Jan. 18, 2009
Head Coach Pat Summitt:
"I thought we got off to a slow start. It took a while for us to show how important our commitment to defense would be. We played well on the offensive end. Glory Johnson didn't start strong, but she came back strong. She and Alex Fuller did a great job on both ends of the court, particularly on the offensive end. Shekinna Stricklen stepped up again. She showed that she's a player that we can count on every game. They (South Carolina) were keying on Angie (Bjorklund). She played well without the ball. She rebounded and had good inside touches. I was pleased with our offensive game. We made defensive stops when we had to make them."
(on Tennessee's defense):
"Switching defenses helped. We went with a bigger lineup and played our 'five defense', which is switching on everyone. With (Brionna) Dickerson, we weren't ready to defend her. Shekinna (Stricklen) drew the assignment most of the time. Alicia Manning did a good job defensively, and our bench did well overall. If Alyssia Brewer ever starts to rebound, she'll be a heck of a player. She had some good touches. We have to rebound better as a team. That will be a tough challenge on the road."
(on Alex Fuller wearing Cait McMahan's #2 jersey for the rest of the season):
"Alex asked me if I minded her wearing the jersey in order to honor Cait. She has great respect for Cait, and I was all for it. That speaks to Alex Fuller. She's all about the team. She's committed to this team. She's very sensitive to Cait's knee injury. This showed that she's nothing but committed to the team and this program. That may have inspired her somewhat. Alex has been playing with confidence. She can be aggressive, but she also has composure. With all of these freshmen running around, they need someone to settle them down. She's a voice for this team, but she's also a leader by example."
(on status of Kelley Cain and Vicki Baugh):
"I asked Kelley before the game about her status, and she said, 'Only if you need me.' That tells me that she's not ready. Vicki was rebounding off of one foot, and I didn't want to see that. I didn't want to run the risk. She's not confident with the brace. We want to make sure that she's ready. The last thing we want is another setback."
(on Tennessee's fans): "I don't know if they responded to me. I told them to look in the stands. This is the biggest stage in women's basketball. Why not give your all on every possession. Our staff expects more, and our fans deserve more."
(on South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley):
"I have quite a memory about Dawn Staley. We were hosting the Final Four and faced her (and the University of Virginia) in the regional championship and didn't get to play for the National Championship at Thompson-Boling Arena. She's a fierce competitor and is a vocal leader as well as leading by example. I was excited to have her join the league by coming to South Carolina. That makes us all better. She's a great coach and teacher, and she hired two former Lady Vols (Carla McGhee and Nikki McCray). I'm happy for them. They will do great things there."
(on cutting down turnovers):
"Ball security has been a question mark for this team. We decided to slow things down a little bit. Defense and rebounding are things that I have been preaching constantly. I think I have been preaching composure more than those two things this year. We have been playing anxious and nervous, but with time and practices, we'll get better. We're still learning."
(on Angie Bjorklund):
"Angie is playing with confidence. She's become a better defender. She has worked on defense. She's a target every night. She's doing a better job of not forcing things and letting the game come to her. We've got to get her more looks. She's one of the best in the SEC, and she could be one of the best guards in the history of this program."
TENNESSEE SENIOR FORWARD Alex Fuller
(On wearing No. 2 in honor of teammate Cait McMahan):
"I decided to do it because Cait means a lot to me in my life. There is a lot of heart in the No. 2 jersey. I just wanted to show her my appreciation, as well as the team's, and to let her know that we do care about her a lot, that she is still part of this team and that she will be on the court with us at all times."
(On whether switching jersey numbers had any effect on her play):
"Honestly, I don't think so. I just went out there and played how I usually play and how I have to play to help this team."
(On the team's second-half improvement):
"I think we realize that we've come out in the second half of other games and not given it our all. We just can't do that. We have to start now because we can't do anything about the past. We have to start trying to make it a 40-minute game instead of just half a game."
(On the team's improvement on defense in the second half):
"I think it was just that everybody sold out to play defense and everybody sold out to each other. We didn't want to let each other down. We got rid of the drive and had the rotation down. I think it was just that everyone had a different mindset in the second half."
TENNESSEE FRESHMAN FORWARD Alyssia Brewer
(On her comfort level with Angie Bjorklund):
"There have been a couple of times over the past couple of games where we've passed to each other and we've been able to make an open shot. I do think that our team chemistry is coming along great."
(On the team's improved defensive play in the second half):
"These past couple of games, (our opponents) have hit some shots in the beginning. We just came back and regrouped in our huddles and we went out there and played defense. We got down and did what we had to do."
(On her rebounding):
"That's going to be something I need to work on. It won't just help me, but the team as well."
TENNESSEE FRESHMAN GUARD/FORWARD Shekinna Stricklen
(On getting the running game going in the second):
"They get us all motivated. When we are pushing the ball like that, it picks up our intensity.
(On slowing down Brionna Dickerson in the second half):
"She's a good player and a good shooter. At the beginning of the game, I wasn't composed on my defense and I wasn't working hard enough. In the second half, my teammates carried me and we just came out and stopped her."
South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
(On the Gamecocks' fast start):
"I think for us one of the focuses was to come in and get off to a good start and jump start things we haven't been doing well. That is playing a little bit more physical and just competing for 40 minutes, and I think it helped us just to sustain some energy throughout the entire game. Tennessee is Tennessee at home. You have to take your hits because they come big. If you can sustain their big runs, you can put yourself in the basketball game and compete at the end. They were a little bit too much for us today."
(On getting South Carolina to the level where it competes for championships):
"We need a couple of players off Tennessee's bench. It comes down to just players. Players build tradition. Players win championships for you. We do have some talented players at South Carolina, we just don't have enough. It just boils down to players. We're in the position where we are fighting. We are fighting for an identity. It will happen one of these days. I'll take the players we have. We'll get better in this particular season."
(On senior guard Brionna Dickerson):
"We need a lot more Brionnas. For us she carries a heavy scoring load. We're asking her to shoot a lot of times and we're asking her to defend our opponent's best player. Seniors need to bear down and give it their all because this is it. This is her last time playing her in Knoxville. I think she made an impression today."
(On building a tradition like the Lady Vols' basketball program):
"Right before the game I was talking to my assistant coaches and I just looked around and saw all the people here on a Sunday afternoon when there's NFL playoff games going on, and they're right here. This is something that every program would like to mirror - including us. I believe one day we will get this many people at our games. I believe we have the facility to do it. Winning will help. Bringing in great players will help. I don't think Tennessee was Tennessee until they won all those championships."
South Carolina senior guard Brionna Dickerson (On the Gamecocks' hot start):
"It did a lot for us. We came out willing to fight for 40 minutes. We had our lapses, but that was our mentality - to come out fighting and to come out swinging."
(On what derailed South Carolina's momentum):
"We did get into some foul trouble and that hurt us a little bit. I think that might be the biggest thing for us, and like coach said, we need to make sure we are giving our effort for 40 minutes. That's something we've been working on every day in practice and we will continue to work on it."
(On playing for Dawn Staley):
"I've learned so much from her. I feel like I'm a freshman again because I'm learning all of this new stuff from her. I really do wish I had another year with her. I'm aware of a lot of great things she's done for the game and for young women as a whole. I really admire her and respect as a leader, a coach and as a person off the court."