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April 3, 2013

Jeff Walz


THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone.テつ Thank you for joining us for our fourth and final call this afternoon with our women's final four head coaches.テつ Joining us for this particular segment is Jeff Walz, the head coach of the University of Louisville.テつ Jeff and the Cardinals will be playing California this coming Sunday in the national semifinal game of the 2013 Women's Final Four in New Orleans.
At this time, before we take your questions, I'd like to invite Carolayne Henry who is chair of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee and Senior Associate Commissioner of the Mountain West Conference to say some welcome remarks.テつ Carolayne?
CAROLAYNE HENRY:テつ Thanks, Rick.テつ Jeff, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to the University of Louisville, pronunciation notwithstanding, and congratulate you and your team on an outstanding season and for making it to the 2013 Women's Final Four.テつ I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans, and good luck.
COACH WALZ:テつ Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Jeff, if you would, just a quick opening statement and then we'll go to questions.
COACH WALZ:テつ First like to thank everyone there.テつ We're just honored to be one of the four teams remaining.テつ It's been a crazy two weeks for us.テつ Just really excited with the way we're playing right now with the effort that our young ladies have given us, not just during the games, but in practice, both mentally and physically.
We're a group right now that I think has done things that no one thought could be done, and we're going to continue to grow with what has gotten us where we are right now, and hopefully, be able to find a way to win a game or two more.

Q.テつ I'm curious, what is your style of coaching?テつ What is the line that you find of how far you can push players and how you push them?テつ What was your learning curve with that and figuring out the point which you started to get diminishing returns?
COACH WALZ:テつ Well, I was fortunate enough to work six years for Paul Sanderford, two years at Western Kentucky and four at Nebraska, and Paul took three Western Kentucky teams to the final four back when he was there.テつ I just really learned and watched from him.テつ He was very demanding on his players in practice, but most importantly, I saw how much he cared about them not only on the floor but off the floor.テつ The relationships that he was able to build with them that they put their trust in him and they believed in him.テつ They knew that even though there were some really tough days at practice that he was just trying to get the best out of them to hopefully show them that they can achieve more than they even think they can.テつ That's really where I learned it from.
I became a big believer that you can really get these college students, these 18 to 22‑year‑olds, to do more than they ever dreamed they could if they know you care about them, if they know you genuinely are there for them.
So when we step on the court, our players know it's basketball.テつ It's all about basketball, and we have a job to do.テつ But they also know when we step off the court, I'm there whatever they need.テつ We're going to laugh.テつ We're going to joke.テつ They're going to make fun of my stuttering.テつ I'm going to make fun of their hair if I have to, whatever it might be.テつ We're very sarcastic, and we like to laugh and have fun.
When you can do that off the floor and be able to switch it and understand, hey, when basketball stuff starts, it's time for practice.テつ We've been able to have some success here, and we're going to continue to do that, and hopefully the success will continue to follow.

Q.テつ How concerned are you with their ability to rebound, particularly the offensive rebounds?テつ Your team being one that likes to get the ball and go.テつ Also, would you talk about the intriguing match‑ups that will take place?
COACH WALZ:テつ Yes, their ability to rebound the basketball is something else.テつ I was really impressed with them as we watched the Georgia‑Cal game.テつ I think they came up with an unbelievable 27 offensive rebounds.テつ They're relentless.テつ They're ball hawkers, as we like to say.テつ They just hawk the ball.テつ They're going after it.テつ Their number one goal is to get it, and they won't settle unless they do.テつ So we were very concerned about that.
We know we're going to have to make that a focus of ours, a concentrated focus and putting a body on somebody every time a shot's taken.
Guard‑play‑wise, it's going to be fun.テつ I think they've got one of the best guards that I've seen in a long time in Clarendon, and I've been really impressed with her ability to shoot the three, her pull‑up jumpshot, and just her demeanor on the court.テつ She really is a comforting influence for their entire team.
Then you've got Brittany Boyd that is a very, very solid player, does a nice job of taking care of the basketball.テつ Both of them have 100 assists and more.テつ So when you've got two players on your team that Clarendon has 100 assists and Boyd has 150, I think it says a lot about their abilities to not only handle the ball, but they can distribute it and get it to people in the right spots to be able to score.

Q.テつ So far you've been called an answer man because you have an answer for everything.テつ Just talk about having a week to prepare, but 48 hours before you're back out on the floor to have an answer for the next team?
COACH WALZ:テつ Well, I wouldn't say it's so much that we have an answer.テつ What we've been able to do is score the basketball the past three games.テつ Everybody's‑‑ I've had great emails and great text messages and phone calls telling us what a great job defensively we did against Baylor, and I kindly remind everybody that I talk to that we held them to 81 points.テつ They average 81 points, so we did average.テつ They score 81, and that's exactly what they were scoring on average for the entire season.
The difference is they normally only give up 51, and we found a way to score 82.テつ So our ability to score the basketball right now, to me, is a bigger influence on the way we're playing than us being able to defend people.テつ We score 86 points last night against a very good defensive Tennessee team.
So we're going to have a game plan.テつ That's the part of the game that I love the most.テつ I love the strategy part of it.テつ I love trying to figure out what can we do to possibly get someone off balance?テつ Then you try to think what are they going to do to try to get us off balance?テつ And that's where I enjoy sitting down and watching film and just trying to dissect their games and figure out when they watch us, what do they think our weaknesses are?
So it's a lot of fun to do that, but at the same time, as I've said over and over, I haven't made a shot in my entire career as a coach and I haven't gotten a rebound or come up with a steal.テつ You've got to have players that are willing to go out there and follow the game plan and do some unorthodox things at times.
When you put four on defense and send one back, which we were going to do for the first possession against Baylor, just to try to get some excitement and try to get our team believing, hey, we can do some things and it's going to work.テつ Right now, I think our players do believe in our coaching staff, believe in our game plans, and we're going to continuing to with that and hopefully it will work when we have to go up and play California.

Q.テつ If you can quickly talk about the Schimmel sisters?
COACH WALZ:テつ The Schimmel sisters are a good group of two great kids.テつ It's been fun to coach them.テつ They're playing great basketball right now.テつ Shoni's really been shooting the ball well and been passing it.テつ And Jude is just, I mean, she's so steady with the ball.テつ She played 30 minutes last night, had three assists and one turnover against a lot of pressure.テつ Tennessee was trying to pressure and come at her, and she with stood that very, very well.
They're fun.テつ I like how they play and that's why I recruited them.テつ I want kids that want to come in here and know they're going to get the chance to play.テつ You're going to get a chance to run up‑and‑down the floor.テつ From Shoni's freshman year to her junior year she now knows, okay, when can I try that no‑look, off the ear pass?テつ If we've turned it over two straight times, it's not the right time to try it.テつ But we're still giving her the freedom to play, and I think that's what makes her so special.
I tell her all the time, you're talented enough to play anywhere, but you couldn't go play for just anybody.テつ Because I know sometimes she might throw one up into the crowd but I also know she's got the ability to come down off the break and shoot one from 24 feet that some people might think is a bad shot, but that's her game and you've got to be willing to let players play their game if you're going to be successful.

Q.テつ When you went to the Final Four for the first time in 2009, can you talk about how immediate the impact was in terms of recruiting, visibility, how different it felt when you went out after having been there?テつ And how you think now Cal is doing for the first time, how that can impact their program?
COACH WALZ:テつ It was great for our program, because it puts you on a national stage.テつ It puts your name out there.テつ It lets everybody know that you are a program.テつ It's hard anymore to just have one team.テつ Like in '09 you had a great team, and that's it, and then you weren't heard of again.
I think Cal, Lindsay has done a great job of building and continuing to grow that program.テつ And this is only going to help their recruiting, and I'm hoping it continues to help ours.テつ Because, as we all know, that is the name of the game.テつ You've got to find players that believe in what you're doing and want to be at your University.テつ I'm a big believer in that.
If you've got to try to convince a kid this is why, this is what you do, this is why you should come here and you're begging them to come.テつ Well, once they get there, those aren't the ones that give their heart and soul.テつ So when we try to go out and kind of players that want to be a Louisville Cardinal, and those are the ones that are going to give you everything they have.
So there is no doubt in my mind that it's going to help both our programs to continue to grow and hopefully we'll both be able to go out and find some top 10, top 15 players.

Q.テつ You talked about offensive creativity and players being able to play.テつ Doesn't mean undisciplined, but they're able to make some choices out on the court.テつ It strikes me that Connecticut and Notre Dame have similar type styles and I think they're harder to defend because of that.テつ Do you think that's a big thing going forward in women's basketball for coaches to be able to help players play that way?
COACH WALZ:テつ Yes, I do.テつ I think it's very important, and at the same time, I think as a coach you have to be able to give your players freedom to play.テつ But you have to make sure your players understand what's going on in the game, what the time and score is.
I love watching Geno's teams play because of how they play.テつ But at the same time I don't think you're going to see Kelly Faris or somebody coming down the floor and shoot a 25‑footer 1 on 4.テつ You know, that's freedom, but we hopefully aren't going to do that either.
So you teach them how to play.テつ You teach them time and score and then you give them freedom within that.テつ That's something that we really have been working on here and our players are really starting to understand the more educated they get about the game of basketball, understanding what's going on at this certain time, you're going to be able to do a lot more.テつ Then I don't have to call as many plays.テつ I don't have to direct us in what we're doing.
And that's what we really did our two games at Oklahoma City.テつ That's why when I said we're going to play street ball, that's what that meant.テつ We're not going to worry about hopefully having to run a bunch of offense.テつ We're going to drive and kick, make the extra pass, find a shooter and score, and that's what we were able to do for two straight games.

Q.テつ I hope you'll indulge me asking a question about a player who is not on your team but you've seen play a couple of times.テつ What impresses you most about what Jewell Lloyd has been able to do for Notre Dame as a freshman coming in and starting 34 out of 35, and filling some big holes?
COACH WALZ:テつ Well, Jewell's done a great job for them.テつ Her strength, her stamina is really what's impressed me, because a lot of freshmen, when you're playing as many minutes as she is, the toll and the wear of the season just kind of breaks you down because you're not used to it.
As I tell all my freshmen, I sit them down before they go home for Christmas and we go to the board and talk about, how many high school games did you play?テつ How many hours did you practice each day?テつ Did you get two days off?テつ And we go through that.テつ For 90% of them they've played more basketball before Christmas break their freshman year in college than they did their entire senior season.
So what impressed me about Jewell is just her ability to sustain her endurance and to be able to continue night‑in and night‑out to go out there and perform at the level she's performed without looking tired.

Q.テつ You've knocked off No. 4, No. 2, and No. 1 Baylor in your bracket.テつ Now you're getting into the Final Four and you're kind of seen as the underdog.テつ But what have those wins against the higher seeds done for your team's confidence?
COACH WALZ:テつ Well, I think we're at a point right now where we do believe if we show up and compete and follow game plan and believe in each other, we can beat anybody.テつ But, at the same time, we also know if we don't show up and we're not all on the same page, we're able to be beaten by anybody.テつ We're just not talented enough to just go out there, roll the ball out and say, hey, let's play.
We have to go out with a plan.テつ Our players have done a fantastic job of following the game plan.テつ We're going to know player tendencies.テつ We do our scouting based on player tendencies.テつ What this player likes to do.テつ We have to try to take that away.
Our game last night I thought we did a really nice job in the first half.テつ Now in the second half, Taber Spani drove left every time she got the ball and scored, and that was on our scouting report.テつ Don't let her go left.テつ Don't let her go left.テつ But we didn't do a good job of that, and that's something that we'll talk to our players about.テつ Hopefully we'll be able to do a better job of that for 40 minutes against Cal.

Q.テつ I was wondering if you were able to come to the Sugar Bowl earlier this year and watch Louisville, and if you were able to take anything away from that victory?テつ They were a big underdog against Florida and had a great game and Louisville just kind of took over New Orleans.テつ Were you able to watch that and is that something you can translate to your team?
COACH WALZ:テつ Unfortunately, I was not able to go down to the game since it's right in the middle of our season.テつ But we did watch the game.テつ We watched from start to finish, and were just so impressed with how Charlie had those guys so prepared and so mentally focused to play and came out and threw the first punch.
That's kind of what we talked about with our kids.テつ When you're playing teams like we're playing, you have to be the aggressor.テつ You have to come out and try to get it going from the beginning, instead of trying to fight your way back upstream.
We learned a lot from watching them.テつ We watch our men play a lot.テつ We love how they play, how they compete and how they attack the entire time.テつ And we try to take things away from both of those teams and implement them in our program.

Q.テつ How much of you saying Louisville as the ugly ducklings crashing the party, nobody believed we'd be here, is a true feeling of being an outsider versus you playing an us‑against‑the‑world card to motivate your team?
COACH WALZ:テつ I think it's a little bit of both.テつ You're always trying to find a way to motivate your team.テつ But I'm not sure if you filled out a bracket, but did you have us beating Baylor?

Q.テつ I did not have you beating Baylor.
COACH WALZ:テつ Okay.テつ And I'd love to know of the bracket that's were filled out on ESPN how many had us beating Baylor.

Q.テつ I'm going to say less than 1%.
COACH WALZ:テつ Okay.テつ So I think it's fair to say we're the party crashers is a legitimate saying.テつ I think we are.テつ If somebody had us beating Baylor, did they really have us beating whoever that next team might be?テつ And last night, it was Tennessee.
Even as we beat Baylor, I'm not sure anybody thought we could come back on 24‑hour rest and beat a very talented Tennessee team that had been beating everybody in the NCAA Tournament by about 18 points.

Q.テつ I think that's fair.
COACH WALZ:テつ That's why we go with it.テつ We're going to try to go with it and run with it and see where it can take us.

Q.テつ We were talking to Lindsay a little earlier, and I think she said you guys maybe first got to know each other when she was an assistant at Richmond and you were at Maryland.テつ She talked about your ability to get players to believe in whatever you tell them.テつ She said if you told them they'll come down from the moon and run around in circles, they'd do that.テつ That you just have that ability.テつ Can you talk a little bit about getting to know her a little bit and maybe what you think her biggest strengths are as a head coach?
COACH WALZ:テつ Yeah, she was an assistant at Richmond and I was an assistant at Maryland when our paths first crossed.テつ It's kind of funny, because we were both out at the Final Four last year, and actually were at a little get together and we sat next to each other at dinner and just had a really nice conversation just about basketball and life and family for that entire time.テつ Now all of a sudden we're going to end up playing each other in the first semifinal game.
I'm just really impressed with how she's been able to go into a program and continue to build it.テつ I think it's very similar to what we've done here.テつ We did not walk into a situation where the cabinet was bare.テつ We talked into Angel McCoughtry, Candace Bingham and just took them to the next step, the next rung on the ladder.テつ And Lindsay has done that exact same thing.
She went in and had some very nice players and brought in some more of her own, and now they've got them taking her personality, and that's one of we're going to continue to attack.テつ We're not going to give up. テつWe're relentless.テつ We get on the floor after 50‑50 balls.
I've just been really impressed with the little bit of film I've been able to watch right now of how they don't quit.

Q.テつ Where is Monique Reid physically compared to the player who scored 18 points a game in 2009 and 2010, and kind of along with that, showing players how she feels off the court about them.テつ How has your relationship with her kind of changed over the years as she's dealt with a lot of physical adversity?
COACH WALZ:テつ Mo's probably, I can honestly say, she's probably 50%.テつ She played 33 minutes last night, which is the most she's played this entire season, I believe.テつ I just admire her because she just is willing to continue to fight.
When she came back from her micro fracture surgery from last season, we knew it was going to be a situation where we're going to just have to monitor her playing time, monitor her practicing, and just see how the knee responded.
I felt we did a really good job of that in the non‑conference.テつ She was playing 14, 15 minutes a game.テつ Some games she might play 20.テつ Then we get into conference, she was doing well, and then, boom, she goes down in practice and has that same knee, reinjured it, has to go get a scope done and had it cleaned up.テつ They basically said at that point in time, you need more surgery.テつ We can do it now.テつ You're finished for the year.テつ Or we can wait until the end of the year and see if you can't manage your pain and the swelling until it's finished.
There was no doubt in my mind what she was going to choose, and that is she wanted to play, and that's what she's done for our program.
She's the only player in our program history that played in two Final Fours.テつ When she steps on the court for our next game, she will have surpassed Angel McCoughtry for games played here at Louisville.
So it's been fun to watch her, especially her freshman year because she was an important part of our Final Four run.テつ Sophomore year, she's first team All Big East.テつ Her junior year, I believe, she was first team All Big East.テつ Then gets hurt her senior year.テつ Comes back for her fifth year, and she's able to fight through it.
Our relationship has grown each year.テつ You know, when she came in as a freshman, I had to get the most out of her.テつ I had to try to get more out of her than she ever thought she had in her as a freshman, because I knew what she needed to bring us with the group that we had.テつ We had Angel McCoughtry, Candice Bingham, and I needed two more players and it ended up being Monique Reid, and Becky who did a great job of filling those roles.
So she's continued to mature.テつ She's continued to grow.テつ I think she's learned as most of my players do after their freshman and sophomore years, hey, coach is one way at practice.テつ But he'll do anything for us when we step off that court.
Then, for a fifth‑year senior, she's also learned if she goes hard, I really don't say too much to you.テつ So she's decided to go hard now.

Q.テつ Is it fair to say your conference schedule prepared you well for this national tournament, and what do you think of the idea that you can't win it all without beating one of those teams again?
COACH WALZ:テつ Well, I think our conference schedule, just the Big East itself is just a great league.テつ To be the last year of it as the existence we have now to have three of us playing in the Final Four, I think it speaks volumes for what the women's programs are all about.
When you go back and look at the men and women, you have five of the eight teams are Big East schools.テつ So I'd say the Big East had a pretty good year in both men's and women's basketball.
For us, we know if we're fortunate enough to get past Cal, we'll have to play either Notre Dame or UCONN, and it's going to have to be a situation where we come out with the same type of focus that we had when we played Baylor in Tennessee.テつ Because we haven't had much success against UCONN or Notre Dame.
So we're going to have to get our mindsets changed, if we are fortunate enough to get to that game, to be able to go out there and try to make that as competitive game as we can.

Q.テつ Do you think you have an advantage to play a team that you don't see that often in the tournament?
COACH WALZ:テつ I enjoy that myself.テつ I enjoy playing teams that you don't get to see that much because I think that makes the chess game even more exciting.テつ Because now you watch them on film.テつ You're like, she's pretty quick.テつ Then you get a chance to actually get there in person, and it's like, oh, she's quicker than I thought she was, or she might be slower than you thought she was.
But we'll have the opportunity to play Cal, who, we obviously have not played.テつ Then, if we're fortunate enough, we'll have to face Notre Dame or UCONN team that's very familiar with us and we'll be familiar with them.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Coach Walz, thank you for joining us.テつ Look forward to seeing you in New Orleans.
COACH WALZ:テつ Thank you very much.テつ Sure appreciate it.

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