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March 8, 2019

Jonathan Tsipis

Kelly Karlis

Marsha Howard

Indianapolis, Indiana

Michigan - 73, Wisconsin - 65 (2OT)

JONATHAN TSIPIS: Obviously the last game of the season is always the hardest when you know you have a team that is playing its best basketball and being led by two seniors seated next to me. You know, in the last three days they've played 38, 38, and then Kelly played almost 48 today, Marsha played 45. They gave us everything they had, and again, we knew coming in -- this is our sixth game in 11 days. We didn't share that with the team. We hoped they didn't do that math. But it's pretty remarkable on this run we've had and history has been made. We're the first obviously 13th seed to win a game. We win two games, and we have opportunities at the end of regulation and at the end of the first overtime to win the game. But I couldn't be more proud as a coach, not just for this push, for what these two seniors have meant to our program, as we're trying to move Wisconsin women's basketball forward. And as I told them in the locker room, how proud I am of them, I don't have words to make this hurt go away. But when you invest as these two have, it's going to hurt because they gave everything they had. And as a coach, I love them for that. I love them for how they've grown in their time, whether it's two years or four years between Kelly and Marsha, and again, moving forward, they've helped our program take steps, and I wanted to make sure our underclassmen know how important that is as we're building the program. The game itself, again, back and forth. You see how many lead changes, how many times it's tied. You know, it never came down to one play. But I can just tell you that I felt like our team never thought about, hey, we've played two games. We just left it on the court, and the one thing I had told them is your heart doesn't get tired, and I think these guys played with tremendous heart, and I couldn't be more proud to be their head coach.

Q. (Inaudible.)
KELLY KARLIS: Our strength coach did a great job of getting us ready to play each game. It was pretty tiring today going into the third game, especially being so old, know what I'm saying? But yeah, it was definitely tiring, but it's a big mental game for me, and I know for my teammates, as well. We all knew we could push through it and get to those last few seconds.

Q. What has this season meant to you and the underclassmen? What legacy will you leave them?
MARSHA HOWARD: They were already telling me the legacy that I left for them as I was walking off the court or as we entered the locker room. But proud to say that I was a part of a group that was able to expand our game to the third round of the Big Ten Tournament, and to leave behind my underclassmen, the will and the fight to power -- to power through, just knowing that nothing is ever over. You can always overcome obstacles and to keep fighting until the clock says zero.

Q. When you maybe think back bigger picture, what are some of the developments of the growth you think from your returning group that are going to be translatable do you think from these three days or even better six games in 11 days? What are some of the things maybe into next year that are going to be translatable in terms of growth and progress?
JONATHAN TSIPIS: Well, I think first, I think from day one that I've had -- been blessed to have the opportunity to be the head coach at Wisconsin with that daily improvement, not just as a basketball player, but I've been entrusted by parents to help watch a young woman develop, and that's obviously on the basketball court, it's usually the first -- how that starts, but again, I think you look and see what this season, what we were able to do from a basketball program, from our non-conference success, to start 6-0, to be 9-3 in the non-conference, the ups and downs. Obviously I think the Big Ten is as strong, at least in my three years, as it's ever been. I think we were trying to count -- almost every team in the league beat a ranked team. But I think understanding there's always work to do. And again, five days ago we're in Ann Arbor and we've just lost to Rutgers handily, and we are down 24 in the third quarter. And I think in today's day and age, that could have been, oh, we'll just go play in the Big Ten Tournament and spring break is coming up, and our team wouldn't do that. I think that's the translatable skill. There's always more work to do. You need to enjoy the moment. You need to understand the expectation of being more than just a basketball player at Wisconsin. In the last two semesters, our kids have had the highest GPA last spring ever recorded by women's basketball, and then went above and beyond that in the fall. They're active in the community, and they're just great people. And to have -- as basketball players, to have the memories that young women look up to them and to be able to come to our games or come to our practice or interact with them puts our women's basketball as a whole in a better place. I know we as coaches, everything -- not everything, a lot of things look at the final record. We did a lot of things that is better, and it's continuing to grow. But that group, what happened these last three days I think showed what they've done all year, and again, I think the underclassmen have to understand how hard that is when you've done things that no program has done from that seed spot and just the three-day experience. If you'd have told me in the middle of the third quarter last Sunday, hey, you'll be playing -- you'll have two shots at it to go to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, I would have taken that right there and then. But it's a credit to our kids and coming back on Monday and practicing and getting ready, and I hope with this group that is about to become seniors, with Courtney Frederickson, who's been out with an injury, and Abby and Suzanne and Kendra, that was the first group that came in when I became the head coach, and now as we've added kids on, to understand the importance and the pride you have to wear to represent the Wisconsin uniform.

Q. Can you talk about the tournament overall, you guys came in and played Penn State pretty tough and then you played a pretty decent Ohio State team, lost to Michigan. Can you talk about what it means to come in as a 13th seed and make it almost to the semifinals at the Big Ten Tournament?
JONATHAN TSIPIS: Yeah, I think the understanding is in the Big Ten, if you start looking and trying to say, hey, I'm going to play against this program, you're going to be in trouble. And again, the games did not go the way we would have liked against Penn State the first two times. I thought our kids put that behind them. Yesterday we didn't really care who believed that we could win, and I think at halftime there were a lot of people saying it's going to play its course. And again, I think our kids understand when we try to emphasize the things they're doing well, the things that will put them in position to be successful, and they gain great confidence from that, and that's what put us in a position today to have an opportunity to win. There's a lot of working to have young women be better basketball players, better students. I think the encompassing thing I can tell you is my No. 1 job is making sure they're confident. And I think that's something that our world needs for young girls but also at college age when they're developing that because then they're going to be confident in whatever they do when they get out of college. I think that confidence at halftime yesterday -- I walked in and I had a group that knew we had not done things the way we were capable of, and they came out and fought. Even today when Michigan made the run at 5 and I've got kids that have played a lot of minutes, that's mental toughness, and I think those two things go hand in hand to give you an opportunity to be successful.

Q. You talked a little bit about how your team has grown and the leadership, but how would you describe the senior leadership, especially coming into the Big Ten Tournament where you were a lower seed in every game?
JONATHAN TSIPIS: Yeah, you know, one of the examples I used, so our underclassmen understood, you're not titled to any of this. You're not entitled to have a shot every time. Where we were seeded is obviously how our regular season played out. But to even be here and be a part of it -- Marsha Howard was not on the bench her freshman year at Wisconsin for the Big Ten Tournament. We have four young women who are injured, and they're not able to be here. And I just think that they had to understand that journey. And to get ready -- and again, we put a bracket up, not that I'm making life-altering statements on when you enter tournaments, a lot of people do that, but you know what, let's go out and be as prepared as we can for Penn State, and we'll go from there. Obviously when you've lost to a team twice as a coach, it's my job to make sure they can see how they can be successful against a team. But I thought they came in and they played -- as a coach, you hope at this time of year you're playing your best basketball, and a week ago Thursday and a week ago Sunday, we weren't. But they didn't allow that to dictate for them to grow. Obviously to win the game on Wednesday against Penn State, I thought that was probably one of our best starts in all Big Ten games. Obviously we had to come from behind yesterday. That speaks to the confidence I think they've gained, and then being right there, and obviously taking a Michigan team that's playing as well as anybody in the league over the last 10 games and scratch and claw and try to figure out a way to win. Again, not trying to get in front of anybody, too far in front. You play one game, we use the phrase one plus, and that's what Kelly and Marsha and Lexy Richardson had going into the tournament. They had one, plus a chance to gain another one.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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