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NCAA WOMEN'S REGIONALS SEMIFINALS & FINALS: OKLAHOMA CITY


March 28, 2015


Sune Agbuke

Nina Davis

Niya Johnson

Kim Mulkey

Alexis Prince

Imani Wright


OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

Q.  Niya, you were pretty candid last night looking ahead to the rematch and talking about it.  What do you remember from last year?  You guys have talked about the home court and played on their home court quite a bit.  What are you carrying into tomorrow?
NIYA JOHNSON:¬† Just the energy Notre Dame had.¬† I guess they were just feeding off their fans last year, and just adversity they went through, and just taking us apart, our offense, by reading us and how we defend them and looking at film from‑‑ well, looking at film today, we'll try to fix that, and it's another great opportunity to play them again.

Q.  Nina, you said that it's kind of personal for you because you didn't feel like you played that well in that game last year.  How excited are you to get a second chance at Notre Dame?
NINA DAVIS:  It's just a great opportunity just to be at this level and to be able to play them again.  We're just going to go out there and give it our all, and whatever happens, happens, and hopefully we come out with a win.

Q.  Sune, just talk about being back in the Elite 8.  Most teams would love to be here once.  You guys are back here again.  How fortunate are you guys, and now this time take care of business?
SUNE AGBUKE:  We're so blessed.  We're blessed with the players we have on this team, we're blessed with our coach, we're blessed to play for Baylor, and coming here, you knew coming to this program that that's something you were going to get to do.  We're very blessed, and we're just looking forward to it, to getting to go farther.

Q.  Imani, Alexis and Niya, can you talk about defending their guards, particularly Lindsay Allen and Jewell Loyd?
IMANI WRIGHT:  They're great players.  I think if we just stick to our game plan and what we have to do, we'll do a pretty good job.  Just being able to have this opportunity again, it'll be great for us.
ALEXIS PRINCE:  Yeah, they have great guards.  We just have to stick to our defensive principles and hopefully we'll be able to slow them down.
NIYA JOHNSON:  Looking at last night's game, I noticed that Lindsay Allen was on a roll, and you just have to stop that early and get them out of rhythm.

Q.  What gives you the confidence going into tomorrow that things have changed since last year?  What is it about this team that you feel better about, maybe, than you did a year ago?
NINA DAVIS:  We're just different.  We're a totally different team than we were last year.  I don't think you can compare the team we are this year to the team we were last year.  I think last year we were more focused one player.  We revolved around Odyssey Sims, and this year we have so many different weapons, everybody steps up and it's really just confidence this year.  Everybody steps up, everybody knows their role and everybody plays their part.  You can see yesterday everybody stepped up on the big stage and everybody was able to contribute and I think that's what makes us a better team than we were last year, because you know which one of us to stop.  You don't know who the ball is going to go if we're in a close game at the end.  That's what makes us different from the team last year.

Q.  Going off of what Nina said, when you see Sune have a big game like she did yesterday, having to step up because of the defense they were playing on Nina, does that kind of remind you that you have to just kind of be prepared just in case they're shutting down Niya or Nina at the same time and you guys have to step up?
IMANI WRIGHT:  Yeah, Sune had an amazing game yesterday, and I'm excited when everybody does well, and just having everybody be able to score and contribute is big for us.
ALEXIS PRINCE:  Yeah, that's the type of team we are.  Any given day, any player can have a good game or go off.  It doesn't matter if it starts on the defensive end or the offensive end, and yesterday with Sune and Chris at this's game.

Q.  Sune and Niya, can you talk about where the defense has evolved since the beginning of the year, even looking back maybe at the Kentucky game, how the defense has evolved since the beginning of the year?
SUNE AGBUKE:  Well, I think number one, we've really bought into it a lot more.  It did take a couple losses for us to really buy into that and realize that what Coach Mulkey is teaching us every day in practice, she's been teaching us every year, it's the way to win.  And then I think the past couple weeks what's really been helping us is our help side defense, and knowing that I'm going to have Niya's back if she gets beat, I'm going to have Prince's back if she gets beat, I'm going to have Imani's back and then I know Nina is going to have my back with my man or Niya is going to have my back and we've had a lot of success doing that, and we've really been communicating, we've been talking on defense and being able to switch at points where we needed to do that and knowing when we shouldn't switch.  It's just really coming together for us, and it starts with talking and communicating, and it starts with just really buying into our defensive principles.
NIYA JOHNSON:  Coach Mulkey coaches a lot of emphasis on defense, and just those two games that we lost, Iowa State and Oklahoma, we seen that from watching film, we seen that our defense was horrible so we tried to fix that in order to win ballgames and also get to a championship.  Like Sune said, just helping each other out, helping the helper, last night we did a very good job with that, and just trying to help each other out in any way we can.

Q.  Kim, the girls were pretty candid last night when talking about having another shot at Notre Dame, and I could have sworn I saw a little eye roll from you at one point.  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm just curious about your thoughts, if you embrace their desire to have another shot or if you're a little concerned about maybe emotions being a little overspent coming in or where you're at on that.
KIM MULKEY:¬† I don't remember an eye roll.¬† I think like any competitor, you remember who ended your season, and it's just ironic that we're in the same situation as last year.¬† I thought your question to Nina was outstanding, if I can elaborate a little bit more, what makes us confident is they're not the same Notre Dame team, either.¬† You're playing really basically on a neutral site.¬† I tend to think it might be leaning a little bit toward Baylor because hopefully we have more fans here than Notre Dame.¬† But the teams are just different.¬† Notre Dame lost some great seniors.¬† We lost an All‑American senior, and that's what makes it a good opportunity for us to get back out on the floor and play them again.

Q.¬† Kim, can you talk about that match‑up inside because it seems like that's where they lost a lot of their players was in the post area.
KIM MULKEY:¬† Yeah.¬† Reimer and Turner are young, freshman and sophomore, and they've had to fill big shoes for Notre Dame, and they've done it quite well.¬† It's a lot easier to fill those big shoes when you can have a Jewell Loyd leading you out there, and I just think she's the best player in the country.¬† I think she's a difficult match‑up for everybody.¬† She can just take over a game at any time.¬† I think that Sune will hold her own in the paint.¬† Obviously I think that Nina is having a great year.¬† But I just thought Notre Dame's post play was outstanding, and they've replaced it with outstanding talent.
But it's a lot like us.  Their team is young, too.

Q.  How much more difficult are they to prepare for when you see that a Lindsay Allen can explode like that in the first half and you already have to pay so much attention to Jewell Loyd?
KIM MULKEY:  Not any more difficult than it is for them to have to worry about Sune Agbuke.  It's just players make plays at this stage.  Nobody wants their season to end.  You might throw a twist here and there defensively.  You might run one little quick hitter offensively.  But the players win it now.  The players make plays, and it should be an interesting game.  You have two teams that score a lot of points.  You have two teams that like transition.  You have two teams that use their bench, and you have two young teams.  I hope that it will be a good game.  I hope that we certainly give them a better game than we gave them in South Bend last year.

Q.  Coach, can you comment about the attendance here yesterday?  Were you kind of disappointed with the turnout for the game?
A.I really can't give you a comment because I didn't pay attention to it.  How many did y'all bring?

Q.  I don't think they brought too many, yeah.
KIM MULKEY:  Yeah, well your men are in the tournament, too.

Q.  I think the announced attendance after the second game was 3,868 or something like that.
KIM MULKEY:  Honestly I didn't pay attention to it.

Q.¬† Coach, it seems when I watch‑‑ the best offense you'll have is when the ball is moving around and everyone is touching.¬† How big of an emphasis has ball movement been this season?
KIM MULKEY:  Well, it's big because of what you've noticed.  Our team can score at all positions.  We have players coming off the bench that can score equally as well as those that are in the lineup starting.  I just think that our ability to not just always rely on Nina, she gets a lot of the attention, but if you watch us play, we don't really run a whole lot of things for Nina.  Nina gets her stuff by going to the offensive boards.  She gets her stuff in the continuity of our offenses.  I think we've just got to keep doing what we're doing that got us to this point and hope that we can defend and just make a basket or two more than they do.

Q.  Talk about your point guard, Niya, and the game that she had last night.  The stat that jumps out at you is 14 assists, no turnovers.
KIM MULKEY:¬† 16 assists, no turnovers.¬† See you media?¬† I have to get you straight because you tell half the story.¬† OK?¬† It matters to a point guard, 16 or 14.¬† She is unbelievable.¬† I just thought‑‑ of course I see her every day, and coaches always think their players are the best, and they should.¬† But I've seen Niya have 17 assists and no turnovers in 30 minutes of play earlier in the year.¬† I've seen Niya just lead a basketball team with her ability to find the open player.¬† She got to go against one of the better point guards last night who a lot of people think is going to be a top draft pick, but she was able to gauge herself against the best.¬† I thought she did a tremendous job, and she just is‑‑ what she would draw up as the facilitator out there, the true point guard, makes everybody around her better.¬† But she's also a scorer.¬† If I need a point, I'll tell her, you need to shoot the ball, and she'll do it.¬† She just thinks pass first.

Q.¬† Following that up, this might be an offbeat kind of question‑‑
KIM MULKEY:  Not from the media.  Come on now.

Q.  We try, you know.  We like to try to get to the meat of the story.  If you were out to recruit, if you needed to get a particular player, what's the most important player that you need to recruit for a basketball team in your eyes?  Is it a point guard, a forward?
KIM MULKEY:  It is an offbeat question.  I think it depends on your team.  I think personally we have to go look for what our weaknesses are and what our needs are.  But if we're starting from scratch, I think you've got to have a point guard and then probably after that I think you've got to go with a post player, and then you fill in the parts around that.
But that would just be if you're starting a program.  If you're a pro franchise and you're starting from scratch, you've got to have a ball handler.  You've got to have somebody that's the coach and quarterback on that floor.  I think it's the same way in football.  You've got to start with a quarterback and then you've probably got to go to your running backs and then your cornerbacks.  I don't know.  I've played the position and I know how valuable it is.

Q.  You've talked about Jewell Loyd a little bit.  What makes her the player that she is and how do you go about trying to slow her down a little bit?
KIM MULKEY:¬† Well, nobody really slows her down.¬† She's that good.¬† She's probably going to win every Player of the Year award out there.¬† She can offensive rebound when she needs to.¬† She can defend the best player on the other team if they need her to.¬† She can elevate above most people guarding her and score.¬† She pushes it in transition and could play the point if she needed to.¬† She's just a very difficult match‑up.

Q.  You've said before, and we've seen it, Sune can make that shot, but she doesn't take it a lot.  Is it because she recognizes that's not her role, or is that just what Iowa gave her?
KIM MULKEY:¬† Well, it's what Iowa gave her.¬† She's never open that much.¬† If she's open at the foul‑line area, you've seen her, she'll shoot it.¬† It's just people didn't leave her open that much all year.¬† She's not an offensive liability, she just doesn't have to shoot it as much as the others.¬† As big as she is, honestly, Sune is more of a face‑the‑basket‑type of post player than she is a back‑to‑the‑basket post player that makes great moves.¬† She just had openings last night and got on a roll, and when you make two or three, you become more confident, and that rim gets bigger.
It's good to see a senior play like that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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