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March 27, 2010

Ashley Barlow

Becca Bruszewski

Skylar Diggins

Muffet McGraw


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with the University of Notre Dame. Coach Muffet McGraw is here, and, Coach, welcome to Kansas City and the second round. You said you didn't care to make any comment; is that correct? We'll just start with questions?
COACH McGRAW: That's good.

Q. There was a lot of talk with Oklahoma about how they have changed since the last time you guys have faced each other. How have you guys changed since late November?
COACH McGRAW: Well, it was a long time ago, seems like a long time ago. You know, I thought we played very well at the Paradise Jam. That was a great tournament and great to see so many of those teams in the Sweet 16. I think we've played a lot of people and at that time we were still trying different combinations and we're still playing all those same people.
I think we've gotten a little bit better just playing together all this time. We've been tested a lot in a lot of different ways, seen a lot of different things, and I'm really happy with the way we're playing right now.

Q. How do you deal with the match-up with Danielle Robinson in terms of a scouting report on what she does best, and how do you counteract that?
COACH McGRAW: I don't know if you can counteract that. She's got incredible speed. She is -- she played very well against us last time we played. She's very hard to contain. You don't see people getting up in the backcourt and trying to pressure her. I think people have just too much respect for her speed. I think she's definitely a challenge for our defense.

Q. Can you talk about how your bench will play a role in this game?
COACH McGRAW: Well, our bench has been outstanding throughout the Big East Tournament and the first two rounds. They've actually been leading us in scoring on a couple of occasions, which is great to see. It's nice to have that depth. We don't have to worry so much about foul trouble, and we can really keep the pressure on defensively while we're resting some of our starters.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about how Skylar has improved even since the last time you guys played Oklahoma, which was so early in her college career?
COACH McGRAW: She's had a great year. She has been -- done so many great things for us. She's really changed our team probably defensively more than anything. I think she sets the tone for our defense. She gets up and pressures the ball really well. She's a great passer. She's had over 100 assists this year. For a freshman that's not even playing the point, I think that's outstanding.
She does so many little things, intangible things. She's got the intensity, the drive, the focus, the sense of urgency that you would think only your seniors might have. So I think that she's really -- she's played well all year long. She's been our leading scorer in almost every situation.
You know, you look at our wins, losses, Big East Tournament, NCAA Tournament, she's the leading scorer, something we didn't really expect from a freshman. I'm so pleased with the way she's played all year long, and she's been very consistent for us and continues to play well.

Q. You didn't have Devereaux Peters the first time you faced Oklahoma. How might she impact the game?
COACH McGRAW: You know, I think rebounding is going to be a big key, and that's something that we hope Devereaux can do for us. We as a team, we just need to rebound a lot better, and we'd like her in there because she is somebody that can really go get the ball.
But I think overall, all of us need to rebound better. She can help us do that.

Q. During your time in South Bend, your program has had so many transformative players I guess you could say. Oklahoma is playing its first season without a couple pretty transformative ones in Courtney and Ashley Paris. Can you talk about from your perspective that carryover you've seen from year to year, you lose a Ruth Riley, for example, how that carries over and just sort of what you've seen over the years with that?
COACH McGRAW: You know, I think that your program develops an attitude of winning, and no matter who you have in the program, somebody is going to pick up that attitude. And it's just generated from your best players, but it really does transcend down to everybody on the team.
You go through stretches where -- we missed Ruth Riley for quite a few years after she left. She was really probably the best player ever to play at Notre Dame. But we have had some very good ones, and I think Skylar is that type of player for us now.
But I think every program you go through those stages, and I think Oklahoma, just what a fantastic year after losing two great players, they have really -- and without Whitney Hand, they have had just a sensational season.

Q. Coach, if you could, what advice would you offer to Nebraska or Kentucky, their coaching staff? You just talked about developing that tradition of winning. These two programs didn't have any transition, this year they're in the Sweet 16. Just what kind of advice would you give them?
COACH McGRAW: It sounds like she should be giving advice to me. She's the No. 1 seed. I think they've had a great year. You look at seniors, and it's all about the seniors. They're the ones, every good team we've had in the Final Four has been senior dominated, and they've been able to just take our program to places we've never been before, and I think once you get that tradition started, you hope that the younger players pick up on it and just continue to understand what it took to get there, and there's so much hard work, and that next year they can't rest because people are going to be coming after them without those seniors on the floor.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit about the rivalry with Oklahoma? You've played them a couple of times here, and they've been great games with a lot on the line.
COACH McGRAW: Well, they're a great team, and any time you play a great team, it's going to be a big game. It's going to be an exciting game when you have two guards like Danielle Robinson and Skylar Diggins on the same floor. It's a lot of excitement every time they get the ball. I think the fans are going to be on the edge of their seats, and hopefully it'll be a great game tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk about Danielle Robinson and the unique problems she presents?
COACH McGRAW: Just her speed I think is something that you just don't see very often. She's so good with the ball. She can go either way. She's got a great jumper. You don't want to foul her because she's a great free throw shooter. She can get to the rim really easily, and she's a good passer. She's got a lot of assists. She's got a lot of steals. She's aggressive defensively. She's that kind of an electric player, and you can see how the team really feeds off of her.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish student athletes, Skylar Diggins, Ashley Barlow, and Becca Bruszewski. Ladies, we're going to take questions from the floor.

Q. Skylar, can you talk about Danielle Robinson and just how challenging of a match-up she is?
SKYLAR DIGGINS: Well, Danielle, she's a great point guard. She's very athletic, very quick, and is definitely -- she poses as a problem for a lot of defenders because she can get to the basket so well. She's great in transition. She does a good job finding her teammates, and her mid-range can also be dangerous.
So I think just definitely trying to keep her in front, and it's going to be a total team effort with that, and just kind of trying to slow them down in transition.

Q. For Ashley and Becca, for a team that's as veteran as you guys, what's it like to have a freshman step in and play the way Skylar has played in season?
ASHLEY BARLOW: It's good for us. We need somebody to step up like that. It's like our whole team, we've got people that can score, we've got people that can defend. We've got a whole team of starters basically, so it's pretty good that she can step in and pretty much do that.
BECCA BRUSZEWSKI: She came out with a lot of confidence, really stepped in, knew her role. She came into the game giving exactly what we needed. I mean, for her just to add everything that we have to the team already, it's great.

Q. Becca, can you talk about how the post position has developed for this team through the course of the season and how your depth can affect other teams?
BECCA BRUSZEWSKI: Well, we're not the original post players like big presence inside, but we're quick, we're mobile, we're agile, so we use that to our strength. The first game against UConn we really didn't have a post presence inside. So the second and third we tried to pick it up, take them off the dribble, stuff like that, and that seemed to work pretty well for us, so we're going to go with that same attack this game.

Q. Ashley, when you're dealing with somebody that quick as Danielle, what's the philosophy? What's the big picture guard approach to that type of match-up?
ASHLEY BARLOW: I guess it's just trying to keep her in front. You've got to try and just stay with her and not get too close up on her because if you do, she's good at getting around you and finding other people on the block, and her other teammates on the wing and things like that. We've just got to keep her in front and not let her get going. We can't let her get confidence early. We've got to stay on her from the opening tip.

Q. Ashley, when you look back at the Virgin Islands games, what are your memories of that, and when you look at the tape of it, what jumps out at you about either your team or Oklahoma?
ASHLEY BARLOW: I guess it would be that we were -- we were both different teams, so that was at the beginning of the season. They got out in transition on us. We made some big shots in that game. And I guess it's just the whole thing that we're different teams right now. We're playing better. We're in tournament mode. We know that this could be our last game, so we're just going to go out there and continue to play the way that we've been playing all season, and hopefully we can get our defense going first and get some offensive things going, as well.

Q. Skylar, since you guys have played in Storrs and Hartford, does that help when you step into Big 12 country to play in what might be a hostile environment for you?
SKYLAR DIGGINS: I believe so. Definitely the loudest atmosphere I've played in would be Storrs and Hartford. But I think it's just a matter of just really going in with the mindset that you're here with your team. You really try to stay focused into the game and really not let the crowd get too involved or affect you too much.

Q. Becca, when you look at Oklahoma's post play now and recent game tapes versus when they played you the first time, do you see a difference in improvement there with Olajuwon and McFarland?
BECCA BRUSZEWSKI: Yeah, she's definitely more comfortable going with either hand in the post, so before it was easy -- it was better just to jump out to her left side, but she's more versatile now going right and left, so she's definitely going to be a post presence inside.

Q. Ashley, you guys played Oklahoma a couple of years ago down at Purdue, played them in the Paradise Jam. Can you talk about how these two programs have kind of created a nice rivalry between each other?
ASHLEY BARLOW: Yeah, I guess it's -- other people putting us together in these situations, I guess. But we're both taking care of business when we get in our respective games. So I guess it's been a good rivalry, and we've tried to pick up the slack a couple years and this year, and we're just going after it, and I guess it's a good run to kind of be a part of.

Q. For Skylar and for Ashley, everyone talks about Danielle Robinson as a tough match-up, but Amanda Thompson has got a unique set of skills, as well. Talk about how you defend her.
SKYLAR DIGGINS: Well, she's a great offensive rebounder. She's a great rebounder. She's a match-up problem for lots of people because she's just so big and so athletic. I guess you've got to approach her with just staying in front of her and keeping her in front of you, as well, and boxing her out would be a big key for us.
ASHLEY BARLOW: And I think she's also developed her skills offensively as far as her mid-range shot and now she's backing up to the three-point line, and she's definitely developed there over the years. She's definitely a threat, not only back to the basket or crashing but also in the mid-range game now.

Q. I've got a question for you, ladies. Ashley, you're a senior. What do you tell Skylar about what to expect in this round of games?
ASHLEY BARLOW: You've just got to tell her to go out there and do what she's been doing the whole season. We can't change what we've been doing all year just for this one game. We've just got to go out and continue to play our game, and I think we've been doing that pretty well the first couple of rounds.

Q. Skylar, I've got a question for you. As a freshman, did you think you were going to go this far?
SKYLAR DIGGINS: You know, I actually did. I think this team did. We've had high expectations for ourselves since the first day of practice, so I mean, just -- I knew it from the kind of heart that this team shows and how we push each other in practice and really go after each other. I mean, it gets pretty competitive in practice. We just all want to see each other do well. The fact that we've come together and we know each other's games so well now, we're playing -- we're kind of hitting on all cylinders now. We're playing some of our best basketball, so hopefully that momentum just carries over into these next couple rounds, particularly tomorrow.

Q. For Ashley, you have a senior laden team. Oklahoma has three significant seniors. When you get to this point in your career, one loss and it's over, do you see this kind of being a battle of wills, who wants to keep their careers going tomorrow night?
ASHLEY BARLOW: Yeah, we've just got to know this could be our last game and give 110 percent out there. It could be a battle of wills, who wants it more, so we've just got to go out there and competing to the best of our abilities like we've been doing the first couple rounds.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies, congratulations on a great season, and we'll see you tomorrow evening.

End of FastScripts

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