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NCAA WOMEN'S FINAL FOUR


April 7, 2013


Shoni Schimmel

Antonita Slaughter

Bria Smith

Jeff Walz


NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Louisville テや 64
Cal - 57


MODERATOR:テつ Joining us from Louisville, head coach Jeff Walz and student‑athletes Shoni Schimmel, Bria Smith, and Antonita Slaughter.
We'll begin with an opening statement from Coach Walz and then take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH WALZ:テつ Well, first off, I'd just like to congratulate Cal and Lindsay on a fantastic season.テつ She's a first‑class person.テつ I consider her a friend in this profession, and I have the utmost respect for what she's done.テつ And I wish her and her program‑‑ she can continue to build it and grow it and nothing but success.
From our end, we got one more game.テつ I told the kids they're stuck with me in practice for one more day.テつ So it's just‑‑ it's a remarkable group of young ladies.テつ I'm proud of every single one of them.
And can't even put into words how proud I am for the adversity that we faced this entire season with our injuries.テつ Tonight we're down 10 at half, we come out, we execute perfect to start the second half.テつ We scored I think the first five, and then we just chipped away and chipped away and chipped away.テつ And we run a play at the end there, Sara Hammond gets a layup, gets fouled, and we finally take our first lead.
And once we took the lead, I knew‑‑ I could see it in our kids' eyes, the excitement that, hey, we can do this, we're gonna do this.テつ And, like I said, I'm proud of them.
MODERATOR:テつ Thanks, Coach.
We'll take questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.テつ Antonita, talk about how you were feeling when you got the ball.テつ You were obviously very comfortable shooting.テつ What gave you the hot hand tonight?
ANTONITA SLAUGHTER:テつ I just think when I shoot the ball I know that my teammates have confidence in me, so that gives me confidence within myself.

Q.テつ Bria, there was a moment where it seems like the turnovers for you personally were piling up, and Coach kind of got into your face a little bit but also consoled you for a little bit.テつ Kind of what was that conversation like?
BRIA SMITH:テつ Well, he basically was telling me‑‑ he was telling me how I needed to slow down and I needed to stop occupying the ball so much and we got here by playing team basketball.テつ And we kind of got out of that for a while.テつ So just to pass the ball more around and get back into the way that we play.

Q.テつ Antonita, you've been one of the team's best shooters from a marksmanship standpoint most of the season.テつ Went through a little bit of a downturn, maybe had shooting problems there at the end, had a great game against Baylor, a little bit quiet against Tennessee, and then really blossomed tonight.テつ Was there something in particular you did mentally or any other way, tied your shoes a certain way or whatever, to sort of like get in the right mindset and bring out the confidence in this game?
ANTONITA SLAUGHTER:テつ No, it just all comes with repetition.テつ When I was down, I just keptafter practice just staying after a little later and shooting more.
And, like I said, I know my team has confidence in me and they want me to continue to shoot the ball.

Q.テつ Shoni, I ask this question part serious and part fun, okay?テつ Your parents said they would marry if you beat Baylor.テつ What do you think they might be saying or will say if you beat‑‑ if you beat whoever wins the second game?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:テつ I don't know.テつ She's up here telling me her brother (laughter).テつ But we'll see.テつ I don't know.テつ Thing going around is tattoos, so I might make them tattoo something.テつ Our assistant coach, Samantha Williams, is getting a tattoo of a cardinal bird soon, so if we keep winning, I heard Coach Walz is going to get one, so we'll see.

Q.テつ Just can you guys talk about your excitement level to getting to this point, just how unbelievable this journey has been for you guys?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:テつ It doesn't feel realistic right now.テつ It hasn't set in yet.テつ We're playing in a national championship in a couple days.テつ It's just so exciting and we've worked so hard to get here, and just like we're ready to take on anything.
We've gone through so much adversity through this year, and we're ready to take on anything.テつ And if that means the national championship, here we come.
BRIA SMITH:テつ To add on to what Shoni said, this is literally every basketball player's dream, to be in a national championship.テつ So it feels unreal, but I think we're ready for it.

Q.テつ Bria, in Oklahoma City I think you guys trailed a total of seven seconds, and that was at the end of the Baylor game.テつ How were you guys able to mentally regroup after being down at 10 at half time?
BRIA SMITH:テつ Just the confidence that Coach has in us and him coming in at halftime saying that we really couldn't have played any worse the first half; we weren't playing the basketball that we're used to playing.テつ So just to get back into what we're used to doing.
And he had a great play set up for the first play of the game for us‑‑ I mean of the second half for us.テつ And just building up momentum from scoring and getting stops on defense really helped us.

Q.テつ Shoni, your defense really tightened up on them in the second half.テつ You can see they were having trouble with that little 1‑3‑1 trap.テつ What did you do differently to slow them down in the second half?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:テつ We just didn't let them get the ball where they wanted to be.テつ Our coaches knew exactly their scout, so they told us what to do and when to do it.テつ We didn't really follow the scout report the first half, but we listened the second half because we didn't want to lose and we weren't going to be down the rest of the game.
So just listening to our coaches and executing our game plan is what really got our defense going.

Q.テつ Shoni, the defense Cal played on you in the first half, can you talk about that seemed pretty tough and were you getting frustrated?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:テつ It's frustrating to be able to have someone right there in your face the whole time, but we came together as a team and we gathered ourselves and we did what we needed to do, and that was to go out there and win.テつ And we did it as a team, and I couldn't be any more happier.
MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, ladies.
Questions for Coach Walz.

Q.テつ Coach, you flipped the switch for the second half.テつ Schematically what did do you different when you came out of the locker room?
COACH WALZ:テつ Well, we really didn't try and change a whole bunch.テつ We did come out and play some man.テつ But what happened was we finally started to get a little more patient at the offensive end.テつ We came out, we executed our first play perfect.テつ Shoni gets a three.テつ We come down the floor, we run our second set, the second play.テつ Bria Smith‑‑ I believe Bria hits a jump shot.
We really‑‑ it was probably one of the poorest defensive efforts we've had in terms of following the scout and being mentally prepared.テつ When we came out in second half we were in man and I wanted to a double on ball screen, and we never doubled in our ball screen one time the entire night.テつ And that's the part that I kept telling them, you know, give me chance to coach.テつ Double the ball screen so I can at least see what's going to happen and then we can make an adjustment.
But I think what happened was we finally started to rebound the ball a little bit better.テつ Because they were just abusing us on second‑chance points in the first half.テつ I believe they had 10, and then in the second half they end up with 4.テつ So we did a better job of staying between them and the ball, but we scored.テつ We found a way to score.テつ And I told our kids before the game started.テつ I mean, our goal was to try and score 60 tonight and we end up with 64.

Q.テつ Coach, can you talk about how good this town has been to the University of Louisville in the last three months.
COACH WALZ:テつ It's been pretty good.テつ I'll go back‑‑ last year, I know our men didn't win in the Final Four down here, but just to get down here to play in the Final Four.テつ You've got your men's program playing in the Final Four, New Orleans football team wins the Sugar Bowl here, and now we're going to have a chance Tuesday night to play for a national championship.テつ Been pretty good.テつ I'll come back and visit.

Q.テつ Coach, you brought Hammond back in with about 8:39 left in the second half with four fouls.テつ Just since she was a huge factor down the stretch, just talk about that decision‑making process there.
COACH WALZ:テつ Well, it got to a point where‑‑ she's one of our better post players, and if you're going to win, you've got to have your best players on the floor.テつ And that's something that I truly believe in.テつ And I said, hey, if she's going to foul out, she's going to foul out, but I'm not going to keep her over here for last four minutes of the game.
My thought was if we can get this last 8 from her, we're going to.テつ And I thought she did a great job.テつ I mean, she made a few big‑time moves.テつ She caught and finished for us.テつ She goes 3 of 3 from the free throw line, and I believe two of them were and‑ones.テつ So just really, really pleased with how Sara responded.

Q.テつ Coach, were you concerned at all the way they were defending Shoni, and did you do anything at half time to try and figure out how to spring her?
COACH WALZ:テつ No.テつ What I told them was we've got to stop dribbling the ball.テつ I mean, that's all we did was dribble dribble, dribble.テつ I thought they were all trying to check the air.テつ I'm like, guys, the officials did that before the game.テつ You're okay.
And it's all they did.テつ We occupied the ball.テつ It was one person after another.テつ It wasn't anybody trying to be selfish, but they just kept pounding it into the ground, and I finally said we don't have a chance to win if you keep dribbling the thing.テつ You've got to pass.テつ You've got to get it up the floor to pass.テつ You've got to rip it through in a triple‑threat position and play off the pass instead of off the dribble the entire night.
And we finally did a much better job of that in the second half.テつ Antonita Slaughter‑‑ we ended up with 12 assists on the night, and I think we had three or four at half.テつ And I think that shows how much of a better job we did.

Q.テつ Jeff, taking the cue from Shoni, if you win Tuesday, what will your tattoo say?
COACH WALZ:テつ I'm just going to take a pen and stick it on my rear end and call it a tattoo.テつ She don't have to know any better.テつ You know, like they‑‑ see, they're youngsters.テつ You can sit there and tell them you're going to get a tattoo, and that's great.テつ To me a little dot is a tattoo.テつ So that's what I'm planning on doing.テつ Please don't tell them.テつ (Laughter).テつ Okay.テつ Because she's expecting something big.
We're just thrilled to be here.テつ It's like I said in my opening statement, I thought when the year started, when we came into June, July, I really‑‑ I was excited about this ball club.テつ I was excited about our depth.テつ I was excited about our returners, our freshman.テつ I thought we're going to have a chance to be really good.テつ And then all of a sudden it's one kid after another after another.テつ And you just have to roll with it.
The biggest problem in college athletics in my opinion is everybody lives in the moment.テつ I mean, we lose to UK in December, you think the world's going to come to an end.テつ It's just awful.テつ And I'm like, hey, it's one game.テつ That's the way I approach them all:テつ It's one game.
Now, once you get in the NCAA tournament, it's not one game because when you lose you're done.テつ But back in December, it is what it is.テつ They had an unbelievable year, UK did.テつ I think they would be willing to say, hey, we'll trade.テつ You can win that game and we'll come here and play for a national championship on Tuesday.
Everybody gets caught up in the moment during the regular season.テつ And we went through some growing pains.テつ We went through some adjustments.テつ We went to try and figure out who can be where, who can play what, and we finally got things going.テつ This is my sixth year here, and I'd say five of those six except for the year we were 14 and 18, which we were decimated with injuries that year too, we're playing our best basketball at the end of the year.テつ And that's all that matters.
I keep telling people we're not in the NBA.テつ We don't have to play the best four out of seven.テつ It's the one game, one night.テつ And we're figuring out a way to pull them out and win and play well at the right time.

Q.テつ Coach, not to slight your players' ability or anything, but is, to a certain extent, attitude, bravado, confidence carrying your team through?テつ You've knocked off some very talented big‑name teams.テつ Is that what you're going to need a little bit Tuesday night?テつ Are you playing a little bit above yourself right now?
COACH WALZ:テつ You know what?テつ I wouldn't necessarily say we're playing above ourselves.テつ We're playing as a team.テつ The great thing about us, you look at our roster‑‑ I mean our scoring tonight, Sara Hammond gets 9, Antonita gets 18, Bria gets 17, Shoni gets 10 and Jude gets 9.テつ We're sitting there with five kids in double figures for the most part.
You've gotta guard everybody on our team.テつ That's where our lack of depth comes in.テつ But we've figured out a way to get to the last game of the year without it.テつ So I don't thinkeither of these teams we play on Tuesday are going to care that we don't have a bunch of depth to put in.
But if we can get the ones we have healthy to play their best basketball on Tuesday night, then we're going to have a chance to win a national championship.

Q.テつ Jeff, obviously no matter who comes through tonight, it's gonna be all Big East, you know, finals.テつ What's that say about this conference?テつ And also, then, how do you guys overcome maybe the season?テつ How do you reconcile what happened during the regular season with these two teams and get your team to overcome?
COACH WALZ:テつ I don't even remember playing them.テつ I mean, it's one game now.テつ We aren't concerned about that.テつ We figured out a way to beat some really good basketball teams.テつ But we do have‑‑ one of these two are going to win here tonight, and they're special.テつ They're very talented, well‑coached basketball teams with some great players on both sides.
We're going to enjoy this tonight.テつ We're going to enjoy it.テつ We're going to go on Bourbon Street.テつ I'll tell the kids as long as their back by two, we're okay.テつ (Laughter).テつ I mean, everybody is saying you gotta get the kids to bed.テつ No, we don't either.テつ We're going to enjoy it.テつ We're getting a chance to play for a national championship, so when we get to halftime, we're gonna head out of here, we're gonna let them go back to the hotel, go out with their families, get something to eat.テつ And it might not be 2.テつ It might be 1:30.テつ But I'll have curfew for them and then we'll get prepared starting tomorrow.

Q.テつ I just got here so I'm probably going to ask yousomething you've already been asked.テつ Talk about Cal, what they did well in the first half and what you guys had to do in the second half to do what you did.
COACH WALZ:テつ I think Cal's fantastic.テつ I'm so impressed with what Lindsay has done with her team, how hard they play.
We allowed them too many offensive rebounds in the first half.テつ We allowed them too many points in transition.テつ And then we just dribbled the ball, dribbled the ball, dribbled the ball.テつ I mean, it wasn't very pretty.
In the second half, we talked about sharing the basketball with the pass instead of the dribble the entire time.テつ We tried to mix it up a little more on defense.テつ We played a little man, we played a little zone.テつ We played a little zone starting off, switched into man.
But the bottom line is we finally did a better job of keeping them off the glass.テつ And when they did get an offensive rebound, they were long offensive rebounds.テつ They weren't able to just go back up and score.
I've seen some post players that rebound the basketball, but Caldwell and Brandon are phenomenal offensive rebounders.テつ They're hard to keep off the glass.テつ But we figured out a way to do that, and that's why we were able to finally get something going at the offensive end.

Q.テつ Congratulations, Coach.
COACH WALZ:テつ Thank you.

Q.テつ Your men obviously are burning it up in Atlanta, and I know that you said after the Baylor game that your team had been watching the men play in the locker room.テつ How much is your team feeding off the success that the men had?テつ And are the men following you and giving any support and love back to the women?
COACH WALZ:テつ I mean, the way I look at it, I think the men are trying to feed off of our success.テつ They've just had a so‑so year this year and they just happen to be playing well at the end.テつ No.テつ I mean, we're huge supporters of each other.
Our athletic director came to me and said, hey, the men's team was in the hotel lobby jumping up and down and cheering for us.テつ I've gotten a text from Rick already congratulating us and telling me to tell the players what an unbelievable job they did.テつ And it's special.テつ I'm very fortunate, very fortunate to have a men's coach, as high profile as he is, to really genuinely care about the women's program.テつ It speaks volumes for him, speaks volumes for his program.
And the players are the same way.テつ The players have been already texting my players.テつ And that's what it's about.テつ That's what our entire athletic department is about.テつ We also support each other.テつ I've gotten the softball coach, baseball coach, swimming coach, track, everybody has sent a congratulations text.テつ They're so happy for us.
And that's what we do.テつ That's why our athletic department is as strong as it is.テつ So we will be cheering on the men tomorrow night loud.
MODERATOR:テつ Thank you coach.
COACH WALZ:テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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