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March 29, 2019

Muffet McGraw

Jessica Shepard

Brianna Turner

Chicago, Illinois

Q. Years since you've played Chennedy Carter. What growth do you see from her, and do you maybe guard her a different way or the same way?
MUFFET McGRAW: I don't think there is a way to guard her. She is almost unstoppable. She's had a great year. She's played well in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. She had, I thought, a fantastic season with them losing some other players around her. I didn't think they would do as well as they did. I think they really overachieved. I think Gary has done a really good job to get them back to this spot.

Yeah, we don't have an answer. We've tried a lot of different things at practice; honestly, none of them really looked good.

I think her game has improved, and the fact that she gave up the ball to allow the three-point shot to win the game against Marquette, I think it was Washington, and I think that shows, I think, tremendous maturity in her game. I think that last year she probably would have shot that.

Q. You mentioned last weekend that Marina is somebody that thrives on practice reps. Has she been able to go full throttle this week? And if you could give an update on everybody else, if they're all healthy and available.
MUFFET McGRAW: Yeah, I wouldn't say she was 100 percent this week. She's able to get a lot of shots up, but as far as up and down, not quite as much as we would like.

Q. Playing in Chicago, so close, how much of a home court or home field advantage do you feel that is?
MUFFET McGRAW: I mean, it's not like playing in the Purcell Pavilion, where we would have packed it. It's great. We've got at least eight buses coming up, plus the fans that are already in Chicago. We do hope it's a very pro-Irish crowd.

Q. Coach, could you talk about -- you scored 92 and 91 points in the first two rounds of the tournament, but I thought the defense might have been just as impressive, and it seems like the maturity of this team has more to do with just the offense, but the defense was fantastic.
MUFFET McGRAW: Yeah, I've been pleased with the defense generally. I think in the last two games, we've done some good things. I think we are growing as a defensive team. I think we're understanding the importance of it. We've worked pretty hard on it in practice, and hopefully we will continue to improve.

Q. How different is it this year going through the tournament as the defending champion? And is there an extra burden that comes with that? Is there just a different approach to it all? Or is there maybe more calmness knowing that you've won it all and the players have been there?
MUFFET McGRAW: I think it was a lot more fun last year. Only looking back, of course, going through it was not fun. You know what, I think it has been different this year with the target on our back. I think we did shoot ourselves in the foot a couple of times throughout the season to not be sure we were going to come out with a No. 1 seed at the end. I think we definitely earned our way to play close to home, and I was really proud of that.

But it is a little different, I think, when people expect you to win. Last year no one really expected us to do much with the six players we were playing.

I think for the team, it's business as usual. I think probably I feel it a little more than they do. But there definitely is a great sense of confidence knowing we've been here before, we've won these types of games before, and we certainly are capable of doing it again.

Q. It's not often that you get rematches in the Regional semifinals, but is there any difference compared to last year from Texas A&M, especially from a scouting standpoint?
MUFFET McGRAW: You know, I think the focus of our scout has been on Carter. So it's pretty similar to what it was last year. I think we're expecting a lot of similar things from them.

Q. I wonder if we could get your comments about Holly let go. I you know you played Tennessee, and just your thoughts on that.
MUFFET McGRAW: I was very disappointed. I love Holly. I think that what she's given to Tennessee for as many years as she's been there, she's a class act. She does things the right way. She does things with integrity. She's represented their program extremely well for the past 38 years, and I think the legacy that Pat brought to Tennessee I hope will continue with another woman at the helm.

Q. Just wanted to ask about Texas A&M's defense. They have some good numbers on that side of the court, obviously, as well.
MUFFET McGRAW: Yeah, yeah, they do. They do a lot of different things. They play a match-up, they have some zone, they have some man. They mix it up really well, so it's going to be, I think, a challenge for us just to come out and figure out exactly how we want to attack them.

Q. Brianna, can you talk about Chennedy Carter, A&M guard? You've faced a lot of great guards in the ACC; does she remind you of any guards you've played?
BRIANNA TURNER: She's definitely an elite scorer, guard. Maybe somewhat reminds me of like Asia Durr. She can get to the basket. She can hit the three. She really gets their team going. So we know there's going to be a lot of offense run through her tomorrow.

Q. Jessica, this game is just a few miles down the road from you guys' home campus. How much different is playing a big time game virtually at home, how much of a difference does that make?
JESSICA SHEPARD: I think we have the best fans in the country, and we know they're going to travel wherever we are, so just to be close enough that they can just kind of drive down the road, it'll definitely be nice to see a lot of green tomorrow.

Q. For each of you, I know it's wonderful if everybody can be at full health all the time, but Marina said today that she doesn't feel full throttle. How important is she to what you guys run?
BRIANNA TURNER: She's a significant part to our team offensively and defensively, how she can stretch the floor out for us. When she's outside shooting her shot, me and Jess know we're going to be open inside because the other team have to get out for her.

But she's a tremendous part of our team, whether it's helping the underclassmen, leading us on defense, leading us in the locker room. We always need her there for us.

JESSICA SHEPARD: Obviously Marina is a leader, being a senior, and I think she brings a lot of energy for us. And obviously, like Bri said, she's a great basketball player. But I know that she's going to do whatever it takes for the team to win, and you can always count on Marina.

Q. Jessica, what challenges do Johnson and Jones bring to you, two inside players from A&M?
JESSICA SHEPARD: I think we know Texas A&M is a good team all around. We know that it's going to be a game that comes down to possessions. So obviously they're two great post players, and it'll just be important that we come out and execute the game plan.

Q. Ladies, could you talk about the evolution of your relationship on the floor, keeping in mind last year Brianna was with the team, but when they would play -- you came in from Nebraska last year, so you never had a chance to play together last year, and yet the evolution of your relationship on the court has been fantastic, and I think most of the assists that each one of you have gone to the other player inside. It's become a pretty nice bond.
JESSICA SHEPARD: I think obviously Bri is a great player, and it's fun just to watch her play. You can kind the throw the all go get it. I think as the season has gone on, we've just gotten a lot more comfortable playing with each other, just knowing where to pass the ball, when to pass the ball, and it's been a lot of fun.

BRIANNA TURNER: Yeah, I think it comes a lot from practicing over the past like six, seven, eight months, and Coach emphasizes it a lot in practice, so it's something we're always looking for in the games, as well.

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