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NCAA WOMEN'S REGIONAL SEMIFINALS AND FINALS: LEXINGTON


March 25, 2018


Scott Rueck

Marie G√ľlich

Katie McWilliams


Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville - 76, Oregon State - 43

SCOTT RUECK: Well, I mean, hats off to Louisville. They played an outstanding game I thought. I thought they were on point defensively, kept us off our spots early, never let us get comfortable, forced us into turnovers. I thought we survived pretty well early. You know, we had the grittiness defensively to make them miss some shots. We were up four on the boards at halftime, and kind of felt like maybe we had some traction coming into the second half, and I thought, well, we're in front of our bench, we'll be able to get some momentum going, execute a little bit better offensively, but they came out and just shot lights out in that third quarter. It was the ballgame. You've got to give them a lot of credit. They have a to of talent, well-coached, and it was a -- pretty much a home crowd for them.

They rode that and created a really tough environment to play in.

At the same time, it's hard to be more proud of this group than I am for what they've accomplished. You can't do it better than Marie has done it this year, and that's saying something. We've had incredible leaders and incredible people come through our program, and she's right there at the top of the list with them. What she's meant to Beaver Nation, what she's done for this team, the confidence she's instilled in everyone, the example that she is to anyone that's watched us play, I mean, it's phenomenal. It's what it's all about. It's just class. You know, the truest word of competitor. She's the definition of it.

I'm so happy so many people got to watch her, especially the last couple weeks, when I know more eyes were on her than even before. But her example to everybody on the West Coast that's been watching for a while is second to none. It's just incredible.

What this team has done from day one to get to this point, I mean, we just talked about it briefly in the locker room, how hard we had to push in October. We were coaching them like we were a Final Four team in October, and I think their heads were spinning, like what, like relax, Coach, relax. Why are you pushing so hard, because they didn't speak the language yet. They didn't understand exactly what it demanded.

And then as we went through the trials, a couple losses, some success, then it all started to sink in. In about mid-January this team hit a stride that was championship level, and they played that way throughout and did some things that defied the odds the last couple weeks. But I don't think it surprised those of us who have been on the inside. It starts with Marie but it filters through our roster, through our staff, and to be honest, Beaver Nation has been absolutely phenomenal. I know they were back home for the most part. Those who traveled, we're grateful to for creating a little bit of noise for us in this building. But those people at people we've gotten messages from, gotten videos from, we're so grateful for their support throughout the year, and this is a year we'll never forget.

Q. Marie, it looked like they were trying to feed you the ball inside early on and they stripped it away from you the first couple possessions. Were you surprised how tough and athletic Louisville's bigs were going up against you?
MARIE G√úLICH: I wasn't really surprised. I think my game today, I wasn't poised enough. I wasn't calm enough. I think I could have handled a lot of things differently, a lot of turnovers. I wasn't really surprised. It caught me off guard a little bit, just how fast the double came, but not the athleticism.

Q. Marie, can you maybe talk about your career here at Oregon State and the awesome teammates you get to play with and the awesome coaches you get to be underneath and just talk about what that means to you?
MARIE G√úLICH: Well, it's going to make me cry. Well, the teammates I had in the past, especially this year, I couldn't be more proud to be like a leader and a teammate for them. They made things so much easier, and everything I have experienced this year I will never forget, so I'm super proud to be like a beaver and have had the opportunity to play for Oregon State and in front of Beaver Nation for all the four years.

At the time of my life, and especially the past two weeks have been amazing, and it's been so fun.

I think we could have lost differently today, but I'm just honestly just sad that it's over because I just want to keep playing and spend more time with them, with the girls. But I'm proud of them, and I'm proud of our team and the coaches and the way we handled things this year. Overall I'm really happy.

Q. Katie, I'd like for you to talk about having Marie as a teammate. You guys didn't win the game, but she was made for the all-tournament team. Can you talk about how much you appreciate having her as a teammate, and Marie, you'd like you to talk about how much you can appreciate being on the all-tournament team.
KATIE McWILLIAMS: Yeah, Marie is obviously a great basketball player, you see that, but she's also a great person. She's been a great leader this whole year. I just remember back when I was getting recruited and I came on my official visit to Oregon State she was one of the first people to come talk to me on the team, so it was really special. She's just been a great example for all of us and just unstoppable all year long, so it was awesome to be able to play with her for two years.

MARIE G√úLICH: Yeah, I would have never seen that coming when I was a freshman. I thought, I'm coming here, and the first few weeks of my freshman year or month it was a struggle. Now being named in the all-tournament team is just an amazing honor, and I'm really happy about that and really honored. I can only thank my teammates for that. They made me better. They made me a better person. The coaches made me a better basketball player and person in general, just appreciate the game, and gave me so much basketball IQ. I'm really proud and honored, thank you.

Q. I wonder if you could compare the level of quickness and athleticism that Louisville has to other teams you've seen; are they better or comparable or not as good as maybe some that you've played?
MARIE G√úLICH: They're really good. The way they move the ball, they're so fast, it's hard to defend. Their weave offense is just incredibly fast. The way they handle the ball, with that, they see the court. It's extraordinary good. It's really hard to defend them just because you can't basically give up anything. You just have to play perfect defense. Their speed is like offensively something we might have seen with like -- comparable to like UCLA and some other teams, but I think it was just something else today. They were really fast.

KATIE McWILLIAMS: They have a lot of threats from every position, Asia Durr and their point guard and the posts inside, they're just really good all the way around.

Q. Katie, you've had to go up against four teams that have historic appearances as far as women's basketball goes. What is that going to do for the returning players coming back next year and getting you guys ready for the Pac-12 season and another knack tournament run?
KATIE McWILLIAMS: It just gave us a lot of experience and it shows us the level we need to maintain for us to be as good next year. All those teams were probably all going to be in the tournament next year and continue to be good. But we just have to maintain that standard that we're going to be a tournament team again next year and just keep grinding.

Q. Marie, your plans for the future, if you have any right now, what are they?
MARIE G√úLICH: I mean, I definitely want to keep playing, finishing school, and I haven't looked into that at all. I wanted to finish that season and concentrate on the things that are in the present, so I guess I'll just like try to figure that out right now or like in a week or something.

Q. Do you want to play pro ball?
MARIE G√úLICH: Yes, definitely, I want to keep playing.

Q. Katie, your team usually hits some threes, they did hit some early. How much effect did that have on them being able to clamp down inside a little bit on the inside players?
KATIE McWILLIAMS: Yeah, I think at the beginning, Kat and Taya were able to hit a few threes. I know throughout the game we struggled a little bit getting those open shots, and I don't think we swung the ball as much as we have like the last few games. Just we didn't play the type of game that we have. But you know, we have those shooters, and obviously we're all capable of hitting them.

Q. Coach, I think the players kind of responded to this a little bit, but I'd like to get your thoughts on it, as well. Seeing teams like UCLA and Oregon in your conference, did that help prepare you for a team like Louisville, or was it just seeing a team playing at another level tonight?
SCOTT RUECK: I think our conference has prepared us very well. I think tonight was a lot like USC, the way that they pressure, the perimeter. They forced more turnovers than anybody else in our conference this year. UCLA probably was next from a defensive standpoint.

They moved the ball well, which is probably more similar to Oregon, I would say, and then they shot it, obviously, extremely well.

We didn't put a lot of pressure on them, though, in that, so they were very comfortable offensively because they're ahead on the scoreboard, and so that's what happens. That's what good teams do, they get up and then they get to relax. Louisville is excellent at playing with a lead, and so I thought our team was prepared for this game. It was a good game. I thought foul trouble obviously really hurt us. I mean, we're a much different team without Marie on the floor, and we've been able to avoid that until tonight.

You know, and so that was unfortunate, but that was obviously a huge factor in this game when she went out. I think it had gotten to 14-16, somewhere there, but our offensive execution suffered once she was out.

But I thought, like I've said every game, the Pac-12 prepares you, and so I felt like we were ready. They just played phenomenal.

Q. Coach, everyone in your profession is chasing UConn, including Louisville, pretty lopsided loss earlier. Do you see them as competitive with the Huskies?
SCOTT RUECK: Well, I mean, we haven't played UConn this year. Did a couple years ago.

I think the speed -- two things that I see as similar. They have athleticism and speed at every position, and they have -- I mean, this team had 21 assists and three turnovers today. Not that we're a team that forces turnovers. In fact, we're the last team in the nation, I think, in forced turnovers, so it's not what we do. We make you miss typically. Connecticut has point guards everywhere. This team basically has point guards everywhere, and they pass the ball incredibly well. I think there's a lot of similarities between the two.

I don't know, from a difference standpoint, I'm not sure. I know those things are both very similar. The speed that they play at, the way that they can change defenses, they can apply pressure, they're very active in the post, they're very athletic, they transition exceptionally well, and they can shoot at all five positions. And tonight you saw that from Louisville.

If they meet up, that would be a fascinating match-up.

Q. What was Fuehring doing with Marie when she was catching the ball? How did they kind of approach that match-up?
SCOTT RUECK: Yeah, it's interesting because the last couple games -- this game had a different vibe to it to me. I felt like they were allowed to really move her off the block in this game. It just felt like it was a very physically called game. So she's catching the ball, I mean, people are saying, why is the ball getting -- why is the double-team on her so quick, well, because she's close to the guards. She was catching the ball at 10 feet. So we had a hard time getting her deep position, and so they were able to keep her away from the basket. I thought that was impactful early in the game. We had a hard time getting the ball to her on her spots where she was -- where she was used to catching it and has been.

And so I thought that was probably the biggest factor for us offensively. Marie was off her spots, a little bit uncomfortable, and she's such a big part of what we do, that messes with everybody else, as well. They did a good job keeping her away from the basket.

Q. At a couple points, it looked like you were calling for some more off the ball movement, and it seemed like the team was a bit sluggish at points. Is that a factor of just all the travel you've done this last week and the finals and this crazy week finally catching up with the team?
SCOTT RUECK: I have no idea. I mean, I don't know. I know it's been a grind to this point, playing early today was hard, with shoot-around at 4:00 a.m. our time today. But that's the tournament. You know, we're a West Coast team, so those things are going to happen when you get sent east. So when we didn't get to host, you knew we were going to be stretched. You add finals to that -- I don't know how much that impacted us. I thought Louisville just played a great game.

Q. When you take a look at what you've accomplished this season and you look forward to next season, what are some of the strong points that you're looking forward to next year?
SCOTT RUECK: Yeah, I don't see any weak points. I'm so proud of this team, and I just told them that. I said, there's no good ending, but what we've accomplished this year and the way we've accomplished it is -- it's incredible. It's really incredible. The lessons that they've learned.

When you have a championship culture built, you just hope that it gets passed along and it continues. We're in year eight of our program culture, and it's really strong, and Marie kept it going. I'm so thankful to her and this team fell in line with her, and they do everything right. I was talking to our security just at our locker room, and he says, Coach, this is the night he's group we've ever had come through here. That means a lot to me. Now, you've got to win, too. You can't just be the nice person and get beat. You've got to win at some level, but I love hearing that. This team just does everything right, they work like crazy. They prepare as well as anybody, and they're coachable. I mean, I couldn't ask for a better group.

So I know those things are going to be passed along. We're going to miss Marie like crazy, without a question, but others will step up because it will be their turn.

And so everything that this group accomplished points towards a lot of success in the future and a lot more great times.

Q. How much time might you spend looking back at this game, maybe picking it apart, trying to figure out what went right, what went wrong, as you try to prepare for next season?
SCOTT RUECK: Yeah, how much do I want to torture myself. Yeah, I know. That's the thing every year, unless you win the last game, there's some torture involved. I think that's my responsibility is to look back and say, okay, what could we have done different and how could we have gotten Marie better positioned early or calmed our nerves a little bit, handled their stuff a little better, handled the third quarter better. You know, there's lots of things to look at, and that's the beauty of it. That's coaching. It never ends. So there's always something to be doing to get better.

I'm excited, you know, to help this team improve. When you get to this level, play a game like this, it's a blessing. You know, getting to play Connecticut in the Final Four a couple years ago, that opened our eyes to a level that we hadn't seen before, and that makes us better, so now we have this experience to make us better moving forward.

We'll look back at it as hard as it might be.

Q. I know Marie getting in foul trouble obviously hurt there in the second half, but how much did Louisville's pressure defense and leading to some of those transition buckets, was that just kind of a killer one-two blow there?
SCOTT RUECK: Yeah, I mean, that's what they're best at. They transition I think 18 percent of the time, but they're as good as anybody in the country when they do, when they do get out. They're 135th in steals per game in the country. It means it's not the number one thing they do, but they're good at it, and when they get a steal you're gone. When you've got players throughout their roster like they do and attack the rim like they do, that's going to cause fouls to happen and it's going to create a lot of momentum for them, and both those things really hurt us today.

Q. If you could face this defense two days from now, if you had that tape to watch, do you think it would force you to change how you were trying to go at it or just trying to do what you do more cleanly?
SCOTT RUECK: Well, I liked what we did. I didn't like the way we executed it necessarily. I thought we were prepared. Somebody mentioned ball movement or movement away from the ball. I didn't feel like we saw the floor very clean today, and I think that's one of our strengths. That's something -- we're the leader in the nation in assists per game, in three-point shooting per game, and that's because we move the ball very crisp typically on the outside and from sideline to sideline.

Today I just felt like we were a step slow in seeing that extra pass, especially early, when there were some looks, and even when we did sometimes we passed up shots I thought. We just had a hard time getting comfortable, and against a team like this, I mean, they're going to create momentum, and now you're on your heels.

I think if we had it to do over, I'm sure I'd change things, of course, in some ways. But I don't have that luxury, and so that goes along with his question. We'll look back and see what we can do differently and get better for the future.

Q. As you scouted for this game and prepared, did you expect that their quickness would be as much a factor as it was, and how did you try to neutralize that?
SCOTT RUECK: Yes, we did. There's only -- you can't burn your legs in practice, but this team is a different speed, and they attack off the bounce at a different level than most teams. The team that we saw that was most similar to them was USC, to be honest. That's the team in our conference that I kind of -- I felt was a tournament team that didn't get in. They had the ability to take you throughout their roster, 1 through 4 on the outside, to the rim, and ran weave action a lot like Louisville.

With them, you really need to work on gap containment, keeping the ball in front of you, every time they drove the ball it hurt us today. We didn't foul them all the time, but they created easy opportunities inside, when they got to the rim or they finished. So had we had another day to prepare or maybe if I felt like our legs could have taken it, it would have been nice to get some live reps against that. But every time they put it on the floor hurt us it felt like today. So I thought that was a huge part of the game.

We talked about the speed. I mean, that's the last thing I said to the team. Remember how fast this is going to come at you offensively. Be ready. That's the last thing I said before the tip. I hope that didn't get in their head. But it's the facts. It's true. I go, Asia is going to come off screens like you haven't seen yet. She's like Jordin Canada coming off screens out from underneath the basket. She can go either way, she sets it up well, she's going to come off an on ball screen and she's going to rise into her shot, and you don't see it very often, it hits that hard.

And so they have several that are able to put the ball on the floor with just so much speed. So tough to contain. That's why they're really good. 36 and 2, I think.

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