Feb. 23, 2012
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Pat Summitt
(on coming out flat)
"As a staff and team, we are extremely disappointed with this loss.
"Obviously, I wish I could explain why we came out flat, but I have no idea why we came out the way we did. The coaching staff wishes we had an answer.
"With this team this season, how we start out in games is a wait and see proposition. We had good preparation in practice but we didn't transfer it to the game. Give Arkansas all the credit. There is a reason why they have been the hottest team in our conference over the last month."
(on the play of Arkansas)
"Their entire team played well, but we basically let three Arkansas players beat us - Lyndsay Harris (20 points), Sarah Watkins (18 points) and C'eira Ricketts (16 points). Arkansas as a team ran the floor better and played tougher than we did for 45 minutes."
(missing free throws)
"All season long I have asked the same question...who is getting in the gym to knock down shots and free throws on their own time? Who is invested in getting better every day? You can't expect to win close games when you don't knock down shots, especially free throws."
TENNESSEE ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH Holly Warlick
"Tonight, Arkansas wanted the game more than we did. We dug ourselves a hole in the first half. You can't have two of your best players not scoring and not rebounding - that was a tribute to Arkansas keying on Glory (Johnson) and Shekinna (Stricklen).
"But I thought we battled back. At one time, I think we were 16-of-17 at the free throw line, but in overtime we went 2-for-6. We've preached free throws and layups all year and this one just came back and got us. Hats off to Arkansas; they played well. They hit shots when they needed to, they hit threes when they needed to, they battled and at times outworked us."
(On first-half struggles from Johnson and Stricklen)
"We were playing catch-up the whole first half. And it's tough when you've got the two kids you've relied on and they haven't scored a point. But it's a chance for our bench to come in and make an impact. We did battle back but I thought our defense was average tonight. We needed some stops in the second half and we got them, but we've got to play - when we got ahead, we've got to play that kind of defense the entire game.
"They had four or five shot-clock violations, which is outstanding, but we didn't finish the deal. It's a 40-minute game and tonight it was a 45-minute game, so you've got to finish the deal. Shekinna had a chance to do it and just didn't make a play."
(On Arkansas' improvement since the first meeting)
"When we played up there, they didn't shoot the ball well. There's no way we should have beaten that team as we did in Arkansas. They're on a winning streak (10-1 since Jan. 15) and they're a better basketball team than the score indicated when we played (the first time).
"They just didn't shoot the ball well, and we shot the ball well. We shot layups, we got steals and played one of our best games there. We weren't expecting that, and we knew we had a battle coming into tonight. We totally didn't mention that game or how we played. We just knew it was going to be a tough game."
(On the team's sporadic play tonight)
"The first half, we just gave up too many plays. When you shoot 45 percent the first half, you think you're doing well. But they were shooting 58 percent. So at one point you've got to say the defense has to step up and make stops and we didn't make stops the first half. So we dug ourselves a hole.
"We score a lot off our turnovers but we weren't getting that done the first half. The second half, we started doing that but we just didn't have a good first half. We didn't play hard, we didn't get stops - and you have to. It's a 40-minute game and you have to."
(On the discouragement of tonight's loss and its impact on the SEC race)
"We're taking one game at a time, obviously. It is frustrating because I know their ability and what they can do. And they battled. They battled tonight. We just continued to dig ourselves a hole and we've got to climb out of it. So if we can ever put together a 40-minute game - I love this team. When they're all clicking, it's a great group. We just have lapses and we've got to get to a point where we close those lapses and shorten those lapses. We've got to battle for 40 minutes; that's just the way it is."
(On having seen such a varying level of play before like this season)
"Frankly, no. I have not. That's why it's frustrating because I see their ability and what they can do. When they don't stay close to their potential, it's a little frustrating to watch. And I know it's frustrating for them as well. That's why it's hard. We've got a great group of young ladies. For the most part they work hard, but we've preached defense and defending penetration and we just can't get it right. So we've got to clean that up before we do anything."
(On Arkansas' C'eira Ricketts making key baskets and assists down the stretch)
"We've got to make stops. Absolutely, we've got to make stops. Like I said, we shot 45 percent the first half and they shot 58. We're not going to out-shoot them. Somewhere, we've got to make some defensive stops and we did to get back in the game. But down the stretch we didn't make stops when we needed it. Then we would turn it over. We had balls going through our hands - that's just focus. That's focus."
(On Lyndsay Harris' shooting opening up the Arkansas offense)
"When you have three players who are shooting the ball extremely well, it's hard to run a man-to-man to help, it's hard to run a zone. And at times we didn't have an answer for all three of them. This is a learning game - I hope it's a learning game - but we've got one more regular season game and then we get into the SEC tournament. Time is getting shorter and it's time to put a solid game together."
(On the team's ability to keep rebounding from tough losses)
"Right now, there's really not too much being said in the locker room. It's pretty emotional. You've just got to go back to work. That's what we do as coaches. We've got to go back to work and just over and over keep doing the things we've got to do to get better. We've got to get back to the free-throw line; we've got to get back to one-on-one defense. We've got to do those things that broke down tonight. That's what we do. And we've got to get them working and convince them that they can do some positive things, because they can.
"Time's getting short, but we still have the opportunity to do great things. We've just got to turn it around and put it all together."
TENNESSEE FRESHMAN GUARD Ariel Massengale
(On the second free throw at the end of overtime, if she was trying to miss it)
"I was trying to. Coach told me right when the ref gave it to me to shoot it quick and just try to hit it off the rim and get the rebound. Unfortunately, it went in. I was trying to shoot it off to the right so Glory could hopefully get the rebound and put it back in."
(On picking up the seniors' spirits after this loss)
"We've told Strick (Shekinna) that we don't lose games off the last play. It hurts that she missed those free throws, but I think as a team we lost that game for ourselves right from the get go. We just didn't come out with the right mindset that I think we should have. There's still a lot of ball to be played. I think we just have to go back and regroup and know that this season's not over yet and there's still a chance for us to win a national championship and keep our mindset on the big picture."
TENNESSEE SENIOR FORWARD Glory Johnson
(On picking Shekinna up after this loss, her missed free throws)
"It's not her fault. Clearly we played an awful first half. There we so many mistakes made in the first half like missing free throws. I missed two free throws. The blame is not on her. It's a team game."
(On beating Arkansas easily earlier in the season, was it easy to shut that out of her mind)
"No, not at all. They had a really bad shooting percentage when we went down there. That doesn't happen to an SEC team. We know that their shooting percentage really shouldn't have been that low. We gave them wide open shots then, and we still didn't correct our defense. They just weren't hitting shots. We've had games where we don't hit shots, but we definitely didn't underestimate this team. We prepared for them; we knew what they were going to do. We knew their three-point shooters. We just didn't go with our scouting report defense. We didn't force them left the majority of the game, and we should've."
(On the difficulty of guarding Ricketts)
"It was huge that we forced her left. Briana Bass came in the game, and she did a great job of bothering her and forcing her to use her left hand, and she didn't like that very much. After a while she just decided she was going to go right, and we decided to let her go right. It's something we should've done the majority of the game just to make it a lot harder on her. She's a great player, and she's going to score regardless. We let up a little bit, but that was on the scouting report."
(On having the mentality of not losing)
"Just focus on the next game. Focus on the next practice. It's the past now. It's a loss. It's on the record, but it's the past, and you have to move on."
(On the first half)
"It was awful. I went out with two fouls. We weren't hitting shots that we should have hit. We had no energy at all. We had to go to our bench, and then all of the sudden they're outrebounding us. We were letting them penetrate in the paint, and they shouldn't be in the paint. We weren't playing our game, and you see that with us a lot. Sometimes we play great first half and awful second half. We always try to pick it up late in the game, but we're just not a team that can do that. We're not a team that can play awful in the first half and pick it up in the second half. It just doesn't work out that way for us."
TENNESSEE SENIOR GUARD Shekinna Stricklen
(On how she feels right now)
"I have to sink the free throws. I honestly wanted the ball at the end. I clearly missed four free throws in a row. One could've given us the lead to the game. One could've tied up the game. We had a bad first half, but we came back in the second half. We fought. We just have to step up, and we didn't make the free throws at the end."
(On if she was surprised about this Arkansas team tonight)
"We knew they were a good team. They've been winning. They've won eight out of the last nine games. We knew it wasn't going to be an easy game, but we weren't focused. It really bit us."
(On wanting to be on the free throw line in pressure situations later in the season)
"Honestly, I want it. It's something I definitely want to happen again."
ARKANSAS HEAD COACH TOM COLLEN
"It was a great win for our program. We've never beaten Tennessee at Tennessee before. We've only beaten them one time in the history of our program, so it was a great win for us. Credit goes to the players. They were the ones who prepared. They were the ones who believed in themselves. They came in here and fought from the opening bell, they never quit, they never let it slip away, made a lot of big shots, kept playing hard on the defensive end and I'm just really proud of them. Obviously it's something that we can continue to build our program off of."
(On the play of C'eira Ricketts)
"She has had a great career for us. We put an awful lot of pressure on her really in the last four years; we put the ball in her hands so much. There are times when I think she probably has gotten frustrated with herself and not played great. I think we have just always believed with the ball in her hands something good can happen. I think we went into it with the idea tonight that we wanted the ball in our best players' hands. We didn't want to come down and run a lot of offenses and throw it around and risk a lot of turnovers. We ended up turning it over more than what I thought we should have but I think we just made the decision we wanted to get it in her hands and let her make a play, whether that be a score or whether that be a kick-out to somebody else that way we could avoid turning the ball over. She was fantastic with the ball."
(On the team trying to run some clock)
"I think I told our players and it's funny because I really wanted to kind of what we call grind, which is take time off the clock. I wanted to do that in Fayetteville but when we did that in Fayetteville and then we missed shots, we weren't very successful. In some ways I was a little bit hesitant to come back and try to play that way, but I think the tradeoff was that we controlled the pace of the game that way. We had the ball in our best players' hands that way. Tonight it worked. It hasn't always worked but tonight it worked."
(On the team winning after losing to UT at home so handily)
"I think we knew that we played bad down there. I think we were coming off arguably the toughest SEC schedule to start a season, ever, playing at Georgia, at Kentucky and then Tennessee at home. So that was a tough one for us. We didn't come into that game with a lot of confidence. We tried to have confidence in that game, we tried to believe in ourselves, but when the shots didn't fall early, we got behind and it was over with. I think we tried to hang in there and come back. The mind is a strong, strong thing, so I think it was tough on our kids. Probably losing that game caused us to turn around and go back out on the road and get beat by Ole Miss. Once we got our composure back and our confidence back, we went on a string. We won 10 of 11 and it goes to show you that it is mind over matter. These kids came in here believing that they could win this game despite the fact that we got beat badly by Tennessee. The further along we went in the game the more they believed. They just made a lot of great plays down the stretch to finish it off."
ARKANSAS JUNIOR POST SARAH WATKINS
(On getting injured in the second half)
"Really I was just a little bit late defensively, so I caught an elbow. I guess it didn't knock me out but it hurt bad enough where I didn't want to get up for a while, so I just stayed down for a little bit."
(On her basket that sent the game to overtime)
"C'eira (Ricketts) just really made a great pass. I give her all the credit for that. I happened to be in the right place when she passed it and the defense was a little bit behind me. Really, it was like I said, the pass - she just kind of threw it and threaded the needle."
ARKANSAS SENIOR GUARD LYNDSAY HARRIS
(On the difference between the two matchups)
"Well I think we all definitely wanted to forget about that first game. We know we played bad that game. We are confident in our abilities offensively and I think we were able to stick shots honestly. I think we played really hard, I don't think we rushed anything. It definitely helped that we came out scoring early so we could get our confidence up. It's hard to come back when you are down in the beginning of the game, so I think starting the game off fast definitely helped us offensively."
(On what made the team so confident)
"I think just seeing how the team has handled losing those first four games; we're definitely not the same team we were in the beginning of SEC play. We haven't been just killing teams; we've had close games too. We have been able to come out on the good end of those games because we are just a more mature, more experienced team that has grown up. It feels really good to know that when you get in tight situations like that, we can count on different people to step up and make the play, and I think that is why we were successful tonight."
(On if losing the lead changed the confidence level of the team)
"Not once. I believe in these girls. We continually put confidence in our players, whether it's our freshmen making sure she takes that shot, or making sure somebody gets a really good rebound or guarding the ball. We believe in each other so much and you don't ever want to think that you are out of the game. I think we played Tennessee down to the wire and we wanted it so bad. Every time we huddled up, someone would say we are winning this game and we just believed it. It is hard to beat a team who believes they are going to win when they step on the floor."