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NCAA WOMEN'S REGIONALS SEMIFINALS & FINALS: OKLAHOMA CITY


March 28, 2015


Lindsay Allen

Jewell Loyd

Michaela Mabrey

Muffet McGraw

Taya Reimer

Brianna Turner


OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

MUFFET McGRAW:  Well, we're excited that we're still dancing and have a chance to enjoy some of this beautiful Oklahoma City weather today.

Q.  Lindsay, can you describe again the game last night and how you got into the flow and what it was like for you going through this, the way you were carrying the team in the first half?
LINDSAY ALLEN:¬† Yeah, in our game plan we really focused on getting those free‑throw line jumpers, because we knew the way Stanford was playing us, we were able to get those shots.¬† We worked on that in practice and then shoot‑around and then the posts really set really good screens us guards to get those shots and kind of just read the defense a little bit.

Q.  Jewell, does last season give you guys any extra confidence, the game last season against them give you any extra confidence going into tomorrow, or does that even play a role?
JEWELL LOYD:  Last year is last year.  Every year is different.  We're a different team.  We have the same mindset, so we're focused and we're ready to play.

Q.  Brianna and Taya, what concerns y'all the most about Nina Davis, a very unique player, and what will you have to do to keep her under control?
BRIANNA TURNER:  She's super athletic so we're definitely going box her out and keep her off the boards.  She's going to be super aggressive.  We know she's going to play hard, so we're going to have to work with her the whole entire game and don't give up or don't take plays off.
TAYA REIMER:  Yeah, I think exactly what she said, and for us as posts I think our biggest focus is going to be rebounding for this game.

Q.  Taya, Stanford players said that energy was the difference last night.  Can you talk about the conditioning program and how you guys feel energy gives you an advantage?
TAYA REIMER:¬† Yeah, well, our strength and conditioning coach, Craig Cheek, does a great job, definitely pushing us and getting us ready for making runs like this, and it's a long season, so he definitely helps us out with that.¬† I think that we just get energy from each other, too, and just‑‑ I mean obviously when Lindsay Allen is making incredible plays and we're all just really playing off of each other that gives us a lot of energy, and I think that definitely helped.

Q.  Michaela, since this is your birthday today, give us a scouting report on what you see of this Baylor team this year and what you remember from last year, and how are they different?
MICHAELA MABREY:  Well, they share the ball really well.  They know each other inside and out, and I think their point guard does a really good job of finding everybody, getting in gaps and finding everyone.  They're extremely athletic, and they bring a lot of energy to the game.  We just have to keep playing the way we've been playing and executing really well on offense and defense.

Q.  Michaela and Jewell, since you are the veterans of the group, can you tell me a little bit about the tradition of painting the fingernails green and why you guys like it and why it's a cool tradition?
JEWELL LOYD:  Well, it's just something that we've always done.  For us we walked in and it was paint the nails day, and that's what we do.  What's the name of the polish that we use?  We use all different polish, it just has to be green.  I like having my nails done.

Q.  Michaela, can you talk about what it means to have Kayla McBride with you?  Is she helping coach?  Is she just a fan, encouraging, just what that does for her to be part of the travel party?
MICHAELA MABREY:  Just having Kayla here, it means a lot to all of us.  She's been in the position that we are right now, and I think just having her here and her giving us little advice here and there, I think just really maybe calms us down or whatever she's saying I think just helps us in any way.  I love having her here.

Q.¬† Could you reflect back on last year, the game against Baylor, specifically when‑‑ and this is for all of you, specifically when Natalie got hurt and what you remember about that moment?
LINDSAY ALLEN:  From what I remember last year we were on a really big run at that time and we were just getting going a little bit, and our home crowd was really loud for us and we were feeding off of their energy, and Natalie goes down and it kind of sucks the air out of the room a little bit but she gets up and gives us that inspiring speech and we know it's an extra deal for her, make it to the Final Four.
JEWELL LOYD:  Yeah, I definitely agree with that.  It was really passionate.  That's when we came together and said let's get it done.  Let's play with some heart.  That's exactly what we did.  Natalie stood up and walked up the court, and it's like, all right, someone is going to step up.  You know right away, so we just played together.
MICHAELA MABREY:  I agree with what Lindsay and Jewell said.  I think we were going on a run at that point in time, and I think when Ace went down it kind of sucked the air out of everything.  But I think with her coming up, and I think our fans really helped us, and I think they just kind of motivated us to just finish the game and move on to the Final Four.
TAYA REIMER:  I mean, exactly what they said.  It was definitely motivation, and all of us wanted to finish that game out and come out with a W for her.  Obviously it being her senior season it was devastating for her and for all of us because she was a huge part of our team, but we definitely just got some motivation from it.
BRIANNA TURNER:  I was at my house watching on TV.

Q.¬† Jewell, can you talk about the guard match‑up and particularly what you see from Niya Johnson since you would have seen her last year?
JEWELL LOYD:¬† She's a really great point guard.¬† She reads the ball really well.¬† She's very accurate, and the match‑up between her and Lindsay is going to be awesome.¬† Obviously I'm biased because this is my point guard here, but yeah, she's a really good point guard.¬† She's done a really good job for them.

Q.  Lindsay, Niya had 16 assists and no turnovers yesterday.  First of all, has Coach said anything to you about that stat, and that kind of stat, that jumps out at you, doesn't it?
LINDSAY ALLEN:  No, Coach hasn't said anything to me about that, but I'm a little jealous of it.  Obviously, 16 assists and zero turnovers is pretty impressive.  She's just a great point guard for them.  She knows how to get them going.  She knows where to get her players the ball and she's done a really great job for them this year.

Q.  Stanford talked about energy was the difference last night.  Can you talk about the conditioning, the team effort that goes into getting your team energy to outlast opponents?
MUFFET McGRAW:  We have such a great support staff in every way.  Strength and conditioning, training room, nutrition, it all goes into it.  We travel with a nutritionist, obviously travel with a trainer all the time, and our strength and conditioning coach, Craig Cheek does a fantastic job.  We've got the new GPS system that we wear on our backs that tells us how hard we're working, do we need to maybe take a day off.  That has been really helpful to have some statistical information.  It's easy to look at them and know whether they're tired or not.  But I think we're in great shape, especially Jewell and Lindsay.  They can go all day.  They've been in phenomenal shape all year long.  They do a great job in the weight room.  They're prepared for this kind of game.  And I thought what hurt Stanford was when Lili Thompson got hurt in the first half and went out, they didn't have another guard to put in, so I thought they got a little tired in the second half because they had to play so much in the first half.

Q.  Do you feel like you have to be better this time around than last year to beat a Baylor team that is clearly excited about a rematch, and if so, how do you feel like you're better?
MUFFET McGRAW:  Yeah, I think we're both very different teams, and both are playing really well without the stars that graduated last year.  I think they are playing like we played the year that Skylar graduated.  We came back the next year, a lot of people thought we'd be down, and it's the same for them.  I think they've gotten really good contributions from a lot of different people, so they're much more team oriented in that you can't focus on one person.  In some ways, a lot harder to guard and I think they've been incredibly successful.  Kim has done a terrific job this year.  I think Coach of the Year is certainly in that kind of game where you're rebuilding.  You don't know exactly what you have, so I think she's really done a terrific job.
We've done a little rebuilding ourselves.  I think we're a very different team than we were last year and you see that in the lack of experience at times, but a player like Jewell Loyd really can do a lot of things and cover up a lot of the mistakes that we're making.

Q.  As an outsider looking in, how do you describe Nina Davis's game?  It's so unique and what do you have to do to keep her under control?
MUFFET McGRAW:¬† Well, unique is a perfect word to describe Nina Davis and her game.¬† She can take it off the rim and get to the basket at the other end as quick as any guard in the country.¬† She's got great speed.¬† She is a great rebounder.¬† She is relentless.¬† I think that's the thing about her that I really, really like.¬† She never quits.¬† If she misses it she's going to go back and get it.¬† She plays at a high‑motor speed.¬† She's really a tough match‑up for the post, and that's what you talk about, who's going to guard her.¬† We've been in this situation a few times this year, but nobody with quite the athleticism at that spot that she is, so she's a very difficult match‑up I think for anyone.

Q.¬† You guys are 6‑0 all team in Elite 8.¬† I'm wondering what it is about this situation that works so well for you guys.
MUFFET McGRAW:¬† I think we go through the year and play every game the same way, home or away, big game, regular game.¬† It doesn't matter, we have the same approach.¬† We're not a team that is a fiery, motivational, inspirational, talk before the game kind of‑‑ I don't have that personality.¬† You know, we're pretty steady.¬† We take every game the same way, so when we get to this point we're trying to treat it like another game.¬† We take it in two games.¬† The first weekend was a two‑game series.¬† This weekend we want to go 2‑0.¬† So I think we just look at it and try to make it as businesslike as we can.

Q.  Obviously last year the game in South Bend, how much of a difference, if any, do you think the fact playing on a neutral court and the fan distribution might be a little bit more evenly spread?
MUFFET McGRAW:  I don't know if it's going to be even.  I think last year playing on our home court was a tremendous advantage, and I think I'm really glad that the NCAA went away from playing on home courts, even though the crowds were tremendous and the atmosphere was electric on our side.  It really is an unfair advantage.
Now we're playing in Baylor's backyard so they have a chance to get us back a little bit.  Not too far from their campus, so I'm sure they'll have a lot of fans out here, and I'm sure for them, they have a little bit of revenge on their minds.

Q.  Can you talk about the development of your two post players and kind of what you've seen from them as the season has progressed?
MUFFET McGRAW:¬† I think the reason that we've been successful this year is because of the improvement of our posts.¬† I think Taya Reimer is the most‑improved player on our team.¬† I think Brianna Turner, a fabulous freshman but still needed some work coming in, and Kathryn Westbeld, our other post player, the three of them have improved throughout the season.¬† Carol Owens, our post coach, I think is the best post coach in the country.¬† The way they fit into our offense, they've gotten comfortable.¬† I think it's tough for freshman to come in and be comfortable at any point.¬† I think it's probably taken them until February to really feel that ability that our offense is a lot of just take what they give you, and that's difficult for freshmen.¬† I think they've really come a long way in terms of learning when they should drive it, when they should shoot it, when they should pass it.

Q.¬† After the Connecticut game, of course you didn't have Bri in that game, but after the Connecticut game you mentioned that you kind of wondered about the toughness of your team.¬† When did you finally realize that they had‑‑ were getting to that point where you liked to play tough, and indeed do you think they've reached that level that you want them to play at?
MUFFET McGRAW:  I think they've definitely reached that level and then some.  I think we've seen that in a lot of games in the ACC.  We saw that in our DePaul game up in Chicago, which was shortly after the first loss of the season.  So I think they really showed a lot of resilience.  But particularly in the posts.  I think our guards are pretty tough.  They've been tough all year long, but I think the post was where we were questioning it, and they definitely have come along and come a long way.

Q.  You get a spark from Madison Cable coming off the bench, and Hannah now provides that same kind of spark for you last night.  Can you talk a little bit what they mean to your program?
MUFFET McGRAW:  You know, I think it's really important that you have a great player coming off the bench.  I think it's a difficult decision who you're going to start and sometimes you don't start your best five, sometimes you start a really good chemistry group but you come in with somebody that can do a lot of different things.  I think the person coming off the bench has to have the versatility to help you at both ends of the floor, and that's what Madison Cable has been able to do for us all year long.  She's had some great offensive nights, but she's always steady defensively and she can rebound.  So she can come in and make a difference in the game, as can Hannah Huffman.  She comes in and provides energy.  She's going to get a rebound or get a defensive stop.  She's not going to have a great stat line every game, but she's going to be a very big contributor for us.

Q.  Did you sense that Hannah might have a little something extra going for yesterday, the fact because she was playing against Stanford?
MUFFET McGRAW:¬† I think the minute the bracket was announced she noticed that Stanford was in our bracket, and I think having never played against them her four years, she has some friends on the team there, in fact a high school teammate is on the team, so I think she was really, really excited about the match‑up.

Q.¬† Can you talk about the point guard match‑up and what you particularly see from Niya Johnson?
MUFFET McGRAW:¬† Two great point guards, and both up for the Nancy Lieberman Award, and in the top four in the country.¬† I think that's going to be a really fun match‑up for the fans to watch.¬† Niya Johnson, the best passer in terms of assist‑to‑turnover ratio and assists in the country, averaging eight assists a game.¬† She is just so good with the ball. ¬†She's got a great handle and she can really see the floor.¬† She makes great decisions.¬† She gets her players the ball exactly where they need it.¬† She does so many things that don't show up on the stat sheet, either.¬† She gets the assist most of the time, but just to get the ball and give it to them in such a way that they can be successful with it I think is a really, really tremendous trait to have.

Q.¬† What was your assist‑to‑turnover ratio as a player?
MUFFET McGRAW:  We didn't keep stats back then.  I think we just had the abacus that we were keeping score on at that point.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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