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March 23, 2017

Jeff Walz

Myisha Hines-Allen

Asia Durr

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Coach Jeff Walz from Louisville. Welcome and congratulations on a great season. Your thoughts on the tournament?

JEFF WALZ: Thank you very much. First off, just want to thank everyone involved here in the Oklahoma City region. We've had wonderful hospitality. Everything has been first class, and very, very much appreciate that, and I know our players are enjoying it so far.

We're looking forward to a great basketball game tomorrow night. I think the game before us is going to be fantastic, also. I think everyone that comes out to watch this renal on is going to enjoy some very good basketball and have the opportunity to see some great players. So we're just excited to be here and looking forward to the opportunity to play tomorrow night.

Q. This has been set up as a battle as you guys having really strong perimeter players and Baylor having a really good post game. Is that the case or are there more nuances?
JEFF WALZ: I think when you look at them on tape, they are very deep in post play but they also have some very talented guards. So I think it's going to be a basketball game where, you know, we're going to have to do a good job on scouting report defense. We're going to have to try to make some players that possibly don't score a bunch for them, score, and limit the ones that have been their leading scorers.

But the teams that, you know, allow them to just throw it down and low block and score often have problems. So, you know, we're going to try to not allow that to happen. But that's not an easy task.

Q. You coached Lauren Cox and Beatrice Mompremier with USA Basketball. How have you seen their games grow this season?
JEFF WALZ: Both of them were a joy to work with. Just two great kids. They worked extremely hard.

You know, Bea has done a really nice job of developing her eight- to ten-foot jumpshot. Very active around the glass. She's done a very, very good job for them.

Lauren, she's done great things all throughout her high school career, USA Basketball. So it really has not surprise me to see her playing as well as she is.

Q. When you had the back-to-back losses against N.C. State, which was a tough loss, real close loss, and then the one to Notre Dame, that could have been a time when the kids lost their confidence but seemed like that didn't happen. Can you talk about how you came back from that?
JEFF WALZ: For us, we go into that N.C. State game and find out the day before, Myisha is not going to play because she injured her knee at our talent show that we have for our athletic department. She didn't show much talent at the talent show in order to get injured. So she missed that ballgame.

And then we turn right back around and go up and play on Big Monday at Notre Dame, and she played a minute in that game, and then Briahanna Jackson goes for about three and a half, four minutes and has to come out with back spasms. We weren't really concerned about it, knowing we were playing without our leading scorer. Briahanna brings so much to our team defensively. It's one of those, you take it with a grain of salt and you move forward and I thought our players did a very good job of that.

Q. The 2013 game here against Baylor, what do you remember from the game and what do you take away from it?
JEFF WALZ: Well, we scored one more point. You know, it's what it all comes down to. And I said it, you know, four years ago: You have to be able to score against Baylor. You know, everybody talked about, what this great job we did defensively and all this. I think we gave up 81 points in that game, and they averaged 81 points.

So the way I look at it, and I said it four years ago: Our defense was average, but we scored the most points anybody has ever scored against them during the Brittany Griner era. So you have to figure out a way to put points on the board and that's the same way with this ballclub right now. They have so much size inside. Their guards are very good. Kristy Wallace does a fantastic job of leading that team; that we are going to have to figure out a way to score.

I don't expect it to be a 61-58 basketball game.

Q. I know the personnel is different and four years is almost a lifetime, but does it make it sort of similar in that fact, them having the dominant center, and you guys needing to score, does it make it similar in terms of game plan and just the fact that your kids have been shooting the ball pretty well in the first two rounds, kind of give you a lot of optimism about that?
JEFF WALZ: Well, we are not going to come out with the same approach that we had four years ago. Our goal four years ago was to take 40 threes. We are not going to look to do that right now. We have a very strong inside game, mid-range game. Myisha Hines-Allen, Kylee Shook, Ciera Johnson; we have some kids that can score on the low block, where four years ago, that really wasn't our strength.

You know, when you've got Antonita Slaughter, Shoni Schimmel, Jude Schimmel, we had kids that could shoot the ball from the outside; Sara Hammond, that could do it very well. So we went with what our strength was at that point in time.

Now, would we look to shoot it? Of course. But I wouldn't anticipate us to take 30 to 35 threes; but we might.

Q. You talked about Briahanna being out and what she brings. How much growth have you seen in Mariya and Asia with BJ being out and their added ball-handling responsibilities a lot while she couldn't play?
JEFF WALZ: Asia has done a great job. She's really grown throughout this entire year. You know, going back to her freshman year, she was really just trying to deal with her off-season surgery that she had. She wasn't 100 percent. She was fine physically.

Mentally, was her challenge. It was the first injury that she had really had throughout her career, and it took her awhile. And now, she's finally back playing like the kid that we had recruited out of high school. She's confident; she's playing loose; she's playing free; she's making her teammates better.

When BJ went out, we just had to slide her over to the point guard spot and she's handled those responsibilities well. I think the most impressive thing to me has been how she's defending this entire season. That's one thing I told her all last year: We didn't recruit her to guard people. And actually, she's turned into one of our better perimeter defenders because she worked at it.

And then Mariya, you know, she's shot the ball very well the past -- the first two rounds, which is something we have to have. She's got to be able to knock down open shots when she's open. I was excited for her; that she had been struggling there for awhile come before the tournament started. But now she's playing with some confidence. She passes the.

Ball as well as any player that I've coached in my 22 years. Her court awareness, her court vision, is the best of any player that I've coached. If she will continue to work on her ball handling, where she gets more confident with her ability to see the floor, and then her ability to shoot it, it makes her an all-around player.

Q. Last weekend, you said the past NCAA Tournament games you had, they were bad. Why do you characterize them like that, and do you have more confidence in this year's team to avoid playing those bad games?
JEFF WALZ: Well, I don't think said that the team had played bad -- Mariya, we had talked about, she had struggled in her past NCAA Tournament games coming up to this year. But she's really been playing well right now. She's shooting the ball with confidence. And it's not just the shooting. She had nine rebounds on Monday night. She passed the ball extremely well. She's back to playing like we had seen her play for three regular seasons. So I'm really excited for her.

Q. A follow-up to that. Do you see this year's team as having any similarities to any of the past teams who have gone on to the championship?
JEFF WALZ: Well, we have a group of kids right now that believe in what we're doing, which is something that we've talked to them about, you know, this past month, this past two months. The teams that we've had here that have had great success, would buy into whatever we told them as a coaching staff.

You know that, team in '13, we truly believed that we could beat Baylor, and the kids came into that game with the belief and confidence. Now, no one else out there thought we could.

Then in 2009, everybody was like, who's this? And it's a group of kids that I remember, we get sent down to LSU to play, and Western Kentucky had an open spot, and they were hosting the first and second rounds; and we get shipped all the way to LSU to play. I told the kids, I'm like, hey, if you get us past the first two rounds, we'll get to the Final Four.

And they all were like, okay. And they just believed in what we did. I'll never forget Des Byrd, our starting point guard in 2009 after we beat LSU in the second round, we are in the locker room celebrating, and she's like, "I guess we're going to the Final Four, right?"

I said, "Yeah. We sure are." And it's not what we do as coaches, because we can't play. I've never made a shot. I've made one in my college career myself. So it's not like I made a bunch of them.

But the players having to out and execute, but it's our job to get them to believe in what we're doing. And that's something that the teams that we've had here in the past that have had great success, they believed in it and then went out and did everything they could to execute it. That's one thing right now, I think we are in a good place. They are excited.

You know, we beat a Tennessee team on Monday night that very possibly could have two of the Top-10 draft picks if the kids come out early on it; a team that beat two No. 1 seeds, two No. 2 seeds. I mean, a really good basketball team. We know that. And now we know we have a ballclub that we have to play tomorrow night that has unbelievable talent, unbelievable depth.

They are well coached and we are going to have to figure out a way to come out here for 40 minutes and execute it and believe in what we're doing, and also be able to withstand some runs. There's no doubt. I mean, this is a team that can put up some points in a hurry. You can't be sloppy with the basketball. We've talked to our players about that. I've told them, I said, if you're going to turn the ball over, throw it up into the eighth row.

So at least we can get set back up on defense and then make them score over us instead of going by us.

Q. Asia, Coach Walz was in here and talking about your commitment and improvement on defense this year. How do you see yourself having developed in that this season?
ASIA DURR: Well, I think it starts from when I went home in May. Me and my trainer spent so much time in that. Every single day, we worked on that. Just to see it paying off now, I mean, it means a lot, because Coach Walz, he never doubted me, as well, and neither did my teammates, as well. It's just trusting the process.

Q. You came in a little before Asia obviously. There's a lot of history with this team in this city against Baylor. Cortnee Walton, the only connection on the team left from that team that made the national title game run in 2013. Have you looked to her, given that she's been in this situation before against the same team in the same city?
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Yeah, we always look to Cortnee for advice. It doesn't matter who we are playing, we always look to her for advice because she's a leader on this team. She's been through a lot, not -- like on the court and off the court. So we always look to her for advice, whether it's basketball-related or not. We've also talked to her about the Baylor game.

THE MODERATOR: If you had to ask your own question, what would you ask?

MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: Asia Durr, this one's for you. What would you do if Russell Westbrook came to our game?

ASIA DURR: Honestly, I know his favorite songs, and we would turn up to it. Like 'Now I Do What I Want,' that is our song, and I think we could jam that. But I would lose my mind if he came because he's a beast and I bet he's a great person, as well. I hope he comes tomorrow. Hopefully they don't have a game.

MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: I don't think they do.

ASIA DURR: That would be awesome.

I think it's fair to ask the same question. Since you were talking about it on the bus yesterday, how would you feel?

MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: I would be really happy. You know, Kevin Durant came to the game when Louisville beat Baylor last time, so why not get Russell Westbrook there and help us repeat history.

ASIA DURR: Well, I think that's fair to say. (Laughter) you never know.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, ladies. Thank you very much and good luck tomorrow night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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