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March 25, 2017

Tara VanDerveer

Erica McCall

Kaylee Johnson

Brittany McPhee

Briana Roberson

Karlie Samuelson

Lexington, Kentucky

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us for the press conference for the Stanford women's basketball team. We're joined at the podium by head coach Tara VanDerveer and student-athletes Bri Roberson, Karlie Samuelson, Kaylee Johnson, Brittany McPhee, and Erica McCall.

We'll open it up for questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Let's start with Karlie. This is a 9:00 a.m. game West Coast time. Is that any kind of a factor for you folks, or do you feel like you could play at 3:00 in the morning?
KARLIE SAMUELSON: I don't think time is a factor. We were in Kansas for a while, and we came straight to Kentucky. I think we're acclimated to the time.

Q. Let's go down the list. Bri, playing against Lindsay Allen again, can you talk a little bit about what the challenge there is. You've played against pretty top point guards this season, but what about her specifically?
BRIANA ROBERSON: She's a very composed guard, a great guard. She has a lot of tools in her arsenal. I'm very confident in our game plan and preparation for her as far as guarding her and guarding every guard on their team.

Q. Brit, I don't know who's going to be playing against Arike Ogunbowale, but she looks like a scoring machine at this point, and she's really strong, and she's only 5'8", but they throw lob passes to her. What are you seeing from her? And what's the challenge of facing a kid like that?
BRITTANY McPHEE: She's just always looking to score, so just being at ease, guard her right when she gets the ball and knowing her favorite moves and tendencies is going to be key. Obviously, she's going to get some points, but trying to contain her to a reasonable amount.

Q. Erica, you had, obviously, a huge game against Notre Dame last year. They claim revenge is not a key motive for them because everybody wants to get to the Final Four so bad, but revenge not a motive? Do you buy that?
ERICA McCALL: They said so. Like I said, everyone wants to get to the Final Four. We just compete well together, so I think they're just looking forward to this exciting game the same as we are. So it should be fun.

Q. I might as well, since I've got the microphone, I might as well ask Kaylee. You had a huge game against Notre Dame too last year, probably the best game you ever played, I would imagine. Do you guys feel you're playing with house money at this point because you're playing against a top-seeded team that has been gearing up for the Final Four all along? Do you feel like you're loose as the underdog?
KAYLEE JOHNSON: Like Bird (Erica McCall) said, we're just really excited for a great game. We know we have to compete. We know they're going to come out and be competitive. I mean, we definitely have like this sense of urgency they instilled in us at this point. We're ready to go. We're excited. Just got to know our next game is our biggest game.

Q. For Erica, does it seem repetitive or -- I mean, to be playing kind of the same team, I guess now for three straight Marches. Is it kind of repetitive, or is it one of those things you kind of want to see maybe the same team you faced to really show how far you all have come, and especially since they're top seeded, how good you all can be?
ERICA McCALL: Yeah, I think it's good to play the team you're comfortable with, that you know some type of -- like I know the scouting report on them. I think the NCAA committee just really likes this matchup, and they want to see it time and time again. It means it must be pretty iconic.

THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student-athletes? If not, then they can be dismissed. Thank you very much.

We'll open it up with questions for the head coach.

Q. Coach, you know, of course, they lost (Briana) Turner. Were you surprised at anything you saw that they did Friday that may have been different from what you expected?
TARA VANDERVEER: No, honestly, I really was focused on Texas. I watched -- obviously, last night I watched Notre Dame. They have a very challenging team, and it's hard when someone goes down, but it was the next person up. I thought Erin Boley played really well. (Kristina) Nelson played well. They've got some great players.

I don't think I was surprised. They're a very talented team, and they knew they had to play well, and they did.

Q. When this bracket was coming together, did you kind of see the potential for this kind of matchup looming? Maybe in your mind, especially given the history, kind of prepare yourself -- well, you know, we could see them again.
TARA VANDERVEER: You know you can see them again when you're in the bracket. I guess you could say that about anyone in the tournament just because you never know what's going to happen. I think this year especially there have been more upsets, closer games with higher and lower seeds. So I don't think anything was predictable per se. Obviously, when you have an injury with a key player, anything could happen in the Purdue game. I don't think we were guaranteed coming out of Kansas, and, obviously, Texas is a great matchup. So we really focus on the one game that we're playing, and today we're focused on Notre Dame.

Q. Being from the Pac-12 the last couple years in the postseason, what we're seeing now with Oregon against Maryland, what role did your program play in setting a standard that other programs had to raise themselves to meet?
TARA VANDERVEER: Well, I think Stanford made a commitment to women's basketball back when I was hired by Andy Geiger, and we were able to recruit nationally. Now I think with -- I think it's Pac-12 Network, we've had great teams and great players in the Pac-12 for 30 years. A lot of times, people haven't seen them or heard about them. And without maybe Pac-12 Network or without even sometimes the opportunities to see these teams, an Oregon team might not have even been in the tournament in the past.

Obviously, they're doing really well, and it's something that I'm really proud to be a part of the league that is a premier league with great players. I think that this tournament swing last year, this year will only make it kind of harder, my job harder in a good way -- more competitive top to bottom.

But the Pac-12 has always been extremely competitive with great players, and people sometimes haven't known about them. And a lot of those teams have not gotten maybe a first round home game or gotten a decent seed so they can even move on. But having five teams in the Sweet 16, I think, has been awesome.

Is Oregon winning right now? Great. That's great.

Q. Tara, is the loss of Turner sort of the equivalent of what it would be for you to lose McCall?
TARA VANDERVEER: You never want to lose anybody. I think their team has -- they have a lot of offensive weapons. She did some things that are really special, but I think that they're able to -- you know, they're able to kind of put the puzzle together differently with different (players) -- they have really outstanding, outstanding offensive players.

I think Erica, for us, we can -- I mean, we've had games where she has struggled or maybe hasn't played that well. She, for us, is -- she's so important for us emotionally. So in some ways, I think it would be probably a bigger loss for us.

Q. The players didn't seem to have much worry about a 9:00 a.m. Pacific game. Do you?
TARA VANDERVEER: No, not at all. Part of it is because we've been on this time zone. It was a little -- I think it was a little difficult in the bracket to be in the real, real late game and then real early morning game. But I think we learned a lot from last time around in that we're working really hard to get right back, get hydrated, do some recovery, and get a good night's sleep, and we've emphasized that with our team.

Q. Coach, Notre Dame, we saw last night, they can hit four, five, six, seven threes in a row. Have you played a team this year with that kind of prowess from outside the arc? How do you feel you defended them? Does Notre Dame remind you of somebody you played this year?
TARA VANDERVEER: Actually, Washington is a team that can really hit threes. There are a lot of teams in our conference. Oregon is a very good three-point shooting team, UCLA. A lot of teams that are doing really well in the tournament.

We know that that's something that we'll have to contend with, but they really -- both teams were shooting 50 percent last night at halftime, and I'm not sure for the whole game. But I just thought, wow -- I told our team when I went into the locker room, I said the baskets are working.

So it should make for a very, very exciting game.

Q. Tara, Muffet McGraw was saying the reason they don't play you in the regular season is that they generally try to use their trips for recruiting purposes, in part, and they haven't been recruiting in California a lot. Would you like to play them in the regular season?
TARA VANDERVEER: It would be fine, yeah. I think that football has a good home-and-home series with them. I think we probably -- you know, we had never played Notre Dame in the NCAA until two years ago. In all my 30 years, I can never ever remember playing Notre Dame. But I think next year we'll be probably in a different bracket.

But it would be great to play Notre Dame. They have a great program. We did play them home and away just in a regular, like just home and away, I think in like 1993 -- with Molly Goodenbour, Molly's year, so '92, '93, something like that.

Q. So for next year?
TARA VANDERVEER: I'm just thinking variety maybe. I don't know. Do they just like use the same -- I don't know. You know, maybe, just thinking maybe.

Q. I just wanted to finish up with a question about Arike Ogunbowale because it was sort of a revelation to those of us who really haven't seen a lot of her.

Q. This kid is 5'8", and they're throwing lob passes to her, and she's doing everything all over the court. First of all, who's going to guard her? And what's the challenge of stopping her?
TARA VANDERVEER: I just said, first of all, she's versatile. She's strong. She's got great hands. She gives you inside and outside dimension. I mean, if you have a small person on her, she'll post them up. If you have a big one, she'll pull them away.

I think we'll just have to try the spaghetti approach and throw it up on the wall and see if it sticks.

Q. Along that line, when a team has that much balanced scoring as Notre Dame did, how much tougher does that make preparing for or adjusting for them? It's one thing to focus maybe on someone like Turner, but without her, they spread the ball around, how much tougher is that?
TARA VANDERVEER: You know, we do analytics, and their offense is in the 98th, 99th percentile in catch-and-shoot and finishing at the basket. I mean, their offense is phenomenal. So I think we have a good offense too, but we're going to have to come out and play well offensively, and we're going to have to play well defensively.

I think the job that Bri and Marta did last night with McCarty was a phenomenal job. She ended up with eight points, but I know at least two or four of them may have been way at the end of the game, no threes.

Our team is a blue-collar team. Maybe Notre Dame isn't, but we have to be a blue-collar team, and we're going to have to bring our hard hats and boots and come to work because it's not going to -- it's not going to be just playing like a pickup game out there. We're going to have to really be aggressive and play hard.

Q. From an appeal standpoint, when you have two powerhouse programs like this meeting each other, how much do you feel like -- even if it is year after year after year, how much do you feel like that could really kind of raise the profile of a sport in general?
TARA VANDERVEER: I think last year -- last year when we played, it was a great game. The year before, I don't think we were as competitive as we needed to be with them.

They have a great, outstanding players, and have been, I think, one of the top teams year in and year out. That's a real credit to Muffet. She is an excellent teacher and an excellent basketball coach. And they have very talented players.

I think it's a real credit to her that she played so well yesterday without maybe their leading scorer, and other people stepped up for them. I think it's great for women's basketball to have marquee teams playing each other. We want to play well, and our team is very excited.

THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for the head coach?

TARA VANDERVEER: All right. Thank you all. We'll see you tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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