March 5, 2009
Post-Game Quotes - Tennessee vs. Alabama - SEC Tournament
Continuing with the University of Alabama, we have Coach Wendell Hudson, Varisia Raffington. Varisia scored 11 points, Ericka Russell 18 points and 4 rebounds. Coach?
I thought both teams played offensively hard. The difference in the basketball game of course was baskets in the paint.
Tennessee did a great job in the second half getting the ball up on the rim and we did not do a very good job in the second half of keeping them off the boards, but I thought they played awfully hard, as they normally would do, and we didn't have great offense.
Q. Coach, talk about the first half, played Tennessee very tough, and your thoughts going into the locker room. In the second half what you thought the difference was down the stretch.
In the first half I thought one of the difference was we made shots, in the first half, and I think that always gives you a chance to win a basketball game.
Second half we talked about it at halftime, about coming out and we needed to come out strong. And we came out with a good effort, but we didn't make the shots, had some good looks, but didn't make the shots. And Tennessee was on a roll, and once they started making shots, it was the difference in the basketball game.
Q. In the second half, Coach, they extended their defense and they're so long, is that what takes away from the parameter? You guys shot 21% in the second half from the three. Talk about their length outside.
Of course, they're -- with the perimeter play that they have out there, they're long and lean, 6-2, 6-3, makes a big difference in shooting the basketball. That affected us some.
And we got the ball in the paint, and they're long and lean inside and they're long and lean everywhere, so it makes a difference. It's what you get used to in practice every day and get used to shooting over. That doesn't take anything away from the shooting of Tennessee.
Q. You guys came out in the second half and had a lead, talk about how excited and up you guys were about that.
We were excited, we played with energy and intensity in the first half. We had nothing to lose and we wanted to come out and play hard.
Q. Coach, talk about the season and where you guys go from here, as far as the off season, what you've learned that year.
Learned you got to make baskets, especially at the right time. No, I already knew that.
I think what this team did that year and what we wanted to accomplish this year was to play hard, learn how to play hard and do it on both ends of the court. I think our effort was good at times as far as playing hard. Now we got to make plays.
Good players make plays and good players make all of us coaches better coaches and that's the difference. There were times when Tennessee might not have made exactly the right play, but they had a playmaker step up and make a play and that's what we got to learn how to do and make plays and help these young ladies from the standpoint of recruiting, get some other playmakers in here to help them play.
Q. Talk about the season, you guys were losing games, but it seems like you were playing with effort. How hard was it to keep up the intensity every day?
It gets hard, we kept encouraging each other, nobody likes to lose. We went into every game with a different attitude, playing positive, thinking that we can take this one and we were just taking it one game at a time.
We have to get to the point where we can finish the game. Once we get there, I think that we'll be a definite SEC contender when it comes down to it.
Thank you all.
Joined by Tennessee, who won over Alabama 68 49, and will advance to the quarterfinals against Florida at 6:30. We're joined by Coach Pat Summitt, Shekinna Stricklen and Kelley Cain, Coach?
I thought the first half was a constant struggle for us, but I have to give a lot of credit to Alabama. I thought they did some good things and obviously Russell had her way. She was 6 for 13, just didn't do a good job of defending, I thought, in the second half.
After our halftime, just trying to get them to understand to get our team to really commit to defending, we wanted to obviously extend and defend the three ball and play better defense one on one, and that's been a challenge for us at times.
I thought we got a lot better in the second half. We played well together, Shekinna did a great job in her decision making and became more aggressive at both ends of the floor, exactly what we needed from her.
I thought we got good play off the bench from Briana, and it was important for us to have balance in our minutes and she did a good job, played 22 minutes, so hopefully that will help us as we move forward to our game tomorrow night.
Kelley Cain was struggling a little bit, but pleased with her progress, and her toughness has been the key for us, and the pain.
And then to have Brewer step up and play the way she played, we've been waiting a long time to see that, so glad to see Alicia come to play in the paint as well.
Q. Pat, first half you're losing to the worst team in the league, what was it like in your locker room?
Well, obviously we didn't want to lose the basketball game, and we talked about what we had to do. We had to take care of the basketball. We had to have a different sense of urgency.
Sometimes this team is far too laid back for my liking, because I don't think playing basketball at any time should be anything casual. And as a coaching staff we challenged them, we had to step up and do a better job taking care of the basketball.
We had to make sure that we didn't give up anymore three's, and we defended. They do a great job off the bounce. I thought our defense inspired our offense. We had a lot of good stops, and I thought that's when Shekinna really got out and pushed tempo for us and we attacked the rim.
I liked the fact that Kelley Cain knows where she needs to play to her strengths and she did that, and she had help tonight certainly with Alyssia, and we got to rest Alex a little bit so that was good. I mean, I was mindful of tomorrow we have to play another game, but first things first, we had to win this one.
Q. For Shekinna, first of all, because you've been the top scorer on this team, were you particularly challenged at all at the half to assume more of a role in terms of the scoring and building on that, maybe looking back in the first half, did you feel that you were pushing in any way during the first half because you were back here playing in Arkansas, or was that a factor in your mind?
Like I've been telling people, I've come back home. It's not about me, it's not about me. If I'm going to show up and have a good game, it's about the team and us playing together and winning.
The first half I felt like I was laid back and wasn't pushing the ball, and the defense went up. And just the second half, it was something totally different, intensity was higher and our defense picked up and everyone was just fired up and we just got it going the second half.
Q. Kelley, based on what Coach was saying, were you feeling more discomfort than usual tonight? And if so, how did you play through it?
I had the mentality that I wanted to fight for my team, and Coach said the last thing we wanted to do was go home tomorrow. And we definitely took that to heart and she was right and we played much better the second half.
Q. Kelley, will it be any harder on your knee to have to play games on successive days in this tournament? You haven't had to do that, or is that not a factor?
That's definitely a factor. We have hard practices after games, so I think I can handle it.
Q. Coach, Kelley may be one of the nicest Lady Vols you've had on that team, but she is starting to develop a swagger out there. Is that a welcome sight for you to see out of somebody that is 6-6?
She's not that nice! No, I think Kelley, when she first got to Tennessee, obviously very soft spoken and her game was not as impressive as it is now.
I think the staff has done a great job of challenging our post game and there is a toughness to it now. Kelley has a toughness. You know, she takes a lot of licks in the paint. She draws attention from more than one player at a time, and a lot of times she is caught in double teams.
I just like her fight and I just like the development of her game. Tonight I don't think it's going to do with her knees. I think she was having a little trouble breathing. But she kept breathing.
Q. Glory seemed to play much more in control than she has in the past, is that a welcome sight to you?
Anytime Glory is playing with exposure and playing with good decisions, and anytime she does that, it adds to our depth and we can go with three bigs, which is not uncommon for us right now.
And I thought Glory had tremendous exposure and did a great job on the defensive end and, again, on the offensive end I liked her reads and her decision making.
Q. Coach, now that this game is done, you can concentrate on Florida. You said after the game there you were as upset as you could be after the game because of the refereeing and the way the girls played.
That's true. My memory of that game, we would get a lead, we've got momentum and then we don't close out the game. I know everyone was upset, our staff and our players, and they have a great team, but, you know, if you have an opportunity, you've got to seize that opportunity at that moment in time and we didn't.
We couldn't make shots, didn't make shots, turned the ball over, didn't rebound. We played probably the worst in the last, probably, six, seven minutes of that game.
The good thing is that we have a chance tomorrow to see where we are. We play this team again on a neutral floor instead of on their home court.
Q. Pat, post season play, the tournament is a second chance for your team. Did you expect the team to have more of a sense of urgency, maybe come out playing with more passion, playing smarter in the first half?
Well, I think you have to understand this, John. Yes, I was disappointed that we didn't come out and dictate, but this Alabama team, you have to understand that they have great quickness, and they're very good off the dribble. You combine that with us not defending the three ball, which was very costly.
You know, I think with this team sometimes we get off to slow starts. Obviously it can cost us against most teams. Tonight we managed to pull together at halftime and thought they came out with just a different commitment and a different focus. But that's part of the youth.
I don't know how you fast forward it, but I always go back and think and would I rather have talent or experience? And I would rather have talent. But right now they should be a little more experienced than they play sometimes early.
All right, thank you, Coach, thank you, ladies.