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March 24, 2017

Sue Semrau

Brittany Brown

Shakayla Thomas

Stockton, California

THE MODERATOR: The Seminoles won their first round over Western Illinois 87-66 and defeated Missouri in the second round 77-55. This is Florida State's 16th NCAA Tournament appearance and the fifth time the Seminoles have reached the round of 16.

We'll start off with an opening statement from Coach Semrau and then we'll open up for questions.

SUE SEMRAU: Well, thank you very much. Just thank you so the City of Stockton for hosting this event. I know it's a lot of work and certainly a lot of energy has gone into building the interest and the infrastructure for such an event. So we're extremely excited to be here.

Excited about the opportunity to step into a great match-up against Oregon State, a tremendous basketball team. Extremely well coached. Very disciplined. Hard-nosed, work hard. Scott is a friend of nine and does a fantastic job.

Q. You focused a lot on the now with this team. How have they handled this week and then especially now that you guys have arrived here in Stockton?
SUE SEMRAU: That's been really key for us. We are fortunate enough that we have been able to advance to three back-to-back to back Sweet 16s. So we can learn, but we certainly can't think back on to that, or think about what could be or what should be. We've got to focus on a very good Oregon State team.

Q. You mentioned you knew Scott Rueck, Oregon State's coach, and you're also from Seattle. I'm just kind curious on your thought, not just on Oregon State's rise over the last few years, but with what Washington has done, the rest of the Pac 12; as somebody who has been outside of it, but somebody who is also familiar with this part of the country.
SUE SEMRAU: Absolutely. I knew Scott when he was coaching at George Fox, and what a great job he did there and what an excellent hire that they made at Oregon State.

I grew up a Pac 8 kid and then went to the Pac-10 and now it's Pac-12. Certainly it's been so much fun to watch the growth of that conference. I never knew there was much east, because I was always in school when things were going on out east, and now I don't get to keep up with the West as much because I'm in bed when things are happening in the West.

But you can't argue with what the Pac-12 has done in women's basketball and certainly the way they are represented in the Sweet 16.

Q. What sticks out most to you when you look at their lineup across the board?
SUE SEMRAU: You know, the thing I always think about when I see Scott's teams, they are just solid. You know, they all play their role. You know that they are going to come to compete and to work.

And fortunately, we are in a conference in the ACC where we have quite a number of teams, as well, that were in the NCAA Tournament, still are in the NCAA Tournament, and we come up against that night-in and night-out, as well. Both teams are battle tested. We look forward to playing that Pac-12/ACC matchup.

Q. Brittany has been with you for four years. How have you seen her evolve as a leader in those four years? And how is she able to turn on being goofy and turn on being a serious competitor on the court?
SUE SEMRAU: Yeah, you know, I've known Brittany since she was like a sixth grader. She came to camp and was a kid that you knew was always going to compete. I didn't know she would have such a vibrant personality, and that is something that really makes us go. She's a fierce competitor. Her parents were her high school coaches, so that's all she's ever known.

But she's also, just loves people, and if you ask anyone in Tallahassee, as you very well know, Brittany Brown could probably run for mayor. She's somebody that is always reaching out and giving to so many people. I would love to watch; and her expanded scope in that. It was just smaller, and now, it's -- I just received a letter from someone; their 12-year-old girl wrote a speech on the fact that Brittany Brown was her hero. And one of the reasons why is because of the way that she gives and the way she fights and continues to fight.

You know, to get those types of things, you're just so proud as a coach of the player that she's become and the way that she impacts so many lives.

Q. Why is Shakayla Thomas ACC Player of the Year in your opinion?
SUE SEMRAU: My opinion is a little biased, but I do think that when you get a chance to be with her every single day in practice, there's just no question that she's deserving. She's humble. She works extremely hard. She's extremely selfless.

And you a lot of times think of Player of the Year as somebody that maybe has to have the attention, and that's not Shakayla. That's why I'm so proud that the ACC is represented by a Player of the Year with that type of character. She's athletic; take that for granted; but there's a lot of great athletes out there, and she works. She's in the gym before practice. She's in the gym at midnight. We're fortunate to have 24-hour access to our gym, and she uses it, and that's why she's the ACC Player of the Year.

THE MODERATOR: Please welcome Florida State's student athletes, Brittany Brown and Shakayla Thomas.

Q. For Brittany, you've been here at Florida State now for four years. You've had your fair share of success. Just what's different about your senior year and playing in one last Sweet 16, Elite 8 and maybe even Final Four?
BRITTANY BROWN: I think the difference is the group of girls on the team. I was just telling a couple people earlier that the difference in this team is just our chemistry, and I don't know, this team's just so selfless. It doesn't matter who gets the credit. We're fighting for one another this year. That's been our motto all year.

And I've just seen this team, when adversities hit, that we used to splinter apart in the previous years, and I think that was a big difference-maker the further you go in the tournament.

As we hit adversity throughout this season, I've just seen us come together and it's just made us stronger. So I'd just say the group of girls and how we fight for one another every day.

Q. We were talking yesterday about your hometown in Alabama and you being a small-town girl from a small state. Can you give me more of a sense of your popularity in your hometown, and just kind of the reaction that your hometown fans have toward what you've done in your career at Florida State, and what kind of love they might be sending your way this weekend?
SHAKAYLA THOMAS: Considering, like you said, I'm from a small city, so I have people come to me every day or every other day and be like, "You're the mayor of Sylacauga," and I'll just be like, that's not true, yet. (Laughter).

But I feel like the love they show is unbelievable. They send out prayers and messages to me, literally every day. It could be just like a regular day, and I feel like that's much needed, considering where we are right now.

Q. Brittany you're known as being kind of a fun person off the court, but what's kind of the key to being a good leader, being fun off the court, and then zoning in when it's time to play?
BRITTANY BROWN: I think that my teammates, they make it easier. Yes, I'm the clown all the time. But I feel like that's when my team needs to give them energy. We have a couple of introverts -- well, quite a bit of introverts, but a little bit of extroverts and I'm one of those. That's just a way that I get my team going. I do it on the court and off the court.

But this group of girls, they just make it so much easier. If I'm fussing at them, they respond. If I'm trying to get them hyped, they respond. And that makes it so much easier to be a good leader, even in times when things aren't going your way.

Q. Shakayla, I was going through the stats and see that you've not attempted a three-point shot yet this season. Where and how do you get your offense?
SHAKAYLA THOMAS: I get my offense off jumpshots and layups. I never really needed the whole three-point shooting thing. It's just never been part of my game.

I'm more of the attacker person. That's the only thing I look for honestly. So I feel like that's the only thing I'll live and die by. Like that's my bread and butter right there.

Q. Can you just talk about Brittany and her leadership ability, and just how she rubs off on the rest of the team?
SHAKAYLA THOMAS: I've had better (laughter). No, I'm just kidding.

Brittany's just like, like she said before, she's this all-around fun person. So it's like sometimes when she'll be talking to me, getting on me, I'll be laughing. But it's like, I know she's serious, but it's like, I know you personally. So it's like -- okay.

I feel like she's actually made me better. Like the way she gets -- like the way she carries herself on and off the court, I feel that's the greatest. People need that in their lives and I feel like me playing with her this year and for the past three years, that's made me a great player, because I feel like I piggyback off whatever she does.

So like whatever Brittany's doing, I'm doing the same thing, or trying to do the same thing. So I feel like she's a great leader and that's what we need.

Q. This is for both of you. You can take turns maybe. Can you talk about the game tomorrow and what you're concentrating on? I'm hearing maybe get out and run is maybe a goal.
BRITTANY BROWN: Well, I definitely agree with that just because our conference, ACC conference, is fast, and that's something that we're really good at in transition, but in order for us to do that, we have to be really good on the defensive end. Oregon State, they are known for their size. They are known for out-rebounding opponents by ten-plus. In a way, that's what we do well, as well. That's what we're focusing on. Of course, defending and rebounding, but also a lot has to do with us focusing on what we do best as a team and just putting that into play tomorrow.

SHAKAYLA THOMAS: I feel like our main focus is Florida State basketball. We're not, you know, too shabby with it. We're just going to focus on ourselves.

Now Oregon State is a great team, and we've been practicing countless (ph) for them and I feel like they are going to come out there and play their game and we're going to play our game, and it's just going to be a great game tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Ladies, good luck tomorrow.

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