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March 23, 2017

Kim Mulkey

Alexis Jones

Kalani Brown

Nina Davis

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

THE MODERATOR: Coach, would you like to make an opening statement?

Okay. We'll go straight to questions for Coach Mulkey.

Q. You've won a national title; it's been a few years. Connecticut has been hogging them the last few years. How badly does the sport need somebody else to win a national title, whether it's you, or somebody else?
KIM MULKEY: I don't look at it UCONN's dominance and a win streak as a bad thing, and the reason I don't is because I was a part of that when I played. I didn't think it was a bad thing then.

They are good; until somebody beats them, they are going to continue. I just have such respect for what they have been able to do, because I do know how difficult it is. And I do know some people don't agree with that, but I don't think it's a bad thing for the sport. It's challenging for me as a coach and for us as a program to win another National Championship, and that's been Storrs, Connecticut for a long time.

Q. It seems like both these teams, Louisville and you guys, are coming into this matchup really hot. Both teams played really well in the first two rounds. Can you give us your assessment of what you think of Louisville at this point?
KIM MULKEY: I think of Louisville as a team that -- they are good. They are talented. They play in a great conference that has prepared them for postseason play. I think Coach Walz has been in this stage many times and he'll continue to build his team through the course of the year, which he did.

If you're in the Sweet 16, obviously you must be playing well. And I just think that they are really, really good, and I think it starts with Asia Durr.

Q. How do you feel Alexis Jones has played since her return?
KIM MULKEY: I think she's done well. She gave us 22 minutes the other night, and she looked good to me. She missed some shots, but I think, you know, I don't know if that had anything to do with her being off for a month, but she just gives us a sense of security.

Q. I know that you and Louisville have both been on this exact same page a couple years back in 2013 and obviously the rosters have changed since then, so it's not really going to be a rematch of sorts. But what do you think about the history that both of you guys have playing in this round?
KIM MULKEY: Well, we've only played once in this round -- I'm sorry, twice, when they had McCoughtry, and I think it was at N.C. State. So we've only played twice. So we really don't have a lot of history.

History to me is when you've played many, many, many, many years. We've been unfortunate to be on the losing end of those two, but I don't know that we have a history of playing each other.

Q. With all the minutes that your freshmen played last weekend, how have you seen their confidence grow over this last week?
KIM MULKEY: Well, I think Lauren Cox and Natalie Chou are good, and they are really surfacing now and showing their talents, and it's because they are confident now. They have been through a whole season, and I really think those two kids, they are playing well and they are going to see the floor, and hopefully because they are playing well now, it makes us a better team.

Q. I know the past is something coaches don't like to talk much about but people are going to look at this matchup because it was such a monumental upset in 2013. Do you just try to block that out?
KIM MULKEY: It brings back memories to me just because I was involved in it. I'm not sure -- well, Alexis Prince may be the only kid on our roster that was here because she's a fifth-year senior. But the rest of the kids, heck, I don't even know if they watch current basketball games.

I'd have to go ask them what they were doing when we played that game. Some of them may have watched it on television. Along with -- who was on my staff then? Maybe two current staff members were a part of that. But we don't even have the same media relations. I don't even have the same athletic director. Don't even have the same president. I mean, there's probably three of us in that locker room that member that.

Q. Was there anything after, you always talk about getting something out of losses and I know that was an incredibly painful loss. Was there anything you got out of that, or that you carried with you after that, that loss?
KIM MULKEY: Well, I remember things about the game. I think any loss, it eats on you and you think of things maybe you could have done better as a coach. But the longer you're in the business, you're going to be upset. You're going to upset people.

You know, our first national -- actually, I would say the semifinals of our first National Championship, we beat LSU. They were the best team in the country. Had the best post player, the best player, the best point guard. So the longer you're in the business, those things happen to you. You win some you shouldn't and you lose some that you probably shouldn't.

But you can't let them just kill your spirit. You can't let them run you out of the business. You just motivate yourself, pick yourself back up and keep coaching.

Q. You mentioned Asia Durr. What stands out to you about her as a player?
KIM MULKEY: That I recruited her and didn't get her (laughs). She's a phenomenal player. She can score from the perimeter. She can take you off the dribble. She was not healthy last year. Now she's healthy, and you're seeing the real Asia Durr, and she's just a handful to guard. They do a lot of things with her and through her. She is the catalyst that makes them go.

Q. Just can you maybe talk about where -- with this guard matchup, what do you think are going to be the big keys, because there's so much talent at guard for both of these teams.
KIM MULKEY: Well, I'm not so sure, I'm not going to go inside. I think my strength is my post. They have got to guard my bigs. I think that obviously we've got our hands full with the three perimeter players for Louisville, and yet on the other side, I think they may have their hands full guarding our post.

So it should be a great defensive ballgame. It should be a ballgame that fans should enjoy seeing, because I think that you're going to see a lot of great players at different positions on the floor for both teams.

Q. Do you think that Louisville's perimeter game is going to be kind of the decisive thing in this matchup, or is there something else that you think you need to worry about when you're looking at them?
KIM MULKEY: Well, I hope my post game is the decisive thing. You're talking about their strengths. I want to talk about our strengths.

I think that I'm going to make you guard 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, but I don't want to make you think that our guards aren't good. Our guards are good. I think Alexis Prince is having a great senior year. I think that Alexis Jones is a premiere guard in the country. I think Kristy Wallace is an international kid that's played a lot of international basketball and has had two years prior experience of losing in an Elite 8.

You know, I think that if you look at stats, we lead the country in three-point field goal percentage. We're not going to shoot as much as others across the country, but we can shoot it if we need to shoot it.

So I think we'll hold on out there, and I'm sure they think they are going to hold their own inside. We'll all try to figure out ways to stop each other and try to win a basketball game.

Q. You've lost the Big 12 Championship game here, which I'm sure is a disappointment. But was it a motivating factor in some ways for your kids? You guys kind of plowed through those first two rounds. Do you think they were energized or maybe refocused at all?
KIM MULKEY: You know, what are we, I don't know, something-and-three. You don't overplay it. I've always said the regular season of conferences are much more important than conference tournaments. Unfortunately conference tournament championships, you see on TV and you see the confetti fall but we don't ever celebrate that when somebody wins a 16- or an 18-game season.

So you don't overemphasize it, and sometimes you just acknowledge that the opponent, gosh, they were just good. West Virginia came in here, and none of us could beat them. You just withstand the Storm, you know. You don't let it devastate you. I didn't feel like that we were any more motivated, more did I feel like we were devastated. Just get back to work.

The MODERATOR: Coach, good luck. We'll see you tomorrow evening.

We have Alexis Jones, Kalani Brown and Nina Davis.

Q. Looking at how well both teams have been playing coming into this game, what do you think is really going to be the deciding factor?
NINA DAVIS: Probably the team that turns over the ball less. Both teams are great and both teams, we're kind of different in different ways. They have three great perimeter players that we are going to have to try to slow down and us, more so, we're going to take an inside, outside take, try to get the inside going and try to get it to the outside. Both teams are coached by great players and it's just going to come down to who wants it the most.

Q. Kalani, what did you see from Lauren and Beatrice this last weekend?
KALANI BROWN: They stepped up big time. But it's nothing I didn't expect from them. They are both great players and both do great things well: Beatrice rebounding and doing great post moves; Lauren hitting outside shots. It's nothing that I don't see every day and don't expect from them. They were just given a chance and they executed.

Q. Your past games in the tournament have been such huge margins of victory. Do you think you are ready to have a closer game or do you think you're on such a roll, it will be another blowout?
ALEXIS JONES: I don't know if it will be a blowout, but I think we're ready for this game. We've been preparing for this game, so I feel like we're going to come out focused and ready to play.

Q. Asia Durr is obviously going to be a really big perimeter threat for Louisville. Have you talked about how to defend her?
KALANI BROWN: Definitely. We know she has deep range from the three, so we are going to have to close out pretty far out. If you're left with a switch, just move your feet, I guess. She's a very good player, strong left-handed guard, so we are going to try to take that away from her. But she's a good all-around guard.

Q. This can be for Alexis. How did you see your help-side defense really improve last weekend?
ALEXIS JONES: I think it has improved. We lost against Texas and when we lost against Texas, I think our help side improved a lot. I think our energy has improved. I think a lot of players has grown since then and I think we are just -- we became a better team and I think we are getting better and better each and every game.

Q. You have been pretty unmatched in the post all season in terms of rebounding. Do you think that that has been the greatest strength that's allowed you guys to win games so far, or has it been something else?
KALANI BROWN: I think that has, and our defensive ability to stop people from scoring, and it's very important to get offensive rebounds. I wouldn't say out-matched, because Louisville, they may be not as big as us, but they are just as aggressive.

So I'm just going to have to bring that same aggressiveness when it comes to rebounding. Nobody is just going to let you have it. So I'm just taking that approach.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, ladies. Good luck tomorrow. We'll see you after the game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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