THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes first, and then we’ll excuse them. Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Myisha, how has the week of practice gone since the ACC Tournament?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: We’ve been doing two-a-days, just going hard, in the afternoon we scrimmage, and morning practice we just go over our plays. It’s been fun.
Q. Prepared for Chattanooga?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Yes. Our coaches do a good job of getting us ready and knowing the scout and just overall what they’re going to be doing. We went over Chattanooga a lot yesterday, and I feel like we’re really prepared.
Q. Asia, question about Chattanooga. You played them earlier in the year. Is that the same Chattanooga team that you all played then, or how do you think they are today?
ASIA DURR: Well, I definitely think that they’re going to be a much better team. They’re a well-coached team as well, so we know that we’re going to get their best shot, so we have to be ready for that.
Q. Do you have any preference on who you play in the second game?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: No, we’ve just got to worry about the first one first, and then get that win. After that, it really doesn’t matter. We want to play both teams, but we know we can’t, so we just worry about the first one first.
ASIA DURR: I would say the same thing as her. We have to take it game-by-game. We can’t overlook any team. It’s going to be a great game. I’m just so excited for it. This is what we came here for. So we’ve just got to be on top of it.
Q. Asia, the advantage of being able to play at home and to know that you’re going to have this home crowd here, I know that’s a positive. But do you guys have to talk about you can’t be too comfortable, especially being a higher seed and being comfortable at home?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Oh, that’s true. We see so many teams where there are upsets, so we have to be ready. Our fans are great. Just to be able to play, hopefully, two games at home, that is huge. I feel like we have the best fans in the country, so I’m excited.
ASIA DURR: She handled that question. She handled that one.
Q. Coach Walz has instructed me that you win the game by scoring the most points. What are some of the other things that y’all be looking to do against Chattanooga to win the game? Offensively, defensively?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Well, they have a great post player, so we have to box out. She had, I think, seven blocks against us, so we have to be careful of that. And we have to get stops.
The staff has just the whole year: Stop, score, stop. So that’s what we have to do at this time.
ASIA DURR: Just going off of that one, not turn over the ball and getting out in transition. So I think getting the stop, score, stop, not turn over the ball, and getting out in transition will help us score a lot of points.
Q. Last year you guys didn’t have any seniors. You weren’t going to lose anyone. This year you’ve got Cortnee and Taylor and B.J., who this is their last tournament. Does that change how you guys approach things? What have their emotions been like leading into this?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Towards the middle of the season they started emphasizing more that, hey, this is our last go-around. We all need to get more focused. You don’t get another shot at this.
But we take pride in that we have three seniors on this team, and we have to give it our best shot. We can’t be lazy and hope for next year because they’re not going to be here next year.
And they’re a big part of this team with leadership — Cortnee with rebounding, B.J. with handling the ball, and Taylor with her ball pressure. So, I mean, they’re a big part of this team. We know that this is their last one; in any given moment that could be the end of their season. So we’re just trying to give it our all and just play hard for them.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Walz, please.
Q. Is B.J. back, is she playing? Do you expect to use her?
COACH WALZ: Yes, I sure do. She practiced this past week. She looks good. She feels fine. It’s been about a month that she’s not been on the court. So it’s not something that she’ll go out there and play 35 minutes. But she does feel good, so we do have her in the rotation, which will help us. So, yeah, I do expect her to play.
Q. Looking at the four regions, just on paper it looks like you’re in the toughest region by far. Your thoughts on that.
COACH WALZ: Every coach is going to say that our region is the toughest. If this was a 16-team tournament where you played everybody once, then I would probably agree with you and say, yeah, golly, look at all these teams you have to play. You’ve got Oklahoma, you’ve got DePaul, Washington, you could go through the list.
We just have to worry about the game at hand. Then, if we can take care of business, then you’ve got to play a winner of two teams, and you keep moving forward.
So somebody’s going to eliminate somebody else.
Every region has very good teams in it, so it’s not one region’s better than the other or anything like that. You’ve just got to worry about what’s in front of you.
Q. Are you surprised at all that Virginia did not get in and California did get in the tournament?
COACH WALZ: I was really hoping Virginia would get in, for sure. Being from the league, I thought they really started to play some very good basketball towards the end of the season. A big win against Florida State at home. 7 and 9 in our league, I thought, was pretty impressive.
It used to be 10, 12 years ago your goal was to finish .500. Well, that’s when everybody played everybody twice. Well, now with the unbalanced schedule, Virginia plays us twice. We’re picked second in the league preseason, you know?
So I think who you play within your league in the unbalanced schedule does affect what your conference season is going to be, your conference record.
So I’m not in that room. I’m not one of those deciding who makes the tournament and who does not. I would have loved to have seen Virginia in it, because I think they are playing some very good basketball right now.
I wish all of our teams in our league, the ones that are in the NCAA Tournament and in the NIT, the best of luck.
Q. How have these two teams changed since they first played back in November?
COACH WALZ: Well, there’s a lot more experience from both groups. We’ve had a good two and a half months of really trying to put some things together offensively, defensively. The kids getting to know each other. You learn as the year goes on who does what well.
I think that’s one thing Chattanooga’s really improved on. They’re very disciplined in what they’re doing. They’re focused. They know who is supposed to get shots from where. Offensively I think they’ve improved.
Defensively, I think they’ve been solid the entire year, personally, when I go back and watch them on film. As the players said, they’ve got the leading shot blocker in the country. Does a fantastic job of erasing any mistakes their guards might have. If someone drives by them, they know she’s back there to help take care of things.
But it’s going to be a great game. I think both of our games here will be fantastic tomorrow. I think you’ve got four teams that are very well-coached, playing very good basketball right now, and that’s what the tournament’s all about.
Q. You said at the beginning of the season that you thought this team maybe has the most talent of any team you’ve had. Does that still hold true, or is there anything they need to do in this tournament to prove that to you?
COACH WALZ: I still say that from top to bottom. What we have to do is take care of the basketball. That’s been our Achilles heel the past month. If we don’t get that solved, it’s going to be some problems for us. We turned the ball over 18 times against Notre Dame in the ACC semis, and it’s a six-point game with four minutes to go.
That’s what I’m trying to explain to our players. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. We’re not giving ourselves a chance because we’re throwing it to the other team. That’s the one area that we really have to improve on. The rebounding is going to be important for us.
But I like our chances. I like this group. I think they’re in a good spot right now, but we’re going to need to have players step up. If you want to advance in this tournament, you’ve got to play your best. You can’t have an off night and expect to win.
So that’s the challenge that’s put in front of all these young women. Not just on our team, but everybody that’s in this. You really start to find out who can handle the pressure, because now every shot matters. Every shot you take matters. The ones that put the time in in the off-season, after practice, before practice, where it just becomes routine, are the ones that normally rise to the top. You can’t fake it.
That’s one thing about this, when it comes tournament time, you can’t fake it because there is no next game. So every shot has got a little pressure on it, which is a good thing.
Q. You’ve had outstanding play from the freshmen at times. Little bit about Kylee Shook. She’s come on lately and done some good things for you.
COACH WALZ: Yeah, she’s been playing with a lot of confidence. We’ve inserted her in the lineup at the four spot, moved Myisha to the three when B.J. went down. It gives us another scorer, which has been good for us. Because B.J. does a lot of great things defensively when she passes the ball, teams were backing off of her.
Then we had her and Cortnee on the floor at the same time. Really, we had two that weren’t, per se, scorers out there. And now Kylee on the floor, teams have to respect her to shoot the three.
So we’re going to have a little different rotation now with B.J. back too. When I had B.J. on the floor, I might be able to move Kylee to the five, Myisha to the four, and still have four scorers on the floor, which is something I think you have to do at this time of year if you want to advance and continue playing.
I’d like to thank everybody for coming out today. I’d like to thank Tom Gerich and Christine Herring (phonetics) for helping and allowing us to host, everybody from our university that is giving their time to come down and make this such a special event, not just for our team, but for the other three teams that are here. It’s what you play the entire season for.
I appreciate it, because you guys all go out of your way to make sure these student-athletes are really — they feel special. And the amount of work these women put in for their seasons, not just for our team but their own respective teams, it’s a wonderful event.
I’d just like to make sure I say thank you to everyone, including Jackie with the NCAA that comes down here several times. She’s been a part of it now with us. It’s just done first class, and that’s one thing I can always say about the University of Louisville when we do things. It’s done first class. But it’s the people that make it so special. Thank you.
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