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March 22, 2018

Wes Moore

Kansas City, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Wes Moore. Coach, congratulations on your season and your thoughts about the tournament?

WES MOORE: We're obviously excited about being here, excited about being in Kansas City. Our head football coach Dave Doeren is from here. I spent a few summers here. I had an older sister that lived in Blue Springs. Used to go see the Royals, Mayberry and Lou Piniella. We're excited about the challenge ahead of us. Mississippi State a great team, year ago made an awesome run and this year only one defeat. So we know we got our hands full but, again, we're excited about the opportunity.

Q. Coach, I was at your last game last year. Can't see another team that could have been more devastated because it looked like you had it until the last second. Were you fueled this year by what happened last year?
WES MOORE: The thing is, we have kind of a whole new team, almost, in the sense that we lost four starters that were four of our top-five scorers. These kids obviously most of 'em were here and on the team but they didn't play quite as a significant role as they are this year.

But you're right. I grew up in Texas and that was a devastating loss down there. Again, it's a new year and new opportunity and we've moved on.

Q. Coach, Coach Schaefer was talking about all the things he likes about your program but he says you guys are similar teams. Is that what you think?
WES MOORE: I don't know about that. That's a great complement if he's comparing us with them. Obviously they have so many weapons, and of course Vic Schaefer, his calling card is his defense and they're going to get after you and try to take you out of your stuff that you want to run.

So we have, this year, really hung our hat on defense and rebounding. We haven't always been beautifully esthetic offensive team, but I'm proud of how our kids have kind of bought in to trying to take away another team's strength and trying to control the boards and when you do those things, I also was in the coaching shadow of Pat Summitt, and she says offense sells ticket, defense wins games, rebounding wins championships, and I firmly agree with that. I'm proud of how our team has bought into those priorities.

Q. With Kayla, she had the injury, what would have been her freshman season and last year playing behind Miah, this year she blossomed, it seemed like and talk about her counterpart, Morgan William and how that match-up will be because I think they're both good point guards.
WES MOORE: You're right. I'm proud of her, made herself a threat from the three-point line and when you can do that, when you can knock down the shot enough to make 'em come out and guard you as quick as she is it opens up a lot of things not just for herself and for her teammates.

Morgan William stirs the drink for Mississippi State. She creates a lot for her teammates, almost a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, so we've got to keep her guarded and not let her set the table for everybody else.

Q. Wes, the MSU players and Coach Schaefer talked about how their prior experience in these stages was going to help them this weekend. I know you all are going for your Elite Eight trip in almost 20 years. What do you tell them about how you're doing it?
WES MOORE: We haven't changed a thing. It's been, hey, we've been playing well the last couple of months, we were picked 10th in the ACC. We started out 1-3. It's a tough league, we rattled off seven in a row. I think we've won 14 out of our last 17 games and that's all we've talked about this postseason is keep doing what we're doing. Nothing is different, nothing's changed, play defense, rebound. We've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. That's our focus so we don't worry about all the other stuff.

Q. Coach, obviously Louisville, you beat Florida State, can you talk about how they hang in a moment like this against those teams?
WES MOORE: I think you hope that the league -- again, the ACC has had great year, No. 1 RPI league in the country, obviously Notre Dame and Louisville, both number one seeds so we've played some really good teams and Mississippi State is obviously a really good team. I think we just have to, you know, remind ourselves that we've seen this and, again, try to keep everything routine, do what we do and hopefully, play well, shoot the ball well and have a shot at it.

Q. Wes, you were talking about rebounding earlier, you're third in the country in rebounding rate, you're getting 65% of your opponent's misses, obviously Chelsea has a big part in that and Akela. What do you think is the key to that and how does that translate against a team that has Teaira McCowan?
WES MOORE: Good point, kind of a game changer. Chelsea and Akela are both athletic and they go get it. They do a pretty good job and we usually do rebounding drills or two every day and that's a point of emphasis. I always say that even on a bad night if we limit the other team to a one shot of possession we're going to have a chance. I think a testament to that is going into the regular end of the season we do not have a loose to a top-50 team outside the RPI so we have taken care of business and done those things on a consistent basis. Teaira McCowan, you're right. She is so strong and she is able to ride you under some and at 6-7 if she rides you under a little bit she is able to reach over you and get the rebound. We're not only going to have to box out but deliver a blow on her and not let her should have us under because she is one of the best offensive rebounders I've seen.

Q. You were talking about being tenth in the league before the season started and you talked about how many seniors you lost. At what point during the season did you think that you had a shot to be in your seat right now?
WES MOORE: You know, again, that's a good question. I don't know. I think I've believed all along we could be better than what we started out and where people picked us. I think there might have been confusion. Maybe they thought that was a national poll they were voting on. I'm not sure. Even my athletic director, she is probably going to get tired of me telling this story, but when I had my meeting before the season and she asked me my goals and expectations. After I shared those with her she said, wow, that's pretty ambitious, isn't it?

And there was a couple of times this year I walked down the end of the bench during the game and said, "You might have been right." But this team battles. We were down 26-1 to Louisville and with three minutes left in the game we were down 4 and had the ball.

So, again, they're not going to quit. They're going to be there, keep competing, and that's what I'm really proud of in regards to this team.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, you did a good job, congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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