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March 19, 2017

Holly Warlick

Diamond DeShields

Mercedes Russell

Louisville, Kentucky

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Diamond and Mercedes, and then Coach. Questions for the Lady Vols.

Q. Diamond, you and Durr are both from the Atlanta area. Just a reminder how many good players come out of there. How do you think that impacted your game and helped you develop, just playing against really good competition in the Atlanta area?
DIAMOND DESHIELDS: Well, it's all I know. Being from a state where we have very talented basketball players, you kind of know what you're getting into when you sign up to play basketball. You're going to play against All-Americans, top talent in the country always.

So Asia's always been younger than me, so I've never really had any competitions against her. Yeah, I was probably just older and she was probably just younger. I don't even really remember. Maybe once. But, still, you have those other players.

Q. You guys have had some good wins over No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in this tournament this season. But is there any one game that's a win or loss that stands out to you that you guys played your best?
MERCEDES RUSSELL: I wouldn't pick just one. I think all of those wins were huge for us. Just how we played reflected our game a lot. Just all of those games from start to finish we played hard for 40 minutes. We were all focused and our effort was on 100%, and I think that's what we're going to need from tomorrow night.

DIAMOND DESHIELDS: Yeah, same. The games we win, we always do what we're supposed to do. It's like when we do what we're supposed to do, we win. When we don't, we lose, and it's always a disappointment.

But in the games that we win, you know, we just do what we're supposed to do, and the game is just easy and everyone's having fun. Like I can't say that any one stands out more than the other.

Q. Diamond, do you like playing against teams like Louisville which kind of play a similar style to you guys -- up-tempo, aggressive defense, just keep the ball moving, really push it in transition?
DIAMOND DESHIELDS: I wouldn't say I have any preference for like a style of team. I know it will be a good opportunity for us on both ends of the court. They have some athletes, and I know it will be an up-tempo style of game.

So, I mean, we're always looking forward to having the test of your abilities against somebody with similar abilities.

Q. Mercedes, when you look at Louisville, is there any one thing that stands out to you that will be hard to defend or to adjust to?
MERCEDES RUSSELL: I just think from top to bottom they're an overall good team. They have guards that can penetrate and kick. They have a couple good shooters on that team and some pretty good rebounders. We've got the same on our team, so I think it will be a great matchup.

Q. Diamond, the one time you're here in Louisville playing here, your dad is actually in Arizona. How do you feel about him not being here and kind of missing this game?
DIAMOND DESHIELDS: It's kind of normal, you know? We're like usually like two trains crossing in the night sometimes. Literally, he'll be in the city, and then the day he's leaving, I'm coming in. Or like my brother, it's the same way. We never really count on seeing each other play live as much as we just try to catch the games on television or something. I'm not upset about it. I know he's working doing what he wants to do, and I'm happy for him.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Holly, Asia is one of the best players in the country. Just address the challenges that she'll present for you defensively?
COACH WARLICK: Yeah, I've watched Asia since she was a young kid. She just has the complete package. She's a terrific shooter, terrific three-point shooter, can get her shot off at any time, is a penetrator. I think the best thing Asia Durr does is she's a great passer. A great passer. So I think she's a complete package, and she's going to be a difficult defend for us.

Q. When Diamond had a really efficient game, you talked about how efficient she was in that game. Is it hard sometimes for her? I mean, not to force things, because with the offense not functioning well, you almost kind of need her to force things. Is that kind of a fine line?
COACH WARLICK: It is. I think Diamond is an extremely competitive young lady, and sometimes I think she thinks she has to do everything by herself. When things may not be going right for us, she feels like she's got to step up and do more. I think Diamond's really efficient when she plays within our team and our concepts.

Again, I think Diamond's one of the best players. She's one of the best passers for us as well. I think Diamond, she stays in our game plan and works with our team, we're really, really good. But, again, she's a competitor, and sometimes she feels like she thinks she has to take the game over.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about consistency issues this season. Do you think that you guys are in a place mentally now where that won't be an issue going forward?
COACH WARLICK: I think so. I think we came back from the SEC Tournament and really dialed into the two weeks we had to prepare. I thought the prep for yesterday's game was probably the best we've had in a long time. Just focused, dialed in, and I had that same feeling last night when we got back and this morning.

So I think we're in a good place. I think we understand that we've all got to be on the same page. And as Diamond says, we've got to come up with a game plan and we've got to stick to it. I keep telling them sometimes don't make things up. And when we make things up, we're not a very good basketball team.

Q. Holly, you've had so many great players in the program. I guess you think of Holdsclaw, Catchings, Parker, Bridgette Gordon. Talent-wise, is DeShields kind of in that same class, or is that saying too much?
COACH WARLICK: No, I think Diamond is a talent in that class. I think God has blessed Diamond with a lot of talent. She's worked at her skillset. I think she can do things that Catchings did. She can do things that Holdsclaw did. But she could learn from them as well.

I think Diamond is a better rebounder than she is right now. She can rebound more. But I think she has the skillset to get a shot off when she wants to. She has a skillset to be a great defender like Tamika Catchings. So I think she's got so many different attributes from everybody else that we put her in that class.

Q. I just asked the players this as well, but is there any game from this season that you think sticks out to you as the way you want your team to play?
COACH WARLICK: Gosh, I think they've all come at times when it seems like we have struggled before. Probably my game I keep going back to is Mississippi State, and we're playing in front of 15,000 people and we're just playing. It's just a great feel. We're playing together, we're moving the ball. The ball's not stuck in our hands. Different people are stepping up, hitting shots. We're getting great stops on the defensive end.

Again, and it all boils down to: Are you dialed in? Are you focused? And they were spot on that game. So if I could bottle that game, regardless of who we're playing, it would be awesome.

Q. When you're in a man, would Reynolds figure to guard Durr?
COACH WARLICK: Yeah, it depends on what lineup. They've used so many different lineups. They can go small. They can go more guard oriented. I think we're going to have to guard Durr with a variety of people. I think Jordan's going to have to do it. I think Diamond's going to have to do it. I think Meme Jackson's going to have to come in and be solid on her. So I don't know if we can keep one player on her and be successful. I think we're going to have to move people around and give it a shot.

Q. This program has a really established postseason history. But Jeff Walz has made that a tradition here at Louisville as well. When you're going up against a team and a coach you know also has a lot of NCAA experience, I mean, does that make the matchup all the more exciting?
COACH WARLICK: Well, I think it's exciting when you have two teams, as Diamond said, are similar. I think they play hard, they're well coached. You're in the NCAA tournament and you're trying to advance. So I think that will bring some excitement as well.

It's here. They had a great crowd yesterday. So I think both styles are apt to bring excitement, because we're both up and down. We're athletic, we can rebound, shoot the threes.

So, as we're similar teams, we may go inside more than they do, but they stretch the floor out and have players that can face up. So I would think this game would be really fun to watch.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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