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March 17, 2016

Jeff Walz

Myisha Hines-Allen

Mariya Moore

Asia Durr

Louisville, Kentucky

JEFF WALZ: Just first want to start off by just thanking everyone involved here at the Yum Center. Our university, for just putting on this event, it takes a lot of work. There's a lot of people behind the scenes that don't get the credit that they deserve, and just want to stay thank you to everybody that's had anything to do with putting this on.

Obviously, with what you've seen here, there's a lot of work that's done. So thank you from that point.

We're excited. Any time you get the opportunity to continue your season in the NCAA Tournament, it's what you work all year for. Now it's down to one game at a time. We have to have an urgency about us. We have to take care of business. You just can't come to the game and expect to show up and play. You've got to do the work beforehand. We have to make sure we are prepared. We know the scout. We know personnel. And if we do that, then I like our chances.

We've shown this year that we have the ability to do some really good things, and at the same time, we've shown that, when we don't come prepared, we can get beat by a lot of people. So I'm excited about this group of young women that I've had the opportunity to coach and watch grow over this season. They're excited to have the opportunity to play tomorrow, and we're just ready for the games to start.

Q. For any of the players, what have you seen from central Arkansas? What kind of challenge are you expecting tomorrow?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: They have a lot of good guards. They're a guard-oriented team . They run fast, and they're a really scrappy team. They're post players are a little undersized, so we have to work it inside out.

MARIYA MOORE: Just like Myisha said, they're a very guard-oriented team. So just focusing on soften the dribble drive and then rebounding.

ASIA DURR: It's the same thing. They're a team full of guards. So the most important thing is that we have to learn how to defend the gaps and play good defense.

Q. For the athletes, how have you all used the last few weeks in the ACC Tournament to prepare for the NCAA run and, in particular, this first game?
ASIA DURR: Well, these last two weeks, we've been practicing hard in practice. We've been trying to work on defense. So that's a thing that Coach Sam and Coach Walz have been trying to stress, for us to play good defense because we know, when we played Syracuse, we didn't play good defense. So I think that's what we were trying to work on.

MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Yeah, defense. You don't win games if you have -- if you play bad defense. So we're just really focused on defense. And offensively, I think we can compete with a lot of teams, but defensively, that's where we need to work on if we're going to make a run at the NCAA Tournament.

MARIYA MOORE: Yes, defense, defense, defense. And just working on getting our team chemistry. It's strong already, but as you enter the tournament, that's when you need to be at your strongest. So we've been working on team chemistry and a lot of defense.

Q. Asia, what are your thoughts now with this being your first NCAA Tournament?
ASIA DURR: This is my first one. I'm very excited about it. I'm hyped to play. I can't wait to play on Friday. So I'm just trying to take one game at a time.

Q. For Myisha and Mariya, last year your first NCAA Tournament, you're going against a team that's never played in the NCAA Tournament. What do you remember from that first experience? Do you feel that gives you any kind of an advantage going against a team that's seeing this for the first time?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Yeah, I do feel like we have an advantage. Me and Mariya, we played a big role last year in our run in the NCAA Tournament. So we've just got to use that to our advantage. Courtnee played for our Final Four. So we have to use that. Briahanna Jackson, she's really good. We have to help our freshmen too and let them actually know this could be our last game. This doesn't matter who we're playing. And just play hard and play for 40 minutes.

Q. Coach, how are you feeling? I know you were under the weather a little bit. How did it affect things this week?
JEFF WALZ: I'm not 100 percent, but I'm doing better. I just said, before I came up here, when the next group comes up, I'd wipe down all the stuff.

Q. Can I ask you about your permission slip for Louisvillians to get out of work that you put on your social media account and the reaction to it? And do you think it’s going to be better than the beer promotion?
JEFF WALZ: It wasn't a beer promotion. It was a drink promotion. A lot of people were upset with that. It was a drink promotion. You could go get whatever you'd like. The permission slip. It has been great. The number of responses I've been getting, I've made phone calls and have actually had three or four that I've been on the phone with. They're going to let four or five of their businesses come down. So just trying to do whatever I can to try to help create some buzz and get some more fans that come down.

2:30, obviously, it's not an ideal time, but there's only so many windows to play these games in. I'm hoping, if we could get 6,000 to 8,000 in here for a 2:30 game on a Friday, I'd think it's a tremendous -- it says a lot about our fan base.

Q. For the student-athletes, what do you think the key is to victory tomorrow? If you could pick one thing.
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: I think we could all say this at the same time, defense. That's the only way we're going to win, if we get stops. Yes, defense is the only way we're going to win.

MARIYA MOORE: I think it's not focusing on getting too high or getting too low. Playing consistently high the whole game.

ASIA DURR: I would say the same thing, playing defense. No matter what the score is, just keep playing hard throughout the whole game.

Q. I guess I'll ask Mariya. Did you guys hear about what happened with the permission slip and how many people responded? What's your reaction to that?
MARIYA MOORE: I didn't really hear. I saw it on social media. I didn't know how many people responded. I thought it was kind of funny. I thought it was great. I mean, I wish I had permission. No, I'm just kidding. I thought it was great, though, because our fans love stuff like that. Any way our coach can help, it's really cool.

Q. Jeff, you've opened on the road before and been successful. You opened at home and been successful. Is it really a big deal to open at home? And is it a reward for having a good regular season even though you didn't win the conference tournament?
JEFF WALZ: Yeah, there's no question about it. The opportunity to play at home in front of your home fans, play in an environment that your players are used to and comfortable with helps. So we're -- we're really pleased to have the opportunity to play here. The reward, the top 16 seed, a 3 seed, is because of what we were able to do throughout the entire season. It's not just based on the month of November. It's based on what we were able to do over our entire regular season.

So we're thrilled, extremely excited with our 3 seed, and looking forward to getting started tomorrow.

Q. Coach, defense is clearly the theme here, and defense wasn't very good against Syracuse. What have you guys done in the last couple of weeks to try to shore that up?
JEFF WALZ: We've really worked on some fundamentals. It's really going to come down to pride. Everyone on our team is talented enough to defend. Now it's a matter of are you willing to -- do you have the mental toughness to get out and do what you have to do?

We have to defend, but at the same time, we're going to have to score. It's been a long time since I've seen a 10-8 ball game. So defense is important. There's no question about it. We have worked on that the past two weeks, but we've also worked on trying to make sure we get better and execute at the half-court and value the basketball. The Syracuse game, as poor as we played defensively, we were up four with 3:30 left and turned the basketball over the next 2 of 3 possessions. You can't do that.

So those are the things that we really worked on, not just defense, but offense also.

Q. Jeff, you won 24 of your last 27 and, I think, 18 of 19 for Central Arkansas coming into this game. On the other side, James Madison, 20 straight. What do you expect to see in terms of the type of basketball during this weekend? I think there's three conference players of the year. Just the level of basketball and what do you expect to see?
JEFF WALZ: I expect to see some very, very good basketball. Both games tomorrow should be outstanding. That first game, I mean, I'd get here early. I'd get my popcorn, get your drinks, and sit down because that ball's going to be going up and down the floor. There's no question about it. It wouldn't surprise me if the score is in the hundreds. Both teams love to push the ball in transition. Both teams can score. So it should be a really exciting first game.

Then I know what Central Arkansas can do. We've watched them on film. Their guard play is extremely strong. They're very well coached. So I expect both games to be good basketball games.

Q. Jeff, you said all season that you have a young team. What does it mean for those young players to -- being in an unfamiliar tournament, at least being in familiar territory. How much of a benefit is that for you? And what have you shared with them about the tournament?
JEFF WALZ: All we've really talked about in the tournament is it's one and done, about the urgency you have to have. It just does not start tomorrow at 2:30. It started a week and a half ago. It started six months ago. That's really what you're trying to explain to your freshmen is what we did back in October was preparing us for this moment now. At times, it's hard for them, when they're that young and haven't been through this, to really understand why it was as difficult as it was in October because now, hopefully, the lessons you learn back then will prepare you for what's coming up.

It's one of those where, if you have a bad day, we're done. So you might not make shots. You might not do something you normally do well, but then you have to figure out a way to be a positive impact. If you're not on the floor, then be cheering. Pick your teammates up that are out there.

We played plenty of ball games now that our freshmen are no longer freshmen. Our sophomores have played tons. So the youth of this team is not an excuse. We're prepared. They're prepared, and it should be a great weekend of basketball.

Q. How many practices have you missed over the years here? And was it hard to miss practice this week?
JEFF WALZ: You know what, I have -- unless it was going out recruiting, I probably missed one or two at that. I was at practice on Monday. I sat up in the balcony overlooking the practice court, did some things from up there. I tried to drive in on Tuesday and didn't quite make it all the way in. So I decided to turn back around after I pulled off the road. So my staff took care of practice on Tuesday.

And then for yesterday's practice, I came again and sat on the balcony with the PA. So this is as close as I've been to the players in about five days. The last thing I want to do is get any of them sick.

I'm very fortunate to have a great staff. Steph Norman's been with me for all nine years. She knows exactly what we're trying to do, what we're going to do. Sam Williams and Sam Purcell are fantastic. So we all have each other's back. It's something that we pride ourselves on here. I've got Sam Purcell, whose wife is due to give birth on Monday. So if he leaves us during the game, you all know why.

So it's an exciting time, not just for us on the basketball court, but within our family here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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