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March 24, 2017

Brenda Frese

Destiny Slocum

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough

Brionna Jones

Bridgeport, Connecticut

Q. Obviously Destiny has had a tremendous freshman year and Sabrina for Oregon has had a tremendous freshman year. Talk about the guard play and how these freshman point guards have been incredible across the landscape.
BRENDA FRESE: Right. I mean, I think for both of them, they're just fearless. They're confident. You know, the biggest compliment I can give them both is that they don't play like freshmen. When you talk about Destiny, you can continue to see what makes her so special. She is beyond her years. When you talk about -- the point guard position is just like being the quarterback in terms of what it requires, and for both of them to slide into their team for Destiny, two seniors on our rosters, and to come in seamlessly, has been remarkable to watch.

Q. Curious when you've looked at video and getting ready for this team tomorrow, it seems like there's sort of an answer to the things that you guys do best on a personnel basis. For Bree, there's Ruthy and for Shatori, there's Lexi and for Destiny, there's Sabrina. Is that what you've seen and what else has stood out for you as you get ready for Oregon tomorrow?
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, I think both teams you can obviously see have balanced scoring across the board, and when you talk about the inside-outside play for both teams, you can see where the production is spread in terms of the two teams.

Obviously any time you get to a Sweet 16, that's the great teams that are left in the bracket, so both teams are going to battle it out for 40 minutes.

Q. Since Oregon beat Temple, their attitude has kind of been loose and they're kind of playing with house money given their youth and this is their first experience in the tournament together. Does that make them a dangerous team with the talent they have that's so young?
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, I liken them to our 2006 National Championship team when we started two freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior. That team just played -- they had nothing to lose. They didn't understand the expectations and what was at stake, advancing each round. So you can, you can see that there's no pressure on their shoulders, that they're excited to be here, and they're playing with -- they're peaking at the right time. They're playing with a lot of confidence.

Q. If you could talk to us about how you go through the games and how that changes from the beginning of the season and now being in the tournament, what's your preparation? What are things that you do to get yourself ready for the team?
BRENDA FRESE: You know, it's both. I mean, throughout the season, I constantly go back and watch. Every time we play a game, I go back to evaluate our own team to be able to see where our strengths and where our weaknesses are. I just continue -- even now in March, you continue to keep learning about your own team, who's your best inbounder, who's your best late-game finisher, who do you want at the free-throw line. That's a constant, wherever we're going.

And then you have the preparation on the other side to get ready for your opponent, and that requires a lot of film across the board between our staff. I take in as many games as I can until I feel like I've mastered the other team, so to speak, in terms of what kind of philosophy they have and how they want to play and what we can take away.

Q. Can you address what Ashlyn Barrett has meant to this team, what she has taught your players, and then what you plan to do? Is she coming this weekend, and if not, how do you plan to let her know what's happening?
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah. You know, for Ashlyn and her family, it was more than we could ever have envisioned. The initial was obviously wanting her to be a part of our team and being able to give her an experience back that I know having gone through, having my own son, when he was sick, and the hospital visits and kind of what that relief meant.

For our team, they're inspired every day by her. They know how sick of a little girl she is and everything that she's been through. We've watched her going from being a mobile child, where she was walking and running to now being in a wheelchair, and just more and more experiences, times, where she's having to go to the hospital and to the ER room. Ashlyn had a benefit last night back in Maryland. Obviously we couldn't attend. They're trying to get her to some new doctors up in Boston, which is going to require a lot for their family to be able to do. We were able to Skype in, FaceTime last night, which was a big deal.

I think the travel would be really tough for Ashlyn to be able to be a part of this. For us, it's text messages and phone calls back to her mom and pictures back and forth is just how we can stay connected.

Q. The first two rounds you got to play at home, amazing environments. What's the challenge been like, if there has been one, to get the team ready to play on the road so far away from home and a game of this magnitude?
BRENDA FRESE: It's been easy, to be quite honest. It's no different than the travel that takes place during your non-conference and regular season, and so for us, four, four and a half hours, to be able to get up here. You're playing in the Sweet 16, so you know, it's not hard to motivate your team in terms of where we're at. Our kids are on spring break, so they're not missing any school time. They're in a great place. They're ready to play.

Q. I'm curious how you came to the decision as to where and who sits in what order on your bench in a given game, whether that's static from game to game, how those choices came about, and if there are any particular reasons why you came to that decision.
BRENDA FRESE: That's an unusual question, you're right. It varies from year to year with what you're doing. I know early I emulated my mentor Bill Fennelly when I came into coaching, and we sat in the middle of the bench as coaches and players were to our right and to our left. It's evolved over the years for whatever reason. We talk about it leading up to a season where we feel like different staff members need to be placed within the bench. That starts at the beginning of the season.

So where the players go, I don't know how they choose their seats, but you know, our staff is consistent in terms of -- it's like going into your classroom each and every day. You have your same seats, and that stays consistent for us throughout the season.

Q. Has there been a moment where that's come into play, where it's been significant to have a coach nearby at a particular time that you can think of offhand? In other words, has the order made an impact?
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, I definitely utilize my coaches where I think their strengths fall. There's different interactions. We ask our players to come up towards the bench with our guard and post coaches and different ones that just from meaningful conversations that are going to take place.

Q. Just wondering, Lexi Bando in Oregon, she's had some really big three-point shooting games recently and some that haven't been as spectacular. What have you seen in those games where she is having good shooting successes from beyond the arc?
BRENDA FRESE: You know, we've told our team as we've watched film, timely threes. I feel like her shots right now in the tournament are timely threes, and you've got to be able to find her. She is shooting the ball extremely well, and you have to be there on the catch.

Q. There have been a few issues about the ticketing here, and you've talked about how disappointing it is that some Maryland fans can't make it up here. Do you think there should be some changes in terms of holding some tickets until people know where people are going, or how do you address this in the future? Obviously you can't do anything about this tournament, but in the future.
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I mean, you're talking about holding a block, right, for fans, whether that's 500, 200. I mean, the ability, then, after if you don't use that block, I'm sure the UConn fans would go back and purchase them. But when teams work so hard all season to only have 100 tickets available is disappointing. It's disappointing for our fans that can drive it, when you talk about a region that you're supposed to be put geographically placed for your fans, to be able to get there that now are priced out or the tickets are sold out. Definitely. I hope the article brings awareness to the NCAA in terms of, you know, allowing some sort of fairness and equity across the board.

Q. How do the seniors in your program help bring along the freshmen and get them ready for games like this?
BRENDA FRESE: I can't say enough for our seniors, Shatori and Bri, what they've done all season long, and it started from our first practice in the summer to our foreign trip to Italy. They've embraced them. They have just layered them in confidence. They've believed in them. They've really allowed them to really kind of mingle -- mix the team to really make them really tight. So that leadership is critical when you talk about now, every round you advance, you see it gets closer and closer, the confidence level that's required per round. The two of them have done a remarkable job with their leadership.

Q. I know you haven't played Kelly many times as a coach as Oregon. Talk about what he's brought to that program at Oregon before his time at Gonzaga.
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, I've never coached against Kelly, but have always -- from afar, the success that he had at Gonzaga and now being really able to be scout-specific with his team and his program, he's a hell of a coach. I mean, he is tremendous. When you talk about his game planning, his prepping, to take three freshmen in the starting lineup and take the team -- he's ahead of where they should be, the success that they've had coming into the Sweet 16. So really, really impressed with what him and his staff have done.

Q. Can you just talk about Chloe Pavlech and what she meant to the program and how weird it is to know that she's on the other sideline potentially on Monday night?
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, well, you know, we got to have that experience when Chloe came down to College Park. So now to be back again, you know, she's meant everything to our program, so I'm not surprised, obviously, to see her now get a chance in coaching. She has tremendous energy. She could do anything, TV, coaching. She has a personality bigger than life. You know, the kids adore her. She brought everything to the table in her four years at Maryland.

Q. (No microphone)
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, you know, we spent a lot of time talking about her path when she was at Maryland. You know, she really wanted to go one of two ways, whether it's coaching or into TV, and so, I mean, as a journalism major, she really looked at both parts, and as a point guard you're that floor general, that leader. Like I said, Chloe has a bright path in any direction of life that she wants to go. Whoever meets her, you can see her charisma, and she's going to be very, very successful in life.

Q. This is for all three of you. I'm curious how you come to the decision about which players sit where on the bench, what that process is like, how it happens. Is there an order? Is there any superstition that goes into it? How does that come to pass for each of you guys?
SHATORI WALKER-KIMBROUGH: I'm not particularly sure about the bench sitting, but I know every time we come off the bench, you tap everyone's hands up, and everyone stands up and slides down and you sit by Coach Terry Nooner.

Q. Destiny, I was just curious how well you know Sabrina from McDonald's All-American or different tournaments and just your scouting report on Oregon?
DESTINY SLOCUM: Yeah, I'm pretty familiar with her, both from the West Coast. I played her AAU team a few times. She was on my team for McDonald's. I mean, we're friends, so I know her in that way. Scouting report on Oregon, led by their freshmen, really, really good shooting team, so I think that's something we've just got to look out for.

Q. I'm just curious how familiar you were with Oregon, if you ever were a part of their recruiting for them being on the West Coast.
DESTINY SLOCUM: Yeah, I took an unofficial visit there, so I know the coaching staff pretty well and some of the recruits, so in that way I'm pretty familiar.

Q. For the seniors, when you guys were freshmen, what did the seniors do for you to incorporate you into the program and then how have you don that for the younger?
BRIONNA JONES: I think early on when we first got to campus, they took us under their wing and showed us everything about what Maryland basketball is about, in practice, outside of practice. And I think we tried to do the same thing for the freshmen coming in this year and just tried to show them what Maryland is all about.

Q. For all three of you, Maryland fans have been having problems getting tickets to this event, obviously, because UConn fans bought them up a long time ago. Can you guys address playing -- your fans not being able to get up here, and have any of your friends or family had trouble getting tickets and not being able to make it here?
BRIONNA JONES: Yeah, we were aware of the ticket situation, but I feel like we've been -- we played in hostile environments before when we played the Big Ten championship, that was in Indianapolis against Purdue. That was close to their home, and they had a lot of fans there. We played in a hostile environment against Louisville. It's not nothing that we've never seen before, so I think we'll be ready for it.

Q. Bri, Oregon obviously has some length in the front court. What are your thoughts on matching up with them, and is it kind of a personal challenge to you when other teams have players that can maybe try to match you in the post?
BRIONNA JONES: I enjoy playing against post players, bigger post players. I was really excited for this match-up, just getting to be able to match up with people more my size. I'm just really looking forward to it.

Q. Destiny, just curious what the week has been in terms of response from people who may have seen the big shot; it seemed to go viral, and whether that's sort of the attention-getting moment that you've talked about, trying to leave your mark on the season, on your career at Maryland, whether you felt like that was sort of laying down a marker?
DESTINY SLOCUM: I wouldn't think of it as like a marker, I think of it just kind of -- it was just a lucky shot that went in. It was just kind of a motivation for our team in that game. It's just kind of something -- social media was blowing up, and I have like more important goals than people talking about that shot. So now I'm taking a break with social media and trying to focus on what's important to our team and things we've been working on since June.

Q. (No microphone)
DESTINY SLOCUM: It's for like two weeks.

Q. Brionna, a follow-up on their bigs, they have Ruthy, obviously down low is a very good player and then Mallory shoots that mid-range jump shot. How unique is that challenge to have two bigs with different types of offensive games?
BRIONNA JONES: It's definitely a unique situation, but I think we've played different post players in our conference, in our non-conference that are similar. They have post players that can shoot the jumper or post players in the low post. I think I'm definitely prepared for that match-up.

Q. I wanted to ask each of you if you could reflect on times when, either individually or as a team, you've been having some challenges and what your coaching staff has done to get you through in the middle of a game in order to be where you are right now.
BRIONNA JONES: I think for some games, like when we start out slow, for one, our coach is definitely really good at motivating us, and tells us to pick it up and just locking back into that moment, and you can't get it back all in one possession, just taking it one possession at a time to get back to our normal strategies.

Q. Shatori, can you address what Ashlyn Barrett has meant to this team and how you plan to keep in touch with her through this weekend?
SHATORI WALKER-KIMBROUGH: Yeah, she means a lot to our team. We like to think of each other as sisters. This whole organization is just like a big family, and we look at Ashlyn like she's our little sister because she is our little sister. She sat and signed our national letter of intent just like all of us did, so she's just as important to the team as we are. And I don't think she realizes how much she means to our team, just coming in smiling every day, when we know she's facing challenges every single day. And that means the world to us because if she can do that, we can do what we do and push through anything. And yeah, we Skyped with her yesterday. She had an event. So we're just going to try to just keep in touch and play for her. (I think the very first answer was Shatori).

Q. Bri and Shatori, can you talk about playing with each other the last couple years and reflect on what your time at Maryland has been like?
BRIONNA JONES: I think coming in, we were just two freshmen, like, trying to just get a grasp on what Maryland was about. And I think through our years, we've grown, and I know Shatori is a really competitive person, and I think she's brought out that in our entire team, and I think she pushes us to be better every day, and I think just having her for the last four years, it's been a blessing to be able to play with her.

SHATORI WALKER-KIMBROUGH: Bri is a blessing to have down low, and I promise I would probably have like 600 more turnovers if it wasn't for her. We give a lot to credit to Bri. I mean, she's our engine. We play through her. I mean, she's a mismatch problem on all cylinders, and just to see her grow from her freshman year, coming in with a torn ACL and to see her fight that whole year and where she's at now is just so crazy to see and watch.

Q. Bri, can you talk about the season? Did you personally expect to have this kind of dominant role throughout college basketball? You've established yourself maybe as the best center in the country.
BRIONNA JONES: I think just every year I've tried to come in and prove my game and do something better every year. And I think just this being my final year and just having the sense of urgency of wanting to come out and do whatever I can for this team, offensively, defensively, just doing whatever I can in my power to make this team better, I think that's my approach to the season. And it's just paid off through all the hard work that we've put in through my four years.

Q. Shatori, would you say this year's team has more of an edge given how last year's season ended and how much that loss has fueled the run that you're on now?
SHATORI WALKER-KIMBROUGH: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we will never forget how we felt last year, how we sent our seniors out last year. It shouldn't have went that way, especially all the hard work they put in for their four years. Part of us, we've been playing for them especially, and like I said, I remember how I felt, so I would never want our six freshmen to feel that way. So that's why me and Bri try to lead by example and definitely try to make a statement every time we step on the court.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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