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March 26, 2016

Tara VanDerveer

Briana Roberson

Kaylee Johnson

Karlie Samuelson

Lili Thompson

Erica McCall

Lexington, Kentucky

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us for the press conference for the Stanford basketball team. We're joined at podium by Head Coach Tara VanDerveer, and student-athletes Erica McCall, Karlie Samuelson, Kaylee Johnson, Briana Roberson and Lili Thompson. We'll open it up with questions for our student-athletes.

Q. Karlie, ESPN interviewed your dad during the UCONN game, and I don't know if you saw it, but he lifted up his UCONN hoodie and he was wearing a Stanford shirt. What kind of relationship do you guys have? And number two, do you or your sister ever talk about or joke about you're going to see each other in a National Championship or the Final Four?
KARLIE SAMUELSON: I have a great relationship with my dad. I got a bunch of texts and pictures, "Your dad was on ESPN." I texted him, "nice interview," and he was like, "How did I do?"

But, yeah, as far as my sister and I, we don't joke about that. We talk about how well we're doing and I tell her how well she's doing, and we're just really happy for each other.

Q. Lili, you all have had some Final Four experience and you're accustomed to being on this stage. Washington has never played in the Final Four. Do you think that can have any advantage for you going in or doesn't matter?
LILI THOMPSON: I think in terms of experience and being at this level, it's good for us to be able to look back as freshmen at the Final Four, but I also think it's just one game and we're focused on this particular game. Once we win that, then we'll be excited.

Q. Briana or Lili, Marta had 11 points last night. She seems to be growing. You guys played with her. What do you see in terms of her growth, and how important she is to you guys in moving on?
BRIANA ROBERSON: I think she's definitely been aggressive more, which is what we're asking of her. She does a great job passing the ball. She's just doing a really good job of fulfilling the point guard role and doing her job and being aggressive. So we're excited about that.

LILI THOMPSON: Yeah, we all have confidence in her, and I think that she's seeing just how well she can play on this stage, and she's contributing. I mean, everybody saw last night how well she played.

Q. Erica, Mike Neighbors was saying earlier that it takes a while for people to figure out that Chantel's for real. When you look at the stats or you see her in person, can you guys speak to that? How long does it take to figure out that Chantel can play and what do you have to do to stop her?
ERICA McCALL: I knew she was good in high school. We played her when we played for the Arizona Warriors, and everyone looked at them and thought they're a regular team and we're going to go out and beat them. And just like she's doing to everybody else out there, she did the same thing to us: Knocking down 3s, attacking the basket.

So I knew from the beginning that she was a great player. I think she's definitely grown as a player. It will be exciting to see the match-up that we'll have tomorrow.

Q. Erica, you all played Washington twice already this season, two very different results. Aside from the court difference, what caused the difference in the results?
ERICA McCALL: I think we came out aggressive enough. I think we were stagnant on offense and it took us a while to definitely get going in the game, and ultimately it was too late for us to come back. So I think we're definitely going to learn from that and come back and come out as an aggressive team.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. How much of a stress does it put on the team defense when Washington has three players, obviously, that can light up the scoreboard? How much of a stress does that put on you? It's not just three guards and two forwards, it's kind of a mix of guards and forwards and different things.
TARA VANDERVEER: I think if you're playing at this level all teams have those kind of weapons, that's why they're here. Last night we had to deal with a lot of offensive weapons. South Dakota State, we had to deal with a lot of offensive weapons and they were similar in a way to Washington in that their post players can shoot 3s like Osahor or Walton at the 4.

That's the challenge of playing at this level is you're going to play against great offensive players. Washington, they're skilled players. And Kelsey Plum is a terrific point guard. It's great that the country has seen her. I don't know, you said maybe people look at Osahor and they might look at Kelsey Plum and they don't realize how good she is.

Mike has done a great job with their team. They really execute extremely well. To beat Maryland at Maryland and Kentucky at Kentucky, they're a hot team. Tomorrow will be who is the hotter team? I think we're playing hot basketball, too.

Q. To follow up on Osahor, Mike was saying opposing coaches will come up to him and say, Listen, I've told my players watch the film, look how good she is. You don't understand. Like she's going to surprise you and they never listen until they're actually on the floor and see what she's doing. What is your experience with that in terms of trying to prepare for her and then actually seeing what she does on the court?
TARA VANDERVEER: Well, don't let the frame fool you. She really has point guard skills in a post body. Look at her assist numbers. She is a fantastic passer. Her three-point shot is unorthodox, but it goes in. So you have to guard that. She's a lot faster. She has very, very good hands and very quick feet. But it's really a non-issue for our team, to be honest with you. Like Erica said, she is great and when a player is saying, hey, look out, the girl can play. So it's better when -- they believe it more when they hear it from a player than they do when they hear it from a coach.

Q. In the few games against Washington was there a lasting memory from those two games? Are there any trends you can apply to now?
TARA VANDERVEER: Washington, I think we played them at Stanford in January. They're not the same team we beat in January. They're playing very confidently. When we played them in Seattle I thought we had a really good game. It's a two-point game at the end of the game; we came back. And I would say there were some controversial plays at the end of the game. But we have to be more aggressive.

You have to do things correctly. You have to rebound, you have to play defense, and you've got to take care of the ball and run your offense and knock down shots. So it's not like it's rocket science or a big secret. But we did not do those things. We didn't play with maybe, I don't know, maybe the first game of the Pac-12, and we did not have the intensity. But I know that we'll have it tomorrow.

So I call this the rubber match, being a bridge player. It's like this is for all the marbles. I think people are going to see a great game.

Q. Given what's possible tomorrow in terms of what's at stake, do you feel like you have to keep this moment in the context with your players?
TARA VANDERVEER: First of all, I'm really excited that a Pac-12 team is going to go to the Final Four, so I love that because we've had the No. 1 RPI league all year. So I'm excited about that. I want that team to be Stanford.

I think it does help that our team -- like I've been through this and we know kind of what it's going to take. The biggest thing is not to have -- both of us have had big games to get here. So we're both riding this emotional high, and you've got to come out ready to play and you've got to be extremely aggressive. I think it's going to be a great game.

Q. I know you followed Kelsey Plum closely in high school, too. Could you have foreseen the kind of player she's become now? She's on pace early to shatter the Pac-12 scoring record at some point next year. Obviously she's a very talented player, but did you see her blossoming into this?
TARA VANDERVEER: She went to the same high school that Candice Wiggins did. And her coach kind of told us about her as an 8th grader. It's hard to ever know because you just don't know what's inside them. You can see that she's a really good high school player, but I think that her success is not so much that, but it's her work ethic. And she's playing in a system that fits her very, very well. And I think she's a bona fide All-American and should be this year. She's just playing great.

I don't know if I -- I think my assistant coach who recruited her more did see this, yes. Amy Tucker watched her play and was like, wow, we were really disappointed that it wasn't a fit for Stanford. So I would say maybe I didn't but she did.

Q. Fair to characterize it as a miss for Stanford? That might be overly simplistic, but what went into that?
TARA VANDERVEER: No, it wasn't. I mean, we wanted her.

Q. Just the Final Four experience. I know you all don't have many seniors playing big minutes, but you have a lot of Final Four experience having coached in so many of them. Washington's never been here. How much of an advantage do you think that is for you all if at all?
TARA VANDERVEER: I mean, I think that there's probably some experience that sometimes can be an advantage. But it's really going to boil down to just getting it done on the court. So we're really excited to be here and we know that there could be a lot of other teams sitting right up here, not us. South Dakota State, Notre Dame, they're both great programs. Combined we beat them both by 8 points or even it might have been 7.

It's really -- we're really fortunate. We do feel like we know what we're doing at this point and we're going to get our team ready, and then it's going to be a quick turnaround tomorrow. I think it's going to be kind of like the pick-up game at the gym where the kids know each other. They've played against each other a lot. They know each other.

Again, I think it will be a great game. I hope that Lexington and fans of basketball at Kentucky, the great tradition of basketball come out and support a great game.

Q. Obviously the way UCONN is playing today and the way they played all season, they're the clear favorite in this tournament. But beyond UCONN, do you sense there is more parity in the women's game with all lower seeds winning last night?
TARA VANDERVEER: I think so. I don't think that's ever happened. Maybe somebody knows what I don't, but I don't think that's ever happened. It does feel like there's in some ways more excitement because that is happening. Closer games, more interest, more talk about it. I mean, that's the direction that we're going in, which is good and bad. It's just going to give me more gray hair. More great teams, more great players.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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