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March 31, 2014

Lexie Brown

Alicia DeVaughn

Brenda Frese

Brionna Jones

Katie Rutan

Alyssa Thomas


BRENDA FRESE:  Obviously we're happy to still be playing.  As you've seen in our last couple games, I mean, it's been against really rugged opponents, and we expect more of the same in our next game out.  Obviously getting to a regional final, you've had a really, really good season, but I know this team wants so much more.
I was really impressed with the fans that we saw come out on Sunday.  You can tell how much support that they have for their team, and it's really how college basketball is supposed to be.  I know for us, Tuesday night is going to be a fun environment to be able to play in front of so many fans.
Clearly Schimmel is the star of the show.  So much fun for fans to be able to watch.  But as you look at Louisville's team they have a lot of other really, really good parts.  Didn't get to see Louisville much in the regular season.  We didn't have really many common opponents, didn't come across much film with them.  But I kind of liken them, they're somewhat similar, I think, to their team in 2012 when we played them in the NCAA Tournament.
I think it's great in terms of what Jeff has been able to accomplish here.  So proud of him.  I knew when we worked together that he would be a star.  We went through a lot obviously in our four years together.  I can think back to our first season when we went down and played Duke and got drilled by them by 51 points, and four years later we were standing on the podium to be able to win a national championship.
So that whole staff, including Jeff, was a very important part of our success, and it was a really fun time for us as a program.
I think the biggest thing when you look at what Jeff and I have done, we've taken our programs to this status.  You take about that inevitably our paths were going to cross.  The reality is we've continued to cross on numerous occasions, but the reality is only one team gets to move on to Nashville.  I think where you're looking at both teams, both teams are playing extremely well.  That's where you should be playing if you're an Elite 8 team, and I know both teams are going to be ready to play tomorrow night.

Q.  Alyssa, what do you remember about the last time you played Louisville?  I think they held you to six points.  Do you take anything from that going into this game?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  Yeah, that was my sophomore year, and they just came in and tried to take me out early and get in my head.  I'm definitely a different player from back then, so I'll be interested to see what happens.

Q.  Alyssa, you play at a regional final, usually you're going to be playing in a very tough environment.  Talk about playing Louisville, they had 10,000 plus yesterday, 11,000, going to be a lot of people, probably going to be pretty hostile.  Do you kind of expect that at this point of the season, and how do you deal with that?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  Yeah, we were there yesterday and just the environment that they had, the fans were great, very loud.  We're definitely expecting that tomorrow, and looking forward to it.

Q.  Katie, as a senior can you speak to what it means to you to be in the Elite 8 and the opportunity that's in front of you?
KATIE RUTAN:  I mean, of course being one of the last eight teams is one of the greatest feelings you'll ever have, and going out your senior year, us five seniors, this is all we have left and we put everything into it every day, and we try to show that through in practice and games to our underclassmen and to whoever is watching.  Not many people get this moment, and you have to appreciate it and just be humble with it.

Q.  Alicia, Brenda mentioned it would be another rugged team you're playing in the tournament.  The past two games it's been really tough battles inside.  What do you anticipate going into this game?
ALICIA DeVAUGHN:  From here on out, all our games we're going to be playing are going to be a physical game, so I think it's just match the physicality and not just give in and not give up, just got to play hard and play good.

Q.  Alyssa, coming off of yesterday's game, career game in some senses for you.  How much confidence does that give you going into tomorrow, and then what do you kind of think about that you have stepped up and played these great games on some of the biggest stages with the most on the line?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  It's just good to see your shot falling on this court.  Tomorrow is just about letting the game come to you and not forcing anything.

Q.  The last time Louisville and Maryland played, Maryland had to overcome some foul trouble.  Is that something you're focusing on to make sure you don't get into foul trouble early so you can stay in the game?
BRIONNA JONES:  Definitely that's going to be a focus for this game, trying to stay out of foul trouble so everybody can be in the game and play, so we have all the pieces that we need.

Q.  Katie and Lexie, Louisville shoots the three so well and they knocked down a bunch yesterday.  What do you have to do to try to attack them and keep them from getting into a rhythm from outside the arc?
KATIE RUTAN:  Well, we have to be on attack.  Obviously we can't give them the space they need, so it's more focusing on being there on the catch and not giving them the easy open looks.  When they're open they can hit shots easy, but to be in them it's going to make the game tougher for them and their shots a lot tougher.
LEXIE BROWN:  Yeah, going with what Katie said, it's going to be all about our communication on the defensive end, switches when necessary, and we just have to be all up in their face before they can even get a shot off, and it's going to turn into a mental thing to make sure that they don't get any shots off.

Q.  Brionna or Katie, were you aware that Jeff Walz was an assistant at Maryland?  Is that something that comes up?  It's been seven years since he's been at Louisville, but is that something that you guys were aware of or that people in the program are aware of?
KATIE RUTAN:  Yeah, just knowing the history of Maryland basketball and when they won, you know who was there, who was a part of it, and he was one of the major parts of that team.
Just hearing from Coach Frese the history they had together, he's a great coach, and when he was at Maryland he made his mark.

Q.  Alyssa, what do you feel like makes this such a tough match‑up for teams now, the four years that you've been doing it?  Why is it that you feel like you've really ascended to the level that you are and that you are as hard to defend as you are?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  I think just my versatility, being able to play inside, outside.  I can take it off the bounce, and just am able to hit the open player, that it's not just all about getting my shot.

Q.  Is it an advantage or a disadvantage when you're playing against someone you worked with for so long?  You know his tendencies, he may know yours.  How does that work?
BRENDA FRESE:  You know, yeah, obviously I think we both know‑‑ I mean, when I'm watching film and I see some of the different sets, we've run them at Maryland.  So I think we can both on the sideline understand kind of what's coming next and fully can prepare our team.
But at the end of the day, it's the players.  I mean, yeah, as coaches we have our programs, and I'm very proud of everything that Jeff has accomplished.  That's part of our tree and where he got one of his starts.  But this game belongs to the players.  Every step of the way that we've gone, it's been about the players taking the game plan and the scout and executing it, and I really think it's obviously going to come down to that tomorrow night.

Q.  Your depth must be a luxury for you after all you've gone through with the injuries, and you talk about it's all about the players, the joy that they show to be able to be healthy, give you guys a chance for rotations, it's been joyful to watch that.
BRENDA FRESE:  Thank you.  I would agree.  It's been a work in progress.  Each and every player this year has had to sacrifice minutes, roles.  You look at Laurin Mincy, a starter in our program who had to sacrifice this year for the better of the team to be able to come off the bench for us.  But as you've seen it all line up together in our run here, it's the true definition of a team.  When you're allowed, like we've said, we can go two or three deep at every single position, and when you look at we're really kind of opposite ends of the spectrum where we were a season ago when we were kind of limping to the finish line, to get to the Sweet 16, to now what we went through a year ago to be in this position.

Q.  You mentioned you could take some things from I couldn't match‑up against Louisville in 2012.  What specifically do you think you could take?
BRENDA FRESE:  You know, obviously the physicality is going to be there obviously from the tip.  I thought watching Louisville live last night, they were even more physical than what I saw on film.  Their box‑outs, how they're going to rebound, in my opinion they're a better rebounding team than Tennessee.  When you talk about that kind of physicality, we saw it back then, it's been a staple of who they are and it's obviously something that we have to be prepared for.
You know, I think any time ‑‑ we've both played each other twice now, we're 1‑1, so obviously we know what to expect.

Q.  You mentioned Laurin, she had a huge game last night Louisville and Maryland played.  What kind of contributions do you want to see from her tomorrow night?
BRENDA FRESE:  Just more of the same.  She's come in ready in the first half and has given us just a huge boost off the bench.  I mean, her scoring, her defense, her toughness, to be able to see Laurin now coming off of her knee injury at full strength, we knew Laurin would get to this point, we just didn't know how long it was going to take.  To see it all kind of coming at the right time for her is really special to be able to see.

Q.  I know you'd love to be home and playing in front of your fans, and yet tomorrow will be special.  There will be a lot of folks here and some special kids on both teams.  This is what women's basketball needs and is all about, correct?
BRENDA FRESE:  Yeah.  You know, I'm just going to visualize that sea of red as for Maryland, that they're screaming for Maryland.  But it is; I'm going to embrace the moment.  So is our team.  We've worked hard just as Louisville has.  This is what you talk about star power, depth, talent, two evenly matched teams.  It's made for TV, two coaches that have worked together, and you've got all the drama and all the excitement.  We're going to embrace it.  We're going to love every single moment of it.

Q.  Can you talk about what's your relationship like with Jeff now?  How often do you stay in touch?  What's it been like since you guys have moved on and are no longer on the same staff?
BRENDA FRESE:  Well, first of all, I take full credit for all of his success.  I've taught him everything he knows.  (Laughter.)
You know, I mean, Jeff was a huge part of our program.  In the four years, I said before, I knew he'd be a star because his work ethic, how he thought, really talented.  I've been really fortunate just like my current staff to have great assistant coaches.
I'm not surprised for Jeff to be able to come in here and have the support.  It's even better coming here to be able to see my first time in the Yum! Center and the fans and the support that he has, so I'm really, really proud of him.
Obviously we cross paths.  We're both extremely busy juggling our families as well as our teams.  But we cross paths on the recruiting trails, and we've recruited some of the same players.  But obviously thrilled for him in terms of the success that he's had.

Q.  I believe that was a career high for points yesterday for Alyssa against Tennessee.  Is that a result of a match‑up or do you let your star players go at this point of the season?
BRENDA FRESE:  Well, first of all, it was a great day for the Thomas family that I heard her sister Lexie won the halftime show with musical chairs, so I think it shows you how competitive their family is.
Seriously, with Alyssa, our staff has been blessed to be able to watch her for four years.  When you talk about the human spirit and her will to win and how she elevates everyone to follow her lead, it's incredible to be able to watch.  And I think the thing that separates her as a player is, yes, she puts the team on her back and makes these incredible runs and plays and finishes and rebounds, but she also does it within the framework of the team, and like you saw yesterday, there's times when she knows she needs to give it up.  She knows now she can trust her teammates and the depth we have on this team.

Q.  A lot of coaches at this stage might shy away from saying we can win it all.  This team has Final Four written all over it; you will know us after this game.  The boldness, obviously that's you, and the kids kind of extend off that; is that the mindset, what you bring to the table, or is it just your personality, and speaking of the last question, you just let her fly?
BRENDA FRESE:  You know, I think for any team and any program, you have to have confidence.  You wouldn't be in this position if you didn't.  Yeah, you know, if it comes across as bold, the snippet that you get in a pregame locker room talk and don't get it all, but yeah, you have to believe it.  You have to believe that you can win the whole thing.  You have to believe you can get to a Final Four.  You have to believe you can get to a Sweet 16.  You have to believe you can beat a No.1 seed.  If you don't have that mindset, you're not going to win.
Fortunately for us, our team has a ton of confidence, and we believe in each other.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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