March 28, 2011
Pat Summitt Opening Statement
I'm obviously really proud of our basketball team. Our depth was key and I think that's been significant all season long, and none bigger than this game. It's great to have the depth that we have and we count on a lot of different players. I think our depth has been very good to us and no better than today's game.
Talking about mind set facing Lavender...
Our game plan from the beginning was to work inside out, as it is every day, and the guards took on that role, trusting me to go to work with the ball. I give all the credit to the guards for making great passes. The whole team told me they needed me and said if it was going to be any day, today was the day.
Moving well and playing strong...
Physically I felt the same way I always do but mentally I was at a whole other level. When my teammates tell me they need me I have an obligation to give them what they want.
What you did differently in the second half.
Coach lit a fire under our butts in the locker room and we stepped up our defense and made them play faster than they wanted. I think that was the main thing, getting up in them and making them play at a different level.
I think in the first half we played on our heels a bit but the second half we got up and started to deny the ball and play more Tennessee basketball. We trusted that if they drove by us, we were going to have each other's back on defense and rotate. Our energy really picked up and I was really proud of our team.
Coaches went off on us in the locker room and we understood we didn't want to go home today. We knew our bread and butter was to go inside and that's what really helped us win this game today.
Our main goal this whole tournament is defense and rebounding. Our offense will come to us but we need to control the boards and the pace and if we do that, it's all ours.
I think our whole team has committed on a different level to rebounding. You could tell our posts were committed to boxing out and at the same time people coming in the game are committed. Glory came in and got 11 which was huge and she always steps up for us.
Why were you so committed to going inside initially?
We had a team meeting and the posts said they needed more touches and the guards committed to getting them the ball and trusting them to score. They (OSU) were also playing behind us and when I see numbers, it's a lot easier to get them the ball and I know they're going to go to work. All the posts really stepped up and having that depth and size inside is huge.
If Kelly scores you know she's going to want it again. We had talked before the game about getting Kelly the ball inside and once she gets a feel, it gets her going and she starts scoring more and more.
Were you worried about the half time speech and was there anything that really motivated you?
At half, we were not excited about our play. We knew we weren't playing Tennessee basketball and we knew we were going to get it. One thing coach emphasized is that we don't want to go home. We had that feeling last year and we didn't like it. We have shared that feeling with the freshman so that helped light a fire under our butts and get out there and play defense in the second half.
We were not happy with how we were playing so we were getting on our self before coach even got in there. Coach is going to do whatever it takes to light a fire in us. It shouldn't take coach coming in at half time, we should start the game that way.
Before coach even came in everyone was emphasizing what we needed to do in order to have a better second half and after coach came in, she said the same thing so we were pretty prepared.
Getting back on defense and Meighan Simmons blocked shot that fired up the team...
My teammates kept telling me I had to get back and I think at that time I was like "O shoot, so I had a burst of speed and I said to myself "I'm not going to let my teammates get mad at me today." I ended up blocking the shot but I think that's just one thing that got us fired up and everyone else started making plays after that. Talk about second half adjustments...
Obviously our defense had to pick it up and I just said that's where we have to invest our energy. I thought we did a great job of that and our board play was a lot better. I thought we pushed tempo a lot better. The first half we didn't have the same energy level. Half time came at a perfect time so we could let them know that what they were doing was not going to win them the game. Obviously, Ohio State played six players and we typically play 13 although we only played 11 today. I thought our depth was a real factor and it has been for us throughout our season and none better than this particular game.
Angie shooting struggles...
Even when Angie's not making shots she's still in the game. Her mind is always thinking, she's talking and you have to give her credit because while she didn't score, she had seven assists so that tells me she's thinking "Ok. I'm not scoring, what can I do to help this team?" She did a great job about getting the ball into the right hands and she was really talking and very much in tune with what we were doing. I was pleased with her being right in the game.
Strickland's play late...
She's the type of player that if you don't ask her to score, she can kind of blend in. The thing I wanted her to do was to step up and I told her that. She responded immediately. That's typical of her, sometimes you have to remind her but she knows that she's the go to player and one of the best on our team. I thought her energy level in the second half was good. She responded in the way coaches love.
Where does Jantel rank in the scope of women's college basketball?
She's truly one of the best post players we've faced and we knew going in it was going to be a real battle and that's why, going in, we wanted to run different people in at her. She's got a great skill set and is very tough minded and has done a great job for this Ohio State team.
Cain battling against Lavender...
Kelly Cain had not started this year but we started her in this game. We changed our line up but we knew in practice that we wanted a post player with a presence that could battle against her. We knew Lavender was going to be huge and we felt the only player that could match up with her was Cain. Her first start was a good start and she handled it well.
One a scale of one to ten, how tough was your halftime speech?
Probably an 8.5. I wasn't really happy but that's sometimes what you have to do at half time. Sometimes teams enjoy when we motivate them.
Were you purposely sagging off on Ohio State in the first half?
No. We were not getting up on the three point shots and closing out the way we needed to. They got a lot of good looks but it was definitely the players' idea to sag off, not mine. We fixed that in the second half. Thank goodness we have half time.
Jim Foster, Head Coach
The Ohio State University
Q. Was there anything you saw, technically, during the run where they took the lead and held onto it. Is there anything in particular they (Tennessee) were doing?
HEAD COACH JIM FOSTER:
We just got away from what was being successful. We started taking quick shots on inbounds plays. I'm not a big believer in taking 12 to-13 foot shots off an inbounds play off of one pass. I thought we got into a quick-shot mode. It was probably the emotion of the game, the significance of the game, etc. When we executed our offense and moved the basketball we got terrific shots. They (Tennessee) had to play defense longer and they couldn't get the runouts. When you take quick shots it gives the opportunity to run presenting itself more often. It wasn't real smart on our part. I thought for 33 minutes we played sound, smart basketball and for seven minutes we didn't. That seven minutes really cost us.
Q. You called timeout early in the second half to try to stop the run. How does it get away like that?
HEAD COACH JIM FOSTER:
I think the kids get emotional. They see an opportunity. It is very difficult sometimes. We shot 67 percent in the first half and you think you're on fire and you think everything is going to go in. You still have to play basketball. You still have to be who you are. Today our players took quick shots more often than you would like to see them do it.
Q. Could you reflect on the ups and downs of Ohio State this season? With the loss of Jantel Lavender where do you see Ohio State being next year?
HEAD COACH JIM FOSTER:
I thought we finished this season very well and played our best basketball down the stretch. I've been fortunate that I've not had once-in-a-lifetime players. I've been fortunate enough to coach six All-American centers; a charmed lifestyle. We have to find someone else (to replace Jantel Lavender). Sam (Prahalis) is back and it is another opportunity for her to lead and help some of our younger players grow over the summer. You just sort of reload and get ready. You can't dwell. The numbers Jantel put up over her career speak for themselves. She is the model of consistency year in and year out. She will continue to have a great career.
Q. This team was fighting even though the game seemed out of hand in the last three minutes. Last year's team would have melted down the stretch. What is the difference?
HEAD COACH JIM FOSTER:
You're talking apples and oranges. I thought this year's seniors did a great job of weathering the storm through the course of the year and they did a great job demanding that their young teammates played at a certain level and do things at a certain level. People took that to heart. It's a bi-product of the team taking responsibility for their actions and having a high standard.
Q. When you recruited Jantel (Lavender) did you envision this type of career for her. Did she exceed your expectations?
HEAD COACH JIM FOSTER:
I thought she would come in and be able to do the things that Jess Davenport had done. It's a great run. With the way our league was, you have to be a little surprised that she was the player of the year as a freshman. I don't think anything that she has done in the last three years since then would surprise you, relative to the Player of the Year deal.