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NCAA WOMEN'S REGIONALS SEMIFINALS & FINALS: LOUISVILLE


March 30, 2014


Tia Gibbs

Shoni Schimmel

Antonita Slaughter

Jeff Walz


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

Louisville テや 73
LSU テや 47


THE MODERATOR:テつ We'd like to open it up with opening remarks from coach.
COACH WALZ:テつ First I'd like to just start off by saying thanks to all the fans.テつ What an environment we had here today for both games.
That's what I know we're trying to do is get as much publicity, as many fans as we can to come out and watch women's basketball.テつ I thought our marketing department, the University of Louisville did a fantastic job.
I'm expecting an even bigger crowd for Tuesday night, which is only good for our game.
I would also like to congratulate LSU on a great year.テつ We understand how things can be when you lose a few kids to injuries.テつ Unfortunately for them, it was at a tough time of the year to try to regroup, but I thought they fought.
I was very impressed with Danielle Ballard.テつ We knew coming into the game tonight how well she had been playing.テつ She was extremely hard to defend.テつ She's got a great midrange game and goes to the offensive glass extremely well.テつ So we had a hard time containing her, but I thought we did a good job on the rest of their players.テつ That's what gave us the opportunity to win the ball game.

Q.テつ For Tia, what were you doing effectively defensively to wear them out to cause them to shoot such a low percentage?
TIA GIBBS:テつ I think we just focused on our pressure.テつ We knew we needed to slow Ballard down or attempt to as much as we could.テつ I think our post did a great job on Plaisance.テつ Those are kind of their two go‑to players.
The rest of us just were playing scouting report defense.テつ We knew what the other team was going to do, and we tried to prevent them from doing it.

Q.テつ Question for Tia and Shoni.テつ Talk about the hammer you guys have been laying down in the tournament.テつ Would you have expected that you would have won by these kinds of margins and be up from start to finish in these games the way that you have so far?テつ What do you think has contributed to that?
TIA GIBBS:テつ I think it's just that we don't actually play the score.テつ We won't let up on people, and we know that there's a lot that we still have to work on.
So we can be up 30 with a minute left, and we're getting upset at our players for doing something wrong.テつ So I think it's just our focus and knowing that we still need to get better and not play the score.
SHONI SCHIMMEL:テつ I think the big thing is we can't take anybody lightly regardless if there's still eight minutes left in the game.テつ We were the person last year that everybody didn't expect to win.テつ We know what it's like to be on the other side.
We like to keep pushing at it.テつ Regardless of who's winning, we just want to keep going and keep getting better.テつ Regardless of anything, we still want to play one more game after the one we're playing in right then and there.

Q.テつ The back‑to‑back three‑pointers got the team going.テつ What was going through your mind in terms of just trying to get open for a shot?テつ Were you thinking about the three?テつ Was it a matter of just maybe trying to answer Danielle and what she was doing and really just become involved in the offense?
TIA GIBBS:テつ I don't think I was trying to answer what she was doing.テつ I was just trying to provide a spark to the team.テつ Coming off the bench, that's kind of what our job is to do.テつ Whether it's on defense, making threes, whatever the case.テつ My teammates did a great job looking for me.テつ They were the ones creating the open shots by driving and kicking to me.
It's easy to knock them down when somebody is pulling two people towards them.

Q.テつ Shoni, can you just describe your play so far in this tournament and today, not just in terms of scoring, but also efficiency.
SHONI SCHIMMEL:テつ Yeah.テつ Well, it's tournament time.テつ So it's kind of like if you win, you're done.テつ That's important to me because I don't think we should lose.テつ I think we need to come out and play strong every game because, if you lose, you are done.
I mean, I'm just letting the game come to me.テつ I'm having fun.テつ It's been a blast these last couple of games just because we're just enjoying the game of basketball.テつ I mean, I'm having fun just playing what I love to do.

Q.テつ Shoni, it's an 11‑12 game, media time‑out.テつ Then you guys take off on an 11‑2 run.テつ Did Coach Walz say anything that inspired you all go on that run?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:テつ He probably stuttered a little bit just because that's him.テつ Coach is always talking to us, getting us ready to go out and play for the next four minutes until whatever the next media may be.
He says a lot of great things, but we also as a collective group, as a team, we talk to each other a lot.テつ We hype each other up.テつ We get out and like, hey, you've got to do this better.テつ We just talk to each other as a team.テつ We're at a good point with our team where like we're able to do that with each other.

Q.テつ Shoni, when did you kind of think about‑‑ I mean, were you aware sort of that they didn't have very many players?テつ Did you feel like you guys could kind of take it to them, that they only had eight players available and two starters out?テつ Did that sort of give you motivation to sort of put the pedal to the metal against them?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:テつ Definitely.テつ In the back of your mind, you know that they are kind of short a team.テつ They lost two players, important players that they needed.テつ So for us, take advantage of that.
It wasn't what we strived at, but we also understood, hey, they don't have these two players.テつ We still have to play Danielle Ballard.テつ We still have to play Theresa Plaisance, so for us not to take them lightly and just keep going at them.テつ It definitely helped us.テつ You can overlook somebody, but at the same time, we didn't do that.

Q.テつ Nita, you are a starter in the game.テつ What do you think about the bench that you guys have pretty much‑‑ I don't even know if you're aware of it.テつ You've almost shut out every team, the reserves have.テつ How important is the bench to your team compared to how good other benches are for other teams and how much your bench has outplayed other benches?
ANTONITA SLAUGHTER:テつ Coach actually just read out a crazy stat.テつ It was like 80 points‑‑ yeah, 84‑2.
Our bench means a lot to us.テつ It's a team sport.テつ One of us goes down, we need rest, we've got players on the bench that can come in and just give us a spark of energy, and that's good to have on a team.

Q.テつ For Antonita, a year ago you all were in that same position as LSU, just really trying to get everybody to chip in because of injuries.テつ If you could kind of compare what the mentality is now to then in terms of having everybody back and how much that's really, really helped you, particularly this time of year.
ANTONITA SLAUGHTER:テつ Yeah, I'd say the mentality last year, no one expected us to win, so we came together and we did what we did.テつ But this year people know our name and they know who we are.テつ So we just have to, like Shoni was saying, not overlook anyone and just leave it all on the court.

Q.テつ Tia, what was your thoughts on the crowd today?テつ 11,000 people here and getting to play a Sweet 16 game at home with that kind of a crowd.テつ What did that do for you guys?
TIA GIBBS:テつ Well, our crowd has been great all season, and our following just continues to grow.テつ So I don't think we expected nothing less but the 11,000 that we received.
As you can tell, it kind of provides a spark to us.テつ We take advantage of having the crowd and playing the Sweet 16 on our home court.テつ Like I said before, we're very fortunate that our athletic department took a chance and believed in us that we would make it this far to give us the opportunity to play‑‑ to have a chance to play on our home court to get to Nashville.
THE MODERATOR:テつ That's our time with the University of Louisville student‑athletes.テつ We'll open things up for Coach.

Q.テつ Jeff, compare and contrast Shoni's play this tournament as opposed to other tournaments.
COACH WALZ:テつ She always figures out a way to play her best basketball at the right time of the season.テつ I think you can go back to her freshman year.テつ We went on the road at Xavier, a 2‑7 game in the second round where we weren't given much of a chance.
I can still remember she hit back‑to‑back threes in the last two minutes of the game on shots that most kids probably aren't going to take.テつ It's a one‑on‑four fast break, and she's the one.テつ That's kind of how she plays.
Now I think, as she's gone and gotten older and more mature, she's letting the game come to her more.テつ I was really impressed.テつ She goes 6 of 13 from the field.テつ They were doing a really nice job trying to face guard her, trying to frustrate her, and she didn't force thing.テつ She let the game come to her.
She did not force any threes, six assists, two turnovers, just a solid basketball game, and she's been playing that way the entire tournament.テつ So hopefully, that will continue.

Q.テつ Jeff, obviously, Tuesday night you'll be facing your former team, Maryland, where you coached at.テつ Your thoughts on that.テつ And what were you looking for today, knowing that you were going to be facing them?テつ What kind of effort were you looking for today?
COACH WALZ:テつ You know what, we haven't even worried about that yet.テつ We haven't even concerned ourselves about it.テつ I told the kids we're going to enjoy this for about two hours.テつ We'll go get something to eat together, have some fun and some laughs, talk about the game.
Then we'll get together as a coaching staff and start putting together a game plan, starting to break down some film.テつ We know we're going to have our hands full.テつ They're a very talented basketball team.テつ They've got great size.テつ Alyssa Thomas has been playing passionate basketball.テつ She's on a mission to get her team to a Final Four.
So we know what's at stake.テつ We understand what we're going to have to do.テつ Now it's a matter of us being able to put a game plan together to try to slow them up.

Q.テつ As a followup, any thoughts about facing your former boss on Tuesday night?
COACH WALZ:テつ I don't worry about that.テつ It's the third time we played‑‑ we played each other in the NCAA Tournament, and we're 1‑1.
I haven't scored a point since about '92, and I'm not even sure I scored that year.テつ So it's not about me.テつ I've got to do my job to get these kids prepared and motivated and confident that on Tuesday night, if we follow a game plan and go out and execute, then we're going to have a chance to win.

Q.テつ Coach, tonight you faced a rather different post‑game than is likely to be the case on Tuesday, in that they had so much height on you, but you still effectively shut that post‑game down.テつ Maryland, you're more on even footing with in terms of size‑‑
COACH WALZ:テつ Have you looked at their size?テつ They've got 6'6" starting, 6'5", and 6'4".テつ We're at 6'1", and we lie about our height.

Q.テつ You lie?
COACH WALZ:テつ We're all about 6 foot if we're lucky.

Q.テつ Can we quote you on that?
COACH WALZ:テつ You sure can.テつ If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying.

Q.テつ But in terms of players who score the most points.
COACH WALZ:テつ Yes, they have great size in there.テつ Everybody does it with the media guide.テつ You're always going to make your kids up to be a little bit taller so they think, oh, gosh, she's 6'2".テつ We don't have that.テつ Sara Hammond is a good 6'1".テつ Asia Taylor is about 6 foot, 6'1".テつ We know we're going to have to rebound the basketball.テつ That's my biggest concern.
You're looking at a ball club that I thought handled Tennessee extremely well on the defensive glass, stopping them from getting any second chance points, and that's what Tennessee makes a living off of.テつ Maryland was fantastic with that.
And then I thought Alyssa Thomas, in a really important part to the game, where Tennessee thought they had a little bit of a run going.テつ They get it to ten, they got it to eight at one point, and she comes back with the offensive board and stick‑back.テつ Ones that as a coach, you're like, man, if you're on the other sideline, it's a dagger.テつ It's one you can't have.
So they are very talented.テつ They're very strong.テつ We're going to have to give the best effort we've given all season long on boxing out.

Q.テつ If I could just follow on that, with the mobility that Thomas has and the ball handling skills, which are pretty impressive‑‑
COACH WALZ:テつ Oh, yeah.

Q.テつ I know you did a lot of trapping and denial to Plaisance tonight.
COACH WALZ:テつ They're completely different players.テつ Thomas is playing the three for them.テつ So she'll post up some, but she's getting most of her work done on the perimeter, attacking off the dribble.
Plaisance is a great outside shooter.テつ She really missed Kenney on the floor.テつ Having a point guard that's a senior that understands the game as well as she did, she's‑‑ when I watched the film, she was able to pick teams apart.テつ Was she getting 20 a night?テつ No, but she was‑‑ if you threw in all of her assists and how she got people to have to guard her because she could shoot the three, Plaisance really missed her on the floor in this game.
So Tuesday night, Alyssa Thomas is a completely different player, no question about it, but they're still going to put the traditional four and five on the floor that have great size.テつ So we're going to have to make sure we somehow figure out a way to box out Alyssa Thomas and then both of their big posts.

Q.テつ Jeff, same question I asked the players, but have you been surprised that margins of victory that you've had, just you've really‑‑ have you played a better stretch than you are now?テつ You mentioned, before the tournament, you're talking about you've tended to think that after the two‑week break, you guys always sort of peak at the right time.テつ Are you doing that now?テつ Have you been surprised at just the blowouts you guys have had, 25, 40 points?
COACH WALZ:テつ I think we're playing really good basketball right now.テつ Did we look to me exceptionally sharp in the first half in the half‑court?テつ No.テつ I thought LSU really did good things in trying to confuse us some, trying to make things a little unorthodox.テつ But I thought we really did a nice job of just attacking out of transition.
We had some really nice kick‑outs from our post players for some open threes, and that really got things going for us.テつ I think the first half we go 7 of 18 from the three‑point line.テつ If you're going to do that, it's going to make things a little difficult for your opponent, and then it spreads the floor out for us.
I mean, I told our team, we didn't have a true post entry pass probably until about ten minutes left in the game where we actually were posting up on the low block and then threw a post entry pass.テつ We can't do that on Tuesday night.テつ We've got to try to go inside out, try to get a presence in the post.
Not that we're just going to barrel somebody over and dominate them, but Sara Hammond and Asia Taylor do a great job of reverse pivot, face up, shoot the 10 to 12‑foot shot.テつ Those are things that we have to do in the post because we have to have a post presence in order for us to be successful.

Q.テつ Is your team playing its best basketball these last couple of games?テつ And if so, why?
COACH WALZ:テつ It's not that we're playing our best basketball.テつ I mean, we're winning by larger margins than we have in the past.テつ I've had a lot of people say, well, why couldn't you guard like this all year?テつ Why couldn't you guard‑‑ because we can't.
For six games, they let me coach them.テつ I mean, they let me, when they don't do it right at practice, boy, I'm on them.テつ I'm demanding it from them, and you can't do that the entire season.テつ It's not what they're going to be able to handle.
So we go play some people, and we're up 25, and instead of putting the hammer down and winning by 40, we give up a 7‑0 run.テつ So now it's 8 with two minutes left.テつ Well, I tell my assistants all the time, relax, we're going to win, it's okay.
So there's time and places when you can push your players to try to get the most out of them, and because we've had success here in the postseason, and I think we've done fairly well, my kids know, okay, the conference tournament's over.テつ Coach is going on his mission, stay out of his way, and they let me do it because they want to win.テつ They know what the prize is at the end.
Does it guarantee we're going to win every game?テつ No, it sure doesn't.テつ If that was the case, we'd have two National Championships here, but they go into it with such more focus.
I mean, you look at this tonight, we held them to 23 and 24 points in each half.テつ I mean, Plaisance goes 1 for 13, Harden goes 1 for 11.テつ Ballard is phenomenal, there's no question about it.テつ I was so impressed with her and have been on film.テつ So I was like, guys, we're not going to be able to shut her down.テつ We've just got to try to make it hard on her, but we've got to be able to shut everybody else down, which is what I thought our kids did, and they did a great job of that.
In the past, we might get up 18 or 19 and then we allow Plaisance to hit back‑to‑back threes.テつ We give Harden, who I think is a great three‑point shooter‑‑ our number one goal was to run her off the three‑point line.テつ You've got to make her put it on the ground.テつ We did a fantastic job of that.テつ These ladies did an unbelievable job of that.
During the regular season, it's very possible we probably would have given her two threes too.テつ Now they're honed in, and they know personnel.テつ That's what makes us, I think, a very talented and good basketball team right now.

Q.テつ Jeff, how have Asia and Tia helped make this team what it was this season separate from what it was last season?
COACH WALZ:テつ They add depth to us.テつ They add depth.テつ When you're able to bring Tia Gibbs off the bench and she gets us 15 points in 16 minutes of play, it's pretty special.
Asia brings us some athleticism that she can play inside out.テつ She comes up with 10 boards tonight, 3 assists, 1 turnover, really causes a little bit of a mismatch problem because she rebounds it so well, but then you're going to have to defend her at about 15 to 18 feet.
It's still‑‑ I mean, you know, we've got to get Sara going right now.テつ We're running out of games to get her going.テつ So I'm going to talk to her tonight and tomorrow, just how important she is to our ball club.テつ The past two games, if you had told me that offensively she would have had the output that she's had and we still won, I would have doubted you.
So we're very fortunate to have some bench players and some other players that are stepping up to take more responsibility while Sara's in a little bit of a slump, is what I would call it.テつ There's no doubt in my mind she'll get in the gym tomorrow, we'll have a great practice, and I'd be shocked if Sara Hammond had three games where she struggled at the offensive end of the floor.
Thank you, everybody.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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