Feb. 28, 2010
HEAD COACH Pat Summitt:
(opening remarks): "Obviously, having played Ole Miss once before this season, we knew that they were a tough team. They play with a lot of grit and do a great job of moving the ball. Having seen Bianca Thomas before and defended her before, we knew that we needed to close long, deny, and limit her touches. I was disappointed with how we started. Our first game against them went to the wire. We were able to separate ourselves out against them today. Our post game didn't come through big either offensively or defensively. There's no excuse for not being ready. I thought Shekinna Stricklen and Alicia Manning worked hard on both ends."
(on team playing with a sense of complacency today): "Again, this team has to understand where we are. It's like, `We've arrived.' You've never arrived in this game, and this team has to understand that. There was not a sense of urgency tonight like there was (earlier in the week) against LSU or Kentucky. There was not a sense of commitment, and our communication was not as strong. It was like, `We won. Now we'll wait and go to Duluth (for the SEC Tournament). Do I look happy? Do I sound happy? I'm disappointed. When this team is on a mission, you can see it. You can feel it. It's obvious. You can't pick and choose when you play. We had two players (Shekinna Stricklen and Alicia Manning) to step up and play great today."
(on upcoming games): "The season is not over. We've got the SEC Tournament then trying to get a #1 seed (for the NCAA Tournament). There's still a lot of basketball left to play. They have to understand that habits, both good and bad, are hard to break. We are what we repeatedly do. We need to repeat our good habits and strive for perfection."
(on Alicia Manning): "Alicia Manning is one of the most competitive players on this team if not the most competitive player on this team. She battles hard. She wants to compete all the time. That's why we wanted her at Tennessee. She's aggressive and tough in battles. There's no quit in her."
(on Shekinna Stricklen's shooting): "Shekinna's been in the gym. She's taking shot after shot. The players who are spending the most time in Pratt (Pavilion) and taking the most shots are making the most shots. There's a correlation there."
(on possible pairings for Tennessee in the SEC Tournament): "If we have to play Ole Miss again, that's a big challenge. South Carolina is playing well. Then there's Vanderbilt or Arkansas and LSU."
(on Kelley Cain's fouls): "Kelley and I watched a lot of tape yesterday. We looked at her shot blocking. She's blocking like this (leaning over) instead of this (hands straight up). She will continue to get better. She's getting early fouls. She can't take herself out early. We'll work on it in practice."
SOPHOMORE FORWARD Alyssia Brewer
(On the struggles of Tennessee's post players): "There was a lot of double-teaming and we didn't kick the ball out soon enough. We kind of lost our balance at times but I think we made up for it in the second half."
(On Coach Summitt's disappointment in the team's play): "You have to take what she tells you seriously but you also have to shake it off. You can't worry about the past and you have to focus on the present."
(On finishing with a 27-2 record after losing 10 games a year ago): "We're definitely proud of what we've accomplished but there have been games that we won and maybe shouldn't have. We've definitely progressed from last year. We've got to correct our mistakes because it's crunch time now."
SOPHOMORE FORWARD Alicia Manning
(On her tenacity in rebounding): "I'm very competitive. I think that's probably where it all starts. I guess having two older brothers picking on me had something to do with it."
(On guarding the SEC's leading scorer, Bianca Thomas): "Thomas is a great player. She can drive to the basket; she can pull up and shoot threes. You have to make her put it in on the ground and have your team help you when she does that. You have to keep a hand in her face no matter what."
(On the SEC Tournament): "We've played most of these teams twice. We know what they're bringing and vice versa. A lot of it is just executing. We have to take advantage of our post game and play to our strengths. If we do the little things and make extra-effort plays, I think we'll be fine."
SOPHOMORE GUARD Shekinna Stricklen
(On the rebounding of Tennessee's guards): "I think that helped us out a lot. The posts tell us that they do the hard work--they box people out and we are free to get the rebounds. Getting rebounds is about hustle and that's what we did."
(On Alicia Manning): "She's bringing a lot of hard work. Her intensity brings up everybody's. She goes hard every play and it just makes everybody else go hard. She plays offense and defense. She crashes the boards and guards the best player on the other team. She's helping us out a lot and she's been a big part of this team."
(On today's victory): "We know this wasn't our best game, but we have to let it go and get ready for tournament time."
(On her workout routine of late): "I've been in the gym a lot more shooting by myself and focusing on my follow through, like (associate head coach) Holly Warlick tells me to."
OLE MISS HEAD COACH RENEE LADNER
(On dealing with Tennessee's size): "That's a tall order; we did the best we could. We thought if we could pull them away from the basket, we could turn the corner as Bianca (Thomas) did often tonight and get some shots. I know Coach Summit keyed in on taking our three-point shooters out of the game which I thought she did for the most part. Liz (Robertson) really struggled to get a shot off tonight as well as Shantell Black."
(On the performance of Bianca Thomas, who finished with 34 points): "Outstanding. Bianca had to create a little more tonight because she didn't have the open look. She proved to everyone again tonight that she is one of the top players in the conference; she's still the leading scorer in the conference. I've said it all year, I think she's been disrespected and she continues to prove people wrong. She was just outstanding. We put everything in her hands for the most part and she usually comes through so I'm extremely proud of her."
(On playing Tennessee well): "I asked my players that question and they said, `Coach, everybody gets up for Tennessee, everybody wants to beat Tennessee.' I think they get themselves ready to play. My team plays with a lot of heart all the time, it doesn't matter how far down or how far ahead we are, we continue to push. But when Tennessee comes to town, we have a tendency to get up for those games and we go above and beyond the call because of our desire."
(On the differences between the teams): "I think our speed versus their size is a factor and I have good perimeter shooters. I don't have a lot of depth so I'm asking a lot of kids to play a lot of minutes. Going against people that size is very taxing as you can see when we're running down the floor or when you look underneath the goal and they box out and you can't see our kids' bodies. There's an orange jersey and there's four legs. So that's very taxing on our team."
(On Thomas' quickness): "She's smart and she's a heady player. She read them very well. She would come off their screens and she would flare, that would give her an open look for the three. That's a credit to how good Bianca Thomas really is because I think Tennessee is very good defensively."
(On the possibility of playing Tennessee again in the SEC Tournament): "I'm not sure it's ever an advantage to be 8 or 9-seed. USC is a very tough team and we did not play them very well in South Carolina actually. They're very difficult to defend as well. If we get past them, we will see the big orange again."
(On beating Tennessee): "You have to rebound, which is something we don't do a very good job of. I think all teams are vulnerable in some area and I think we have speed, quickness and good shooters. We're a little weak in the rebounding department. I was surprised to see at halftime that it was even. The difference was that Tennessee got the offensive rebounds and scored, we got the rebounds and didn't put it back in. Alicia Manning had an outstanding game against us. I'm always perplexed that we play pretty well with the bigs. The bigs did not overpower us and they didn't have a lot of points. But that didn't mean anything. Tennessee has a lot of weapons. We had emphasis on Bjorklund tonight, we didn't want her to light us up. When you key in on key players and you're not shallow in depth, sometimes it affects you. They have a lot of good weapons."
SENIOR GUARD BIANCA THOMAS
(On what it means to play in Thompson-Boling Arena): "Growing up, I was a big Tennessee fan. I get really excited to come up to Thompson-Boling Arena because I wasn't recruited here and it feels good to try to go out and beat Tennessee."
(On being motivated by the close game in Oxford):
"Everybody is motivated. It's happened two years straight. Angie got a shot at the end in Oxford. It was very heartbreaking, not only to me, but to the whole team."