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March 19, 2016

Holly Warlick

Andraya Carter

Mercedes Russell

Tempe, Arizona

COACH WARLICK: Well, excited to be here. It's about surviving and advancing, and we did so yesterday. Played a gutsy, gritty team, really proud of our young ladies for grinding it out and getting the win.

Q. One of the things ASU is known for is having this really tough, pressure defense, which you have faced teams obviously in the SEC who are like that. If they come out like that against you guys, how do you think you'll deal with it? It's a little bit different than what Green Bay probably was doing.
ANDRAYA CARTER: Right. It will definitely be different. Obviously Green Bay played a sagging man, but I think it will be good for us. If we stay poised and keep our composure and read the defense, and read kind of where they are sending us, what they are doing, I think we'll be able to really make good plays off of that.

We'll probably be able to penetrate gaps, if they help, we'll be able to distribute to our posts, play inside-out. You know, pressure defense is really something that you can take advantage of, if you can stay calm, make the right reads, make the right plays.

So I think it's something that we'll be able to handle probably a lot better than the sagging man-to-man I think. When teams are sagging off, you start to think a lot, instead of just reacting and playing off instinct. Hopefully if they get up on us, that's what we'll do tomorrow, play off instinct.

Q. For each of you, I'm curious what struck you about watching them.
MERCEDES RUSSELL: I just think ASU is a very athletic and gritty team that plays hard on both ends of the floor for 40 minutes. I mean, they are pretty solid from end-out. They have good posts. They have great size and they have good, strong guards. They can shoot the three. So just from top to bottom, they are a very solid team.

ANDRAYA CARTER: I think the same thing. They are a 2-seed for a reason. They have had a great season and they just play really hard. They play really gritty. They get after it and hustle. They make hustle plays. I think just playing hard. That's the one thing that stood out to me.

I think it's going to be a fast-paced game. They are aggressive. They are going to try to get after us and frustrate us and get us flustered. Like Mercedes said, they have great size. They are athletic. They are a very dynamic team and we'll have to handle it.

Q. Mercedes, is it somewhat been a challenge you've worked through in terms of trying not to force things? There are times I think when maybe you're looking for some more touches and just to try to stay patient, especially against a defense like ASU, to be patient, but also push your advantage when you can.
MERCEDES RUSSELL: Yeah, I think I just try to stay composed and patient, but at the same time, being aggressive. Just because we've seen a lot of sagging man throughout previous games, so I've seen double and triple team.

So I've just been really patient with moving the ball and seeing my open teammates.

Q. For Mercedes, how do you feel about the matchup inside at center with Quinn Dornstauder for ASU?
MERCEDES RUSSELL: I think it's a great match-up. We actually played against her this past summer in the World University Games. Kind of know her game a little bit and I know she's a very versatile and good player. So I think it will be a great battle.

Q. Katie Hempen had quite a strong shooting night last night. Anything particular in terms of trying to defend against her?
ANDRAYA CARTER: Well, you just have to get a hand in her face and kind of get in her shot pocket and not let her get the shot off.

Our Coach Dean says if they even start their shot or get it released, getting a high contest isn't going to be enough. You can put your hand up all you want to, but if they get their shot off, good shooters, if you let them get it off, it's probably going to go in.

An so really, it's kind of just getting up, getting in her space, not letting her even kind get it off her, do anything like that and make them put the ball on the floor but keeping it in front of us. Players like that, they are hard to guard. You have to play them straight-up. You have to be able to pressure and not let them go by you. You can't sag off because they will shoot it.

So that's just a testament to her game and it will be a challenge for us, but I think we have great defenders that will be able to handle it.

MERCEDES RUSSELL: Well, Katie is a very talented player, just like Draya said. When someone is a good shooter, you've just got to pressure them and make them take hard shots and just make them put the ball on the floor and just pressure them as much as you can.

Q. You mentioned the World University Games. She was on that team. Did you guys know each other much?
MERCEDES RUSSELL: Yeah, we're actually pretty good friends actually. I talked to her before I came out here. We talked about seeing each other again and just getting to reminisce a little bit.

Q. So ASU has better size than Green Bay but you still have a size advantage.

Q. Is that something you think you can work to your advantage?
COACH WARLICK: Well, our game has always been to go inside. We play inside out. So we're not going to -- we're not going to change that. Regardless of the size, I think Arizona State's very physical. They are taught how to defend, obviously very well inside.

It's kind of a mirror of two teams that we both -- we both rely on our defense. We're athletic. We're physical. So I think, yes, are we going to try to go inside? Absolutely. But we try to do that every game, and some games, obviously we get it in there better than others. So it's a matter of how hard our inside post players are going to work and can our perimeter people get them the ball.

Q. The difference, if you just look at the normal styles, is pretty profound between Green Bay and Arizona State. But do you think Arizona State may try to borrow some things from Green Bay, or do you think that's maybe too much different from what they normally do?
COACH WARLICK: You know, you never know, because as coaches, we tend to scheme and we do things a little different sometimes in the playoffs. But what got Arizona State here has been their pressure, and they are not seeded No. 2 in the country because they sagged off people. People know that they are going to get up and get after them, and they figured out how to win.

I would anticipate they would continue what got them here. So we're going to go with the assumption that they are going to pressure us, and that's how we're going to prepare. But we have, as Mercedes said, we've seen a lot of zones, packed in zones, packed in man, and we've had to learn to adjust, as well. So it will just be game strategy to see what they are going to do and what we are going to do, as well.

Q. After all these years, how do you feel not having a target on your back, and coming from behind as the 7-seed and ASU being the 2-seed and them being the favorite?
COACH WARLICK: You know, we've been on both ends, and I don't think ASU is going to look at us like a 7-seed. I think they are going to look at us like Tennessee, we're playing against the University of Tennessee, from our history and where we are.

So our kids, at times, I think our kids right now, we play better as an underdog, and I don't have an answer for that. Maybe they just handle it a little different and it's a lot better as the underdog. So we're going into the game focusing on them not even knowing what our seed is, and theirs is just a game that we have a lot of respect for Arizona State for.

But we tend to play a little bit better when we're the underdog. We're in the tournament, that's what we love. Six games out in the regular season, we were concerned about getting in the tournament. We're excited to be here and we have a new breath of fresh air.

Q. ASU can have a game last night where Hempen is the scoring leader and they can turn right around the next game and it's Dornstauder or Brunner or somebody else. Does that versatility -- what's it like to prepare for a team that has that kind of -- where it's not necessarily the same go-to player all the time?
COACH WARLICK: Well, I think we've experienced it all year where someone who has been the go-to player, somebody else steps up. So we're well aware of all of them can play. I, too, had a chance -- I coached Katie in the World University Games, great kid. We'll be concerned about her. We'll be concerned about everybody. I think it's going to go down to how solid a defense can we play, what can we do to affect them. Because look, their post players can score. Their point guard is dynamic. She gets to the rim. She runs the team extremely, extremely well.

So for us to think if we take Katie out of the game, we'll be fine. It's not in our mind-set. We have a lot of respect for all of them and I go back and say, they wouldn't have the year they have had if Katie was their only scorer. We are going into the game like all of them can score and rely on our defense and our preparation for that.

Q. You were here for the outdoor game.

Q. And Charli has always said how much it meant that Tennessee would come and do that. Can you just reflect a little on that game and kind of the brief history between these two schools, but there is some significance to it, too.
COACH WARLICK: Well, that game, we agreed to it, the outdoor game. And I tell you what I remember: It was colder here than it was in Knoxville. Nikki Moss (ph) was in her overcoat and gloves coaching, and that was a first. It was really, really cold, unusual.

It's something that, one thing about Pat and our program is we believe in promoting the game, and I thought that was a promoting of the game. We've played here against Arizona State, and we've known Charli for a long time and she does an incredible job.

We haven't played them a lot but you see their style and you respect their style and she does an unbelievable job. So I think for us, coming to that outdoor game was in a time where we wanted to promote women's basketball. Arizona State had a great team and it was a different atmosphere and we agreed to it. I think that's what you do when you want to move women's basketball forward, and that's what we are going to continue to do.

We have the No. 1 RPI schedule in the country and for the most part, I believe in going different places, and it's about obviously promoting the University of Tennessee, but it's about promoting women's basketball and we've got to make sure this sport stays on top, because it's growing and it's getting so much better. Just really, really glad that I've continued to be a part of it.

Q. Is there a team in the SEC that ASU kind of reminds you of?
COACH WARLICK: Well, there's several. I think Mississippi State, I think Kentucky, I think South Carolina, all of them; the SEC is athletic and physical and I think that's what ASU is. We've played Oregon State, totally different styles. We've played Stanford, totally different style.

So I think it's a team that we've seen that we know their style, because we have to play with it -- play against it a majority of the time. So I think we're a little bit more comfortable with it than we were Green Bay, just a totally different style and different system, and it's worked for both teams.

So we are familiar with it and our kids did get a chance last night to see them play, and we've watched a lot of tape and we'll continue to do that and we'll get familiar with them. So yeah, I think we're familiar with what they can do. They are very dangerous.

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