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March 26, 2015

Promise Amukamara

Sophie Brunner

Katie Hempen

Charli Turner Thorne


Q.¬† Sue said she thinks it's going to be really hard for either team to score.¬† Can you talk about the similarities of the teams on defense and sort of the even‑balanced scoring on offense?
COACH TURNER THORNE:  Yes, I agree with that.  Watching quite a bit of film at this point.  I mean, they have five people in double figures; they average 75 points a game; they are a great offensive rebounding team.
But actually, their defense stood out.  They hold teams.  They play great team defense.  They do a great job of limiting you to one shot.  Little different than us in terms of the style but very similar in the results.
So I think both of us want to push the tempo, get transition.¬† So I think transition defense and limiting‑‑ the team that takes away the transition game and limits the other team to one shot the best is going to have the advantage for sure.

Q.  How are you preparing different from the last game that you had?
COACH TURNER THORNE:¬† Well, I feel like the last game was good for us.¬† I think having a game like this where your offense, you are missing shots that you normally make and you struggle, and you really have to flex your toughness muscle and find a way to win.¬† In all my years in deep runs in the tournament, that's helped us.¬† Last time we actually came to Greensboro in 2007, we were the third seed ‑‑ we were in L.A. and we struggled to win both of our games.¬† We just didn't score well.
And then we came here and won it fairly easily in our first game.  I think those close games can really help you.  Obviously we are a good team and we know how to stay with things, and our defense can usually keep us in any game.
Very different game to prepare for.  At the same time, we also need to do what we do.  We need to rebound better.  We need to have a better transition defense.  I think we could be better in just about every area from the last game except for our toughness.  And even in the first half, I don't think we were very tough and very together like we usually are as a team.
So I think the fun thing for us right now‑‑ you know, we were at home, I think we all felt a little bit of pressure.¬† We had the top seed and we only have one senior.¬† We're a younger team and we kind of expected to win.¬† Our administration made an incredible move to allow us to host because we were supposed to host Pac‑12 gymnastics that weekend.¬† I don't know, I think our team was just really tight.
Now we are across the country, nobody's picked us to win.  Sometimes, in my experience, that's not a bad thing.

Q.  You talk about coming across the country.  Your team is from much further away than any of the other schools.  Do you consider that a disadvantage, especially since Florida State just played here in the ACC Tournament?
COACH TURNER THORNE:  We're certainly not at an advantage, you know, when you look at these three teams, and I'm sure that they will draw well.  Their fans will travel well.  Although, we have got some pretty loyal fans; we have got some Midwest people that are not afraid to drive.  But yeah, I think a little bit of an advantage.
At the same time, it's a regional.  It's a neutral site.  It's the NCAA Tournament.  We're used to getting shipped out.  Every deep run we've had, we've been shipped out.  We've been in Greensboro and we've been in Trenton and we've played well.  We've played teams that have been in their regions.
And this team, our Sun Devil team has been a great road team.¬† We play in the Pac‑12 Conference.¬† We are used to tough environments, big crowds.¬† Won't be anything that we haven't senior dealt with, so we are excited.

Q.  They are No. 3 in the country in rebounding.  Can you talk about why they are such a good rebounding team and maybe if there are some of their players that individually stand out to you?
COACH TURNER THORNE:¬† Well, they are relentless and they use all their athleticism.¬† They are relentless.¬† They work.¬† They obviously value it and they understand the importance of it.¬† They have got really‑‑ from the guard spot, Brown is an incredible rebounder.¬† She reminds me of Jamie Weisner; averaging almost basically three offensive rebounds a game.
And then all of their posts are fantastic rebounders, and so they are kind of‑‑ I called Thomas Rodman in the film session today, because she is sitting on that weak side block getting position before the shot even goes up.¬† So Sue has done an amazing job.¬† They understand.¬† You look at Florida State's stats, and they are the stats of the teams that you usually see in the Final Four:¬† Plus 12, plus 13 on the boards, and their field goal percentage is fantastic.¬† They just do a lot of things really well, and the biggest thing is rebounding.

Q.  A freshman like Shakayla Thomas, how much does she stand out to you?  She's leading the team in scoring throughout this tournament right now and she's coming off the bench.  How much does they stand out to you as a coach?
COACH TURNER THORNE:¬† She stands out.¬† I mean, wow, she is talented.¬† I had heard about her but now I've actually watched her quite a bit, and she's‑‑ it's hard to believe when you watch her, she's just a freshman.¬† Because she plays‑‑ not only is she talented in scoring the basketball and she's rebounding the basketball.¬† But just her energy and her intensity while she plays and sometimes you don't see that in a first‑year player.¬† Very impressive.

Q.  How about Romero, what do you think she's brought to them in terms of her style of play?
COACH TURNER THORNE:¬† Yeah, Romero is a great leader for them.¬† I watched Florida State only one time before we knew we were going to play them and that was against Washington in Canc√ļn where Washington in our conference beat them, and they didn't even look like the same team.
And you know, sometimes it's an early game and I don't think they played well.  But I think Romero has done a fantastic job coming in and just running that team.  She's an aggressive scoring point guard, very savvy.  Making great decisions, obviously a great find, get, whatever you want to say; they have had a number of transfers.
And I think she's a huge‑difference maker for that team.¬† And I think she plays beyond her years.¬† I don't know if that's her international experience, but she doesn't seem like a sophomore out there, that's for sure.

Q.  What do you know about Florida State and from what you've watched so far can you compare them with anybody you've seen?
PROMISE AMUKAMARA:¬† I notice‑‑ well, we all notice that they are a great rebounding team.¬† So we are going to have to really control the boards in this game.¬† I'm not really sure the comparison.¬† They are a different team‑‑
KATIE HEMPEN:  Yeah, I'm not for sure either.
SOPHIE BRUNNER:  I would say probably a mixture of Stanford and Oregon State, just how hard they play and rebound and just how good they are.

Q.  Will there seem to be quite a few similarities between the type of defense they have and also the balanced scoring; do you see that when you watch them on film?
PROMISE AMUKAMARA: ¬†Yeah, I think they all‑‑ like there's no one you cannot guard.¬† They are all scorers.
And what was the other question?  Oh, yeah, they are a great defensive team.  Like I said, they do a really good job of rebounding and stuff.  We really need to do well in our game, rebound, as well.
KATIE HEMPEN:¬† Just like what Prom said, rebounding is key.¬† But in comparison, they love to run the floor.¬† They love to hit 1‑4, 1‑2‑4.¬† They like to go inside to their post.¬† They can kick it out to the three.
In comparison so us, we do the same thing.  We look in transition; we like to shoot the three.  Everybody on our team can score, and Florida State can't back down off any of our guards or in our post because everybody is a threat, which is nice.
Even our bench players are a huge threat and Florida State's bench is also a good threat for them.¬† So I think it is going to be fun.¬† We are both really tough teams going head‑to‑head.
SOPHIE BRUNNER:  Yeah, in comparison to them, I think second shots are crucial to both of us, so that's a big key, and we're both going to have to box out for it to be a good game.
And just taking away their tendencies on defense, I think is going to be huge for us, and running them and just being ready to attack them on offense.

Q.¬† I know you're 15 points away from 1,000 points for your career, but you've also been honored numerous times for your defense.¬† Talk about your pride in being a well‑rounded player and what do you think is the strongest part of your game?
PROMISE AMUKAMARA:  I think the strongest part of my game is just being able to lock down on defense.  And then offensively, I think just getting to the basket and beating my player.

Q.  What feelings do you have about reaching this level?  You watched this tournament growing up and this is where you want to get to, and now you're playing in the Sweet16.  Can you just talk about the emotions you're feeling at this stage?
SOPHIE BRUNNER:  For me just being a sophomore, it's just a great feeling knowing that all of our hard work has paid off.  We've been working at this from even last April from when we lost in the first round.
So I think it's just a really big feeling of excitement, but also knowing that we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us to get done and that we are not just coming to play for the Sweet16.  We are coming to play for the Elite 8 and go on from that.  We are just excited as a group and just filled with joy.
KATIE HEMPEN:  For me personally, I think it's a blessing.  The blessing comes from just being with my teammates, and it's awesome having teammates that work as hard as you and really work to be a better person off and on the court.
And playing in the Sweet16 is every kid's dream, every kid's like basketball dream, anyway.  And going to the Elite 8 after this is another dream.  Like what Sophie said, we are here to play for the win.  We are not here just to play for a Sweet16.
PROMISE AMUKAMARA:¬† Like Katie said, it's been a blessing.¬† Personally for my senior year, I've never been this far the whole four years‑been at ASU, and so I'm really excited‑‑ I'm just excited.

Q.  For promise, how do you feel being the only senior on the team?  Do you feel there's more pressure each day and that each game could be your last game?
PROMISE AMUKAMARA:  Not really pressure.  Just put it in perspective that I need to work hard every play because, you know, it could be my last game.  So just taking it play by play and just going 100 percent.

Q.  This is for all the players, if you can address this.  Just wondering if any of you have been to the Greensboro area before?  Are you familiar with it, and how do you feel about travel so far, is that a disadvantage or is there some excitement?
PROMISE AMUKAMARA:  This is my first team being here and it's amazing out here.  It's very pretty.
I think it's‑‑ I think it's an advantage, actually, because we get to focus and really be locked into these games, and just not have any distractions while we're away.
KATIE HEMPEN:  Same thing as Prom.  I look at it as an advantage, too.  We become more focused and I think our connectedness and togetherness really shows when we are away.
And for the traveling part, coming from Illinois, this is just another ride home that we come for Christmas or Thanksgiving for Sophie and I.  I don't think traveling really bugs us.  Our coaches and our trainers do a great job of keeping us healthy and making sure we have the right food in our system and making sure we are hydrated.  I don't think there's a disadvantage in traveling this far.
SOPHIE BRUNNER:  Yeah, going off what they said, I agree with that they say.  And to add to it, I think it's just fun.  We get to be more connected and with each other and on the same page.  We are not worried about what someone is doing or anything like that.  We know where we are all at, and I think it's just a big advantage.
And we get to play closer to home, so we'll have people that come support us and we have a good following with that, so I think that will be fun, too.

Q.  You have a couple common opponents, Washington, Miami; is there anything you can draw off those at all, and also for Sophie, the other night, I don't know if I've ever seen you quite so excited.  Wondering what you were feeling at the end of coming back from getting that victory.
SOPHIE BRUNNER:¬† Yeah, to answer your question about the game, I was just really excited knowing that we came‑‑ we were down 16 at one point and we came back, and I knew, you could just feel the momentum.
Yeah, I don't really get excited like that but it wasn't really excitement for me per se.  It might look like that but I was just excited about our team; like I knew at that point that we were going to come back and win it, just like with the momentum and excitement and how together we were playing.
So that's just how excited I was, and just knowing that we overcame that lead that they had.
KATIE HEMPEN:  I guess the fact that there's a couple teams that we've both played, it kind of shows how they played against Washington or Washington played against them, and Miami, same thing.
I don't know if you guys remember, but Miami was very athletic and Miami is very quick.  And so just to see the pace and how they controlled it was an advantage to us to see, you know, because we like to transition a lot, just to see how they handled transition and how they handled quickness is helpful to our advantage.
And Washington has some great shooters and some great posts, so I think the fact of how they handled their great shooters and their great posts helps us in seeing what works for us and what doesn't. 

Q.  From your experience in the last game, are you more focused on this game after the last home game?
PROMISE AMUKAMARA:¬† I think we're more focused in on this game because of we weren't‑‑ we didn't really key on the points that we were supposed to key on during that game, and so it kind of showed up.¬† So I think this game, we are really locked in on what we need to get done.
KATIE HEMPEN:¬† And then towards your comment, I want to say that we weren't focused our last game.¬† Just like what Promise said.¬† We just need to be able to shut down their tendencies a little bit more.¬† I think this game, being away‑‑ I mean, we are always focused more on away trips because it's easier to stay focused.¬† There's not many distractions.¬† Our coaches do a great job of keeping us down‑to‑earth and making sure that we hear the right things.
SOPHIE BRUNNER:  Yeah, going off what they said, I think just being now the underdog in the tournament, I think that will go to our advantage because we have been used to that throughout the whole year.
So yeah, I don't think we took Arkansas lightly.  I just don't think we were as focused as we needed to be and we need to key in on key players, so we are going to make that adjustment this next game and have more success.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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