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March 19, 2016

Jeff Walz

Briahanna Jackson

Mariya Moore

Cortnee Walton


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Louisville. We will have an opening statement by Coach.

JEFF WALZ: You know, just really looking forward to tomorrow's ball game. DePaul is an outstanding basketball team. Had the chance to watch them play yesterday. They showed you what they can do and that wasn't an accident. They shoot the ball extremely well. They push the ball in transition. They're very unselfish. They pass the ball well. They don't dribble it a lot. That's what makes you a great player and a great team. Teams that can pass the ball without always having to dribble it.

I try to tell our players I guarantee the official checks to make sure there is air in the ball before the game starts, so when you get it there is no sense to pound it into the ground as soon as you touch it. There is air in it! That's what DePaul does well. They get it moving. They want you to have to chase them. If we have to chase DePaul tomorrow, it's probably not going to be a pretty game for us.

We have to be able to defend. We've got to be able to keep them in front of us. We have to be able to guard one-on-one without help. As soon as you require help that's what they've got you scrambling and they shoot the ball too well to have to chase them.

Very excited to still be playing. It's a great opportunity for us. It's a great opportunity for our program, our fans, and just looking forward to a great environment tomorrow and a great basketball game.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes?

Q. Cortnee and then Briahanna, what was it like for you as you recall your game against DePaul? You're the only one on the roster that's played against them. I think your freshman year you played them twice. Do you remember anything about that?
CORTNEE WALTON: I remember playing them at DePaul and they have a great environment there. But just knowing they play hard ever possession and they're very well coached. They play as a team and they shoot a ton of threes. So they're just a really good, very well-coached team. I knew when I saw them pop up at the Selection Show it was going to be a good game because they're a really good team.

Q. BJ, your first NCAA Tournament game yesterday after the transfer and now this full year and finally playing in a tournament game, what's it like for you?
BRIAHANNA JACKSON: Finally exciting, this is what you play for all through the tournament. This is part of why I came here, going to the dance. So excited for the game tomorrow and I had a good time playing yesterday.

Q. BJ then Mariya, talk about what Jeff was talking about, especially you guys on offense dribbling too much or getting caught of maybe not moving on offense.
BRIAHANNA JACKSON: That's been a focus the for the past few days. Just getting the ball when somebody is open rather than taking three extra dribbles and waiting for the defense to get the ball moving up the floor.

MARIYA MOORE: What she said. Sometimes it's tough because you see things happening with you dribbling, like you see things happen even though the most simple pass it right in front of you. So it's learning to get the ball out of our hands quicker.

Q. Mariya, Coach said yesterday he thought it was good for you to see your last three-pointer in that game go through and I know the ACC Tournament probably didn't go the way you wanted. What has the last two weeks been like for you and how do you mentally block out missed shots?
MARIYA MOORE: I block them out because he tells me to. It's just crazy because I seem to make 'em in practice, so I just have to focus more on the game.

He just tells me that if I work more on it in practice, like, after practice, getting shots up, it's not an accident when it goes in. But he's telling me I shouldn't be surprised if it misses and I'm not working on it.

Q. For any of you, would you comment on the lifts Myisha gave you all in the first half when things were going the wrong way and what she has done the last couple of months for this team?
CORTNEE WALTON: I think Myisha has been great and she has been very consistent this whole month and a half to two months. She has been doing great job and she was a great lift for us offensively, but I think what really turned us around was our defense. We started getting a huge spark especially from Dakota Weatherford. She did a great job of diving on the floor and helping us get stops because if they don't score points we'll win. I'm not taking anything away from Myisha, she does a great job scoring. But what we really need to focus on is defense.

Q. How different was yesterday? The ACC Tournament seemed like you let your missed shots affect you on other parts of the game, and yesterday you did other things. How much of a focus was that and when did you get from Jeff and the other coaches about keeping in the game even if you're missing shots?
MARIYA MOORE: I definitely try to focus on that. I tried to focus on it all year, but it's easier to say it than do it. So the ACC Tournament was just a change. I had to realize it's affecting me and my team, so I have to make the change to get my shots off and I'm going to have to affect the game in other ways. That's what I'm going to have to do.

Q. Cortnee, you brought up defense being a key tomorrow. How do you come out with defensive intensity from the start?
CORTNEE WALTON: I think we need to focus on it. We have been watching a lot of film and we need to stick with a scouting report defense and know that if we focus of defense, we all think that they can -- we can score a lot of points and they can, too, so we can't trade baskets and we need to punch 'em in the mouth to start out with. If we get a bunch of stops, which I know that we can do, then I think we will be successful tomorrow.

Q. Cortnee, speaking of scouting report defense, what have you seen with Megan Podkowa, and how do you combat her versatility knowing that you will be going against her at times?
CORTNEE WALTON: She is versatile. She can drive. She can shoot. We need to play solid, disciplined defense and take away the three as well as take away the drive. She is a great player and I'm not taking that way from her, but we need to be disciplined. We know she is going to score. We can't hold anyone scoreless, but the less that she scores the better off we will be.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, ladies. Thank you. Good luck. Questions for Coach.

Q. Talk about Mariya a little more from that ACC Tournament, she seems to wear her emotions on her sleeve at times. Do you like that part of her game? She sometimes looks disgusted and sometimes looks fired up?
JEFF WALZ: That's one thing that I think she is working on and maturity will definitely help her. You know, she is a sophomore. At times you've got to be not show your emotions. You've got to especially not let your opponent know when you're frustrated because when you're playing good teams, when they can see that you're frustrated they're going to keep coming at you. That's what we should do.

If we're playing somebody who is frustrated because they're not making shots and defending well, you want to go at them. I think that's what took place in the ACC Tournament is she let her frustrations and missing shots affect everything else she did. She didn't rebound well. She didn't defend well. She didn't pass the ball well.

It was a weekend where I think she learned a valuable lesson that, you know, she is too important to this ball club to just let some missed shots dictate everything that goes on. So we've got enough people that can score, but what we have to figure out is finding out do we have enough people who are willing to defend? We'll find that out in a hurry tomorrow, because DePaul, everybody can score the basketball.

Q. Coach, Coach Bruno was complimentary in talking about you and building the program and the fan base here as you've come up the ladder in the circuit. Have you had an eye on what he's done there at DePaul as well?
JEFF WALZ: Well, Doug has been in this game. He's been at DePaul, I believe, for 30 years now. Waiting for them to name the school after him shortly. He's been a rock in women's basketball. You know, he's great to be around. He's willing to share ideas, you know. He's all about growing our game. That's one thing -- they draw an unbelievable crowd up there. Their arena, it's a unique place, having the opportunity to be in the Big East with them for, I think, five years or six years, when you go up to DePaul they have a great environment. Their crowd is loud. Their crowd is passionate. Doug's teams are always going to score. They're always going to sprint the floor.

I like to say he's got high-character players because you always know -- you never hear him yelling "sprint" they're always doing it. That speaks volumes for what he's done in his 30 years. It's going to be exciting, because I've got a lot of respect for Doug. He not only has a lot of experience with DePaul, but he's got a lot of USA Basketball experience. He's been around this game a long time.

We're going to have our hands full, and it's going to be fun coaching against him, and we always have had great games.

Q. Coach, he had a lot of nice things to say about you, but he said you couldn't hang with the Big East coaches. I don't think he was talking one-on-one --
JEFF WALZ: Listen, he's not talking about all the coaches. He's talking about himself! One thing I've learned, boy, that's you don't want to sit down with Doug! Doug's quiet. He'll sit there and just -- you know, he'll look at you and that's about all he's gotta do. He is sitting there a lot longer than you are. I can promise you that!

It was our first year in the Big East meetings, he invited me over with the group, was really nice, but before I know it, he was still sitting and I wasn't! (Laughter.)

But it was a good time, and that's really when I first had the opportunity to get to know Doug and Geno. You know, I consider them both friends now, and, you know, they've both helped me a great deal in my career. They're both great to talk to, and I appreciate their friendships. I don't encourage any of you to ask him to go out tonight! You might not make the game at 2:30 tomorrow!

Q. Jeff, you've got a versatile post player in Myisha and they have one in Megan Podkowa. What abilities does that give you as a team when you have players that can do multiple things from the post?
JEFF WALZ: Well, difficult to guard. You can't just put a 6-5 player on Megan or a 6-5 player on Myisha and think, okay, she is not going to be able to score in the post. Okay, they may not be able to score in the post, but Megan can go out and she is shooting the three and shoots it close to 50%! Myisha from 15 feet is awfully good right now. So you -- and then if you put a 5-10 kid on 'em, thinking, hey, we'll guard 'em outside. Well, then they can both post up. The one thing we're fortunate with and so are they is that we both have post players that can post up and play on the perimeter both offensively and defensively. That's what we have to have.

We have to have an all-out team defensive effort tomorrow. That's the one thing that we really stressed to our kids today. We stressed to them last night when we watched film. We will watch film again tonight. It's got to be a team effort because everybody on DePaul shoots the basketball. It's the one thing that I told our staff, and I told our players, when I sit there and go through film and through the scouts, there is really not one kid on their team that I'm, like, okay, you can help off of her, make her beat us.

They can all beat you! You know, you're looking at their five players who shoot 25% from the three-point line and goes 3 for 3 in yesterday's game. The first one banked in, but the next two looked awfully good. If she banked in all three I would say let's she if she can bank in all three tomorrow.

But it looks like a pretty darn good shot to me. You've got to be ready to defend, and it's got to be a 40-minute effort. It can't be one possession, I'll take a break because everybody can score and they'll find that defender that's not playing and then they will attack them.

Q. Jeff, I know that you said it's not an excuse and your team has had another year to be tested with experience, but can you contrast the level of experience that they have, so many junior and senior contributors compared with your club?
JEFF WALZ: Well, you know, it's a luxury for them to have that experience, but we'll be saying the same thing in a year or two, so it's not something that I'm going to sit here and complain about because I think we've got some darn good young players.

Now it's just a matter of focus. And that's where at times your youth will affect you, where they lose focus. In a game like this tomorrow, you can't afford a three or four-minute stretch where you lose focus, because if you do, it can go from a 2-point game to a 12-point game. Then with the way DePaul scores you might just trade baskets.

You know, I watched the game yesterday versus James Madison, and James Madison is up 6-5, then the next thing you know, it's 20-6! Then James Madison scored three straight times, but so did DePaul. You've got to figure out a way to defend, and if you can do that, then you're going to have a chance to make it a basketball game.

You look at those scores, and if you can go up to Notre Dame and drop 90, you're doing something right! It's a 95-90 game at Notre Dame, and then I think it's a 14 or 13-point loss to UConn, and I think they scored 73 or 74 in that game. It speaks volumes for what they can do offensively, so we're going to have a big challenge in front of us tomorrow at the defensive end of the floor.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else guys?

JEFF WALZ: Thank you, everybody.

THE MODERATOR: Good luck tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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