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NCAA WOMEN'S REGIONALS SEMIFINALS & FINALS: GREENSBORO


March 26, 2015


Tiffany Davis

Khadijah Sessions

Dawn Staley

Aleigsha Welch


GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA

Q.  Probably not much has changed since yesterday, but what did you see from film on North Carolina, what did they do different from last time you faced them and what do you think you'll have to watch out for?
COACH STALEY:¬† They played the same style of play that they have played for years, and you know, they get up‑and‑down the floor.¬† They like to play in transition, they like to speed the game up and they like a lot of possessions.
For us, I think we just need to be calculating in our approach to the game, which is run when we have the opportunity and when we don't, we've got to play halfcourt basketball and pound the ball inside.

Q.  Sylvia has been successful pulling players out of the State of South Carolina.  When you were first building this program, how much did you find yourself going against her trying to win recruiting battles and do you feel you made a niche for South Carolina and prevented some of those kids from leaving the state?
COACH STALEY:¬† When we first came to South Carolina, our staff, we tried to just corner the market and figure out, you know, the thought process and why players left or stayed in South Carolina and how we could‑‑ how can we change that.
And I think we pound the pavements; we just made sure that we had every significant person and prospects lives (ph); we tried to make inroads with every single person.  And because of that, that effort, I thought we've done a tremendous job of keeping our local players at home.
Some of them, they get away.  They have a couple of South Carolina players on North Carolina's roster.  But we are fairly happy with the tradeoff.  They got two and we got maybe eight or nine.
So it's just a constant battle.  But it's one that we've got to keep doing our job because if we don't, they could easily go out of state.

Q.  Was it difficult to turn that tide when you first got here, and how much of a presence was North Carolina in recruiting women's basketball?
COACH STALEY:¬† As I look back on it, they got every high‑profile player in the State of South Carolina over the past few years before we got here.
I mean, it is difficult.¬† It is difficult I think when ‑‑ Coach Hatchell does a lot of recruiting.¬† She coached at Francis Marion, so she's had in inroads in our state.
But I think when you change the complexion of the program at South Carolina where we are, and you know, we can be in their backyards; we can invite them to our games.  So when we are that much a part of making sure that we are constantly pumping South Carolina, come to practices, come to games, come on a visit, when we are able to have that much access, we find a way to make them saying no to us very difficult.

Q.  When you look at their roster, who really presents a big matchup problem for you guys?
COACH STALEY:¬† I think you look at two players that they can score at will.¬† You've got Stephanie Mavunga and Allisha Gray.¬† Those are two players that have done extremely well in the ACC just in their league.¬† And when you're able to play at a high level in a league like the ACC, I think it puts you in a position to have success across the country because it's a really tough week.¬† So they could pose some match‑up problems for us.

Q.  Greensboro is suppose to be a neutral site and you're a No.1 seed.  Does it feel like that playing north Carolina in their home state in an area where they have a lot of supporters?
COACH STALEY:¬† At this juncture, wherever we play‑‑ and we are fortunate to only have to take a bus ride to Greensboro.¬† So it feels very much like it's home to us, and hopefully with the close proximity to Columbia, we'll have a lot of our fans there.
So whenever we're feeling like you're on someone else's home court, I think our fans could make us feel very much at home.

Q.  Since you already have played against North Carolina, do you feel like you have an advantage playing against them now?
COACH STALEY:¬† It's always a tough‑‑ North Carolina is always a tough opponent.¬† But when you look at our two games that we played against them last year, and our team this year, we are just a little bit different.¬† We are a little bit older.¬† I think we understand playing at this level a little bit better because we have that experience.
I don't think the game plan changes from how we approached it.  I think it's time for our players just to make plays when the game is on the line, and we weren't able to do that in the previous two games.  So hopefully that changes this time around.

Q.¬† How many buses have you brought up‑‑ will you be bringing up tomorrow?
COACH STALEY:  As of right now, we have nine.

Q.  Khadijah, this is kind of the game that made you stay in Colombia all summer, the opponent that you've been waiting all year.  How are you feeling going into this game and are you worried about maybe nerves taking over the focus?
KHADIJAH SESSIONS:¬† No, not at all.¬† I've been waiting for this game, waiting for revenge, just been‑‑ the time is now.¬† Just ready for it.¬† Just ready for me and my teammates to go out and prove what we should have proved last year.

Q.  Aleighsa, you have a teammate on the other team, former high school teammates on the other team and I don't think you guys played against each other in an NCAA Tournament game last year.  Do you feel what it's going to be like going up against her with these kind of stakes on the line?
ALEIGHSA WELCH:  You know, it's always exciting, you know, when I get an opportunity to play against India.  We have some great high school memories together, but at the end of the day, it's still your opponent and for me, I'm four years removed from my high school days.  So the friendship part kind of gets put aside until after the game.
But it will be exciting but at the same time like I said it's still an opponent?

Q.  Have you kept up with her at all?  She's played a little bit more of a role for them as the season has gone on.
ALEIGHSA WELCH:¬† Yeah, I have I noticed she was getting a lot more playing team, especially since Xy (ph) went down.¬† I'm happy for her and the opportunity she's been able to get to really prove herself.¬† But, you know, this ‑‑ you love them from a distance, especially with the stakes that are on the line now.

Q.  Khadijah, you played against Olivia in practice all the type.  What defensive player is she and how good is she on defense?
KHADIJAH SESSIONS:  She's probably one of the best defenders on the country.  She presser you; she gets up in you.  She makes everything difficult.  She's very quick.  She makes sure she's prepared and ready for players like Coleman.  Really aggressive, good kid.  Yeah, pretty much that's Olivia.

Q.¬† Khadijah, last yearthey impacted the zone ‑‑ shooting outside, do you think they will do the same this year?
KHADIJAH SESSIONS:  Most definitely.  I think they will try the same game plan playing off of me.  But we've seen it all season.  We know how to work around it, get around it.  I've been working on my shot.  Been working on trying to make different ways for my teammates to score.
So we've been seeing it all season and it's going to be nothing different.  Just got to stay in attack mode and run the offense.

Q.¬† Aleighsa, in your four years, have you better learned year‑to‑year how to make sure that your legs are fresh late in the season, and was it a learning thing, particularly early, just how long the season can be?
ALEIGHSA WELCH:  I think definitely, especially coming into my freshman year, you didn't really know what to expect and you didn't really know how much the griped of the season took a toll on your body.  But as you get older, you do learn how to take care of your body, especially when you want to play deep into March and into April.
We are in, what, 30‑plus games in and playing multiple games a week.¬† So it is physical but a lot of it is mental.¬† The biggest thing is that I learned is everybody is physically tired at this point of the season.¬† It's about the mental preparation coming into the game and giving yourself the upper hand that way.

Q.  For all three of you guys, how have you changed and how has your team changed since you saw North Carolina in the tournament, and looking at film, how have they changed?
ALEIGHSA WELCH:¬† I think we're a more dynamic team.¬† I think we are deeper than what we were last year.¬† Everybody worked on things that they needed to work on.¬† North Carolina, I think they are more of a fast‑paced team than when we played them last year, and they have a different team from what we played last year, as well.
I just think roster‑wise and playing‑wise, we're different, both teams are different than what we were.
TIFFANY DAVIS:¬† Just to go off what she said, we are a deeper team.¬† I think last year we were kind of one‑dimensional and it was really easy to play us.¬† This year I think we have a lot more to threaten North Carolina than what we did last year.¬† Like she said, North Carolina is a fast‑paced team, so one of our advantages is controling tempo in this game.¬† We can't really ‑‑ we are not going to get in a back‑and‑forth track race with them.¬† Just going to try to play our game that we've been doing all season.
KHADIJAH SESSIONS:  Yeah, I agree with them, too.  (Laughter) They said it all, they did.

Q.  Were you guys excited at all that North Carolina was in your region that you could end up facing them in Greensboro?
ALEIGHSA WELCH:  It was a little excitement knowing that our season ended last year because of them.  I think it's more fun now that we get to play them and we've been kind of waiting on this game since last year.

Q.  Tiffany and Khadijah, you mentioned not getting into a track meet.  How important is controlling the ball and not giving them easy turnovers?
TIFFANY DAVIS:  It's really important.  We know they will pressure the ball and try to make us play faster than what we need to do.  So controlling the tempo is going to be really key.  I know if we have it in transition, we'll push it out but we are not going to go back and forth and take quick shots which we probably want to do.
KHADIJAH SESSIONS:  Just have to make sure we execute our game plan.  When they are in their halfcourt, know where we're going with the ball.  Just making smart plays, making easy plays and don't do nothing we haven't been doing all season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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