notre Dame.
So our league has prepared us for anybody we’re going to play. There’s no question about that, because we have a lot of teams that can play different styles of basketball. So no matter who we move on to and play next weekend, we’re going to be able to compare them to somebody that we have played.