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March 21, 2019

Katie Meier

Laura Cornelius

Emese Hof

Coral Gables, Florida

THE MODERATOR: Up third today is Miami.

We will start with an opening comment from Coach Meier.

KATIE MEIER: Well, we are very aware of the honor. I believe we earned it. We're very humbled and appreciative to be able to host. We want to thank the committee for recognizing our body of work, for letting us show off our university, our amazing fan support and our tremendous administration. We're fired up about that.

It's an entire university deal here, not just a women's basketball program. One of the first people you hear from is the president of the university congratulating you, then you have the athletic department rallying to get fans and support. It's something that we're all sharing right now. I'm happy for us to be the window to this amazing department.

We're thrilled and we welcome all the teams that are here.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Meier.

Q. You've been able to examine the film of your opponent. What are your thoughts on the first-round matchup?
KATIE MEIER: They're fantastic. I mean, everybody is going to say, They're better than their seed. They are. They are. They're fantastic. I mean, I had to go back three months ago to see them lose. I've never had to do that.

They're on a great streak. They're dangerous, threatening. They're really a lot more athletic in terms of their speed, how dangerous their defense is, than people are giving them credit for.

They're not just relying on the three-point shot. It's an incredible weapon. Obviously it's a tough matchup for us. They're probably saying, Those bigs are a tough matchup for them. Stylistically it's going to be an interesting game. I think a lot of eyes are going to be on this particular game because if you're in women's basketball, you know how good Gulf Coast is. Hey, Miami, paying attention? We are. We know.

Q. You said a month ago before the Notre Dame game this team was coming together the way you envisioned it. Do wins against Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, then Louisville, ranked No. 2 at the time, does that prepare you for moments like this?
KATIE MEIER: I mean, you can't take those wins away from us. If they show up tomorrow, they'll show up in a non-panic, in a faith. I love confidence, but sometimes that comes and goes. I think faith is just confidence with a lot of patience to it.

We know what we've accomplished this year. We know the games that we've won. When we're on the ropes a little bit, which we will be, I believe we'll be faithful and not say, My shot is off. We found ways to win not hitting. Their defense... We've seen this defense before.

We have that in our bag and you can't take that away from this team. We really need that.

Q. Two of your players, Laura, Emese, they've had exposure internationally. The two of them are connected in many ways. Does that help you when you go into a tournament like this where they've been in pressure situations?
KATIE MEIER: Yeah, there's moments. They're leaders. It's not just their experience. We're very close. We've grown up a little bit together, too. I mean, I first saw them when they were 16 years old in Lithuania. That's when I first saw them. They're playing on a U19 team. Still 16? They were playing three years up. We were the USA team, up-and-comers. I loved them the first time I saw them.

I've seen them fight. I've seen them grow. It's a six- or seven-year deal now. They're very special to me. We turn to each other for other things. It's been a wonderful journey. They mean the world to me.

Yes, they're experienced, smart, know where the ball should go. If they're feeling good, Miami usually plays really well.

Q. A lot of broadcasts or reaction from opposing head coaches throughout the season, instantly the remarks are about having Emese and Beatrice. Coaches have described it as a luxury having two post players that are as good as they are. Have you ever had a duo quite like them?
KATIE MEIER: No. No. Because they share the ball. It's not like we have these two bigs and that's all we do. They share the ball, put the ball where it needs to go. That's something Beatrice completely developed since she's been here. Last year, sitting out, watching our style of play, phrases, philosophies, value in this program, Miami shots, Miami shots. Look at their shooting percentages, they don't force.

As good as they are, they're great basketball players. They just happen to be tall. I think sometimes people miss that about those two. They're brilliant. They're brilliant players.

Q. Two coaches who came up here before you talked about their veteran leadership. It feels like age has been kind of neutralized in this regional as far as teams with post-season experience. For your own group, what can they draw on from their previous NCAA experiences?
KATIE MEIER: There's pressure and there's stress. The biggest job of a coach in the NCAA tournament is to make sure the pressure is high and the stress is low. That hinges on preparation, a little bit of faith.

The same moment can cause you to stress out or you can be like, That's pressure. I feel like pressure brings you to your highest level. That's what we're trying to do.

There's internal pressure, now we have external pressure. Can we find our zone within that. Veterans get that. When you say that speech, the speech I gave two days ago in the film room, the freshmen say, What does that mean? They don't have a reference point.

Everyone in this tournament, most of the players, get that. They get it. They understand that zone that we got to operate in.

Q. You've been in different situations.
KATIE MEIER: Define that, please.

Q. Different games.
KATIE MEIER: Yes, I have.

Q. On the road, underdog, favorite. Are you superstitious in any way? Do you go through a ritual? If it's worked, you keep doing it?
KATIE MEIER: 'Routine' is my word, right? Yes, absolutely I have a routine. It's not superstition. You're guaranteed about 30 if you're lucky, 35 games a year as a coach. You get that. They last about two hours. I have 70 hours that's going to define my 365 days, my sports staff, players. Those 70 hours I'm going to be awesome. In order to be awesome in those hours, I want to have a routine.

We believe in that. If it gets a little bit upset, we can deal with it. In terms of saying, This is my comfort zone, what we need to do... It will be very much the same. I think that's just a way to make sure emotionally you're good. I owe it to this university to be great 70 hours a year.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Coach Meier.

KATIE MEIER: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Miami student-athletes, Laura Cornelius and Emese Hof. We'll go right into questions.

Q. About a month ago your head coach said she felt this team was coming together. Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Louisville. Was that the point where you really felt this team had come together?
EMESE HOF: I think that was kind of like the turning point. After that we had some losses which were also, like, huge lessons for things we are not going to do any more this season.

I think that's when we saw, like, what we could actually do. Then after that, it was just like building on that path, getting where we are today.

LAURA CORNELIUS: Those wins really helped build our confidence. Our team chemistry has been amazing. That confidence, you can tell from practice that we really believe in each other, we believe in our game plan. We've played in pretty close games. Both of them were close all the way down the stretch.

I think we're definitely taking all of that experience into March right now, into this tournament.

Q. The two of you know how big of a tournament this is, to host is even bigger. You've been together since 15, 16. You know each other's tendencies. Does playing on a national level, international, help carry over to a tournament like this?
EMESE HOF: I do think it helps because you face a lot of different teams and play styles. How big the tournament is, how much alive it is is nothing compared to what we have seen on a World Championship or European Championship.

I do think it helped us, developed us as players, get skilled, see different defenses. Yeah, the skill of the March Madness here is not really comparable to anything we've seen before.

LAURA CORNELIUS: Back home we played in big-time basketball games. It's hard to compare them to these. What we can take away, definitely I don't get as nervous any more because I've been there before. I don't know how that is for you, Emese. It's hard to compare, but just excitement. That's really it for these upcoming games.

Q. Laura, how important is it when you're playing games in March to have experience?
LAURA CORNELIUS: It's extremely important. I really think, I truly believe, in March, in order to be successful, obviously you have to have great talent. You have to have people who can get a stop on defense and can score the ball. I think we have a mix of that.

Every team in March always has to have an X factor. I think our team is built up for that. We definitely have great leadership, great talent. We're just striving to make that come all together in these upcoming games.

Q. Emese, Coach Meier had to go back three months to find a loss. How hard is it to play a team that knows how to win? How much does that play into it, make sure you need to be on point tomorrow?
EMESE HOF: It's March, so every game is going to be tough. It's hard -- not hard, but different to come into a game, to play someone who hasn't lost in a long time. I think it was December. They're going to come in here, try to win it because that's what they're used to.

We're not going to let that happen.

Q. Is there something about this team that we don't know about that has carried you to this belief that you can beat Notre Dame at home, beat Louisville, no matter who it is, the odds stacked against you?
EMESE HOF: I think that's hard to say. I think our team is very loving. We're all very caring about each other. We had a lot of people coming back from injuries this year. Just the belief and the will to be better, play for each other, that's really coming out.

I think that's, like, one of our strengths.

LAURA CORNELIUS: For me coming back to that X factor I just talked about, in the upset win over Notre Dame, Taylor Mason was a great X factor for us. Against Louisville, it was Endia Banks. It was a great X factor.

They're not on top of the scouting report, but they're so hugely important to our team. We never know who it's going to be, but they're super important. Someone has to step up these upcoming games.

Q. The injuries you went through, Laura, do you savor these moments more than ever?
LAURA CORNELIUS: It's just amazing to be here again. Hosting is truly a special thing. We did it our sophomore year. It's an amazing experience.

When I was out, I was so hungry to get back. Now I'm here healthy again. It's an amazing feeling. I don't take any minute for granted any more. This game could be our last. Hopefully it's not going to be, but we have to leave everything on the floor for 40 minutes and I believe the end result is going to be good for us.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you both for joining us today.

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