Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Jeff Walz Interview...UConn wins title -- Wedesday CARDINAL COUPLE
UCONN WINS WBB TITLE
In case you missed the game and were looking for some kind of miracle upset by Syracuse write up...sorry, Charlie. UConn took their fourth straight title 82-51 Tuesday night in the Bankers Fieldhouse in Indy over the Orange. That was even with a 16-0 run by Syracuse in the third quarter.
Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck. All good as advertised. Fortunately, for the rest of the women's college basketball world, all graduating.
INTERVIEW WITH COACH WALZ
Paulie had the chance to talk with Coach Walz Tuesday morning and here's the interview highlights. The full interview can be heard this Saturday on our CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR
TUESDAY NIGHT'S CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
" I'll be at home watching the game on TV. I went up on Sunday to the Final Four and spoke at the clinic they offered to all the coaches. I really enjoyed that. My two oldest were in town on their spring break so I decided to spend more time with them."
ON CORTNEE WALTON
"I'm very happy for Cortnee and her award. It just goes to show you -- like I tell all of our kids -- what you put into it is what you get out of it. Cortnee's invested, and not only on the basketball side of it, invested in herself. Invested in our community, our city. The kids of Louisville. And she didn't do it just to get on The Good Hands team. She did it because that's what she's all about. And...it's going to pay off for her in the end. It's quite an honor for her and our program and most importantly...she's having the time of her life right now at the Final Four.
It's about how hard you work on the court and off the court.
MORE ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
"I'm friends with both coaches but I'd love to see the ACC and Syracuse and "Q" win. I'm good friends with "Q". We've always talked and compared our NCAA Tournament match-ups. Getting in the right bracket, what match-up you're going to get. He was really excited when his draw came out and I was excited for him. Seeing the teams he might possibly have to play and what those teams do from the outside and it worked out perfectly. His kids have played very well.
The problem is...it's UConn. Breanna Stewart, throughout my 20 years is the best I've seen play. It's amazing what she can do offensively, defensively. Even in the semis the other night, she didn't have a great first half but she demands so much attention...it allows other players to get shots. It allows other players to get going and all of a sudden you have to worry about them and then you forget about Stewart and suddenly she has 20. It's a big task for Syracuse, no doubt about it. I think UConn is going to win but I'd love to see Syracuse pull it out if possible."
THE SEASON THAT JUST ENDED
"Some great memories, no doubt about it. We start off the season 1-4 and we talked about it. I think our kids were living off what past teams had done. Not realizing the work that goes into it and that work that you have to put it. But, we regrouped from that. The kids got their focus back and we improved as a basketball team. We win 22 of 24 games. We get into the ACC Tournament and you lose by five to Syracuse in a game you're up by four in. A game we sat down and watched...because you've got to value the basketball.
We come home and play DePaul and lose by one. The telling stat of our season was that we had seven games that were decided by five points or less. We go 1-6 in those games. The NC State game was the only win. That's something I've talked to our kids about. You have to be focused for 40 minutes. You have to be disciplined and not cheat the process. When it gets down to that last two minutes, that's when your bad habits come out.
I was proud of our effort this season and how we competed. With all the youth we had there were a lot of learning experiences for us and it's something we're going to grow from. Now we're at a crucial time of this year because we have until April 15th to do workouts. Two hours a week and that's it. In the month of May we can't do anything. In June and July we get two hours a week for eight weeks. Player development in the summer is really on the players. We can give them a nugget, what they need to do...but two hours a week isn't going to make them any better. Are they willing to go out on their own?
That's the things I love listening to on post-game radio and TV interviews. The kids who say they love the game. Kids that live in the gym together. Stewart talking about Morgan Tuck and Tuck talking about her...saying she's the one who challenged me to get in the gym every day...and when she's there...I gotta go. When you're best players are in the gym, the rest follow.
Those are the things we're trying to get our players to embrace and understand. We need that from our top echelon...to challenge the others to get in.
MYISHA HINES-ALLEN: THE DEVELOPMENT, PROGRESS AND WORK TO BE DONE.
"She had a great season...No question about it. She needs to work on her conditioning, she has to work on her outside shot from the three-point line...which is getting better but needs to improve. Working the defensive end of the floor. Special players separate themselves not only from the offensive end but from the defensive end. I think she was right there in almost being a Kodak All-American but some of the things I've heard is she needs to be more consistent on both ends of the floor. That's a challenge I've put in front of her. She wants to be great, now it's a matter of working harder to become one of those top ten. It's a learning process, a maturing process. I hope that she'll really grab and run with it."
"Dakota's a great kid. She really works hard. She's exactly what you want out of one of your players...she comes in to practice and busts butt. She takes care of business off the floor. She's always there for community service. She wants to give back. I was excited for the opportunity to give her a scholarship for this year. We'll wait to see how things turn out for that next year and it's one of the things I've talked to her and her family about. They've been great and very understanding about it even if she returns as a walk-on. As of now, she'll be a walk-on but we'll look and see if things can change on that.
"We had had some talks during the year. Sometimes it's a challenge when a freshman comes in. They sometimes put expectations a little too high and when they don't meet them, there's disappointment. It was a situation where we played on Sunday afternoon against DePaul. By 7 p.m. she's sending me a text wondering if she can meet on Monday with her. She came in on Monday and said she wanted to transfer. We wish her the the best and hope she can find a place to develop into the type of player she wants to be."
NEXT YEAR: THE RETURNEES AND THE FRESHMEN
"I think it's going to be a good thing for us because we need some competition at a few of the spots. I'm going to start to work, I think, on the philosophy UConn and Geno has with his players. If you don't work every day, you're not going to play. There's situations where I'm watching their games and they're up by 50 and there are kids not playing. And I've asked him about that and the answer is if you're not going to work hard every day in practice, you're not going to get rewarded by playing in the game....no matter what the score is. And, we're going to go with that philosophy. We have some very talented players but we have some players who need to turn that corner in dedication. I say it all the time. The great players...Angel, Shoni, Candyce, Dez. Look at Becky Burke. She wasn't a great overall player but she was really good at what she could do. She shot the ball. Toughness. What you do when the coach is not watching separates you.
Right now, we're trying to get that across to a couple of them. What you do in the hour and a half of practice isn't enough. You've got to be in this gym on your own working on your weaknesses. There's no reason to have a player that shoots 45% from the foul line. If I'm in that situation, I'm going to shoot 100 free throws a day. I want to step up to that line and have everybody say instead of our fans moaning...'aw, she got fouled'...to...the other team saying 'damn, she got fouled'...knowing that they're going in."
"It's a challenge we're trying to put in front of some of these kids who have never had that challenge back in their high school and AAU days."
"She's not going to continue to play. She'll still be a part of the program and help us from a coaching/instruction standpoint and still be with the players but her knees are not going to allow her to continue on. We really feel bad for her from that standpoint but we're really encouraged and impressed with her maturity level. She probably could have fought through it for two or three years and then needed a knee replacement....her knees have gotten to that point where it'd be rough playing at this level. She wants to be able to have a family someday and play ball with her kids and in the backyard and there really aren't that many 19-20 year olds that are thinking that far ahead. I give her a lot of credit for that. I feel bad that she's not going to be able to get out there and show people what she can do basketball wise but I know she'll continue to give a lot to our program just from within and being able to help the current players and those in the future. Sure, we probably could have used her against DePaul but if I play her and then something happens...I've got that to live with. She's got that to live with. She knows the game, she's passionate about it. She could be a coach I'm going up against down the road."