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NCAA WOMEN'S REGIONALS SEMIFINALS & FINALS: OKLAHOMA CITY


March 26, 2015


Amber Orrange

Bonnie Samuelson

Lili Thompson

Tara VanDerveer


OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

TARA VANDERVEER:テつ My team is very excited to be here.テつ We've had a season that has been, I think, a great learning opportunity for us, and we're playing against an excellent opponent in Notre Dame.テつ I feel that our team is working very hard, and we expect a great game.

Q.テつ Can you talk about your relationship with Coach McGraw when you two are together?テつ You're picking each other's brains about basketball, or is there more to the respect and the relationship?
TARA VANDERVEER:テつ Well, I remember Muffet as actually a young player when we worked Cathy Rush Basketball Camp together, and so we kind of go way back.テつ But it's amazing to me that in all the time we've been in the tournament and in all the time they've been in the tournament, we've never been in the same bracket together.テつ So we see each other maybe sometimes on the road, we talk, we're on different committees together, and we've seen each other at the Final Four.テつ But for the most part, you know, it's some Xing and Oing a little bit, but most of it is just kind of how are you doing, how is your family doing, that kind of thing.

Q.テつ Considering Stanford and Notre Dame's academic and athletic similarities, are you surprised that you haven't played more than just twice in all these years?
TARA VANDERVEER:テつ You know, I really am.テつ Muffet and I actually were talking on the phone before the bracket came out, and she's like, we've never been in the same bracket together, and now here we are.
But we did play‑‑ it was like a way back, home and away, and I know our football team does, and I think that it would be a really good thing.テつ She does a fabulous job.テつ They have a great program, and I think it would be a good thing to get going.テつ I'm saying that before we play them.テつ I might change my mind after.

Q.テつ I know it's a long time ago, but how much (inaudible)?
TARA VANDERVEER:テつ I think it's always a benefit to beating a really good team.テつ It helps people's confidence.テつ You have to ‑‑ everyone, in order to beat a team like Notre Dame, you have to do what you did against Connecticut, and it's good for our team to know that they're capable of playing that caliber of team.

Q.テつ How did the bus from the airport go?テつ I understand you were pelted with hail during the storm.
TARA VANDERVEER:テつ Well, we fortunately landed before the storm broke, and it was extremely dark, and I said something to our bus driver, could this be a tornado.テつ And he was like, oh, no, no, and it really was quite a storm with hail on the bus, and we were getting the tornado warnings on our phone.テつ We were thankful to get to the hotel.

Q.テつ And what do you see from Notre Dame when you see the tapes, especially Loyd?テつ What do you think of them?
TARA VANDERVEER:テつ You know, they are really talented at every position.テつ Loydis ‑‑ I watched Jewell Loyd play as a young player.テつ She's an absolute phenom.テつ It's more than just her, and it's more than them individually, they play extremely well together.テつ Again, I think Muffet does an excellent job.テつ They really pass the ball.テつ Their team, if you weren't playing them, would be really fun to watch.テつ They pass the ball, they move the ball really well, they play very up tempo.テつ They're very skilled players.テつ I think they have very high offensive efficiency, very unselfish, they work at both ends of the floor.テつ Quite honestly they really don't have any weaknesses.

Q.テつ (No microphone)
TARA VANDERVEER:テつ Well, you know, obviously you don't like to get down, but sometimes we`re ‑‑ our team is in a lot of ways a young team and not a‑‑ we haven't had a set starting lineup all year.テつ We play a lot of different people, and sometimes it takes us a little while to kind of figure out what's working, who's working, putting ‑‑ kind of figuring out the puzzle.テつ And then I will say that I think our team has really demonstrated some outstanding resiliency in that if we're down, they don't get discouraged, they don't get frustrated, they don't get on each other, they just keep just digging a little deeper and playing a little harder.

Q.テつ (No microphone)
TARA VANDERVEER:テつ You know, this has been a little bit of what I affectionately call a roller coaster season for us in that we have been able to beat great teams, and we've played very well against them, really good teams, even if we lost.テつ Beating Connecticut with a couple of free throws we beat Texas early when they were healthier.テつ We have opportunities to win in, I'd say, five games that we lost.テつ And then we lost some games that were really disappointing, and then we kind of got a little run going by beating Oregon State at Oregon State, which was our PAC‑12 regular season winner.テつ And then coming out in the tournament, our team played really well in the PAC‑12 tournament, and I think the tournament has given us a springboard into the NCAA Tournament of just like, hey, this is what we need to do, and let's get it done.
There's really a very unselfish group, but we're not sure who it's going to be that day.テつ Some days it's been maybe Taylor Greenfield; other days it`s been Bri Roberson; another days it's been Erica McCall.テつ It's been different people stepping up in different games.

Q.テつ How do you feel about the return the NCAA made returning to pods, one; and two, late tip‑off times, it doesn't affect you so much, but East Coast teams, 10:00 games are a little difficult.
TARA VANDERVEER:テつ You know, I think being in it this long, the first question was about‑‑ you know, playing at the home site, I think, is probably something that we need right now in women's basketball.テつ We've experimented with other things, and that seems to be a good thing and it seems to work.テつ As far as the game times and all the decisions that are made by the higher‑ups at the NCAA, I'm excited to be playing, and our team will play anywhere, anytime, however we can do it.
I just don't even bother worrying about it, thinking about it or complaining about it.テつ You know, we are so thrilled to be here and so excited to be playing and have just the tremendous opportunities that‑‑ someone else is figuring that out, and that's not me.

Q.テつ Amber, does the fact that you played UConn and beat them give you a little bit more confidence against another top team like Notre Dame?
AMBER ORRANGE:テつ It does.テつ It shows us that we're capable of playing with anybody in the country, but it's up to us to play to the best of our abilities, play to that level.

Q.テつ Amber, I saw in your bio that you listed your hometown as being Houston.テつ Does that mean you're going to have some family in town for the event or will you have a little bit of backing because you're closer to home?
AMBER ORRANGE:テつ Well, my parents and my sister will be here, and some family in Dallas will also be here.テつ But I think that's about it.

Q.テつ For any of you, could you talk a little bit about what your visit was like to the Oklahoma City Memorial today?
BONNIE SAMUELSON:テつ It was extremely emotional.テつ I think that the whole museum is really amazing and the memorial is really amazing, as well.テつ It was really cool to kind of walk through and just see what happened that day and everybody that was affected and the response that kind of the city and the country had to it.テつ I know a lot of people on our team were kind of like teary‑eyed going through, but I think it was really kind of a great thing that we were able to do.
LILI THOMPSON:テつ Same, very emotional.テつ A really well‑done memorial, and we were very fortunate to get the chance to go and to experience that.テつ And I think that it just puts a lot of things in perspective, and we just wanted to be grateful for all the opportunities we've been given and to try to take advantage of those.
AMBER ORRANGE:テつ The same.テつ It was very moving, and there were times where I was just at a loss for words at what I was seeing and just seeing the humanity of it, everyone who responded.テつ It was very touching.

Q.テつ This is really for all of you.テつ Y'all have been behind in a lot of your games this year, and I think five times you've come back from double digit deficits.テつ What is it about you guys that enables you to not panic when you get so far behind?
BONNIE SAMUELSON:テつ I think we kind of have the sort of season that talks a lot about grit a lot, and it's just‑‑ all those games have really kind of prepared us for this time of year.テつ And I think that our team has a lot of heart and we just never give up, kind of when we're down, we know that we have the potential to come back and that it's kind of on us where we're at in the game.テつ And like Bam kind of said, we know we can play with anybody, but we know we can lose to anybody.テつ I think especially now all that experience has only helped us, and we really just are looking to play hard kind of throughout the entire game and never let it drop off.
AMBER ORRANGE:テつ Going off what Bonnie said, I think she used the word grit.テつ I like to use the word resilient to describe our team.テつ We've been in a lot of games where we've lost close games and we've won close games, and I think that experience really helps us.テつ We never really panic in those types of situation.
LILI THOMPSON:テつ I would say we have a lot of people on our team who have stepped up and who can step up, and if someone is having a bad shooting night and maybe missed a defensive match‑up, we stay with them and surround them and give them positivity.テつ We know they'll come back and they'll bounce back, and we've seen that time and time again.

Q.テつ Lili, Tara was saying about Jewell Loyd that she's an absolute phenom, and I was wondering what it's like for you when you watch her.テつ Are you going to be guarding her or is Amber?テつ Who's going to be taking her?
LILI THOMPSON:テつ I don't know if it's supposed to be a secret, but I'll start out on her and I'm sure we'll move around match‑ups and everybody will take a crack at it if need be.テつ She's obviously a phenomenal player, and she scores in so many different ways.テつ And I think that our job is just to make it difficult for her and to give her a tough night, to have to go against the five of us and our team defense and not just necessarily one person.テつ I think that we play really good team defense, and we get really focused on our preparation, and I think that's something that will help us in this game.

Q.テつ In the OU game to get you guys to this point, you go into halftime down a few points and then turn it around for the ten‑point victory.テつ What was the key for you and your scoring effort to get you guys to this place?
AMBER ORRANGE:テつ I'm just always trying to be aggressive.テつ Sometimes I score a lot, sometimes maybe not as much, but if I remain aggressive, I may get on another defender and someone else is open, so I think going with that kind of mentality is really important for me.

Q.テつ Amber, reading through your bio, I saw that your mom was an Olympian, a triple jumper.テつ What kind of influence did she have on you?
AMBER ORRANGE:テつ She's always just supported me.テつ She always told me you can do anything you put your mind to.テつ There's nothing you can't do, but you have to work hard for it, and she's been like the greatest example in my life, and she's my role model because of it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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