Jan. 3, 2009
Head Coach Pat Summitt
On the difference between the halves:
"Obviously it was a tale of two halves. You look at how we played in the first half and I don't know why, but I think Rutgers really made us speed up all of our action offensively. We weren't waiting on screens. We just weren't reading our defense. We let our offense affect our defense. You know that happens sometimes. I have to give this team a lot of credit, because at halftime we regrouped, and we got things going in a better direction by committing to our defense and our board play."
On what she said in the locker room at half:
"I was screaming. I wasn't happy. It was a mixture, we were disappointed and we were challenging them. We were trying to get something going in a positive direction. The last thing I told them coming out of that locker room was that you do not want to go home with me tonight having played this way. So we better at least show up and play with some Tennessee pride, and we did that."
On the adjustments in the second half:
"There was a lot of intensity. I thought Briana (Bass) pushed the ball as hard and as well as she had all year, and that really helped us. Initially coming out of halftime we didn't want to run an offense, we wanted to just score, but Alyssia (Brewer) got us moving. We had some good execution, Shekinna (Stricklen) did a great job, and I challenged Angie (Bjorklund) in the second half, and she responded. It was all about players making plays and making a commitment. I thought we got good play off our bench."
On Stricklen's back-to-back three pointers:
"Obviously she's got great three point range. I've been telling her to get to the paint, but I think she told me she needed to shoot some three balls. Obviously when we were down we needed to have big plays and those were huge for us."
When questioned if she'd had a team with such a difference in performance in halves:
"Never in 35 years of coaching. But I am learning a lot from these young players. Some good, some not so good, but they showed me in the second half, they've got a lot of grit."
On actually believing they could win at halftime:
"I thought we had some fire left because we didn't expend a lot of energy defensively in the first half. I knew we had a run or two in us, but I don't think about winning or losing when coaching the game. I think about trying to help our players execute. My staff did a great job; they were in my ear the whole time. I like to gather a lot of information and try to figure out what to say, but I never felt that way at halftime, but I also never thought we'd lose this game. I just thought we had to find a way to win."
On the momentum swing from when Tennessee took the lead:
"I think we came in and regrouped during halftime. We came in and said it doesn't matter how much we're down, it's a 0-0 game, that's what we always say. We came out and I thought it was a completely different game after that."
On poor first half performance:
"I give a lot of credit to Rutgers. They did a great job defending, and we just didn't know how to handle it. They were shooting lights out. Not making stops, and then going down and not scoring, that just killed us."
On losing a 20-pt halftime lead: "We came out a little sluggish in the second half. I don't think we had the same intensity that we did in the first half. When they scored those quick eight points, we became a little complacent on offense and we weren't moving the ball like we were in the first half."
On what slowed her down in the second half: "I think in the second half, I was a little too relaxed and passive, instead of attacking the way I did in the first half. I missed a lot of layups and open jump shots. I was just too passive." "I don't think it was anything they (Tennessee) did. Kia (Vaughn) was setting me solid screens and when I came off them, I didn't attack them." On the defense allowing open looks from the three point range: "We had a lot of miscues defensively. We weren't switching and they got a lot of open threes."
On losing a 20 point lead: "We got too relaxed with the lead. Instead of trying to stretch the lead, we were too content with it." On what this game means: "I think we took a step back, because we didn't come out with the same intensity in the second half."
Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer
On the Tennessee comeback:
"I thought we dodged the bullet a couple of times in the first half, because we weren't alert when we made some substitutions. We let them believe they had life."
On the RU defensive miscues:
"For whatever reason, we just weren't communicating. We didn't take the switch and there she is (Strickland)."
On RU's guard play:
"We hesitated on the press, which speaks to the same issue that we've had in the first place, which is how confident are we going to be in our guards, which are normally our strength. Clearly, they're not. We took too much time to break the press which really wasn't that difficult."
On losing a 20 point lead:
"We became afraid to lose. We didn't understand the great benefit of playing to win. You can't be afraid to lose. You have to risk failure to achieve success."