Jan. 7, 2010
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Pat Summitt
(Opening comments): "I thought we got off to a really slow start. (South Carolina) came out very inspired. If you are going on the road, that's what you expect. Once we started to really pick up and defend, we got a lot better. When you have players shooting the ball like Shekinna and Angie are, sometimes the other players stand around and watch. One thing we did was take care of the basketball. We were able to keep our turnovers down and have efficiency on offense. I'd like to see us be a lot better in the paint. There is a great upside to what we can do and we've got to do it. We've got to do a whole lot better. One through five with our starters, we just weren't as efficient as we have been."
(On Kelley Cain coming back after an early injury scare): "Her kneecaps got hit, so she is going to be sore, but I don't think it's anything serious. I think she is stronger physically and tougher mentally (than last year), which has helped us and helped her."
(On the team's slow start): "Did it remind you of the last game? That's what I told them. We have to start the game at a different level of intensity and with a better commitment on the defensive end. Everyone that we have played is coming in and just running. Obviously, what other teams are seeing is that our weakness is our transition defense. We didn't do a very good job of turning them in the backcourt. That's going to be something we are going to have to work on tomorrow before we go to Mississippi State because they are really good at attacking in the fullcourt and getting the ball into the paint. Obviously their post game is athletic and solid. I think our transition and board play is how we need to define who we are and will allow us to stay alive in this league and keep winning games. We shouldn't have to address it. It should be something that is ingrained in their minds as a commitment that they know they have to make in order to be successful and have a chance at winning this conference race."
(On playing so much man defense): "I wanted to run our man-to-man. Eventually, we are going to play teams that shoot the deep three-ball and we are going to have to play some zone, but if you can defend off the bounce and learn how to influence and take away their strengths, we are going to be a better basketball team. That's why I wanted to go back and play more man."
(On Angie Bjorklund's offensive performance): "Angie has been the most dedicated player in getting in the gym and getting in reps. It's no secret on our team and she has helped a lot of her teammates begin to understand that you just have to have repetition over and over and over. It gives her great confidence. She feels like every time she shoots the ball it is going to go in. Believe it or not, I'm starting to think like her. That's a good feeling."
(On whether the small crowd had any effect on the team's slow start): "It's happened more than once this year. We haven't always gotten off to quick starts. I told them we were going to have to generate our own energy. We just wanted to come out and play at a different level. We wanted to show the people that were able to come out that we appreciated it and were going to play hard for them. We probably had more Lady Vols watching (on TV) than ever before."
(On the team's offensive performance): "I thought we went in spurts. When we went to our bench, we didn't have the same rhythm offensively. That's just them not having played together as much. We were a little disjointed. We just kind of platooned on the substitution and I thought that took away from our offensive rhythm and efficiency. But all in all, I wanted to get them some playing time."
(On the small crowd due to inclement weather): "I was excited that we had any fans here. I was just glad I got here. I was kind of worried about getting out of my own driveway."
JUNIOR GUARD Angie Bjorklund
(On Kelley Cain's defense): "That inside presence is huge, especially if our defense breaks down, we know that Kelley has our backs. Having that confidence in help-side defense is huge."
(On the team's defensive focus): "I think a lot of teams are going to come at us with dribble drive penetration. That's something we're working on, along with our one-on-one defense."
(On the atmosphere inside Thompson-Boling tonight): "It was a little different but we're very thankful that people came out. With the snow, we didn't know what to expect. To still have fans come out, that means a lot."
(On her current shooting hot streak): "I think you have to go into every game with confidence and the more shots you take in practice helps you build confidence, too."
(On operating the offense in front of the opposing bench): "I think you get used to it. It's just like any other game. During away games, you'll have hostile crowds yelling in your ear and you have to block it out and execute."
SOPHOMORE GUARD Shekinna Stricklen
(On the guards moving without the ball): "Well, Angie and I do it a lot. I think teams still haven't caught on to that. Guards are moving and setting screens for each other and people are hitting shots, it's big."
(On the team's defensive improvement): "I think we improved our man-to-man defense. If they did get by us, Kelley was right there blocking shots which really helped us. Stopping penetration is our weakness right now and that's what we have to work on."
REDSHIRT SOPHOMORE CENTER Kelley Cain
(On what spurred the team's surge in the late first half): "Well, Coach Summitt's look stirs a fire in us. We just came together and decided that they weren't going to beat us in our house, especially not when we had fans come out despite the bad weather."
(On the atmosphere in Thompson-Boling tonight): "We were kind of shocked by the amount of people that came out. It's a little cold outside for people but we're still thankful for those that came out to see us play."
(On her knee injury late in the first half): "I got another knee to my knee. You have to give it time to calm down and once it does, you're fine."
SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH DAWN STALEY
(On the low crowd turnout - just 1,462 fans - because of severe weather conditions): "It was pretty odd. It's usually packed in here. It's always a joy coming down here because a lot of people come here and support Tennessee's program and at the same time they have an appreciation for women's basketball. Mother Nature played its own part in the game, but the people that came out were faithful. I'm glad they got a chance to see what I thought was one of our better games."
(On subbing out four and sometimes five players at a time): "We got tired. I guess they tired us out. We wanted to make our speed a part of the game. We knew that if we kept it a half-court game, their height advantage would come into play a lot more. We wanted to find easier ways to score. Once the game settled down (we thought) maybe we could tire them out a little bit. I thought we should just bring in some fresh legs and give us a different look. The players I brought in were defensive-minded. They like to get after it. Offensively, they weren't the five we'd like to have on the floor but they can sometimes make things happen and change the complexion of the game."
(On the matchup of centers Kelsey Bone, of South Carolina, and Kelley Cain, of Tennessee): "I know (UT sophomore) Kelley (Cain) knows just by having a year under her belt playing in the SEC that it's different. Her playing in the league this year, Kelsey (Bone) is going to make her a lot better as a sophomore - better than she was today. She's just got to take her hits this year. We've just got to figure out a way to put all that talent to work."
(On playing Tennessee in Knoxville before hosting the Lady Vols in Columbia): "It is helpful. They are who they are. They're big, they're skilled. They have players they can bring off the bench. When Bjorklund shoots the ball like she shot the ball, they're going to win a lot of basketball games whether you've seen them before or not."
(On South Carolina's improvement from last season to this season): "We are more talented than we were last year. We're less experienced, but we're more talented. When we add some experience to the talent we have, we will start making these games a lot closer than what they are. It did feel good. It felt better than how we've been playing. When you can play against one of the top teams in the SEC (like we did tonight) - if you can bottle it up and bring that against other teams, we should win a lot more basketball games than lose."
FRESHMAN CENTER KELSEY BONE
(On the physicality of the Southeastern Conference): "It means a whole lot. The SEC is known for its physicality. It was a big part of my decision to come play in the SEC. It's expected, it's just a matter of me being able to handle the physical nature."
(On how this game will prepare South Carolina for when Tennessee travels to Columbia later this season):
"It gives us a big advantage to come here first and then be able to tackle them on our home floor. We will be able to watch film and see where we messed up. Hopefully, the outcome will be different."