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March 23, 2019

Charli Turner Thorne

Reili Richardson

Courtney Ekmark

Kianna Ibis

Coral Gables, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the Arizona State Sun Devils, Reili Richardson, Courtney Ekmark and Kianna Ibis. We will open it up for questions.

Q. Courtney and Kianna, how did you feel the freshmen did in their first NCAA Tournament game? How has that helped them build confidence for tomorrow night's game against Miami?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I thought they did great. They didn't let their nerves get to them or anything. We talked to them before the game and said, enjoy the moment. It's the NCAA Tournament, and it's win or go home. So go hard. I think the win gives them confidence and getting that first-game jitters out definitely helps.

Q. Courtney, does everything seem more settled once you get past the first one? I think you got in late Wednesday night or something like that, the traffic situation, getting here for practice, everything probably seemed rushed. Obviously the stakes go up. Does it seem a little more chill or calm when you get through the first one?
COURTNEY EKMARK: I think so. It's always nice to get one under your belt, and having a game last night it's nice to get the pregame jitters out of the way. Now we're focused on winning this next one.

Q. Kianna, I'm sure you have seen the film. But their bigs especially, they're imposing and what Miami is going to want to do. What was your impression?
KIANNA IBIS: They're versatile and they can run the floor very well. We know it's a team effort in guarding them. We're not going to have just a one-on-one game all the time we know that. So we need to lock in and play some good defense against them.

Q. Describe the motivation level of you, the seniors and the team to try to get over the hump of the second round?
COURTNEY EKMARK: Yeah, especially my past three seasons here, you know, we've only gone to the second round and there is many times where we could have advanced. We were so close in the second game, you know, and we just had that little more sense of urgency and hunger for that Sweet 16 because I know all of our seniors want it, and I know all of our juniors want it. We have to get our freshmen on board, if anything, this is the time to do it.

KIANNA IBIS: I agree, especially being a senior, every game could be your last. So we're going to go out and leave it all out there.

Q. To any of you, how do you balance playing freely while the pressure ramps up for each round you advance?
REILI RICHARDSON: I think we're always just playing freely. We know each other's strengths and we know what we're going to do as a group. So I think we just play to our strengths and help each other with it.

Q. Reili, how do you look to feed the post players? You could turn Miami tides with Emese Hof and Beatrice Mompremier.
REILI RICHARDSON: We have great posts down low, so we're looking inside every game. Getting the ball down and Kianna is one of our best scorers, so getting her the ball.

Q. Reili, last night UCF missed 10 of their first 11 or 11 of their first 12, and I know last night is neutral. But on the road it's important to start setting a defense tone. How critical will it be to take the crowd out of it here tomorrow?
REILI RICHARDSON: We play as our defense goes so we try to pick up the pressure and we force you to miss the shot. I think not giving the other team strength.

Q. Courtney, I know you're focused on here, Arizona State, but do you ever look at the rings and remind yourself what you're playing for this time of year?
COURTNEY EKMARK: Maybe. I don't know. I know that it's an amazing feeling going to the Final Four, winning a national championship, so that's just what I want to bring here.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Good luck.

We have Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne with us. Coach, if you could start us off with an opening statement?

CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Absolutely. We're just kinda madly prepping. I am not a coach that is good at looking ahead, even though I knew Miami had a fantastic team. Now I really know after watching a lot of film last night how fantastic they are. They remind me kind of of a mix between Oregon and UCLA in our conference, so we know that kind of rebounding is something that we have faced pretty regularly and transition game and just explosive offense and just the mixing up of the defenses. But they do it really well. I was proud of our team last night. Thought we had a great defensive effort and everybody came out healthy, so that's good.

Q. Coach, they make it an intimate spot with the drapes and whatever, but in that setting it was a very good atmosphere. But how hard will it be to replicate the defensive start you had last night tomorrow night?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: It will be important to replicate the first three quarters minus a minute and then play the fourth quarter. The difference will be forty minutes. We're going to have to play good defense for forty minutes to play a team like Miami.

Q. Everybody knows the history. You've been in this game a bunch of years in a row and Miami has been here five out of six or whatever it is and there is that "hump."
Do you talk about it or do the kids understand that the Sweet 16 is a new place for most of them, obviously. Do you talk about getting there or do they know it on their own?

CHARLI TURNER THORNE: We don't talk about it. We talk about it briefly. It's three tournaments. It's one weekend at a time. Look at it that way, two games. It's like a Pac-12 weekend. It's that caliber of basketball. But I know they talk about it a little bit and they think about it. You're right. This group that we have, I think they missed out on the Sweet 16. So this has been a little bit elusive for them. But we try to be pretty in the moment, kinda performance, goal-based team. If we take care of everything then we will get what we want. But, you know, it's kind of the unsaid big elephant in the room.

Q. Lastly, can you take us through the tick-tock of the last 16, 18 hours, whatever it's been? I know you rely on your staff for the scout and all that, but how much film have you crammed? Did you get any sleep? No one gets enough sleep, but getting ready for practice this afternoon?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: That's a great question and a lot of people have really no idea. Obviously you do, probably how much preparation a lot of coaching staffs do. I have one of hardest working coaching staffs in the country. We kind of took Christmas off and then before that it was probably August. We don't take days off. We work. It was a long night. I'm the defensive coordinator and Angie Nelp is the offensive coordinator and we split up the duties. We were all watching film and we got briefed on highlights from last night's game and I'm still probably six, seven hours, like from really owning where I want to be. But I picked some up at the beginning of the week and last night it was getting through our game, getting back to Miami and preparing for practice.

Q. (Away from mic.)
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: You know what, especially for us this year, we are probably more scout-specific maybe than ever and we have always been a well prepared team, so things will evolve from today's practice to tonight's meeting to tomorrow's shootaround. I think we have a good sense of things, but as I continue to watch, I'm sure we will. Yeah, we might, and that was even with Central Florida, adjusting, do we deny all over the floor. I'm kind of a filmaholic and sometimes I'm a little slow, takes me watching three, four times to figure out what I want to do. I'm probably safe to say I'm still kind of figuring it out.

Q. How do you balance wanting someone to play freely as the pressure ramps up?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Oh, you know, that's a question for this team, you know? You look at our experience and you think, oh, you know, they've been to the NCAAs, they played in the Pac-12. It's a great question. You know, the whole elephant in the room, getting to the Sweet 16, I think it is something for this team. As coaches we tell jokes. We have the joke of the day. We try to make 'em laugh. We do things to -- and they use their tools, mental freedom techniques, tapping, a lot of different things to help them overall with their physiology to help them to stay relaxed. I think it's important that coaches set the tone with that, that we stay positive throughout the game, help them stay connected. Ultimately, though, it's up to them to rise to the occasion and have each other's back. You guys have seen some games we do that amazingly well and sometimes we fall a little short. I'm excited for them.

Q. What's going to be key for Kianna, Taya and Sophia to get position?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Position offensively or defensively?

Q. Offensively.
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: I think they are going to be pretty open on the perimeter. You've got Jamie Ruden who is shooting the ball well, and inside it's a hook shot day because not only are they big, but they will double in the post and stuff.

I imagine that Miami doesn't give up a ton of paint touches with their interior defense and that's okay. As you guys know, historically we love that. But this team hasn't really needed to rely on our points in the paint, so I think we will be okay.

Q. Would you talk about defensively as well?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Defensively, do your work early. That's what I would say. It feels a little bit like Baylor, with the Twin Towers and two really good posts, very versatile, play really well together. It's ironic, first week of the season and it's kinda coming full circle. And even just Oregon, other teams in the conference with really good inside games. I think we'll be ready as best we can. You are just going to contain. They're very good.

Q. First, can you share with us what the joke of the day today was?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Well, the problem with the joke of the day today was, how about if I share yesterday's? Why do blind people not like skydiving?

Q. I don't know.
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Because it freaks their dogs out. Okay, I didn't say they were great jokes. I have a tie-in for each joke and this is a tie-in about, do your job, and we're in this together. You want to talk about what keeps me up all night, pregame talk and motivation this and motivation this and we're all about that at ASU. The X's and O's come secondary to the jokes and the motivation.

Q. How did you feel the freshmen did last night in their first NCAA Tournament and how do you think that helps them for tomorrow?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: I thought they did well, Taya came in, knocked down a three, was really good defensively. Iris got to the free throw line had some great transition passes and Jayde has a knack for coming in and being in the right place at the right time, scoring a layup. So I thought it was a great first game for them. I really did.

Q. Coach, yesterday the game between Miami and FCG really high-paced offensives on both sides and I was wondering if you think that plays into the hand of Miami or the goal is to slow down the game against the Hurricanes?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: What are you trying to say. We are deliberate? We don't play fast? We want to play fast! I think Miami is similar to the Pac-12 teams we play and obviously our goal is to slow them down. We don't want to slow down. We would like to keep the pace up on them a little bit and I think we push okay. We don't score always in transition. We don't have a lot of amazing guards, but I think we push the pace a little bit and it's going to be an intense, pretty fast-paced game, I think.

Q. Coach, kind of a question about your just way of going about it. For your defense, do you have the confidence to try to play like the way you've been playing all year or do you think you're going to throw new things in there, try and mix it up?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: You'll have to wait and see, won't you? We've actually had two defenses this year if anybody has noticed. I thought yesterday was kind of a very blended version of both of them. I told you I still have more film to watch, so we'll see.

Q. Some of your bigs can obviously shoot from the perimeter and there were times when Miami was in zone last night where they were daring. Emese Hof will stay home. Can that sometimes --

Q. It's a risky play, but does that play with the shooter's mind you?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: We have a couple teams. Actually Stanford. We are used to that and we know exactly how they are not going to guard and it does play with people's heads, 100%. But it won't be anything new to any of our players if they don't come out and guard them and I think we're adept at knowing when we want to shoot and keep moving the ball. But when Jamie Ruden and Kianna Ibis are in together, that's going to be an interesting match-up, I think.

Q. Can we know today's joke?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Today's is like an inside joke.

Q. I thought it was playing off the blind sky thing?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: No, it relates to something we do. It's in our inner bubble. I'll give you guys a joke tomorrow. Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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