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March 22, 2018

Tara VanDerveer

Kaylee Johnson

Brittany McPhee

Lexington, Kentucky

TARA VANDERVEER: We're really excited to be back. We have great memories of being here in the past, and we want to make some new ones this time around. I think it's a great regional, and we're just really excited. Thank you.

Q. What was your first reaction when you saw that you were in the Lexington bracket for a third straight year, given the success that you've had?
TARA VANDERVEER: We're excited. First of all, we're excited to be in the tournament. You know, we had a very tough first and second round, and I'm really proud of how our team played. I think there's a certain -- there was a certain familiarity, like you know the building, you've been here before, you have great memories from being here before. We know it's going to be extremely challenging, as it was the other two times we were here, but all in all, I think people are just -- here we go.

Q. Have you kind of looked at this place as kind of a good-luck charm for you, for the program, in the NCAA, especially considering last year when you overcame a big deficit to beat Notre Dame?
TARA VANDERVEER: You know, the place itself doesn't do it. You have to have the players that do the work. But I think that when you feel good about things, it's always good. We're excited to be here and excited to be playing in this regional.

Our team has, I think, confidence, and there's a certain relaxation -- you're relaxed at the same time. We're in the same hotel or whatever, and there's a certain comfort that comes with familiarity. That won't be enough, however. We know we have to play really well.

Q. What's different from this team than the other two that you've brought to this regional, and what should fans expect different?
TARA VANDERVEER: Well, I think that this is a younger team. This is a team that just -- it's a youthful team. We don't have three seniors leading the way like we did last year. I think probably youth is the biggest thing. We're running different things offensively. Our defense, I think, is probably similar, but I think this is a very energetic team, a very enthusiastic team, just -- they get excited for each other. Not that last year's team didn't, but I think this year's team does a lot of that.

Q. Louisville has used its post presence a lot in these two tournament games. How do you stop Myisha Hines-Allen and Sam Fuehring inside?
TARA VANDERVEER: I mean, they have a lot of weapons. Their posts are obviously outstanding players, and not just two, but they bring in two more. You've got to guard people, and you've got to figure out ways to attack them, which hopefully my assistant coaches are doing that right now in the locker room with our team.

But we know that it's going to be a tough match-up, but we feel we have really good posts, too, so we'll just really try to -- there's not a whole lot you can change about your team between like now and the last couple days. You have to kind of just go with what's been working, and that's what our plan is.

Q. Last year you all came straight from your first-round games here because I think it was just closer and easier than going back to California --
TARA VANDERVEER: Yeah, we had some plane issues.

Q. That's right. And the players seemed to welcome that. How much different has the travel been? Has it been more like a normal schedule coming from home this time?
TARA VANDERVEER: I think that probably -- it was probably a little easier in a way in that a little less chaotic. Everyone has clean clothes this trip, whereas we weren't planning to come directly from Kansas last time.

But it was an easy flight. Just got in yesterday and everything has been great. Our team has finished up their finals. They had finals last night and finals this morning, and now we can really focus on our games.

Q. Your journey to get here had more than its share of bumps this year. What have you all learned from that, and where do you feel like now it's kind of helped you to be here?
BRITTANY McPHEE: I think it's really just taught us that nothing is going to be given to you. You have to work hard for anything. Even in a game, it keeps us from taking a playoff, losing focus, something like that, which has really helped us against big teams because you can't take a playoff against them.

KAYLEE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think we talked about that a lot this year. Obviously we started off tough, we had a tough preseason, but I think it was very intentional. I think the biggest thing that we tried to instill in some of the younger players, something I think we really understood, being upperclassmen, is that it's a long season and it's kind of a roller coaster. There's ups and downs, and you guys grow from it, and I think the most important thing is staying resilient and really developing throughout the season.

Q. I asked Coach about a third year back in Lexington, and it's had good results for you. Again, what do you feel like can be -- can help get kind of the same outcome?
BRITTANY McPHEE: I think it's just the same thing every year, that we love it here, but more than anything, we're just excited to play together again, and yeah, there are some familiar things about playing here. You know, we recognize the locker room, we recognize the walk over here, but at the end of the day, I don't think it matters what gym we're going to play in. As long as we're playing hard for each other that's what matters.

Q. Back during the summer you went to Italy; a trip like that, how did that help you as a team in terms of your development and especially you had three major personnel losses from last year, and how much did that Italy trip help you to develop as a team?
KAYLEE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think that was huge. Other than it just being a great vacation, you get to go on with your best friends, we threw in new offense, and it really helps I think some of the younger players get acclimated. I think it was big in build I chemistry on the floor early on, but no, that was definitely an advantage, and yeah, I definitely think it helped us.

BRITTANY McPHEE: Yeah, I think it also helped just because we have so many younger players who didn't have experience that we were able to go to Italy and play, and while we didn't scout as strongly as we do now, they were able to get used to the game without all those extra factors, and then we added those in once we got to the season.

Q. When you look at Louisville's defense, what really stands out about how they succeed playing defending opponents?
KAYLEE JOHNSON: We know they play scouting report, so yeah, that's something that we'll have to be aware of. But I mean, we're okay with it. We've played teams who have played scouting report before, and we've been able to succeed against them. So I think just being aware of how they're playing, what they're trying to do or what they're trying to force us to do will be helpful.

Q. Is it their speed or just their physicality, their athleticism that really makes it work?
BRITTANY McPHEE: Yeah, they're really athletic, so that helps them a lot, and then they just prepare really well for their opponents. They don't let them do what they like to do, so you have to score in different ways.

KAYLEE JOHNSON: Yeah, but we're at the point of the tournament where every team we're going to face is going to be physical, they're going to be athletic, they're going to have a good game plan. I mean, we're just going to have to bring that, as well, and be the more aggressive team.

Q. Brittney, you played for Coach Walz this summer. Tell us about that experience, what you learned from that experience.
BRITTANY McPHEE: It was just a great overall experience. I got to play with a lot of players in the country who you either play against or just watch, so it was cool to get to know them. And then there was a great coaching staff, and he was the head coach, and he was just really great and positive with everyone. Really sarcastic. But he was a good coach. And it was just a great experience.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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