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NCAA WOMEN'S 1ST AND 2ND ROUNDS: LOUISVILLE


March 17, 2018


Carolyn Kieger

Natisha Hiedeman

Allazia Blockton


Louisville, Kentucky

Q. Natisha, have you had a chance to digest what happened yesterday and just look at everything you've done and put it in some kind of context?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Yeah, last game, it was a great game. I'm just excited for the next one, focused on the next game.

Q. As competitors, did you guys watch the Virginia/UMBC game last night, and do you have any reaction to it, and just your thoughts on playing Louisville?
ALLAZIA BLOCKTON: Yeah, it was pretty amazing what UMBC did last night and I was kind of in awe because it's the first time it happened in history, but it just shows how much heart they fought with.

And my thoughts on playing Louisville, everyone knows Louisville is a great team so I know it's going to be a great game. It's going to go down to the wire, and at the end of the day it's going to be who wants it the most and who follows the game plan the best.

NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Yeah, I was just going to say it's March, anything can happen, so that win, like I said, like 'Zia said, it goes down in history, the first time a 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed.

And as far as Louisville, I'm excited for the game. I'm excited to play at their home court. They have a great fan base, and it's going to be exciting and a great atmosphere.

Q. You call thrived on defense yesterday, got a lot of success out of that. What do you have to do differently against Louisville? What kind of challenge do they provide for you that you have to shut down?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Their team is very versatile, so we're just going into the game with a game plan, and if we execute it, I think that we'll be able to shut players down, and hopefully our defense can help us get our offense.

ALLAZIA BLOCKTON: Just understanding what we want to get out of each defensive coverage I think will be very important, so what we want to get out of whatever defense we play in that particular moment of the game is going to be key for us.

Q. You're playing against another team that can really push the pace. What challenges do you expect this time around?
ALLAZIA BLOCKTON: Well, we like to push the pace, too, and they like to push the pace, so I think it works perfect for us in that aspect because we're a fast team, so it plays right into our hands, so we're excited for that.

NATISHA HIEDEMAN: I would say the faster the pace, the better for us. That's been our game plan since day one, and if the tempo is in our hands, I think we're going to come out with a good win hopefully.

Q. Louisville is a program that's kind of gotten to top three pretty quickly the last five or so years. Is this kind of what you guys are trying to target, both you guys juniors, kind of seeing this rebuild happen, is this kind of where the end goal is, somewhere like Louisville is in right now?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Like yesterday we were watching the game a little bit, and just their fan base is incredible, and I hope in 10 years or whenever we come back to Marquette, Marquette is like that. It started with us, so just hopefully seeing that, it'll mean a lot.

ALLAZIA BLOCKTON: Like Louisville has a great culture, and that's what we're establishing here, and I'm glad that me and Natisha's class will be the first ones to start this culture, so like she said, coming back 10 years from now and seeing the stuff that we built will be amazing. So yeah, that's a goal of ours.

Q. Allazia, how do you like playing a team that kind of looks like you? The match-up seems to be very similar. How much do you like playing that kind of match-up?
ALLAZIA BLOCKTON: It's great because we just go out there and we think of it like we're playing ourselves. They're athletic, they're versatile, we're athletic and we're versatile. I think it'll be a great match-up, and we like playing teams like that.

Q. You hit eight threes yesterday. Were you just on or did you take advantage of a hole in the defense? How do you explain your performance yesterday?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: I was just on, and my teammates were finding me the ball. Those were just the shots that were given to me, so I was taking them. Yeah, they was just going in.

Q. Natisha, what kind of pressure do you expect to see from Louisville to kind of shut you down? Do you feel like they're going to send a few players at you, or how do you see that match-up?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: If that's the case, that'll be perfect because then if they're going to do that, somebody else on the floor is going to be open. Everybody on our team is capable of scoring. I mean, one night it could be me, one night it could be Allazia, it could be Amani Wilborn, Erika Davenport, literally anybody on our team, so they're going to have to be pretty strategic and figure out who they're going to guard.

Q. You're here at Louisville seeing a program that's developed rapidly. Is this kind of your end target as you're trying to establish this culture?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I mean, absolutely, yes, to beat the best, to be the best, so we know we're going to have to go through a No. 1 seed at some point. But I think our program, our young ladies, our staff is really up for the challenge, obviously in an atmosphere that's great for women's basketball. We're excited for a packed house, for loud noise, and an awesome March atmosphere.

Q. When you look back at yesterday's game, I guess after those first few minutes, did it kind of unfold the way you thought in terms of what you wanted from your team?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Yeah, after the first time-out, absolutely. I thought our team did a phenomenal job responding and calming each other down. After that, I thought we were back to ourselves, that we started to take a deep breath, and you could tell they became a little bit less anxious and ready to play, and obviously Natisha Hiedeman's performance, you ask her, she's always been a primetime player. That's who she is. She loves playing under the lights. What you guys saw yesterday we've seen several times in practice. We've seen it several times in other games. She did the same thing to Oregon State last year. She just explodes for points in a hurry. So for her, she loves this moment. She loves the limelight, and you saw that perfectly yesterday. Thankfully it happened in a big moment.

Q. How similar do you see the match-ups between your team and Louisville?
CAROLYN KIEGER: You know, I think we're similar in some aspects. We're very different in others. They obviously have size on us. I think we have quickness at some positions on them. I think I'm looking forward to a great game. I'm looking forward to two teams that are probably going to scheme a lot and see what they're going to throw at us, and hopefully we can throw some stuff at them that they have to adjust to. Looking forward to the match-up, most definitely.

Q. You're not a 16 seed, you're obviously a quality team, but you're playing a 1. Did you watch UMBC/Virginia and what were your reactions to it?
CAROLYN KIEGER: No, I was all in Louisville last night, so I had no TV on. I was focused on us. But I woke up this morning to the score, and couldn't believe it. But yeah, awesome for men's basketball.

On our side, we're hoping for more parity, as well. It would be great to come in to a No. 1 seed and knock them off. Obviously we're going to have to play a fantastic game, and we're all going to have to be sharp, our staff included, and every single player on the entire roster.

Q. In yesterday's game, Asia Durr had a really good game without scoring necessarily. How dangerous is it to play against a star player like that that can really make such a big contribution even when the ball isn't going into the hoop?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Yeah, Asia Durr is an All-American, and she does so many things for them. She contributes not only scoring-wise but just her energy. She gets the team going. The crowd, they feed off her. So for us, we're going to try different stuff, throw different people at her, and we've got to be keyed in on her all game long, and hopefully she has an off-night.

Q. You mentioned Hines-Allen a little bit yesterday. What challenges does she pose, especially in the paint?
CAROLYN KIEGER: She's very powerful, obviously very strong. Her rebounding presence is phenomenal, so we're going to have to do a great job of keeping her off the glass. I think on offense, we really want to make sure we take it to her and try to slow her down a little bit and tire her out. But she's a phenomenal player, and she's somebody that I actually recruited back when I was at Miami, so I know her game pretty well, back in the day. But she does so many great things for that team, and the way she passes, as well. She's a nightmare match-up, I think, for any team in the country.

Q. What's your opinion about Louisville's depth? I think yesterday they used like 10 players, and around here we're kind of used to that, but is that one of the things you feel like you have to really guard against because they can send so many different players in?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Well, I think our team is going to have to be really locked into personnel tomorrow. Like you said, they play several different players, and each player is very different, so I think if our team can stay focused on personnel and really play player tendencies, we'll be in good shape. And I think for us, it's going to be a scheme game. We're used to a lot of motion offensive teams in the Big East, and Louisville is a set-oriented team, so we're going to have to really make sure our communication is at an all-time high level and really talk through player tendencies and personnel.

Q. You played Tennessee I think in CancĂșn and took them to overtime, you played Notre Dame in South Bend, took them into overtime. Did you schedule the season to have your team prepared for a March appearance?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Absolutely. You know, after we lost the Quinnipiac game last year, I was focused on wanting to go farther than this program has ever been, and like I said at the beginning of the press conference, if you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best, and that's where our program wants to head. We want to be a perennial powerhouse in the country, so in order to do that, you can't do that until you knock down the people in front of you.

So for us, I don't think we're scared to play anybody, and I think that's going to be a big advantage for our kids going into this game. We went over all Louisville's scores and every opponent that they've played and matched it up to who we've played, similar opponents, and I think our team is really excited for this opportunity.

Q. Would you say they're comparable?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Yeah, likable opponents we've played, and I think for us, we've shown success against similar teams to Louisville, so I think our kids get excited about that and have a little bit of confidence going in there. Obviously Louisville is a great team that we're going to have to play, but our players and our program love these moments, and we love playing great match-ups and great storied programs. So for us, I think this is a fantastic opportunity, win or lose, to be honest.

Q. And then having coached in the ACC for quite a while, do you see any similarities between where Marquette is now and where Louisville was maybe five, ten years ago?
CAROLYN KIEGER: You know, I hope so. I hope that's the direction we're going because Jeff has done a phenomenal job with this program and where he's taken them, and obviously when Angel came here and started out their tradition, I played against her when we were in the Big East my last year. I've watched Louisville from afar for a long time and seen the rise. So for us, if that's the path that Marquette heads down, I'll be a very happy coach.

You've got to chip away at it. It's one year at a time, and you've just got to keep getting better every year, and that's what I'm proud of, us at Marquette, is we've done that every year. We've advanced, we've gotten better, and the plan is to keep climbing.

Q. Granted it's been a few years since Louisville was in the Big East, but do you see kind of a similar team from what you recall?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Absolutely. I mean, they were fast. They had dominant scores. They had two or three scorers that dominated the game, similar to them right now. They had All-Americans. They had pros. And they ran a lot of sets. So very similar.

Q. They had over 7,000 people here yesterday, probably be more tomorrow. Just your thoughts on the atmosphere, and then secondly, do you have any sense at all on how many of your people might come down, what kind of group you'll have following you tomorrow?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Yeah, I think it's fantastic for women's basketball. We need atmospheres like this, and I think it sets a great example for the rest of the country. I congratulate all the Louisville fans for coming out, especially on a weekday and at the time that it was, and even a lot of them stayed for our game, which was awesome to see.

We welcome that atmosphere, and we embrace it, and I think that's what our players deserve to play in. It's March, and you want to be playing in front of a big crowd, and I think it speaks very highly for women's basketball and where it is and where it's going.

Q. Are there fans coming down tomorrow?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I hope so. I think we had a good crowd come down and drive down. Haven't really heard yet if more buses are coming or not, but we hope.

Q. Was yesterday kind of an emotional or maybe a mental breakthrough to win that first game? It was the first one in like seven years, especially in light of what happened last year, how much of a relief was that for your team?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I think it was a confidence booster. I think for us, you know, not to sound too confident, but we expected to win that game. Nothing against Dayton, but just speaking for Marquette, that's how confident we were for the last year. We've been building for that moment, and I think our players did a great job embracing that. So for us, you want to go into any game expecting that you're going to win, whether you're playing a No. 1 seed or you're playing a 9 seed. I think for us last year, we were a little bit more tentative, and I don't think we necessarily expected to win. We were just more excited to be in the NCAA Tournament. We're taking a different approach now where we're saying, hey, this is where we deserve to be, and this is where we want to be, and we're going to keep going through every round we possibly can.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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