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NCAA WOMEN'S REGIONALS SEMIFINALS & FINALS: OKLAHOMA CITY


March 30, 2013


Sara Hammond

Shoni Schimmel

Antonita Slaughter

Jeff Walz


OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

THE MODERATOR:テつ We're now joined by Louisville head coach Jeff Walz.テつ Any opening comments.
COACH WALZ:テつ I'd like to say thank you.テつ Very excited about the opportunity to be playing in the Sweet 16 and looking forward to taking on a very talented, well‑coached Baylor team.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll take questions.

Q.テつ Jeff, Kim said she doesn't know what defense you run mixing it up against Purdue.テつ I guess that's the perception you wanted.
COACH WALZ:テつ Half the time I'm not sure our players know either.テつ That's what makes it so good.テつ We're just not in a situation where we can come out and play man‑to‑man for 40 minutes, I've got you, you've got me.テつ So we have to sit here and try to disguise things as much as we can, try to catch teams off balance if possible.
Being able to do that has given us the opportunity to create a lot of turnovers, and we've been able to score off of those.
So we'll come out here tomorrow night.テつ If we can get away with putting six on the floor, we will, if not, we won't.テつ We'll try at least once.

Q.テつ What have you been doing in practice this week or what do you plan on doing in the next hour or so to prepare for Brittney Griner?
COACH WALZ:テつ There's not much to do.テつ I mean, she's just a special basketball player that we're going to do what the past 34 teams have done when they played them:テつ try and keep her away from the basket, if possible, try to make her earn all of her points, try to make sure we don't allow her too many opportunities, when she does miss her shot that she can get her own rebound.テつ That's what she does well:テつ if she misses, she usually gets her own miss back.
We're going to try to be as physical as we can like everybody else and see if we can't make her shoot turnaround jump shots instead of layups.

Q.テつ From a mental aspect, how do you approach playing the No.1?テつ Do you approach it any differently?
COACH WALZ:テつ No, I mean, we're fortunate enough to play in the Big East, so we're playing Notre Dame twice, UConn.テつ We're playing against No.1's the entire season.
At this point in time, you're just going out and competing for 40 minutes of basketball clock in two hours. テつWe just have to try and do the best we can at trying to confuse them, if possible, trying to make sure we limit them to one shot.テつ Then we have to make sure we get good looks each time down the floor.
But mentally, our kids are excited to play.

Q.テつ You hear sometimes about teams using goofy tactics in practice to simulate Griner's wingspan.テつ Have you taken to any of those, brooms, paddles, or more a traditional route?
COACH WALZ:テつ No, we haven't done anything like that.テつ We've just gone with our players, our practice guys.テつ But before we left, we haven't done anything like that at all.
We're going to come out here.テつ I've told our kids, if you come out and play scared, it's not going to matter.テつ So we're going to try to come out and attack.テつ At the same time I might not be smart, but I don't think I'm dumb.テつ We're not going to throw the ball in the low block and say shoot over her.テつ At the same time, we're going to try to make her move some and see if we can't get some other kids involved that she's not guarding to possibly score in the block.
At the same time, if we have a shot, our goal is to shoot it and don't worry if she does block a few of them.

Q.テつ This is a pretty balanced group among your starters.テつ Is that sort of by design?
COACH WALZ:テつ We are very fortunate.テつ With the injuries that we've sustained, we've still been able to compete at a high level because of the balance that we have.
I knew going into the NCAA tournament that we were going to need Antonita Slaughter to make some shots for us, especially when we got past middle and the first round.テつ I knew she was going to have to score in order for us to get past Purdue.
She got back to shooting the ball like she had the entire season.テつ She took about a month off, but we were just happy that she found her shot again.
We have about six or seven that can score between 15 and 18 on any given night.テつ With having that ability, it at least makes it a little harder for teams to try to focus on just one player.
If we're going to have the opportunity to have success and have a chance to win tomorrow night, we're going to have to have everyone show up and make shots.

Q.テつ You talked about the way you try to create turnovers.テつ Facing Odyssey Sims on the other side, how key is it for you to not start turning it over?
COACH WALZ:テつ It's important for us any night we play.テつ We've actually done a much better job the past month and a half on taking care of the ball.テつ We've talked about that.テつ That's part of our focus.テつ Hopefully we'll have the same, you know, outcome tomorrow night, that we'll get shots and not turn the basketball over.

Q.テつ I know there are some things you can't do in the shot clock era, but I remember UTEP beating Kansas with a score in the 30s.テつ Do you think about trying to do something crazy, strange, getting completely out of your own game in an effort to try to do something against Baylor and Griner?
COACH WALZ:テつ I'm trying to put six.テつ I'm hoping our officials are bad at math tomorrow night and we just get 'em real confused (laughter).
No, with the shot clock, you have a choice.テつ You can't just pull the basketball out and try to hold it and just try to milk the clock.
What I want to make sure is, we're going to try to make sure when we have a good shot, we get a shot.テつ The whole key to anybody who has any kind of success against them, they've been able to score.
They're as well‑balanced as any team I've tried to prepare for.テつ If you don't score, you don't have a chance.テつ So instead of sitting here and being so concerned about how are we going to stop them, my biggest concern is to make sure we score.
We're going to come out here once we're finished for an hour and a half and shoot.テつ I'm not worried about how to stop them.テつ I mean, who has stopped them?
Instead of getting all concerned about how are you going to stop Brittney Griner from scoring 30, forget it, she's going to.テつ Figure out a way how we can score 70.テつ If we can figure that out, then you might have a chance to get the last five minutes of the ballgame where shots start to matter.
With the success they have had, it's been a while since a shot's mattered in the last four or five minutes of the game.

Q.テつ Jeff, you went against the national championship game, that UConn program that won two championships in a row.テつ You spoke about Baylor being as balanced as any team.テつ The personnel is different between these two teams.テつ Can you make some comparisons about programs reaching that level where they're so hard to beat?
COACH WALZ:テつ It's really hard to compare because I look at the UConn teams, you have Renee Montgomery, Tina Charles, Maya Moore.テつ You have six or seven of them that were scoring between 15 and 10.テつ There was absolutely nobody that you could back off of and say, Make 'em shoot the ball.
On Baylor's side of it, you've got a post player you can't play one‑on‑one.テつ You just can't.テつ It's about impossible.テつ She's going to score on you.テつ Then you got Sims at the point, you've got Hayden, guards that shoot well enough from the three‑point line that you have to guard 'em.テつ They're shooting 40%.テつ You can't just say, Shoot all you want, because they are good enough to make 'em.
It's a situation where that one player really makes them a difficult matchup, but they've got five or six others that are solid basketball players.
It's hard to compare the two teams.テつ I know I'll be fortunate enough to have played both.テつ We'll see what we can do tomorrow night because we didn't have much success with UConn.

Q.テつ Coach, you said you were as proud of this team as your national runner‑up team.テつ What are the elements that have led you to say that?
COACH WALZ:テつ Well, I go back and you prepare for a year, you're sitting here going through your roster trying to put pieces together of who's going to play where, who's going to be able to do this and do that.テつ Then all of a sudden Asia Taylor, who we expected to have back in November, is gone for the year.テつ Tia Gibbs, who we expected to have back for the start of practice does not play at all during the year.テつ Shawnta' Dyer, who started for us, tears an ACL in mid December.テつ Then Monique Reid comes back from missing a season from a microfracture surgery on her knee, and she's playing with one leg for most of the year, fighting a way, figuring out a way to do it.
We take four players right there that started for us at one point in time.テつ To have them not available or limited minutes, but to still have everybody else step up, for us to be able to continue to have success we've had, now come to our fourth Sweet 16 in the six years we've been here, it speaks volumes about the type of players we have.
Instead of making an excuse, they have just taken more responsibility and said, Hey, I have to now step my game up.テつ You have players like Antonita Slaughter, Jude Schimmel, Sara Hammond that have improved from last year to this year, and you have Bria Smith, Shoni, that have continued to take on the responsibility as they did the year before.
So we're very fortunate to have a program and not just a team.テつ If this was just a one‑year thing, when you lose the amount of players that we've lost, we wouldn't have had the success that we've had.
We take great pride that we're building a program here, and our goal is to continue to raise the bar.

Q.テつ Tennessee is the traditional power.テつ Let's say 15 years ago, Louisville, Baylor, Oklahoma, not only had they ever been to a Final Four, none of them had ever been close.テつ Now all of you have gone to Final Fours.テつ Baylor has won two championships.テつ What does that say about building programs, how that's helped the game?
COACH WALZ:テつ It sure has.テつ That's one thing I think all of us coaches are trying to do, is we know in order for our game to grow, our programs have to grow.テつ I know that Geno, everybody would like to go to the Final Four every year.テつ In order for our game to grow, we've got to have some programs that can continue to put some pressure on, so it's not the same four No.1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.
For all of us that follow women's basketball, that's fine.テつ But I've got friends that won't watch it because it's the same teams every year that are your top four seeds.テつ If we're trying to grow our game, we have to do our job as coaches and programs to put some pressure on them so we can get some new faces out there, and then hopefully our tournament can get at the level the men's is, where you watch an open practice, and there's 6,000 or 7,000 fans there watching it.
That's where we have to continue to make sure we take advantage of growing our game.テつ If you can take opportunities to get fans to come watch us practice in these venues, you have to take advantage of it.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Coach, thank you very much.テつ Wish you the best of luck tomorrow.
COACH WALZ:テつ Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We're joined by Louisville student‑athletes Sara Hammond, Antonita Slaughter and Shoni Schimmel.テつ We'll take questions from the floor.

Q.テつ Shoni, if you could, Coach Walz talked about some of the injury problems you had, some uncertainty there.テつ Talk a little bit about that, what was that like, and how you have been able to fight through that.
SHONI SCHIMMEL:テつ Well, with losing four of the girls that could actually start on our team, it was a big issue for us.テつ We didn't really think about it that much.テつ We kind of moved forward with it.テつ We ended up getting Mo back, so that helped us a lot.
For us to kind of not to worry about what happened, them getting healthy, we're focused on the people that are actually able to play and help us win games.
It's not like we don't need 'em or anything.テつ We still want them to get healthy and whatnot, but we're just kind of moving forward and living with their being hurt.

Q.テつ Sara, did you feel like there was a moment this year where things kind of righted for the team as far as getting to this point?テつ Was there a game or a coming‑together moment?
SARA HAMMOND:テつ I don't think there's like one game in particular.テつ I think just over the period of the season, we just continued to get better and certain players matured and started step up.テつ Look at Jude Schimmel over the past couple games, her confidence level has risen.テつ Her defensive presence on the floor, her ability to get to the basket have been tremendous.
We have Antonita Slaughter who has shot the ball like crazy.テつ She's a person we feel really confident in shooting the ball.テつ Also her length and her defense and rebounding ability.
I think it's just a process of everybody maturing and growing throughout the season that's kind of brought us to where we are now.

Q.テつ Antonita, coach was saying the fact that you guys have gone against two of the No.1 seeds, you're familiar with Notre Dame and UConn, you're not intimidated by a No.1 seed.テつ Baylor is different in that they have Griner.
ANTONITA SLAUGHTER:テつ Yeah, I definitely think playing in the Big East has definitely prepared us for this.
But Brittney Griner, like you said, is a different animal.テつ Coach has a game plan for us.テつ We have confidence in him.テつ I think our game plan's going to work.

Q.テつ Sara, your game plan defensively has kind of changed a lot.テつ Coach Walz joked maybe even you guys don't know what you're doing.テつ Talk about how the defense has evolved.
SARA HAMMOND:テつ Yeah, we have all the confidence in the world in our coaches in setting a great game plan defensively and offensively.
I think coach just has like so many different things, he's so experienced, knows so many different strategies of beating teams.
We joke all the time, half the time we don't know what we're doing out there.テつ Other teams don't; it's working for us.
With Baylor, they've had everything thrown at them.テつ The coaches have worked non‑stop this week to come up with a good game plan defensively.
We like to get teams rattled and we just scramble on defense and try to make them make bad mistakes.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you.テつ Best of luck.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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