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March 27, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the Lady Bears from Baylor, Coach Kim Mulkey, her student-athletes, Nina Davis, Alexis Jones, Niya Johnson, Alexis Prince and Beatrice Mompremier. Coach, opening statement?
KIM MULKEY: Not today. It's Easter Sunday. That is my opening statement.
THE MODERATOR: That's great, thank you.
Q. Nina and Niya, third year in a row you're at this stage, Regional Final Elite Eight. Is the feeling any different this year? What is the anticipation like for you guys right now?
NIYA JOHNSON: You know, you celebrate yesterday and now it's time to focus again, you've been here before like you said being to the Elite Eight you can't get too excited. We have a job to do. The job is not done yet. I've been here against here to the Elite Eight twice now against Notre Dame now, and that is our motto until Monday night.
NINA DAVIS: I think we are excited and ready to play. We've been here three years in a row and we kinda know what the atmosphere and everything is going to be like. We just have to come out here focused and be ready to play our last game.
Q. Niya, we've talked about it several time. Your last chance to be in the Final Four. What does it mean for you to have this opportunity again but knowing that it is the last opportunity for you?
NIYA JOHNSON: Just gotta go in there stay on course like we did yesterday against Florida State, doing whatever it takes to -- give it all you can, because you know this can be your last game of the season especially for me my last game for the whole year and I just try to go out there and give all I have.
Q. Nina, can you talk a little bit about, to get to the Elite Eight you've got to be a special team. What makes this team special to get to this level?
NINA DAVIS: Just our hard work. It's been a long year. It's been a long season and we've had ups and downs, experienced a loss and that kind of put us in the right mind-set and it allowed us to know we wasn't as good as we were. We are a team that's unselfish. We have a lot of scorers. We don't care who scores. It changes day-in and day-out. We buy in to everything that Coach says, if we play good defense and we have good team work, that's what makes us great.
Q. Nina, I know you've talked about it before, but with the balance you haven't had to do so much this year scoringwise. Once the NCAA Tournament starts do you feel like you need to do more? Or is that just what the defense has been giving you?
NINA DAVIS: Not at all, just what the defense has been giving me and all the credit to my teammates. When I have a hot hand they do a good job of giving me the ball. If the defense is on me and they left another teammate open they would probably have 20 points. So we pay attention to whatever the defense is giving us and that's just how it's been working out these past couple of games.
Q. Alexis Prince, talk about your ups and downs with your injuries. What does it feel like to be at this point and contributing and having the second half of the season being good for you?
ALEXIS PRINCE: It feels good just to be out there on the floor, period, because like you said, the beginning of the year I had another injury. Just any way I can contribute to the team is good.
Q. Nina, is the hardest part right now the waiting game? You've been in tournament play before, but the long day today and then a long day tomorrow before game time?
NINA DAVIS: For sure, just as a competitor you're anxious to get out there on the court. If we could have played today, I know a lot of us would have wanted us to play today but you need rest after a long game yesterday and a lot of us played a lot of different minutes. But you are excited to get on the court, and I'm sure it will come soon enough.
Q. Nina, Oregon State is known for having a very good defense, having a lot of size but you've had 30 points the last two games. What do you see in their defense that you think you could still be successful in?
NINA DAVIS: Just doing what I do. You know, attacking the go and trying to cause the defense to collide on me and dish it out to my teammates, and if they don't come try to get a shot off.
But Oregon State is a great team. They hold their opponents to a lower amount of points and it's definitely going to be a challenge for us, but I'm sure we will be able to figure it out.
Q. For the two Alexis's, what are your impressions of watching Oregon State in person last night? Give us your 101 on the Beavers.
ALEXIS JONES: They're really tall. They can shoot the three really well and they're tall.
ALEXIS PRINCE: Like she said, Oregon State has size at every position and they shoot the three ball really well.
Q. Niya, is there at all a different feeling this year than the previous two times in the Regional Final? What separates -- is there something different about this team this year than the previous two?
NIYA JOHNSON: Mainly we're young and we've been the underdog the whole season. I think that's what motivates us and drives us to prove people wrong and just have that gear to keep going, to keep fightin', you know? Just keep that foot on the pedal and keep going ask try to be the best team we can be.
Q. Beatrice, what has this run meant for you and what have you learned about this team as far as NCAA Tournament play and how different it is from the regular season?
BEATRICE MOMPREMIER: Being tougher inside and out and just playing your hardest throughout the tournament.
Q. Niya Johnson, the upsets that happened Friday night and some of what's happened in the women's basketball tournament which we haven't seen much of before. How much is that good for women's basketball?
NIYA JOHNSON: I think it's pretty great, you know, you get the mind-set saying, hey, UConn is going to win every time and a higher seed is going to beat a lower seed on any given night and you have to bring your "A" game every time. You can't take teams for granted.
Q. Niya, the ball is in your hand at the end of the game, who are you going to for a winning shot?
NIYA JOHNSON: Myself, of course! (Chuckles.) No, you know, this team is scary because anybody can score no matter what the time is on the clock, whoever is open and who is willing to knock down a shot is my choice and whoever is open at that given time I'm willing to give it to them and trust all of my teammates and anybody can score on this team. So whoever is open at that time I'm willing to give it to them.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, ladies, we're going to let you go. Good luck tomorrow. Questions for Coach?
Q. Kim, same question I asked Niya and she gave the politicly correct answer, but, winning shot do all go to Nina or Alexis Jones or is it just situation what's open?
KIM MULKEY: I think it's situation in the game. I hope that I've got a time-out and I can draw up something, but if I don't, it's just a feel. You are never afraid when you have a team with this much depth. You never are afraid to throw it to any of them. Who are you going to stop on this team? You going to put somebody on Jones? Great? Put 'em on Nina? Great.
You have a lot of weapons. They're all confident, even the freshmen. You didn't see them much yesterday for a reason, why would I put 'em back in the game when KK was doing so well? KK has started many games for us; she is one of our leading offensive rebounders. It's just whoever is open, whoever will have a good look, and she's right. She is going to find you if you're open.
Q. Coach, from what you see, what are your thoughts on Ruth Hamblin for Oregon State and what she can do for them defensively?
KIM MULKEY: She is big, first of all, and because of her size she is a difficult match-up for a lot of teams. I feel like we match-up well with her because we're big.
We're not as big as they are on the perimeter. Their shooters are 6-foot and bigger. They guard people in a different way than we do. If you look at how many points they're allowing on average to their opponents, it's low. So that tells you that they stress defense as well.
So it will be a game where you're going to see a lot of great offensive players, but I think you're going to see a game where you're going to see a lot of good team defense on both sides.
Q. You're probably sick of talking about the Elite Eight, but that's become your motto this year. How much do you think it's weighed on the upperclassmen, the two losses, and from a coaching standpoint, you personally, how much -- you know, you've got high standards for the program, how much has that wade on you?
KIM MULKEY: I wouldn't use the word "weigh." When you get to an Elite Eight, you keep it in perspective, as I said earlier. How many people would love to do what this program has done and we don't pretend that we're not grateful and we don't pretend that's not a huge accomplishment.
But each team you have to have a theme. You have to have some goal, something to get their attention every day in practice and eight is not enough, for whatever reason, I don't think I've ever watched that show "Eight is Enough." I know you think that's probably where I got it, but I didn't. It's something to motivate them, nothing more than that. But it's not weighing on us.
Look, if we go out there tomorrow night and we play outstanding and we get beat we're going to walk up to this podium dejected and cryin' but, hey, we gave it all we had and that's all you can do.
Q. Kim, similar to that but not only that, we talked about the last Final Four chance for Niya and the other seniors. With what Niya has been through talk about what you've seen in her growth and how she has handled this season in getting to this point and leading this team?
KIM MULKEY: Wouldn't you love to be a point guard on a team like this? Man, I would just love it! She can just find players and just make it easy for them. She knows her teammates, which ones like the hard pass, which ones can handle the hard pass, who needs a bounce pass, when to deliver passes, I saw that the very first practice we had her freshman year, every day she is going with Odyssey Sims. They just gettin' after it. Her game is so different. Odyssey was more of a scoring point guard for us.
Niya can score it, so don't challenge her. She has been left open many days and she will finish a game and score 10, 15, 20 points. It's just that she loves passion. She loves directing traffic and when you have a player like that in your system fifer four years you want them to experience what it feels like to get to the a Final Four. She has experienced tons of Big 12 Championships.
The only thing that she really hasn't experienced is get to go a Final Four, and you do want that for her, you want it for Kristina Higgins. You want it for Chardonae Fuqua. Those are three kids that truly epitomize what a student-athlete is. They graduated from Baylor in three years. They are working on a Masters degree. When you can have a senior class where all of them are doing that, they get it. They understand they're there to get a free education and they have certainly taken advantage of it.
Q. Kim, yesterday you talked about using different motivational tools to get your ladies fired up. At this point in the game is there anything left to say? Do they have a good grasp of what's at stake and self-motivating at this point?
KIM MULKEY: I think so. I think the motivation is to get to a Final Four. I think that -- I probably use things more than they do to motivate myself as a coach, and yet I share things with my team. Then my assistant coaches they do all that social media stuff and they will see something that they think is funny or something that might fire the kids up and certainly they -- sometimes they ask for my approval, sometimes I don't see it until I get to the locker room.
You gotta keep it fresh. You gotta keep 'em on their toes. I think just the mere fact that we've been to Elite Eights here the last two years, you're playing on a neutral court that happens to be close to your school, the crowd will be predominantly Baylor people and you don't want to disappoint them. They're as excited about us being in this position again as we are. You just want to go and see if you can't take it to the next level.
Q. Coach, you talked about Ruth Hamblin. What about Jamie Weisner, Sydney Wiese, Gabriella Hanson and Deven Hunter, the rest of that starting cast? What are your impressions?
KIM MULKEY: Just an outstanding team. Just a team that shares the basketball, a team that knows how to win, a team that understands its strengths and weaknesses, a very well-coached team. Just fun to watch! Fun to watch!
Obviously, as the kids said, they're big and they can shoot the three, I think any average fan can figure that out, but there is more to that team than just that. They play well together. They're committed to building that program. If you remember when those kids were freshmen how far they've come. They played in a league this year that, you know, somebody from the Pac-12 guaranteed they're going to the Final Four from another region and I would imagine they're like, wait a minute, we're the champions of that league. Yet they're going to have to watch one of them celebrate today. I would think that's motivation for them as well but just an outstanding, well-coached team.
Q. You sort of just touched on how Oregon State has built its program over the last three or four years. As an opposing coach but still -- surveying the landscape of women's college basketball had you noticed that over the past couple of years just to see as somebody who has built a program herself. What's that been like to see them rise up over the past couple of years?
KIM MULKEY: Obviously we're in bed by the time y'all play sometimes, but I keep up with women's basketball. I think there are several things that I do notice that touch me as a mother is your coach has three kids and to watch those three kids go on that floor to celebrate with their dad, special. In fact, I saw one of his kids in the hallway yesterday walking in with his dad, and I said that's what this is all about. Enjoy it! I love seeing the family dynamics when it comes to coaches and coaches sharing it with their kids. I think that carries over to what type of program you build.
I don't know a lot about Corvallis. I played with a player many years ago on the Olympic team, Carol Menken-Schaudt, that's what I knew about Oregon State basketball, but as that program has evolved, you see, they have a commitment to making women's basketball very good, and their coach is very good, and they draw well. I'm sure it's a long way from home, being in Dallas. But when you see them on TV there are people in the stands that appreciate what he's building there and has built.
Q. You said yesterday that a lot of it is what defenses are giving Nina, but does she -- maybe all players do but does she rachet her game up when the NCAA Tournament starts?
KIM MULKEY: I don't know. Nina gives you everything every night, doesn't matter if it's the NCAA Tournament or if we're up 30 and she's still in the ball game. These last two games, honestly, we took advantage of what we saw on film on things that the opponent did or didn't do defensively. Against Auburn when she had the 30-point game they play a 1-2-2 half-court -- I guess you call it a press/trap and all that. Well, the middle is exposed and what a perfect place to have Nina who really is a ball handler as a floor player.
Yesterday, Florida State hedges and stays with the hedge long on ball screens. Well, get rid of it quickly and give it to Nina and let her go one-on-one with a bigger post player and she can get by them. I don't know that it's any more than what we are trying to do to expose them defensively.
She plays the same. She never gets rattled. She never gets too high. She never gets too low. She's the same Nina.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, Coach, see you tomorrow!
Q. How about a closing statement?
KIM MULKEY: Closing statement: Happy Easter!
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports