Postgame Quotes: #9 Tennessee 65, LSU 56

Jan. 19, 2012

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(overall thoughts)
"Obviously, this was a physical game tonight and both teams played extremely hard. We didn't come out thinking it would be that type of game, but I thought we regrouped and adjusted to it."

(on UT players stepping up)
"We came into the game knowing that we were going to be shorthanded without Shekinna and Taber. We told the team that we expected each of them to step up and give a little bit more.

"I thought Vicki Baugh really went to another level in her game tonight. We needed every one of her 14 rebounds, especially when Glory got hurt. That (Baugh stepping up) was great to see.

"Meighan had some big three-pointers for us, and her 19 points were big.

"I thought Cierra played her best game. She showed a lot of poise, and her 15 points and six rebounds off the bench were pretty big for us. Cierra likes to get on the boards and grind it out on defense. She did just that."

(on Glory Johnson)
"Glory is just a great competitor. I know she was hurting in the second half, but she wanted to play. She had some key rebounds and came up with some big points from the line at the end."

(on team play)
"It was good to see. I know this team relies on Strick and Taber for so much of the scoring and Glory to go hard to the boards. To start the second half, there was no Strick, Taber or Glory. Other people filled those roles.

"It was good to see players come off the bench and be accountable. They talked their action, which was a key for us."

(on facing Nikki Caldwell)
"It was great to see Nikki, Tasha, Tony and Angel. This gym was a familiar place to them. Nikki and her staff are doing a fantastic job at LSU, and I am so proud of her. Nikki is so special to me and to all of us. She's like family to me.

"It's hard to go up against your former players.

"But when we step across the line and the ball goes up we both have one mindset - to take care of the business at hand and to win.

"LSU made us a better basketball team tonight."

(opening statement)
"I felt like I played. I thought tonight you saw two very physical, uptempo teams. Hard fought. They just battled. I wouldn't expect anything less by a team coached by Nikki (Caldwell) or a team coached here. It was a very tight first half. I thought we came out in the second half and were a little more aggressive. We finally held their top scorer to under her average. That was a goal of ours. I was proud of our team but I keep saying my concerns are free throws and layups. When we needed to down the stretch, we hit big free throws, but we can't keep getting ourselves in a hole and down. It was a physical game, a hard-fought game, and I'm proud of our team and how they battled."

(on Cierra Burdick's night off the bench)
"I thought Burdick was instrumental, because we had (Shekinna) Stricklen out. We had Taber (Spani) out, and we needed a scorer and we needed someone to step up. She shot 50 percent and she played really well. She has worked hard on her defense, and I thought it showed tonight. Cierra's put in extra time. We've really tried to get her a little more comfortable on the defensive end, and I thought tonight, she was. She rebounded for us. That's what we need from Cierra Burdick. Obviously, we need her scoring and her other tangibles on the basketball court. I thought she played really well tonight, and I'm proud of her and excited she got the minutes."

(on Briana Bass' performance)
"Bree goes in, plays nine minutes and doesn't have a turnover. A great leader for us, she gets the ball tonight to the people who needed it. A key steal when we needed a steal. Bree's just steady. If she can come in and do those things and give Ariel (Massengale) a relief, that's what we need from Bree. She plays a role, she accepts her role and she does a heck of a job playing that role. I'm just glad Bree got the minutes tonight."

(on Glory Johnson and if she would return to the game)
"I wasn't sure, because she was in a lot of pain at halftime. She was back in the training room. I wasn't sure, then Jenny (Moshak) came up and said she could go. I thought when she first came in, she was favoring her arm. She was playing with one arm. But I think as she got involved with the game, I think she totally forgot that she was injured and played. That was part of Glory being competitive and a tough-minded kid. We needed her. She had some good put-backs and free throws. So we needed her play and needed her to step up, and she did."

(on Burdick's early success and if her confidence was shaken as the season went on)
"I think she's used to playing. When Shekinna's well and Meighan's playing well, it's tough to get her minutes at times. I thought she's been patient. She's worked hard on her game. And she got the opportunity tonight. I always say, `When you have an opportunity, you make the best of it.' She did. She and I have had a lot of talks, and I've told her her time is coming. `Be patient. You're a freshman. You're playing behind a very seasoned, veteran team.' I think she accepted that. She's worked hard. And her time came tonight and she stepped up and made plays."

(on scoring in the second half)
"I thought we attacked more. We weren't shooting well on the outside. We couldn't get the ball inside because of the type of defense LSU was playing. We were not hitting shots. We were getting open looks. We didn't hit open looks. We weren't very good from the free-throw line. We didn't shoot the ball well from the three-point line. We wanted our players to get in, penetrate the zone, get looks, don't have to get threes, get two-point shots. I thought that's what we did. We had a little bit of shot fakes and took the ball inside a little bit more. That was our gameplan the second half, especially when you're not hitting the outside shooting."

(on whether Stricklen and Spani will play against Notre Dame)
"I'm not sure about Spani. I think Stricklen has a chance. I think her rehab's going well. I'm not sure about Spani. I guess we'd have to ask Jenny. We'd love to have them both. We'd love to have them back on the floor. We'd love to have a healthy roster, a full squad to go."

(on Meighan Simmons' 19-point scoring performance)
"I didn't realize she had 19 points until I looked at the score sheet. I really want to say Meighan, as well, has worked on her defense, and I don't think tonight she was a liability. That's what we need from Meighan. Her scoring ability and her making points, that's almost a given for us. We rely on that. We want to make sure Meighan plays both ends of the floor. I thought tonight she did play both ends of the floor, and we needed her. We needed her. We didn't need her or Cierra to be a liability on the defensive end. Those two young ladies have stepped up. They've put in extra time, and I think it showed tonight."

(on Vicki Baugh's rebounding)
"That's Vicki's game. You saw her. She rebounded her own missed free throw, and that's pretty tough. We need Vicki's rebounding. We need that hard play. She took a couple hits, and it didn't bother her, didn't affect her. She kept playing. We need that toughness from Vicki Baugh."

(on Kamiko Williams' stamina currently, if that is limiting her minutes)
"Absolutely. I think Kamiko is healthy, but she is not there on the conditioning end. We're trying to do extra with her, trying to get her in short spurts and give her a rest. Her conditioning is just not there. She can't play through more than a couple minutes. She gets tired easily. Those are things, it's just her doing extra conditioning with Heather and getting in shape. We're going to need Kamiko Williams down the road. We're going to need a full roster, so we've got to get everybody healthy. We've got to get everybody in the best physical shape they can be in because we've got a tough remainder of the SEC and then we go into the SEC Tournament. We need the strength of our bench and the strength of our starters."

(on physical nature of the game, if it was surprising)
"That's what we expected. Nikki's been in our system for a long time, so she understands the importance of defense and rebounding. I thought they were physical on the boards as we were physical. It was two teams going after it. Bodies were flying and that's part of the game. If anyone says basketball isn't physical, they just need to watch the replay of tonight. I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised at what they did and the energy and the type of style they played. I thought we stepped up to the challenge. Shots were falling, and we went back to the basics and we had to play defense. Down the stretch we made plays, we made stops and we got key rebounds."

(On whether she was waiting for a game like this, to play extended minutes)
"Definitely. With Strick (Shekinna) and Taber being out, I knew more minutes were going to be played by the bench, and I just tried to come into this game prepared and be ready and just try to make an impact for my team."

(On not getting minutes consistently this season)
"It's been tough. It's been really stressful, but it's teaching me patience. I'm learning a lot from some great players ahead of me, so I'm just trying to use it and take it as positive as I can and just really learn from this experience. When my number is called, I just hope to be ready and be prepared."

(On the LSU game living up to what she thought it would be)
"It was more than what I thought. Players were hitting the deck every single possession, but we came out to play. That's exciting. People want to see that. People want to come and pay money and see women just battle on the floor. I think we did a great job of that, and I hope our fans approve."

(On her defensive maturity)
"I knew from the beginning that this was going to be the scrappiest game of our SEC experience. I think with Holly pulling me aside at practice the other day and saying, `you're going to really need to play defense in this game.' I think I took that as a way of testing me to see exactly how my defense has improved over the year, and this game actually showed it. I came out there, and I played as hard as I could to try to help the team win."

(On hitting threes)
"The Lord is good; that's all I'm going to say. It's just one of those things where I have to be mentally ready, and I knew that I was going to have to hit some shots early in the game to try to help the team get going. I was practicing earlier with Bird (Alberta Auguste) and Bobby (Maze) earlier and being able to get them to pass me the ball and shoot and make sure I wasn't so worried about my technique. I was just catching the ball and shooting it, and I think today there were a couple of times where I felt like I rushed it, but then at the same time I came back and hit some shots that were closer in."

(On what happened with her injury, how she's feeling now)
"I just saw the ball, I went up and I kind of tried to get it with both hands, and I think one of my shoulders (got) knocked back, and I heard a pop, and that's when I was holding it. Right now with rehab and everything, I'll be fine, got to keep playing hard and playing through pain."

(On hurting her left shoulder before)
"I dislocated it in practice a couple of years ago."

(On what Cierra's play gave Tennessee today)
"Well as a freshman, she just played her heart out, and she played as hard as she can play. She knew that she was going to have to come in and knock down big shots. She did a great job. What she's been working outside of practice for, all the shots that she puts up and working on her own is what this is for, and she did a great job."

(On getting shots in the paint)
"They were kind of in a zone, and we weren't really sure what to run. Our drag wasn't really working too well, and whatever Ariel calls is what we try. I think our forms worked well, just getting the high-low, and when the guards are hitting kick outs, they're ready to shoot, so I think that worked pretty well and kind of getting in the gaps and hitting jump shots. I think Vicki Baugh and Alicia Manning did a great job of hitting their jump shots. Sooner or later they had to get out of there so I could actually have it (the ball)."

LSU HEAD COACH Nikki Caldwell
(Opening statement)
"Obviously, it was a knock-down, drag-out type fight, but it was a very competitive fight. You saw two teams really playing every possession like it was their last. We obviously had some breakdowns against a great Tennessee team. I will credit this group for not backing down and showing a lot of heart and sticking together. We are just going to take from this game what we can and we're definitely going to go back and watch tape and see the areas that challenged us and we are going to get better."

(On whether the physicality of the game was more than she was used to)
"No, that's SEC. When you come to this conference as a player, as a coach, you understand that this is one of the most physical conferences there is in the country. It tells you a lot about who you are as a competitor. We obviously have some areas that we are going to work on, but again I was very proud of this group."

(On the injuries that team suffered)
"Well we only really have four true guards, so when you got two of your starting guards out, we had to figure out how we were going to bring the ball down against their pressure, and we had to do it by committee. Offensively, we had to move our bigs out to the perimeter. We had been able to do that in some instances in some games and we were able to do what we needed to do. I think when you look at how the game came down in the last three minutes of the game, I felt like we were still in position to win the game even without those two (Destini Hughes and Jeanne Kenney)."

(On whether there is any news on the two injured players)
"Right now it is too soon for Destini Hughes. I know Jeanne Kenney. We didn't bring her back in because we felt she probably has a concussion, so we didn't want to run any risks in that regard."

(On whether she accounted for Cierra Burdick)
"Well, we always account for everybody in every aspect of the scouting. My staff does a great job of breaking down game footage. The players watch so much film. We have film on the road, and they are probably sick of watching film. They do their own scouting reports, so they are very well versed on who is out there on the floor. We missed some defensive coverages, and Burdick was able to knock down those open shots for Tennessee."

(On if Destini Hughes' injury was an emotional blow)
"We definitely want to make sure that we continue to compete and continue to play because Destini was out, Jeanne Kenney was out and then we wanted to make sure we played this game in a way that they would play. Destini brings so much leadership. She brings a calm and a toughness to our team and I felt like in the second half, my team played that way. We obviously are going to be hopeful to get Destini back as soon as we can, but if this team can fight and play like they did most of the game, I feel like we can be in any game there is against anybody in the country."

(On Tennessee getting in the paint and to the free throw line late)
"I think like she said (Caldwell), we missed a couple defensive assignments and our back line was a little slow on movement. I think we did a good of just covering them up to that point, and we just have to get back to what we were doing in the first half."

(On whether she was proud of how the team battled)
"Of course, of course. Our posts are very versatile, and we work on ball handling drills every day in practice, so we just have to come back ready to win in our next game and take what they give us."

(On her reaction to the game)
"Coming in to play against Tennessee, you are always hyped up and ready to play. Tennessee is obviously a great team and you just need to be mentally ready and physically ready to come in and just have an all-out brawl because they are going to give it their all, and we have to match that."





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