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March 17, 2018

Jeff Walz

Asia Durr

Sam Fuehring

Louisville, Kentucky

ASIA DURR: They're a team that plays hard. They don't give up. They run the floor well. They have scorers on their team. They have posts that can score, as well. They're a team that is well-coached, so it's going to be a great game. They're a great team.

SAM FUEHRING: They're very fast paced. We have to run the floor with them. Their posts are strong, and their guards can do everything, really.

Q. Having seen what happened on the men's side last night with the 16 beating a 1, how important is it to not take any seed lightly when you're playing in these early rounds?
SAM FUEHRING: Being in the NCAA Tournament, you've got to expect that everyone is good. You can't take anyone lightly because it's March Madness, too, so anything can happen. Teams are at their best level, and they can compete with anyone.

Q. Sam, when you look back on your defensive effort yesterday, what did you like, and what do you feel like you've got to really kind of turn up against Marquette, considering they kind of pride a lot of their opportunities on defense, as well?
SAM FUEHRING: I liked our pressure yesterday. I feel like we have to turn that over to Marquette because, I mean, we can probably force turnovers, and we have to stay in front of them, as well. That's something that we struggled a little bit against Boise State, but being in front of Marquette, because they drive a lot, it's going to help us defensively.

ASIA DURR: I would say the same thing that Sam said. I think we did a good job pressuring the ball against Boise State, but Marquette, they're a great team that they drive really, really well. We have to do a better job of staying in front of them and playing in the gap, as well.

Q. Kind of a follow-up, when a player like Natisha has I think it was 32 points and that many threes, what's the challenge in really trying to face guard her? Is it really like pressing her or just making sure that she's just accounted for at all times?
ASIA DURR: You have to stay very aggressive with her. You have to know where she is at all times. I mean, it's the same thing that Coach Walz tells us all the time. You've got to stay in front. You've got to make them take tough shots, shoot over us.

I think we'll be fine. We are truly excited about this game, so we just have to play hard and have fun. I mean, no game is guaranteed, so this could be our very last game, so we've just got to go out there and just play hard and have fun.

SAM FUEHRING: To add on to what Asia said, I feel like we do have to stay in front. We can't bail them out when they do drive. We can't give them easy buckets. If No. 5 goes for 32, good for her. We're going to try our best for her not to do that.

Q. (No microphone.)
SAM FUEHRING: That could be an advantage to them, but we also have a bench that can do that for us. While they're out on the floor running, we have a bench that's resting, so that can be an advantage to us.

ASIA DURR: I would say the same thing that Sam said. Yeah, they're a very great team. They all can score. But it's just going to come down to who wants it more. We've just got to be fun. At this time, it's just fun. Like he just stated, Virginia lost their first-round game, which is crazy. But at this time you're going to get every team's best shot, and we've got to take it as a challenge and just have fun with that.

Q. Do you all see similarities between yourselves and Marquette defensively in terms of turning defense into offense?
ASIA DURR: Yes, I would say yes. They both like to pressure the ball. They play very fast. We try to play fast, as well. I would say yes, we do some things kind of the same, but I mean, it's going to come down to, like I said, who wants it more. Defense is, like Sam just said, who wants to get more stops and things like that. It's going to be fun.

SAM FUEHRING: Watching them yesterday, I saw a similarity with transition, too. I saw that they like to push the ball. Anyone can bring it up for them, so yep.

Q. Their coach said she thought you guys had a size advantage on them, but they might have a quickness advantage on you at some positions. Is that how you guys see it?
SAM FUEHRING: I don't think height matters to be honest. It's all about heart, if you want to work hard or if you don't. Whoever works hard will win the game.

ASIA DURR: It definitely comes down to who plays harder. They do have quick guards, but so do we. We have good posts. They do, too. It's going to be a great game, but we've got to stay with the game plan, follow what the coaching staff gives us, and just play hard.

Q. Asia, we've peppered your coach and teammates the last few days about your shooting and scoring, that kind of thing. How have you kind of really kept focused on the big picture and feel like the scoring will kind of fall into place?
ASIA DURR: Yeah, scoring will always come into place for this team first. We got the win. We've been playing great as a team, but we've been -- each game we take the next step, which is huge, especially at this time of the year. I mean, it's team first. We're getting ready for this next game tomorrow.

Scoring will come as you play hard, so I'm not too concerned about that.

Q. Scoring-wise, when you see the kind of looks that you got, is that the kind of thing that encourages you to say, okay, at some point they're going to start falling like they did before?
ASIA DURR: Yeah, I mean, I've spent a whole lot of time on my game my whole life, so it's definitely going to come down to just staying confident, trusting my teammates, trusting my coaching staff, as well. My shot will fall, so I'm not concerned about that. Yeah, and just stay calm, stay with the game plan. It's not so much about scoring, you've just got to stay with the game plan, trust your teammates, and stay with the process.

Q. Final opportunity to play in the Yum! Center in front of your fans. How big of an advantage or how much do you feed off of having your home crowd here?
SAM FUEHRING: It's a big advantage. Last night's game we had 7,000 people, over 7,000 people. They blew off the roof, and just having it here at the KFC Yum! is a total advantage because they've got our backs, and the crowd does so much for us when we play. It means a lot, and it's a big advantage.

ASIA DURR: I feel like we have the best fans in the country. I've been saying that throughout the whole year. I'm truly excited just because this is our last game here, so I mean, I know our fans are going to be here. They're going to be loud like they have been throughout the whole year. I mean, it's so much fun playing in front of them and playing here because it gets so loud. Tomorrow is going to be a great game, so they're definitely going to be loud.

Q. Is it different as a player when you play in environments where there's 800, 900, 1,200 people and then in front of 7,000, and does it affect you guys?
SAM FUEHRING: It does. I feel like having like 90 people versus 7,000, it's quiet. Like you can hear your bench talking, and it's kind of like -- it's not really fun. Playing with 7,000 you have people screaming your name. Like I hear people when I inbound the ball, I hear people talking to me. So it just gets us going.

ASIA DURR: You can definitely tell the difference between a 90-fan game or a 7,000 or 8,000 game. Like as a player, you try to not -- stay as focused with the fans and the crowd, you just try to stay tuned in with the game. I mean, it's hard, too, yeah. We played at some places where there's not that many fans there, but you've just got to stay with your team.

Q. I'm not comparing Marquette to UMBC because they're a good team, almost beat Notre Dame on the road, but you're a 1 seed. Did you watch Virginia last night, and is that something you address with your team as a target that you guys have?
JEFF WALZ: I actually fell asleep at halftime, so I watched for the first half. It was at 21-all, and then I was exhausted. I didn't realize until this morning. I've said all along, the seeding is something they have to do to put the teams in a bracket. But then after that, I'm just a big believer it's all about momentum. It's not about seeding, it's momentum. You have to seize the momentum when you get it, and you might get one opportunity, you might get five, you might get six. But when you get momentum on your side, you've got to run with it.

You know, when you can turn a 4-0 run into a 10-0 run, a 12-0 run, that can knock a team out. That's the part right now at this time of year that I think separates who's going to finish with a win.

So we just have really talked about that. Now, the kids talked about it at breakfast, about the men's game and what went on, but I did not get a chance to see it, so I'm looking forward to seeing some highlights.

Q. How do you follow up yesterday's performance defensively? What things do you feel like you can improve on, even the things that you liked yesterday that you can improve on?
JEFF WALZ: Sure. It's been a year where we've actually defended well the entire season. We led the ACC in defensive points allowed during the conference play. We've been pretty consistent game in and game out, and each game presents a different scenario.

Tomorrow, Marquette's ability to push the ball in transition is phenomenal, not just -- I've really been impressed with how hard they play, how they play. You know, you just look at their stats, and I don't have yesterday's included in their stat sheet here, but you've got 89 assists, 91 assists, 124 assists, 114 assists, so you've got four of their starters that have probably now after yesterday's game, 90 or more assists. That's pretty impressive. Normally as a coach, if you can get two players to have 100 assists on the season, you feel good about things. They're looking at possibly having four get to 100. I'd like to see if any other programs have ever had that done.

So we're going to have to do a good job picking the ball up. It's not go to just be a point guard. A lot of traditional teams, they get it to the point guard, you just find the point. Well, their 4 can bring it up, their 5 can bring it up, so everybody is going to have to be dialed in. You've got to be sprinting the floor, looking over your shoulder, matching up and knowing, heck, if I'm the post player, I might have to go back and get the ball. So it's going to present some different challenges to us, there's no question.

They're very, very, very well-coached. I say it all the time, we take a lot of pride in what we do here at Louisville, and when we sit down and watch film, it's easy to see that they have a game plan. You can look at things and be like, boy, they're prepared, and there's no question tomorrow they're going to be prepared for us. I'm expecting a great basketball game.

Q. Do you see any similarities between Marquette's program that they have, their culture, kind of their quick rise, to say where your program was five, ten years ago?
JEFF WALZ: I mean, we're all -- Marquette has always had a really good program. When we first got in the Big East, they had a great program. So it's just fun to watch. You watched classes come in and go out, and their junior class is as good as anybody's in the country. You know, they're starting five juniors who are big-time players, and they play with a swag. So yeah, it's fun to watch.

I don't like comparing anybody to us because I think what they've done is impressive. I don't want to say, oh, yeah, I compare it to us because what they're doing is their own and it's great, so it's a compliment to them, because I just think they play hard, and as I said, they're very well-coached.

Q. It's been a few years since you faced them in the Big East, but are you having any kind of a Big East flashback to thinking about how you played them before or -- just to remind this crew that it was pretty tough back then?
JEFF WALZ: It's always been tough. That's the old Big East -- and I'll probably get in trouble for it, but the old Big East is the best basketball league I've ever been a part of in women's basketball. You throw West Virginia in there, Rutgers, Marquette, DePaul, Villanova, UConn, Notre Dame, just go through the list, and it's pretty impressive to see what's going on. The one and two, the first- and second-place team in the Big East is Marquette and DePaul. The winner and runner-up in the ACC are two teams that came from the old Big East. UConn is winning the AAC. Last year West Virginia won the Big 12 tournament championship.

So that's, I think, is what's helped prepare all of these programs that have -- when the old Big East broke up. That's why I think everybody has had success, because you're used to playing in it. It's like, man, it was a war night in and night out. When we get the opportunity to play a team like Marquette, I know how good they are. Our kids know how good they are. I make sure of it. And it didn't take them long to watch about six minutes of yesterday's game to be like, hey, they're good.

Q. Your thoughts on the final home game, quote-unquote, for your team tomorrow?
JEFF WALZ: You know what, it's been a remarkable year for us. Our fan base has been fantastic. Really looking forward to seeing how Myisha comes out tomorrow night for her last opportunity to play here in front of our fans. And I'm hoping we get a big turnout. I thought our crowd yesterday for a noon game was fantastic. I'm hoping the 6:30 tip of the men's game does not hurt us because you may have some that wanted to come to our game, and now it's like, hey, we want to go see the men; do they want to come and watch two ballgames.

So I'm hoping that doesn't have a negative effect on us. If we could get 8,000, 9,000 in here being a Sunday noon tip instead of a Friday at noon, it would be outstanding.

Q. Are you still writing excuses for those who took off work yesterday?
JEFF WALZ: I told them, if they need to, I'd be happy to. I just told them to try to take an extra long lunch break.

Q. You were mentioning about how great of a coach Kieger is. What specifically does she do that makes her so great?
JEFF WALZ: Well, I think she has a plan. Like you can tell the kids play hard for her. It's easy when you sit here and you watch on film and you watch in person. When kids will play hard for you, when she talks to them, the eye contact they make, you can see they're nodding their head like I've got you, I've got you. That's what it's all about, and she's very good X's and O's. She comes out of time-out, she draws up something they haven't run all year. She mixes things up defensively, she'll mix things up within her press.

Offensively I'd say I think you've got four of their five that have had at least one game this year where they've had over 20 points, each kid, which is really impressive, because it just shows the consistency and balance that they have.

Q. (No microphone.)
JEFF WALZ: Well, I wish we could do it. That's pretty damned impressive. I mean, let's be honest. Now, have any of you taken the time to look at the stats of the game? See, I think that's what everybody is going to miss and not look at if you just look at the final score. St. Francis took 81 shots. I mean, guys, that's getting up and down the floor. They took 57 threes.

You know, UConn, if I told you they scored 140, how many threes do you think they made? I'm asking a question. Come on. Eight. They hit eight threes. It was just a track meet. Well, if your threes are going in, fantastic. If they're not, it's not a great team to play a track meet with. UConn can score the basketball. UConn took 91, 91 shots, shot 68 percent from the field. So St. Francis, I don't blame them. They sat there and said, hey, if we're going to have a chance to win, we're going to have to get in there and fire up shots and see if we can't make a bunch of them. If they do, the game changes. Look at what UMBC did last night. If you just go out there and play a traditional game against somebody that you know is superior to you, you're probably not going to win.

We sat there -- and we own the record for the largest defeat in the National Championship game. I think it's 33 points. We went into half I think down 16 in that game, and I told the kids flat-out, do you want to keep it close, or do you want a chance to win, because it's one of two. If you want to keep it close, we can do this, and we might get beat by 12, 14, 18. Or if you want a chance to win, we're going to have to come out and start going up and down, stretch it out, put some threes up, see if we can get a few to fall. Well, they wanted a chance to win.

I think we came out, we hit our first two, we cut it back to like 12, and then we might have gone six minutes and we didn't score before we were getting our ass kicked. But you want a chance to win, right? Who wants to show off and not have a chance to win. So I give St. Francis and their coach credit. It's what happened.

This is a time of year, it is a really tough time of year, especially for players, for coaches, because it is emotionally and physically draining, because this is what everybody looks at. What did you do in March? What did you do in the NCAA Tournament? You know, Virginia men, I feel like Coach Bennett, I feel for the players. They won, I believe, the ACC regular season and conference tournament. 20-1. Guys, that is not easy. That is not easy. But what everybody is going to talk about is what you did in the NCAA Tournament.

So for them, it's like, man, can you believe that happened. For UMBC, who went to Vermont and won the conference tournament, everybody was jumping up and down doing cartwheels just for the fact they made the tournament. So for some teams, you make the tournament, and it's off the chart. It's awesome. For others, you're expected to win the whole thing. So it's one game. That's what makes this time of year so exciting. Everybody loves March, because the best team doesn't always win. It's the team that plays the best for two hours, and it might not even be two hours. It could be a 15-minute stretch during the game, but you extend a lead, and now all of a sudden you're up 15, especially in that ballgame last night when I saw some highlights a little bit, if you can get up 13 or 14 on Virginia with how they play, now you're really putting pressure on them offensively to play a little out of how they like to play. And before you know it, it's a loss.

But if it's a best of five, I put my money on Virginia to win a best-of-five series. Not that we gamble because we don't bet on things.

Q. (No microphone.)
JEFF WALZ: They did. I mean, that's something as a coach we talk about. Like guys, once you get to the tournament, the pressure is off. Let's just go play. We're going to have a plan. It's not like we just roll the ball out here and just say, hey, let's go have fun. I know Asia and Sam are saying, let's go have fun. No, it's no fun when you get beat. I'll be the first to tell you that. But we're not going to put the pressure on, like guys, the world is coming to an end at 3:00 on Sunday if we don't win. That's not how it works. I just keep telling them play for 40 minutes, don't worry about the scoreboard. You give me your best for 40 minutes, and then the scoreboard will normally take care of itself, and that's kind of how we talk. We don't talk about what the score is. We're down 11 to Virginia Tech, I believe, in the ACC Tournament, the first quarter, there was nothing about we're down 11. It was like, okay, guys, you've got 30 more minutes to play, how hard do you want to play. Do you want to execute and do what we've worked on, or do you just want to go out there and do it your own way. So that's how we approach it. Because if you do it the opposite way, I mean, that pressure can build and build and build, and then before you know it, you're going to crumple.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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