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Tennessee vs. Mississippi State - Post-Game Quotes

Feb. 22, 2009

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Tennessee vs. Mississippi State - Post-Game Quotes

Head Coach Pat Summitt:

(opening remarks):
"Obviously, this was probably our best game this year-this game and the Georgia game. This Mississippi State team is strong off the bounce. They do a good job of shooting the three-ball, and we did a poor job of covering. We did better in the second half. In the first half, we were giving up a lot of open looks and not closing out. Shekinna Stricklen did a great job. In our last team meeting when we talked about what each player was going to bring to the team, she said that she had let this team down but that she wouldn't let it happen again. She made the strongest commitment. She's a woman of her word. She was huge for us. It was good to see our team share the basketball like we did. Kelley Cain knows her role. She wants to play at the rim. That's where she can be so effective, and her teammates got her the ball."

(on Tennessee's assists):
"We talked about how we haven't had a lot of assists. The ball has been getting stuck in people's hands. We've been watching film. After the Kentucky game, we talked about taking action. We talked about taking a leadership role. The coaches can take that leadership role, but we want our team to take ownership, and not just Alex Fuller. The game knows no age."

(on the performance of Kelley Cain):
"Kelley still has pain. She rehabs every day, working on strengthening her quad. She has done a great job of investing in that. It's not fun. I know-I've been there. She's been doing leg lifts and the extra things away from the game and has been positive about it. At the beginning of the year, she was too hard on herself, but she has seen that she can make a difference for this team. She has been working hard in practice. We want to make her a go-to player, and that has given her responsibility and confidence. There's no doubt that she alters shots. She had four blocks today. She has a great presence and soft hands. What I like is that she knows where she needs to go to be successful. A lot of players, it takes two or three years to learn. She knows now. She played 27 minutes today, and that was big for us. She hasn't gone extended minutes for a long period of time."

(on the performance of Angie Bjorklund):
"Angie didn't let her shooting affect the rest of her game. There have been games where she had low energy, and you could tell that she was nervous. We challenged her. She can do other things. She can defend. She can board. She can feed the post. When other players are doing well, that takes the pressure off of her. Today, she didn't feel the pressure that she had been feeling."

(on the team's energy):
"We had high energy on the bench. It hasn't always been that way. The players brought a lot of energy. It's about doing it collectively. The energy on the bench carried over to the court and in the huddles, even when the game was nip-and-tuck."

(on being able to smile):
"It's been a while. What has it been three games, a week-and-a-half? I'm proud of the way we played, but this is just one game. We've got two more big games with LSU on the road then coming back to face Vanderbilt, who is in a tie for first in the SEC. Mississippi State is a great team. They've had some good wins. We're going on the road where we sometimes don't play the best."

(on whether the team would be able to move back into their locker room after the win):
"Oh, no. Would you do that. They probably won't be back in there before postseason."

Tennessee Senior Forward Alex Fuller

(On what today's victory meant):
"I think we needed the win but mainly we needed to play the way we played especially in the end of the second half. The intensity we had was great and we were just having fun. I think that the defense we played helped us out a lot."

(On the tempo of the game):
"When somebody throws a punch at us we have to throw one right back at them. Early in the game, their three pointers were going down even with hands in their faces. We couldn't let that get our spirits down and we had to keep coming at them. I think our defense kind of wore on them and that's what got us the win."

(On Tennessee's defensive strategy):
"In the first half we played more man-to-man, but it took the guards too long to get around the posts so we went into the zone in the second half to try and slow their guards down so they couldn't shoot threes."

(On Kelley Cain's defensive presence):

"I think the main thing it helps is that it lets our guards pressure the ball more. They know that if they get beat, Kelley will be back there to block or alter the shot."

Tennessee Freshman Guard Shekinna Stricklen

(On telling her teammates that she had been letting them down):
"The last four games, I haven't been playing with a lot of passion and I felt like I really let my teammates down. I had to stand up and tell them the truth. I have changed and it won't happen again."

(On Tennessee's performance):
"I thought that it was great today. I felt like everyone brought it and we played together as a team and just had a lot of fun."

(On Kelley Cain's presence): "It helps a lot, especially in transition - we know we can just give it to Kelley and she'll get us two points."

Tennessee Redshirt Freshman Forward Kelley Cain

(On leaving the game in the first half with a knee injury):
"It's happened so much this year that I've gotten used to it. It hurts in practice a lot but it's been getting better."

(On her daily rehab schedule):
"Depending on what time my classes are, I'll either go to the training room before class or I'll stay and ice after practice. I spend at least an hour every day working on it. I'm definitely feeling the benefits because it is working."

(On a possible move back in to the locker room):
"We definitely want to be back in there, but whatever happens, happens. We want to prove to (Coach Summitt) and prove to ourselves that we can go out there and play with heart every game."

Mississippi State Head Coach Sharon Fanning

(Opening Statement):
"When you come into the arena here you know it's going to be a 40-minute game. We also understand defensively how hard you have to play and that you have to rebound the basketball. Toughness has a lot to do with winning. I didn't think we were very tough, and today we were in a position to win a basketball game. Down the stretch they were a tougher basketball team. Starting in the first half, they were a tougher basketball team. There were several loose balls we didn't get to. It's going to take hustle, it's going to take the charge, it's going to take the offensive rebound, it's going to take team defense. When I see them going one-on-one and getting layups, then we haven't done our job with team defense. We are in the position to where we can make the postseason. It has to be work ethic that gets us there. Nothing can replace how hard you have to play and how you have to play together."

(On what difference she saw in this UT team compared to the first time the teams played):
"Maybe them being put out of the locker room? They started a bigger lineup. We allowed them to play some one-on-one. We were up two and we had opportunities down the stretch. We tried to change defenses some, but we just didn't make a couple of hustle plays that we had to have down the stretch. We just didn't do our job in terms of putting enough heat on the basketball. They gained some confidence down the stretch and we lost a little bit of confidence."

(On the defensive play of Tennessee redshirt freshman center Kelley Cain):
"We drove into her a couple of times. She's a presence. They all are. Whether it's her and (Alyssia) Brewer together, or if it's Glory (Johnson) and Alex (Fuller), they all have a presence. They all have a presence size-wise with us. You have to be able to pump fake to get around them. We were without a player and we ran into foul trouble in the post. I don't think that helped our match-up. I think we needed other people to step up. But I think you have to give them credit. They played well, they worked hard, they rebounded and they got some open looks. That's what good teams do.



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