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March 2, 2018

JR Payne

Kennedy Leonard

Mya Hollingshed

Seattle, Washington

Oregon - 84, Colorado - 47

JR PAYNE: I would like to start by thanking our two seniors we have on our team, we have Zoe Correal and Brecca Thomas, who were here before I got to Colorado, and will leave a legacy that will last much longer than any of us will be here. I'll start with that. They played great tonight and have done a lot to keep this team together and grow this team the way they have. I'm always really proud of our team, and we ran into a little bit of a buzz saw today in Oregon.

You don't get to be a Top 10 team in the country by luck, and they certainly showed why they're such a great team. So I'm proud of the way they played. I'm proud of the way that we played in the second half, especially. We could have easily gone into the locker room and turned on each other and Tanked and started pointing fingers and being cranky and pouty. As a young team you're susceptible to that.

But I think in the second half we showed how much our team has grown throughout the season. Two months ago we would have done that. Today, Colorado basketball is tougher than that. We're more together than that. So I'm unbelievably proud of the way that we played, and the future is very bright for our program.

Q. JR, you know Kelly so well. Are you surprised at all that he's built it this quickly at Oregon, or is it just the perfect combination of their resources and his ability to do that?
JR PAYNE: Well, it is a fantastic combination in coaching and great resources in Eugene. But when he and I spoke before he came to Oregon, he wasn't asking for my opinion on anything. But he said, "What do you think, J?" I said, "Well, if you go to Oregon, I think you have a legitimate shot at a national title," and four years later here we are. So, no, I'm not surprised at all.

His kids have bought into the system. They've got a plethora of talent and competitiveness and great coaching in Kelly and his entire staff.

Q. Just a follow-up to that. Are you using a similar blueprint at Colorado or is it your own stamp and what is your timetable to compete at that level?
JR PAYNE: Well, similar. Kelly built his program around family and competitiveness, and holding his players accountable to a level of excellence, which is no different than what we're doing in our program. He's a couple years ahead of us, is all. So the way that our players are playing, the toughness that they're playing with, the way that they've bought into each other, I think bodes very well for our future.

Q. Kennedy, we talked to you yesterday after you beat Utah for your first Pac-12 tournament win, and asked what do you expect on day two? You said I don't know. I've never played on day two before. Now that you have, what have you learned about playing on day two at the Pac-12 tournament?
KENNEDY LEONARD: I learned it's a lot tougher than playing on day one, so that's good to know. Hopefully next year that helps us. Obviously, like Coach said, Oregon is a really good team. We happened to draw them by being a 9 seed. If anything, this game taught us who we want to be and who we want to emulate down the road. Though we might have lost, I think it taught us a lot of good lessons.

Q. Mya, you've been really coming into your own the last month. Did something change? Did something click for you or just kind of figure things out as a freshman, because it's been fun to watch you grow?
MYA HOLLINGSHED: No, I just settled into what Colorado basketball was. It was like a similar program to what I came from, like from high school and AAU basketball. It wasn't hard to adjust to that. It was a way to settle in and play the way I know how to play.

Q. JR, what did you see out of Lexi Bando?
JR PAYNE: Threes, threes and more threes. Yeah, the thing I love about Lexi is not just her ability to shoot the ball, but I love that she loves the big shot. In most of her games that have come down to the wire over the last couple years, she's made big shot when's it mattered.

She's not afraid of it, she loves it, she probably relishes it and wants the ball, I would assume. So a real competitive spirit about her. She's playing like a senior.

Q. I want to ask you about the culture in Colorado. Yesterday after your win, you had the entire athletic staff and all of your assistants and everyone out here today. That happens across all of your sports and all of your teams. Can you talk about what that means to you and how that will continue to help you build up your squad?
JR PAYNE: Yeah, I tell people all the time, the leadership that we have from the University of Colorado, from our chancellor Phil who was here the last two days supporting the women's basketball program, through our athletic director, our senior women's administrators, and truthfully the entire coaching staff, the way we feel connected throughout the University and throughout our department is unlike any other place I've ever been.

There is genuine family atmosphere from our chancellor all the way down through our athletes. Chancellor Phil knows these girls. He knows their names, he's in the stands, he and his wife, Yvonne. So that's a big part that's instrumental in giving us the tools and resources to build a program. But it starts there and works its way all the way down through us.

Q. I'd love to hear each of your answers to this individually. You had Mya and Aubrey and Annika, a lot of youth on this team. Kennedy you'll be back next year. But all of you, what are you going to take from this season and use to build off of for next year, 2019?
KENNEDY LEONARD: I think the one thing I learned is that tough times don't last. So obviously 15 and 16, it's not the record we maybe wanted or ending our season not where we wanted, but they don't last. So if we get in the gym this summer, get in the weight room, eat a little more food, lift a little more weight, shoot a little more shots, I think where we're going is the best possible place we can be going.

So I'm excited. I know we are young this year, but like you said, Mya has been playing, Anni has been playing. Everybody has gotten minutes, Aubrey's been playing. So I think the biggest thing is just staying together and sticking together over this off-season. And bringing in the two new people we have coming in who are great kids. Trying to be leaders, me and Lexi, just trying to be leaders for them, I think would be huge.

Q. Going off what Ken said, she's never made it today two. I've never made it today one or day two. To make it this far my freshman year makes we want to get today three. So it makes me want to go harder for next year. I know we can go as far as we want to. We'll be all right.
JR PAYNE: Yeah, I don't know. The way I would respond is really cheesy, but I would just say love trumps all. Like every team has so much adversity throughout the season. On the court, off the court, in the classroom. There are so many things that can derail a team. When a team chooses to believe in each other and love each other and value each other and trust each other, it doesn't matter how young you are. The sky's the limit, and that's how I feel about our team right now. I truly believe that.

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