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March 26, 2015

Adut Bulgak

Leticia Romero

Sue Semrau

Shakayla Thomas


Q.  Something the Arizona State coach said was the good teams are the simplest to prepare for; it's not that they do a lot of things but they do a few things extremely well.  Do you agree with that statement?
COACH SEMRAU:¬† Do I agree with the statement that good teams‑‑

Q.  Are the simplest to prepare for?
COACH SEMRAU:  Are the simplest to prepare for.  Not all good teams.  I think we are relatively simple to prepare for in the types of things that we do, and we do try to do a few things extremely well.  That's our philosophy and it's been good to us.

Q.  Speaking of the things that you do do well, is rebounding probably the biggest strength of the Florida State team so far and how has it served you throughout the tournament?
COACH SEMRAU:  Obviously it's the best thing that we do.  We are very keyed in on that.
I think, Jordan, when you talk about being easy to prepare for, we don't run a lot of multiple jump defenses; so what if they do, this we are going to run this; what if they do this, we are going to run this.
We try to be really, really good at our man‑to‑man defense and I think that that enables us to know where things are coming and enables us to rebound the ball very well.¬† And a year ago, we were really easy to prepare for because we were all dumb.¬† For us it's really just about personnel and who we have.

Q.  Does this Arizona State team look similar to the one you played in 2009, just stylistically?
COACH SEMRAU:  I don't remember 2009.  I remember the outcome but I don't remember the team, the team style as much.  But I know Charlie, I know she's an excellent coach.  I know that they are very fundamental.  They are physical.  They are tough.  They play great defense.  They rebound the ball extremely well.  They take care of the ball.
I mean, not many teams in the country right now can say they have more assists than turnovers.  She's had a great balance of players.  She has strength, she has speed, she has size.  I think they are a great basketball team:

Q.¬† Leti Romero, most coaches know that ‑‑ she is one of the first people they name when they talk about preparing for this team.¬† Talk about what a lift she's been since she became eligible in December.
COACH SEMRAU:¬† One of the things we talk about a lot is the American basketball game:¬† There's a lot of attack; there's a lot of desire to go one‑on‑one, because that's what you see on television in the NBA and I think that's how we are brought up.
In the European game, I think there's much more of a, let‑the‑game‑come‑to‑you‑type attitude.¬† If you want somebody in Spain to like not be to crazy‑faced, tranquila, tranquila, and I think sometimes that's what Leti plays like, tranquilamente.¬† Just checking it out, seeing what everything, how the game plays out, what comes to her.¬† So she is a special kid and I think she's a great balance for our team.

Q.¬† Can that mind‑set almost serve as a calming influence at times on the floor if it's needed?
COACH SEMRAU:¬† I don't think so much just a calming influence; I think it's a great balance for the way that you run your offense.¬† Yeah, I don't‑‑ calming influence maybe for a coach but I think, too, for her team, they know she has control and she's waiting for the best moments.

Q.  Arizona had a tough game last Sunday.  Do you see anything you can take advantage of or weaknesses in their game?
COACH SEMRAU:¬† I think we are so different than UALR ‑‑ U‑A‑L‑R, good, can roll that one off my tongue.¬† But Little Rock is just a motion team.¬† They set a lot of screens away from the ball.¬† They are very similar to Florida Gulf Coast who we played last Sunday.¬† I think there's a lot of differences, so not sure we'll take away a whole lot from that.

Q.  Welcome back to Greensboro.  Last time you were here, pretty good run.  Have you taken notice of maybe the irony that you could knock through the barrier and get through?
COACH SEMRAU:  I'll be taking a look at that, absolutely.  But I think more importantly is just the comfort level that we'll have being in Greensboro, having played three games in the last month on this floor is truly something special as my team comes back.

Q.¬† Your team plays defense that Arizona State plays‑‑ how can that manifest itself in this game in terms of a defensive‑minded game‑‑
COACH SEMRAU:  Say that one more time.

Q.  Just the defense that both teams play.
COACH SEMRAU:¬† I think it's going to be‑‑ it's going to be hard to score on both sides of the ball.¬† I think for both teams it's going to be hard to score.
And you know, just the pride that both teams take in their defense, I think can be really exciting for the fans to much with a.  You know, even though sometimes you think, defense, defense, that's not fun for the fans.  But I think it's going to be a really exciting game.

Q.  Curious your thoughts on the influence of the Spanish players and kind of the influx over the last couple years, obviously you've had a few, and just kind of what that maybe meant to the sport and to your program in particular.
COACH SEMRAU:  You know, I think one thing I always felt was important in coaching was that you blended individual players into a team; that I didn't want somebody that was just like a Adut Bulgak or just like Brittany Brown.  I wanted someone to complement them.
We used to look at that in the States.  When you look at someone in the Midwest played a different game than someone in Florida, and so we would work to try to complement those players.
Now, to say that we can go worldwide, that is even more exciting.¬† For us having Leonor Rodr√≠guez a couple years ago, she changed us, and she was a difference‑maker.
So I knew I loved that style of basketball.¬† So then to have Leticia, and then yet another Spanish player looking for next fall, it's really, to me, I've loved that.¬† I love having Ama Degbeon, someone from Germany.¬† I love having a Adut Bulgak, who is from Canada.¬† Just a different mind‑set coming together, it just sharpens everybody on the team.

Q.  Did you have to develop a strategy for recruiting in Europe?  Is it different?
COACH SEMRAU:  It is different.  We didn't have a strategy originally.  Some of these things just came to us, as our players went over seas and noticed players and then just mentioned them to us.  That's how it started with Leo; Brooke Wyckoff played with Leonor Rodríguez.  Those things are I think happening all over the country.
Look at the number of European players that are coming to play in the States.  You are seeing that as the world gets smaller, the basketball influence is getting bigger.

Q.¬† You just talked about the defensive mind‑set of the game, but on offense, if it is becoming a defensive struggle who on your team do you look to to provide that offensive lift when you have four or five players averagingdouble digits?
COACH SEMRAU:  Jordan, you know the answer to that.  For us it's somebody different every night and that's the cool thing.  I can't tell you who it's going to be tomorrow night.
And we, from the beginning, were saying, who is that go to be; who is that go‑to, go‑to, go‑to.¬† There still is not one, but there is one; we just don't know who it will be.¬† Does that make sense?

Q.¬† The similarity to Arizona State, too, they have that kind of balance.¬† But I wanted to ask you specifically about Katie Hempen, their three‑point shooter, just kind of what you've seen in her.
COACH SEMRAU:  I love her game.  And I was familiar with Amanda Levens when I was at Wisconsin.  I had a player who played at Belvedere when I was at Northern Illinois.  Amanda came to camp.  We tried to recruit Amanda.  Loved her as a player.  And she reminds me a little bit of Amanda Levens and I know she came with Amanda.  So I'm very familiar with that.  I love her game.  I love her style of play.  You know, she's a special kid.

Q.  Your name comes up a lot when coaches are talking about their game plan for Florida State.  Is that extra pressure on you knowing that coaches are looking specifically to shut you down when they are playing Florida State?
LETICIA ROMERO:¬† Not at all because I know I have‑‑ I know my team has depth and they can't focus on one player or two.¬† They are going to have to focus on everybody, because if they focus on me, Adut, Shakayala, Maegan, Brittany, I mean, it's impossible to just down one player, if you are going to stop our team.

Q.  Being a freshman how do you feel about being in the tournament for the first time?
SHAKAYLA THOMAS:¬† I feel like one of those great feelings ‑‑ considering I've got a great team behind me, they are leading me in every direction to show me what it will be like.¬† Like they are setting me up to win, yeah.

Q.  Do you feel like especially since the ACC Tournament and the last few games in the NCAA Tournament your game has come on even stronger over the last couple weeks?
SHAKAYLA THOMAS:  I actually do.  I mean, like in practice, I've been working hard trying to get better, banging with the big post, the actual post.  I mean, like, it's just great.  Like I'm just really working harder.
Q.  Do you feel like that's come on as a result of the experience that you've gained and just having so many games under your belt now?
SHAKAYLA THOMAS:  Yeah, I think so, and it feels like I know I have to bring something to the able so I don't want to just have the same game every time and show people something new.

Q.  And for Adut, you hear lots of teams this time of year say that don't look at when you look at freshmen as freshmen anymore.  When you look at Shakayla, do you still see a freshman or do you not any longer?
ADUT BULGAK:  In some aspects, like little tiny mistakes.  But other than that, she's really taken on her role and the responsibility that we've handed to her.  And on the basketball court, I don't really see her as a freshman just because of how she's developing.  She's maturing on the court.

Q.  Do you know Quinn Dornstauder, at all?
ADUT BULGAK:  Yeah we played together on the Canadian Developmental National team this summer where we won the Jones Cup tournament in Taiwan.  I got to play with her.

Q.  Is it an advantage either way or does it work out even since you both know each other?
ADUT BULGAK:  Both.  I guess I know a little bit of her personnel but then again we've been playing DivisionI college basketball for, what, six, seven months now without playing on the same team.  So I'm pretty sure she's developed in areas I don't know about, just like I've developed my game so it will be a little surprise.

Q.  And for all of you, I guess your coach, she think it's going to be difficult to score because of the way you both play defense.  Can you talk about how you think the defensive side of this game is going to go?

LETICIA ROMERO:  Well, I think for us, they are going to press us a lot.  I mean, just in the film that we have seen about them; that they like to deny the ball; they like to press harder, and I think that's going to be challenging for us.
And the way we defend, it's pretty much the same.¬† We picked up the ball really early and we really put a lot of work in defense and rebounding.¬† We don't let other teams‑‑ we try to keep other teams from rebounding the ball in offense.¬† So I think it's going to be definitely a defensive game, like we are going to see a lot of defense in the game.
ADUT BULGAK:  I think the key is to control the pace.  Like we need to set the tone first, and like Leti said, they will be pressing us, so I guess the most important thing in the game is to take care of the basketball.
And watching film, they did a great job of squaring up for their players and boxing them out, so we are going to have to find ways to get around their box‑outs and pursue the ball on rebounds.
SHAKAYLA THOMAS:¬† Yeah, I agree with Adut on setting the tone.¬† We are a fast‑paced team and we like to play fast but I feel like they are going to try to slow us down to get us on their levels to set plays and make moves and stuff.¬† It's up to us to just go out there and play.

Q.  You guys watched the game against Arkansas, Little Rock, what did you see during that game?  You obviously are a very resilient team able to come back from 16 points down; your thoughts on that game and what can you carry that game into this one?
LETICIA ROMERO:  I mean, that mentality that we were talking about, that we think we have, too, that mentality that no matter what happens, no matter what the game is at that point, we want it so bad that we are going to work for it.
And no matter if we are losing ‑‑ and they have the same thing.¬† They were losing by a pretty big difference and they came back.¬† So I think that's going to be‑‑ like our game is going to be pretty tight and we both are similar teams in that way.¬† So it's going to be interesting.
ADUT BULGAK:  We can't be complacent.  Obviously no lead is big enough.  So we're going to have to play the entire 40 minutes and not like look past any little thing they do.  So we've just got to stay consistent the whole game.
SHAKAYLA THOMAS:  We can't be satisfied with what place we're in right now.  I mean, this is up for grabs.  Anybody can win.  So I feel like we should just keep our hands up and keep playing the whole game.

Q.  You said you've been in a bit of a rebounding slump, you had 13 against Florida Gulf Coast; is that a jumping point to move forward for the rest of the tournament?
ADUT BULGAK:  I guess it's just a reminder of, hey, you've still got it.  I wouldn't say it's a big confidence booster, but it definitely is a reminder of my identity on the basketball court, so, yeah.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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