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March 29, 2019
Greensboro, North Carolina
Q. South Carolina looks like the deepest team you'll have played in a little bit and they also have the experience of winning the National Championship two years ago. How do those things factor in as you start to game plan for them?
COACH KIM MULKEY: Well, we certainly see how many minutes kids play. That's one of the things you look at when scouting a team. You know, each coach knows what they have to do. I don't play that many players. If I play that many players, we're way ahead or we're way behind. But it's effective.
They are very good. They are not the same team that won the National Championship two years ago, with the exception of I think Cuevas-Moore and Harrigan, so we're very much aware of it. I can't tell you any more as to why they play that many players, but it works for them.
Q. You beat them by 25 back in December as you prepare for this rematch. How have they changed?
COACH KIM MULKEY: Were you at that game? Don't answer it. I know you weren't. I was looking for you.
Q. I was honest another assignment.
COACH KIM MULKEY: But it couldn't have been more important than them. I'm pulling for women's basketball, man.
We did play them obviously. They're a different team now. We're a different team now. Some players that didn't play much in that game are now huge factors for them. You know about their guard play and how quick they are and how many players that they play. They like to push it and get up-and-down the floor.
The difference probably in that game and probably what you'll see tomorrow is they started out in a zone defense, I'm assuming because of our bigs, they stayed in it and we jumped in on that really quick. Our guards hit a lot of perimeter shots, and then they got out of the zone.
I don't anticipate that happening because how effective our guards were against them in December but also our guards are pretty good.
While we have Cox and Kalani inside, we are not too shabby at other positions, either.
Q. Because of how much they have change, how much do you look at what happened that night?
COACH KIM MULKEY: You don't. You don't. You look at the most current games that you can, and what's that we look at is a lot of the SEC games and how they defended Mississippi State with their big. Go to the most current stuff you can find, and you flush that. We flushed that game after it was over because it was a good matchup as far as going on the road to see what we were made of and what our strengths and weaknesses were but it was flushed quickly because you have to prepare for the next opponent.
Q. You've been to these regionals and Final Fours as a player, assistant and head coach. Does it change at all for you over the years?
COACH KIM MULKEY: A lot changes. More television coverage. More media. You never get tired of it. Your competitive juices continue to flow, and what you're most excited for as you grow older as a coach is you're excited for those young ladies in the locker room because it's exciting for those freshmen who have never been to the NCAA playoffs. It's exciting for anybody on your staff that's never been.
For me, it just keeps your juices flowing and you -- you're more experienced, obviously, but we're going to have fun with it.
Q. What do you take from the 2013 Sweet 16 loss? Similar situation to this one where you were heavily favored and came in, I think on a long winning streak, as well.
COACH KIM MULKEY: I knew that you would ask me about that 2012 National Championship, but you want to focus on the negative, right? All right.
Are you talking about the Louisville loss? You can't compare South Carolina to Louisville. Those teams are totally different. I just think it was a game, looking back on it, that was incredibly physical; that we had not ever seen before, and we're pretty physical ourselves. A lot of three-point shots taken and a lot of three-point shots made, and we made just a great effort to get back in the game and had a shot there at the end and missed it.
But that's why it's called March Madness, there are no guarantees. We played these guys in December and guarantees us nothing. If you think we're walking around with our chests poked out and our heads really big and licking our chops, you don't know a lot about me and my personality.
We have a respectful fear of everybody we play, and that's the way I approach coaching. If we were playing a team that had not won a game all year, I'm going to do the same thing in that locker room, the same kind of scouting report, because that's how I coach. I just have a respectful fear of the next opponent.
Q. You have experience in the Big 12 playing teams twice a year. I was just wondering, do you notice a big difference between playing teams the first time, the second time? Is it much harder to win that second time?
COACH KIM MULKEY: Sometimes it is. It depends on if you go on the road first or you're playing at home second.
I think that I can't speak for other coaches, but I probably think they agree with me. Guys, when you're playing in-conference, we know everything about each other. You can't even breathe. They know our calls. You have to change your calls from each time you play them. They know the strengths, weaknesses, take this away.
I believe the NCAA Tournament is a breath of fresh air when you get out of the conference. I've always believed that because you're seeing, although we're playing South Carolina, you're still seeing a new opponent and I can't imagine when you get to the NCAA playoff that it's any harder than conference, particularly if you have good coaches and good teams in your conference that are just going to beat each other up and know everything about each other.
Q. This coliseum has such a rich history. What is it like for your team to be here and playing at the groans borrow coliseum?
COACH KIM MULKEY: It's my first time to ever be in Greensboro. We keep up with the ACC, both men and women and we appreciate that they have a home base. This is where they play every year. We don't have that in the Big 12. It alternates every few years to a different site. So that tells me that it's much appreciated by the fans and that there's great fan support, and I'm excited to be here because I know with my accurate accept, somebody in North Carolina is going to be more southern than me (winking).
Q. I've heard other coaches talking about your team taking on your personality. Do you see that with Dawn, too, with the South Carolina team?
COACH KIM MULKEY: I think not just Dawn, but I think your team, everybody's team takes on their coach's personality. That's just human nature, and I would think, yes.
You know, Dawn -- I'm going to date myself here, but Dawn, I go back to when she was at Virginia playing for Debbie Ryan and I was an assistant at Louisiana Tech and trying to figure out how to guard her and Tammy Reiss and those guards.
Dawn coaches the way she played. I coach the way I played, and we both played for outstanding coaches and I would think, yeah, her team should. She's got a resumÃ© that's unbelievable. I'd want to emulate success.
Q. You've obviously had the pleasure of coaching a heck of a lot of great players and a lot of great bigs over the years, but this front line y'all have this year is just about the most formidable thing I've ever seen. How do they stack up in terms of your experience historically?
COACH KIM MULKEY: Well, it's like comparing your children; you can't. You have to remember, I coached Griner, and with Griner were two 6-3s and 6-4s, and that team went 40-0. So you don't care them. I think that with Kalani at 6-7 and then you have Cox at 6-4 and then you bring in two freshmen posts at 6-2 and 6-3 that are really different ballplayers, they are more athletic and run the floor, while Kalani and Cox, you think are back to the basket post players, they are really not. They can face up and shoot it. Their size is just bigger.
They work so well together, because a lot of it is, they pass to each other well. I tease them all the time, our guards sometimes can't get the ball to our bigs when they are open, but get the ball in another post player's hands and she seems to be able to find it. Now, I don't know if that's the length being able to see over the defense or if it's the post players taking care of each other.
They just work together well. They read each other well. They are friends. They like each other. Those kids, they are special. But I can't compare them to others in the past because I have been blessed to really coach some great post play.
Q. You're the No. 1 overall seed but not the favorite to win the tournament. Do you feel you're being overlooked?
COACH KIM MULKEY: Oh, no. Somebody had to get that No. 1 overall seed (winking) we'll take it. (Laughter).
Q. Juicy said one of the things you told her after that freshman year is, "Your defense has to get better if you're going to play for me." How have you seen her improve from that send of the floor?
COACH KIM MULKEY: Well, she's probably not the only player I've told that to. Your freshman year is your most difficult year of your basketball career. It's the most difficult year of your life, whether you're an athlete or not. You're leaving home for the first time most of them, your comfort zone is gone. They are all great players. They all have been dominant players in high school and they have really only had to probably play one end of the floor throughout their career.
When you get to this level and you want to play at the elite of the elite, you've got to play both ends of the floor. The only way they learn that is experience it. I'll go back to Juicy fouled out at Kansas State her freshman year. Played nine minutes and she fouled out.
So that right there taught her more than anything I could tell her. She was embarrassed. She got ragged on for months. But the cute story with that is some of them that were ragging her fouled out their freshman year in less than nine minutes, so it's lessons they learn from each other, and it usually happens on the court, not from what I tell them.
Q. For Kalani and Lauren. When you played USC in December, what things impressed you most about them, and even though you won pretty easily, tell me why you expect to face a tougher challenge from them tomorrow?
KALANI BROWN: Even with the large margin of victory, they never gave up. They were relentless, even late in the game, they hit some threes and tried to get the momentum going for themselves. Their transition defense, I mean, transition game, period, really like impressed me.
LAUREN COX: Everybody is playing their best basketball right now. It's win and advance; if you lose, you go home. So everybody is going to give you your best shot, and it's going to be a completely different game.
Like Kalani said, their transition game is really good. They are really quick. So we're going to have to get back on transition defense.
Q. Chloe, can you talk about facing their guards and what you expect to see from them?
CHLOE JACKSON: Like they said, their transition game is good. They are quick. They are going to get out and run with us. And they are going to be aggressive on the ball on defense, so I just expect them to be physical, quick.
Q. Playing South Carolina as a member of LSU for as many years as you did and then coming here, how much has that team changed out A'ja Wilson?
KALANI BROWN: I think they are more dependent on their guards than they were with A'ja. With A'ja she was a force to be reckoned with down in the post, but they are definitely more dependent on their guard play, I would say.
Q. Obviously your first matchup was pretty one-sided in your favor, but practice leading up to this one, how have you made adjustments tactically or kind of thought about, you know, what do we need to do different, if anything; how might they attack us differently or how can we attack them differently versus the last time-out?
CHLOE JACKSON: I think they started the game out in the zone, and I don't think that was really their -- like their go-to defense that they wanted to play, so I feel like they are going to play us in a man. That's kind of what they are more used to.
I expect that, and then I just expect them to push it and get up -- get up a lot of threes. I think they are going to want to shoot a lot of threes and hopefully make them.
LAUREN COX: I think they are going to throw a lot of different lineups at us. They had some players who are playing more minutes now that didn't play against us like Cuevas-Moore and their other post player, Harrigan, is that her name? Yeah.
KALANI BROWN: I think they are going to try to be more physical, especially with us in the paint, but it's nothing we haven't seen before, and like I said, their transition game has definitely improved.
Q. Going deeper into the NCAA Tournament, sometimes that senior leadership can mean a lot more to a team. How much more responsibility are you placing on your shoulders as you go even farther?
KALANI BROWN: You know, us three up here are pretty much the captains of the team. So, you know, we know we've been on this level before, and just trying to get our young ones, showing them what to do in the right way. But we've had a few good practices leading up to this point, and I think everybody is focused and, I think they really made my job and their jobs a lot easier.
Q. Like you said, the three of you are the captains and get a lot of attention. What player on your team do you think that people might be surprised by in this round of the tournament? Who should people be on the lookout for that might not be the headliner?
KALANI BROWN: I would say Didi Richards. A lot of people don't give her recognition but her defense is outstanding, and I think she's overlooked a lot.
LAUREN COX: I agree with Kalani about Didi, and then Moon and NaLyssa coming off the bench, they kind of come in and give us a spark. Moon can hit some outside shots. She plays really good defense and NaLyssa can get inside and make some moves and get us some offensive rebounds.
CHLOE JACKSON: Yeah, I agree with LC. All of those girls, Didi, Moon and NaLyssa. NaLyssa is a comes in and she rebounds. She's definitely come in big lately with a lot of rebounds, put-backs, and Didi she cuts the baskets well and she defends for us really well. And Moon, she did a great job against South Carolina last time, so I expect the same out of her this time.
Q. So Kalani, you've been here for four years. You've gone through these games more than anyone else. What do you think is different about your team this year and what can bring you all the way?
KALANI BROWN: I think that we have a lot of depth. We can throw any lineup out there and not miss a beat. You know, this lime last year, we didn't have that much depth, and you know, at that point we were pretty much exhausted.
So everybody's focused. Everybody's looking for one goal, and I think that's -- I can't say that the whole team, the entire team, like every single person was focused as we are now.
Q. More on that depth. You really haven't had to play the entire game all season long. I guess a two-part question. Are you prepared for that, and were there games in the past where you wanted to tell Coach, you wanted to stay in the games longer?
KALANI BROWN: I am prepared for that, I would say. I've kept myself in shape doing extra for the games I got maybe like ten to 12 minutes, because there have been games like that.
But stay in the game longer, for what? Give the young ones a chance to learn.
Q. You guys are 33-1, but y'all have at least been tested and y'all have been pushed in several games. How much does that help at this time of the year, that you've been in some of those tight games that you had to pull out?
LAUREN COX: It's been good for us. Especially for the young ones to kind of see that. I mean, we've played in some tough ones the years before but playing many some of those especially close to the tournament, it helps us pull through and have the experience for when we do have one of those games.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports