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March 7, 2021

Jeff Walz

Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Louisville Cardinals

Postgame Press Conference

NC State 58, Louisville 56

Q. Jeff, you mentioned the play. I guess defensively for you all, what was the game plan? It looked like you gave them a lot of looks.

JEFF WALZ: Yeah, we switched up from man to zone. We went and doubled on offense, did everything we could to try to keep them off balance as much as we could, and I thought we did a great job today.

Unfortunately, when we had to get some rebounds towards the end, we just couldn't do it.

Q. You talked yesterday that you just sometimes have to make shots, and you shot it pretty good today, 42 percent, but you had a lot of good-looking jump shots that didn't go down. How much are these championship games, do you look back and you either make the shots or you don't sometimes? You did so many other things pretty well.

JEFF WALZ: No, that's true. Our problem was we had a couple effort plays at crunch time. They get a breakout and Kianna Smith does a great job of staying in front of the girl, and she misses it, but then we don't have everybody sprinting back with her.

They have one kid sprints back, gets the O board and sticks it back up and in. Those are the plays that kill you. Those are the plays that it's like, God, you had one or two you did perfect, exactly what you're supposed to do, make them shoot a contested shot over the top of you. And then unfortunately everybody else wasn't involved. We watched. And then they get the O board and stick it back up and in.

You know, and then we got them to take shots that last minute and a half that we really wanted them to take, but we just couldn't come up with the rebound. We drove that thing as hard as we could, I thought. I thought we drove it a lot, and we get to the line four times.

Q. You got out-shot 54-23 from the free-throw line in this tournament and then today it was pretty glaring, and it wasn't just a gentle game. You're best off not answering that question, but I'm going to ask it.

JEFF WALZ: I've got no problem answering it. I think there's times defensively where I think it's a challenge at times for our officials to officiate bigs' play. Cunane, I love the kid. She's tough as nails. But when she leads and goes into me I'm going to double over. It's physics. I mean, it happens. She does a great job of it.

She gets to the line probably more than any post player in our league, and that's the one call that I wish we could get better at, is don't bail out the offensive player for going into the defensive player. But that's not what cost us the game by no means.

I mean, I've talked about this forever, for 20 years. We have to continue to get better in women's basketball of not bailing out bad offense because I just run into you or I just try to barrel you over. Don't bail out bad offense for good defense.

As we continue to improve on that, I think our game is going to continue to get better. It has over the 26 years I've been in it. It's getting better. We're not doing it as much.

But that's a whole different topic. I mean, I could go on for hours on that. But that had no impact on this game tonight. We gave up some big-time O-boards when we got them to take the shots that we wanted.

But again, I told the kids, Hey, everybody looks at the last minute and a half of the game, but there's several areas that I could show you in the first quarter that we gave up a bucket here, a bucket there that hurts you. Like Elizabeth Balogun got the rebound and kind of stumbled and tried to throw it away. If she just comes down with it, it's a travel, it's a dead ball turnover.

O you can go back and look at 20 plays that impact the outcome of the game. Everybody just remembers the last two minutes.

Q. What do you say to Dana at this point? She didn't shoot it well. You know she's going to put a lot of weight on herself after this. You've got to get her ready to play a bigger tournament. Does she need anything?

JEFF WALZ: No, you know what, she needs two days off, which we'll give them Monday and Tuesday off. And then I told them, I mean, we've got to be able to sit back and watch this game and learn from it. I can't have players, Oh, I don't want to watch it. It hurts too bad. Bull. You've got to sit down and be able to watch it and go, Okay, here's what I did well, here's what I did bad and get better at it.

Unfortunately for us, we had some stretches that we were not very good.

Q. Where do you think you guys should be seeded when the thing comes out next Monday?

JEFF WALZ: Well, after this loss we're probably, what, an 8 or a 9 seed? I mean, I'm hoping to stay below a 10. So what do you think?

Q. I would take a good bet you'll be above an 8 seed.

JEFF WALZ: All right, okay. Listen, half the time there's no rhyme or reason. You can't even -- it's hard to explain. The committee has got a hard job in front of them trying to seed teams. The new net that's out, they use the net.

It's any of the tools that we've always had. You can use it to help justify why you put somebody somewhere, and then you don't have to use it if you don't want to to why you put someone somewhere.

We're sitting in the net probably at a 6 right now; we'll probably go to 7 and switch spots with NC State. According to that, we're, what, a 2 seed if my math is right? 1 through 4 is 1, right? And then is it 5 through 8?

I think I did that. Okay, good. See, my math is on point.

Q. Does it really matter? Everyone is in the same place and there aren't home teams, so to speak.

JEFF WALZ: No, it's not as big of a deal. There's no question about it. I'm excited, to be honest with you, because I think it's going to be very interesting to see how the committee does a true S curve now.

You don't have to worry about geography, and then I think it's going to give us a really good idea in a crazy year of what they value, like what does the committee value, which I think will help us moving forward.

Q. Back to Dana for a second. Both you and she had talked about her ability to move on to the next play a couple of weeks ago. Do you feel she was able to do that in this tournament or did the pressure kind of become a burden on her?

JEFF WALZ: I thought she did a really good job at times. I thought in the fourth quarter she did a really good job of it. She allowed us to get the ball reversed and then she took it to the basket when the opportunities presented themselves.

It's all a learning lesson. It's all going to be a learning lesson. We're going to continue to get better and better. You know, I had some devastated kids in that locker room, and I think that's a good sign.

I'll take part of it. I probably should have called a time-out there after that missed free throw because I wanted to run something and get Kianna in the game, and I just didn't want NC State to get set up so I was trying to go right at them. Unfortunately, it just did not work out for us.

Q. Do you think that her ability to get to the basket gave her a little confidence when her jump shot was not falling?

JEFF WALZ: Yes. I agree with that. You know, she's got a pretty darned good first step that she's able to get by just about anybody, so it does give her some confidence if her jumper is not going to be able to do that.

Q. I know it's probably hard to think this way after a loss like that, but in some ways did you see growth? Do you feel like this team got better in this tournament because you saw different people step up? I think you guys improved rebounding-wise over the last two weeks, as well.

JEFF WALZ: Oh, there's no question about it. Our bench play has really given me some confidence. I thought Norika played well again today; Ramani Parker gave us 10 solid minutes; Ahlana Smith only got seven, but I thought she also did some good things for us.

You know, the area that we've got to continue to work on is our foul trouble. This tournament has really been the first time that Liz Dixon and O have both been getting in foul trouble in the first half, and that really puts us behind the 8-ball.

So we've got to go back and break down some film and really look at that to see, Okay, what areas can we get better in order to eliminate a few of those fouls.

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