Dec. 31, 2009
Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl
"It was a great game from the standpoint that it was intense. I thought both teams played very, very hard. This is a special environment here and I thought our guys handled that really well. I thought our guys handled the crowd and handled the intensity well. We carved out a bit of an identity for ourselves because Memphis shot 31% from the field, played great defense and we dominated the boards. We felt like we had to make (Memphis) beat us from the perimeter with contested jump shots. We couldn't let them kill us with energy plays, 50-50 balls, loose balls and offensive rebounds. When (Memphis) blocked a couple of shots there in the second half it really energized them and we wanted to avoid that as much as we could."
You were able to get a sizable advantage on the boards. Talk about the importance of rebounding in the game.
"I think we controlled the game. I thought we did a good job with that and we led for good portions of the game. I felt like in a track meet that Memphis could beat us because of their quickness and athleticism. We were bigger this time around and this is the first time I have played them where we were the bigger team. We did the things that you have to do when you have the size advantage. I didn't press much and I was not unhappy with the slower tempo. I thought we did a good job of taking the ball inside. I thought Coach (Josh) Pastner made a good change in his defense when he with the zone defense. (Memphis) doesn't play a lot of zone, but they had a hard time keeping us from posting up on the inside. I thought that was a good adjustment because it slowed us down a little bit and we weren't able to get the ball inside quite as well. I think that adjustment kept them in the game in the second half."
Was depth a key in today's game?
"I think the depth was important. I think the fact that Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism were able to get some rest in key times, definitely helped us. Memphis, defensively, was never really able to disrupt us. We turned it over 16 times, but I don't know how many of those were forced turnovers. I thought we handled the ball ok, but if Memphis had a few more bodies to use they could have forced a few more turnovers."
Memphis Head Coach Josh Pastner
"We struggled on some areas with the offensive glass obviously. That hurt us. We talked about how important that was in pre-game. That was the big thing that was so important for us to take care of. They got second chance points. That hurt us. 18-9 was the big difference right there."
On missed opportunities in the first half?
"We had some good looks in the first half too. We missed some obviously, but you have to give total credit to Tennessee. They played hard. They have a good team. They have good players. They are a veteran group. They made free throws down the stretch. That was really key by some free throw shooters who normally don't shoot as well, but they made them. Give them credit. We battled. We fought. We played hard, but the bottom line is 18-9 on the offensive glass. Looking at our three losses, that is the bottom line."
On how to figure out offensive rebounding problems?
"Back in August we knew that was going to one of our holes, the glass. We're just going to have to find a way and make sure we come up with ways to get the ball."
On the crowd?
"I want to say the crowd was great today. What a great crowd. The fan base was absolutely fantastic. I personally want to apologize to them for not coming out with the W because I know how much they wanted this for New Year's. Please forgive us for not doing our job and getting the W because the fan base did their job."
On how to get D.J. Stephens involved?
"You do get some rebounding with D.J., but it seemed like every time we tried to get him in we really needed some scoring. So it was kind of give and take there because, at the time, we needed some good looks. We needed some offensive production. Our zone seemed to slow them down, and we got some stops, but we weren't able to finish on the other side."