Nov. 15, 2011
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Pat Summitt
(initial thoughts about the game)
"It certainly felt like a March game in November. It was amazing...what intensity. I'm proud how our team responded. Obviously, this Miami team was really, really good and we knew that going in. Overall, I was very pleased. Anytime we put anyone in, they were talking - on the court, in the huddles. Everyone was focused."
"I thought we did a lot of good things. Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen stepped up big for us and we needed that. Taber Spani shot the ball lights out. She's shooting the ball well and has lots of confidence right now."
(on Tennessee's defense)
"I thought our defense stepped up big for us to win this game."
(on first half rebounding)
"I was not pleased with our rebounding in the first half at all. I thought they came out with the idea that they were going to dominate the boards. That really put us on our heels. But after halftime, we came out and really did a great job on the boards. The second half we improved greatly and it was our half on the boards."
(on Meighan and Shekinna in the second half)
"Both of those players responded very well. Meighan did, Strick did. You never know how they will respond when you make that kind of adjustment, but I was proud of how they both played in the second half."
(on Isabelle Harrison)
"Isabelle has a great attitude. Getting in the paint and going to the glass. She has been a pleasant surprise as a freshmen being so aggressive in the paint. Her defense has picked up as well."
TENNESSEE ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH Holly Warlick
"I feel like I played the game. I'm sure I look like it. I'm drenched. Unbelievable game. Exciting game. First half, we were getting killed on the boards, and we addressed that at halftime. We thought we would change it up and go to our zone. And I think probably the most important thing was that it was a great team effort. When you have five of your players in double figures, it's a team effort, and I'm just very proud of those kids and what we did tonight. It was an exciting game tonight, and I'm glad we came out on top."
(on Taber Spani's performance)
"Taber's been our most consistent player. When Taber came out shooting the three, and then she wasn't hitting the three, then she came out and hit a big one for us in front of our bench. Taber's been so steady. She worked on her defense this summer, and it shows. I think Taber is no longer a liability on the defensive end as she was probably last year. I'm very proud of Taber and the game and the numbers she's putting up."
(on Spani's on-court awareness and confidence)
"I think she's more comfortable with our system. I think she's more comfortable just in her total game, and I think that happens when you do that in the summer and put a lot of time and effort in your game and work on fundamentals. I think that's what Taber did. You're seeing her with a lot more confidence. We're putting her in situations where she thrives. She hit big threes for us, and she's answering. She's answering anything we ask her to do."
(on importance of getting the lead early in the second half and taking control)
"It was just huge. If you ever doubt if Pat Summitt is still coaching, look at how our team responds coming out in the second half. She got on them pretty hard, we all did as a staff about our rebounding effort, our hustle plays that weren't there. So we challenged them. We challenged them for 20 minutes, and I think they responded. We're not going to play a flawless game, but we've got to get all the hustle plays.
"I think we were up in the first half, and they cut it back and tied it up a not-very-smart foul that Glory (Johnson) had, but I think they answered. Glory came out and settled down in the second half, and they did what we asked them to do."
(on Ariel Massengale's first half)
"I thought Ariel was key in the first half. She played for 20 minutes, and you could see toward the second half, she got a little worn down, got a little physical. As a freshman, that kind of wears on you, and I don't think she's seen that much quickness and the game being that physical for her. I thought in the first half, she handled the ball and hit some key layups. She just gets the ball where the ball needs to be, and that's the great sign of a true point guard."
(on handling Miami's defense)
"I thought that was key, and in our game plan, we worked the last two days on taking care of the basketball because they are so athletic and so physical. We were really concerned about that, but I thought our guards handled it. You saw our post players bringing the ball up the floor. We like doing a couple dribbles, but that wasn't by design that Izzy Harrison dribbles the length of the floor and shoots a layup, but we'll take it."
(on where the team is at this time of year, how the team has progressed so far)
"I thought this was going to be a huge test for us early. I'm glad it was at home. Miami, they challenged us a lot. They challenged us to make sure we took care of the basketball. They challenged us to play one-on-one defense. It was a strong test for us, but we always schedule to get us ready."
(on Shekinna Stricklen's day and performance in the second half)
"We've got to have Shekinna Stricklen put up big numbers to win, and that's the bottom line, and she didn't get the job done in the first half. I thought she responded, came out and had some big buckets, big rebounds, handled the ball full court, handled the pressure. That's what we need Shekinna Stricklen to do, and our All-Americans stepped up. I thought Glory stepped up as well. Your big-time players have to step up for you to win and beat a No. 7 Miami team."
(on Meighan Simmon's performance)
"I think Meighan probably took one bad shot, and that was when she first came in. I thought she was under control. I thought she handled the ball. She hit some big shots, didn't turn the ball over, so I was very pleased with Meighan's effort and her defensive effort as well."
(on fast offensive pace creating options for Spani)
"Anytime you attack the basket and as quick as we are, teams are going to collapse, and it's going to give Taber Spani a lot of looks on the 3-point line, and that's the style we want to play. We want to run off our turnovers, create easy baskets. For Taber Spani to be on the 3-point line with no one around her, that's an easy basket for Taber Spani because she shoots such a great percentage. Our style has helped Taber Spani quite a bit."
(on not starting Shekinna Stricklen to start second half)
"I think the power of the bench says a lot, and for her not to start, for her to get her game in order. I watched tape with Shekinna of Sunday's game, and I thought she got beat too much on the defensive end. I thought she responded in practice, but we need more out of Shekinna Stricklen. She's our All-American. We need her to put up big numbers, she needs to get rebounds and she needs to be one of our defensive stoppers. That's what comes along with being an All-American and once you're named that, our expectations are higher for Shekinna Stricklen. We're going to stay on her and make sure she keeps her game at the highest level that she should."
TENNESSEE FRESHMAN Ariel Massengale
(on being down early and her play in the first half)
"At the beginning of the game, everyone was talking about, `Stay confident. It's your first big college game.' Kamiko was telling me her first game, she got over that (by imagining that she was) just out on the playground just playing. It doesn't matter who you're playing against. My teammates came out ready to play. They were hitting shots, knocking down shots. That was our game plan."
(on working her way into shape after being out with a concussion, hitting a wall in the second half)
"I did. Miami is a great team. They like to run. We like to run, and so just getting used to the college tempo and how hard you have to play on every possession, still trying to get used to it."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR Taber Spani
(on Ariel's play in the first half)
"Rel (Massengale) was great, extremely key, and obviously, her nine assists is what kind of gets us going, her pushing the tempo. She's never not going to run. She's always pushing us to run. She was a great leader out there tonight and calm and steady. That's what we needed."
(on her shooting confidence from working over the summer)
"I really tried to expand my game. Obviously, my three-point shot is a big part of it, but right now it's just all about confidence because I haven't been able to do any extra shooting yet with my elbow. So, I think it's more mental than anything else. Obviously, all of us have shot millions of shots throughout our careers, so it's just a mindset going in and knowing that you can knock down shots."
(on her limitations with her shooting elbow)
"I can't do anything outside practice yet, which kills me, but we're just going to take it one day at a time. It's getting better."
(on Izzy's three-point shot)
"We were all like, `Izzy!' It almost went in, but I'm really glad Strick (Shekinna) got the rebound. She came in and provided a great spark for us. She had to calm down a little bit, went out of the game, and then came back in, and she was ready to go that second time. We needed it. She stepped up."
(on her scoring opportunities from the offense)
"Well, I think that's just a testament to obviously the system but to Rel and our point guards really pushing the ball. If we get out and run, then they're going to look for us, and that's what great point guard play does. Glory got a lot of open looks from Rel. It's our job to run, and they feed us. It's a total team effort."
TENNESSEE SENIOR Glory Johnson
(on Tennessee's second-half surge)
"I think it was once again us picking up our defense and just really focusing on crashing the boards. They were hitting shots, and they weren't missing really in the first half. We were hitting shots, so something's got to change, so we've got to pick up our rebounding. They were out-rebounding us. Ultimately they ended up out-rebounding us, but once we picked up our defense, that changed a lot of things."
(on Miami's rebounding)
"They were sending a couple of players back. Their guards were just crashing the boards really hard. They were just taking outside shots, and there were long rebounds, and with their guards crashing the boards as hard as they were, we've got to be ready for that. Then they had number 40 inside the middle as a big presence, and she was getting her hands on a lot of the boards. We just needed to box her out and push her out of the paint."
(on the challenge Miami presented)
"I think overall a quick and physical team. It's just something we have to be ready for. At the same time we're physical, and we're just as quick. I think everyone can run the floor, and we enjoy running the floor. Playing a team like this almost reminds us of ourselves. If they're going to push it down our backs, we're going to do the same thing. I think that's something that we changed up from the first half."
MIAMI HEAD COACH KATIE MEIER
"They're awesome at converting missed shots. I thought a huge part of the game was we had opportunities near the rim and a couple of threes that they turned into automatic points at the other end. In that stretch, not towards the end of the game when we really stalled out, but we were in a flow and I liked the shots. I felt like we had some near the rim that we needed to finish, and there was a corner three that I thought was in and they come down in that next possession and I believe Taber (Spani) at the buzzer hit that. I thought that was a huge turning point in the game, as we were struggling kind of to get back in it. So, we have to convert. Take away our 0-9 from the three in the second half and I think we are 14-25. We have to realize that we were 14-25 from the two and have to go inside a little more and get it to the rim and just take smarter shots. When you have a weakness or do something wrong against a great team like Tennessee, they drive it down your throat and burn you for it and they did. We expected it, and that was a good lesson for us. We wanted to win and we're planning on winning, we really were. There was no intimidation or anything like that. We were planning on winning this one so we are very disappointed, but we also came up here to get a lesson. That 3-2 zone was a great lesson for us, the length of that 3-2 zone. I told the kids, I know it's easy for me in a timeout to just draw up a play and say screen this one, roll down here or whatever, but it is a lot different out there for you because of their length. They had length on us in every spot out there and that was a very effective defense and a great job of coaching by them."
(on preparing for Taber Spani)
"We saw that exhibition game, so she was pretty high on our list. You wouldn't think it, because it seemed like she got a lot of open looks, but we have a ton of respect for her. She hits great timely shots and is very composed. She played a special game, and she is going to have a special season. She is a great one."
(on what Ariel Massengale means to Tennessee)
"She almost got a double-double as a freshman against a team that was second in the nation in steals last year, us. So she brings a whole heck of a lot and obviously it freed up (Meighan) Simmons to score more and let her leak out and get some special plays behind the pressure, which killed us. They are a very good team, and Ariel is a huge addition, a huge addition. They are tough to beat."
(on the Tennessee run to begin the second half)
"I thought we would be a little bit more mature coming out of the half and not let them jump on us. That was a huge disappointment just because of the energy it required to make up for that run we gave up. We brought all this energy to close this gap again, and you saw a point where I think we just broke. Pepper Wilson hasn't played in really almost two years and she played way more minutes than I expected her to play."
(on being tied at half)
"A couple years ago I would have felt good, but I'm disappointed. We didn't schedule the game to say `Oh gosh, what a great opportunity.' We scheduled the game to come in here and play big time basketball and figure out where we are and we got a ways to go."
(on out-rebounding Tennessee)
"We're not crushed. Nobody comes into Tennessee and out-rebounds them. They're the best rebounding team in the history of women's basketball. That's what they do."
(on matching Tennessee's strengths)
"It is a measuring stick. I can't go on and on enough about the respect and admiration. If you say anything about us that we are like Tennessee that is the highest compliment you can give us. That doesn't mean we came in here in awe of them, I'm not saying that. The class of the program, their style of play, the way they recruit, how ethical they are and how they operate and the intensity that they play with are things I've always wanted to have. I've always wanted a team that could have those qualities and Tennessee does it year after year after year. I'm really happy we've got this program to the point where anyone would compare us to Tennessee. That is the highest compliment you could give me."
MIAMI SENIOR RIQUNA WILLIAMS
(on whether the team felt confident going into the second half with the game tied)
"Yeah we did. We talked about doing the same thing, keep boxing out and pushing back because that was killing them."
MIAMI SENIOR SHENISE JOHNSON
(on whether the team felt confident going into the second half with the game tied)
"Of course our confidence was high. It was zero-zero. We were definitely confident."
(on picking up her game as the contest went on)
"I thought I didn't play well at all. I wasn't aggressive enough at all. I had too many turnovers, too many timely turnovers. I don't think I played well at all, so my performance wasn't good enough. We lost."
(on whether the team can learn something by playing Tennessee)
"That's exactly why coach scheduled this game, so we could be ready later on in the season. We got a great lesson here, and we are definitely learning some zone and ball movement."
(on going against UT's 3-2 zone)
"I don't know what position Glory Johnson plays. She's a beast. She's a monster. We are a lot smaller than them, and we wanted to try and squeeze it in there and get inside the lane and we weren't able to do that with the size and length they had."