JEFF WALZ: I’d first like to congratulate Boise. You know, I had the opportunity to get to know their staff yesterday, and just great people. I can see why they’re successful as they are great, great ball club. I thought they competed. I thought they played hard. We just did a really good job defensively on contesting a lot of shots.
You know, it’s a ten-point game at the half, and then we’re able to come out defensively in the second and kind of get things going. You know, it’s the first game in the NCAA tournament. There are always going to be jitters, some excitement. We missed some shots we normally don’t miss, but then we finally started to get things going.
So, you know, I was really, really pleased with the win, and then I thought our crowd was fantastic. For a Friday noon, I mean, I thought it was remarkable. I just want to make sure I say thank you to all of our fans out there.
This is not the norm. You know, I watched a few of the men’s games last night at a few locations that I’d be hard pressed to say that we didn’t outdraw them. So I think it speaks volumes for our city, for their excitement about just sports in general, because I know as soon as Louisville FC starts up, that place is going to be packed.
So it’s just, it’s a wonderful place to be able to play, and I know our players thoroughly enjoyed it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Kylee, those two corner 3s, had you been practicing from that spot, or why did you kind of pick that on back-to-back possessions?
KYLEE SHOOK: I mean, I just tried to go to the open area, because Coach Walz is always telling me make basketball cuts, make plays, and I just kind of found the open spot.
I do practice all the way around the 3-point line, but it was just open today so that’s where I popped.
Q. Sam, what was the game plan in terms of pressuring them defensively and could you tell that they were responding negatively to your defensive pressure? It seems like you all had them rattled.
SAM FUEHRING: Going into it, we knew that we had to stop 21. She’s a really good 3-point shooter. So we knew that we had to rattle them on defense because then we would probably get steals or turnovers. So yeah.
Q. Kylee, talk about your role coming in off the bench. You had a really great game today in the first game of the tournament.
KYLEE SHOOK: Thank you. Coach Walz is always telling me to be more aggressive because at the beginning of the season, I was soft. I’m getting there. But he says in order to play at this level because, I mean, we have Sam, Myisha, great players I have to come in after so I have to pick up my role. I mean, Myisha can get a rebound over anybody. Sam can score over anybody.
So my role coming in, I have to make an impact when I come in. Otherwise, there’s no point for me to come in. So he always says just be aggressive.
Q. For all three of the players, the big difference here was points in the paint, 52 to 14. Was that something you were all were going to concentrate on when you were practicing? Was it something you saw that you could take advantage of? Just each one of you, how about that point in the paint advantage?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: That’s one of the things that we were focused on, trying to get the ball inside and score inside because we have phenomenal post players who can score and make moves. Yeah, you’re seeing it. Pointing to you, Mr. Ed.
KYLEE SHOOK: Like Myisha said, we just have good players.
SAM FUEHRING: Same.
Q. You’re up ten at halftime. What was the mood? Was there concern, or did you figure that you were going to get it going in the third quarter?
SAM FUEHRING: We came out flat so we had to make a change somehow, whether that was to push the ball, run harder, or execute plays. But, yeah, we had to make a change because we were coming out flat.
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Yeah, just like Sam said. We came out flat so once we started playing our game and, like, actually doing things that we normally do, that lead pushed.
The bench did a great job. Me and Sam didn’t start off well today. Kylee and Bionca came off the bench and gave us a spark. That’s when we went on the run.
I mean, the bench did a phenomenal job today with finding the rim, because we couldn’t do it. Couldn’t find the basket. So, I mean, everyone played a huge part in it. Once we played our game, we were able to pull away.
Q. Myisha, given the size disparity, the rebounding disparity, when they’re taking 30 3-pointers, do you think they’re playing into your hand?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: No. That’s their game plan. That’s what that team does is shoot 3s. I mean, we did a great job putting the hand up every time they shot the ball, trying to get out there and play them, make them put it on the floor.
So, I mean, that’s their team, and that’s what they do is shoot 3s so I wouldn’t think that they would do something differently. I think we just did a great job guarding them.
Q. For Sam and Myisha, how have you guys seen Kylee develop this season, both on the offensive and defensive end of the floor?
SAM FUEHRING: She’s gotten the chance to watch and ask questions and learn. She’s always asking questions in practice. So with that, she learns.
I mean, I watch Kylee in practice too so I’ll give her little helping details. So, I mean, overall, she’s grown a lot.
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: She was thrown in the fire last year and, I mean, she responded well. But this year, she’s gotten a chance to actually just watch and learn the game. And it’s showing right now that she’s actually wanting to learn and wanting to get better because the coaches challenge her, we challenge her every day just to be not the strongest one out there, but just try to go for a rebound, try to hold on to that rebound, or even try to alter a shot.
And Kylee’s trying to get better at that, and I think that she is. Every day in practice, she tries to block shots, and that’s one thing that we need from her is to, you know, alter a shot when a point guard — well, a guard drives in the middle.
Just Kylee being there, her presence, I mean, I wish I had her height. Kylee’s doing a good job.
Q. Coach Walz referenced it off the top. Big crowd out there today. How nice was it playing in front of that crowd? Do you notice the crowd during the game?
SAM FUEHRING: Yeah, I looked up in the stands and, well, besides the sides, there were no empty seats, really. So, I mean, the crowd was loud too. Really loud.
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: I mean, Sam just hits it all in the middle. I mean, I can’t really say. I was going to give him a shout-out after media’s done.
I was going to give them a shout-out too because there was little kids there that should be in school. So that’s awesome parents. Awesome bosses that allow, like, their employees to take a long lunch break just to stay and support us.
I mean, that crowd was there from the beginning to the end, so it wasn’t like they stayed ’til halftime and then they got out of there. They were there the whole game cheering us on. So, I mean, that’s impressive. I didn’t know we would have a big turnout because of the time.
But Card Nation, you guys are the best. The best.
KYLEE SHOOK: I just think that our crowd picks us up sometimes when we get in like a little hole or we turn it over. I think that they do a good job of helping, like both of them said. They’re a big part of Louisville.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.
Questions for Coach.
Q. Jeff, I’m sure you’ve been asked this a lot about Asia. She struggled a little bit today, but kind of talk about that and what’s going on right now. I know ever since she got that 47, she’s kind of a marked girl out there.
JEFF WALZ: I mean, you know, she had some good looks today that just did not go in. I’m not concerned about it. I’ve told her to not be concerned about it.
Shooters have to shoot. I mean, it’s what she does. She’s the first one in the gym, the last one out of the gym. I’m kind of telling her to just take a break. Sometimes, you can get out there and just mess with your mind so much, keep practicing, keep practicing. Just take a break, you know, put your feet up and don’t worry about it.
But overall, three assists and one turnover, I thought she actually took a few tough shots and then passed down some ones that she normally takes. And that’s what I’ll show her tonight is I can’t have her turning down good looks, especially at times she kind of had one or two in front of our bench that she had good looks and then over penetrated, and it turns into a turnover, a tough pass. Just take the good shot.
I feel pretty confident that, you know, she’ll get back. I’m not worried about it.
But that’s what makes our team so good. You know, you’ve got Bionca Dunham puts ten on the board; Kylee Shook, 14; Sam, 14. I mean, our two leading scorers, Asia with 9 and Myisha with 4, and we still put up 74 against a pretty good ball club.
Q. Coach, that leads me right into the question I was going to ask you. The first day of the tournament, having most of your production coming from unlikelier places, does that give you a lot more confidence going forth in the tournament, knowing that you can get production from all the way down the bench?
JEFF WALZ: Sure it does. You know, I tell them all the time, I told them before the game started today, when I put you out there, you’ve got to do something positive. Now, it doesn’t mean you have to score, but you might get a rebound, fox out, good deflection, but do something positive.
Just taking up space is not going to count. And I thought everybody that came out — I thought Bionca and Kylee came in in that first half and really gave us a huge spark, kind of got things going.
Bionca runs the floor so hard, she gets a 3-point, you know, an and-1, and then Kylee hits back-to-back 3s. They kind of gave us a little separation.
And then we went stagnant in the second quarter. I don’t think we scored for about four minutes, but we defended. You know, I don’t think they scored but two points or three over those four minutes that we didn’t score.
So defensively, I was really proud of the group. I thought we did a really nice job in the areas that we had talked about we have to do well in.
But, you know, that’s why you play the next game. We’re fortunate enough to move on. I’m not going to worry about what Asia did, what Myisha did. More so show them areas of, you know, just go up strong.
Myisha had the one in the first half where they pressed us, we threw a nice pass like three quarter of the court, and she waited for the girl to come over instead of just powering up through her for a lay-up.
So we’ll show things like that. But, no, I’m not concerned about her at all.
Q. Jeff, you’re up ten at halftime and outscored them 8-0 in the first 90 seconds, all of it at the rim. Did you tell your team to be more aggressive and attack the rim in the third quarter?
JEFF WALZ: Yeah. We had just talked about we’ve got to get the ball in the paint. Our posts weren’t doing a great job of holding their seals.
Finally, you know, we executed a few times to Jaz there on alley-oop plays that she finishes up by the rim.
But it’s not a difficult game, and that’s something that we really kept talking to them about. Guys, keep it simple. When you go to our dribble handoff, dive hard to the basket. Something good’s going to happen.
We started to do that, and we started to get some lay-ups and then started to get some open jump shots. We executed perfect starting the second — the third quarter. You know, we had two plays drawn up, one for man, one for zone. They came out man. Arica executes it perfectly and gets about a 12-foot pull-up jump shot, which is what she makes. So I was really proud of them.
Then we came up with some stops and got things going. I told them before the game started, it’s not about seedings. The men’s side, it’s the same thing. It’s all about momentum. You’ve got to take advantage of the momentum when you get it.
In the first half, we hit back-to-back 3s. We’ve got the momentum. And then we turn it over two of the next three times. Like you can’t do that. You gave it back to them.
Even there in the third quarter, I think we got it up to about 24, 25. We had scored, they come down and get a turnover, and now we’re coming down ready to really knock it out. We get an illegal screen called on us, and then we fall down at the elbow, the girl shoots a leg up. Then taking the ball out of bounds, we turn it over. That killed momentum.
And those are the things, that’s all we preach about this time of the year.
Q. What’s been the biggest challenge of getting Kylee to kind of play up to her full potential? Why do you think that she had that game against Air Force a couple weeks ago, but usually it’s when other people are down, she steps up. It’s not kind of all at once.
JEFF WALZ: No. I tell her all the time, she has to stop tiptoeing through the tulips. I mean, she’s the sweetest little thing. She’ll walk in, 6’4″, really dainty. I say, will you knock the — out of somebody. You know, be aggressive. When she starts to do that, good things happen for her.
She’s always been used to shooting the 3. It’s what she did in high school. When you’re 6’4″ in high school, there aren’t many that you play against that are 6’4″. So for her, she could catch, turn around and score, or she stretched it out and shot 3s. Well, now we’re trying to work on her back-to-the-basket game some. It’s not her strong suit right now, and we know that so it’s just continuing to work with her.
But she started a majority of our conference season last year, so it’s not like she hadn’t played in games. She’s very familiar with what she has to do. I was proud of her tonight for getting ten boards.
Q. It’s not often that you have Kylee, Bionca, Sam, Myisha kind of all on their game at the same time. Where does this rank among other games this season in terms of your post play?
JEFF WALZ: I thought our post play from the bench was the best that we’ve had. Now, Myisha, rebounding-wise, she gets 14; but offensively, this was nowhere close to what we’re used to seeing.
And that’s the encouraging thing. I’m just telling you, for me, I don’t look at it as, man, we got problems. I’m excited to know we just scored 74 points. Asia gets 9, Myisha gets 4, and we’re able to extend the lead.
That’s what you have to have. You have to have depth. You’ve got to. Somebody’s going to have a bad night. If you rely on one person and they have an off night, you’ve got problems.
I’m really excited what they were able to do. I was excited with Dana. I thought she came in and did some good things for us. You know, it’s what we need. We need contributions from everybody.
I got to change your bedtime, Tim. You’re making me yawn! I’m up at 5:15 every morning. I can’t figure it out.
Q. They took, I think, 30 of their 59 shots from 3. Did you feel like their only chance to beat you was take that many 3s and hope 12, 15 of them go in?
JEFF WALZ: Well, we knew that’s what they were going to probably lean towards doing, because they do shoot the 3 well. Now, I was surprised that they took 30 of them. They got 30 off. But I thought we defended them pretty darn well out there.
You know, I think it’s a smart game plan. They spread the floor. They were trying to make us guard all over, and that’s the one thing about our post players. We don’t have the traditional 6’5″, big, low block, take up space. All of ours can get out and guard.
And I think that’s what made it difficult for them to get the 3 off was, you know, Sam, Myisha, Bionca, Kylee, even on a switch were out there causing them problems.
Q. You were talking about depth, and as the games get closer, are you likely to go with a much shorter bench?
JEFF WALZ: Well, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll give them all a chance, but the amount of time they’re out there is going to depend on what they do. You know, I’ve told them that. They all know. It’s like, guys, there is no give me a few minutes to play through a couple turnovers. No. That’s not how it works at this time of the year.
And that’s why I was so excited for them, because they came in and, all of a sudden, they give us positive energy. So now, all of a sudden, if you turn it over, it’s not a bad thing because you’ve given us some positive productivity.
It’s like ACC championship game, I didn’t play many. I didn’t put the minutes around that much. But at the same time, what’s great about our team is Myisha played really well in that ACC championship game. So after the game, I’d be like now, B, would you want me to take her out and put you in? They’re like oh, no, no. She’s doing great.
So our kids know if somebody’s doing well, they just don’t want playing time. They want to win. And that’s what has separated our ball club this year, I think from teams in the past. They all care about winning. It’s all they want to do.
If somebody gets three minutes and we win, great. If they have to go in and play 20, that’s great too. So that’s what separates them is they’re genuinely excited for each other.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
JEFF WALZ: Thank you, everybody. Appreciate it.
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