Nov. 26, 2006
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Pat Summitt:
"We knew going in that we would have to try to dictate tempo. We were able to generate offense off of our defense and settled down after the first few minutes. We got some great scoring opportunities, with Sidney (Spencer) shooting so well and Candace (Parker) inside, particularly with our halfcourt game."
(on Candace Parker's knee) "The doctors are looking at it. We won't know for a little while. Hopefully, after she gets a day or two of rest, she'll be able to go. She's moving around and walking on it."
(on defense against MTSU) "From watching tape, other teams (that MTSU had played) didn't extend their defense against them. We had a distinct size advantage against them and were able to cover a lot of ground against them. Candace (Parker), Nicky (Anosike), and Alex (Fuller) are so mobile. Out of presses, we were able to cover ground against them because those three are so mobile. When we went to our bench, we didn't lose anything. You don't know how a team will respond until you pressure. Sometimes, you give up easy buckets. We gave up some today."
(on Tennessee's outside shooting) "I'm please with our outside shooting. With Sidney (Spencer), you expect that. They got in the gym this summer, and they take lots of shots in practices. We're getting better looks overall. Give them credit, though. They're knocking down the shots."
(on Alex Fuller's performance) "Obviously, on the other bench, you had Alex's high school coach (Rick Insell). She came to play today. I think she wanted to show that she had learned a lot from him. She was really efficient. She's a spark for the team off the bench, not just scoring, but rebounding. I said going into the season that she was the most improved player on this team. She's demonstrated that game in and game out. She has a lot of confidence. She's a fundamental player. She's more mobile this year and playing more athletically. She got in great shape in the off-season, and that's helping her and the team."
(on Tennessee's defense against MTSU's Amber Holt) "We were concerned coming in. We knew the numbers that Holt had been putting up. It was a challenge to match her intensity. (Chrissy) Givens got too many open looks. We were not committed to defending her. They (MTSU) took a lot of threes. We've given up too many threes this year. That's a shortcoming, and it's a concern. We're not defending the perimeter as well as we are the post."
(on first half showing) "That was one of the more efficient halves that we've had this season. We had good shot selection. Our ball movement and spacing were good, and we got great looks. When you share the ball, you've got a chance to get great looks."
(on performance by Tennessee's bench) "Cait (McMahan), Alberta (Auguste), and Alex (Fuller) did a great job off the bench. Our starters got us off to a great start. When the subs came in, there was no letdown. When you have fresh bodies on the floor, you're able to keep pressure on. That was big for us against Arizona State and Stanford and now against MTSU."
(on her knee) "It's good. I sat (after the injury) for precaution."
"I'm happy with our transition game. We're hitting outside shots. With Sidney (Spencer) trailing on the break, she's getting open looks."
(on defending MTSU's Amber Holt) "With our size, we're able to disrupt other team's inside players. She's an undersize post. We focused on limiting her touches."
(on Tennessee's offensive showing) "We're a great offensive team. Any individual player can come in and knock down shots. We have faith in each other, and Coach (Summitt) has faith in us to put the ball in. Everyone on this team can do things on both ends of the court. We're getting great ball movement, and that opens things up. There's also the confidence factor. We're confident, and we're not going to think twice about shooting."
(on staying out of foul trouble) "It helps. It puts our team in a bind when either Shannon (Bobbitt) or I are in foul trouble. I'm kind of excited (about not having any fouls today). I go out every game with the goal of zero fouls and zero turnovers."
(on comparing the margin of Tennessee's win over MTSU with Maryland's four-point win over MTSU in the season-opener) "It doesn't speak too much. MTSU talked about them beating UTC worse than we did. That was Maryland's first game, and they came out with a win. You can't dwell on that. You can't worry about how everybody else does."
(on Tennessee's bench play) "Our bench play was outstanding. Alex (Fuller) was on a mission. Cait (McMahan) never lets down with her intensity. She's the most intense player that I have ever played with. You have to love a player like her. With Bird (Alberta Auguste), you know what you're getting. When we're subbing players in, nothing drops. That's a coach's dream."
(on facing her former high school coach, Rick Insell) "I was nervous at the beginning. That was the first time I had gone against him as an opponent after being on the same bench with him. Once I got into it, I was excited. He was going with the same plays as we used in high school, and I was telling our team which plays. Once a (Shelbyville High School) Eaglette, you've always got the Eaglette blood in you."
(on Tennessee's slow start) "I was definitely surprised. When I saw the score was something like 5-10, I turned to Dom (Redding), and said, `What is wrong?' We got in rhythm, though, and when these two (Candace Parker and Alexis Hornbuckle) started playing, we got rolling."
MIDDLE TENNESSEE HEAD COACH RICK INSELL
(on turnovers): "We've been averaging about 11 or 12 turnovers a game. And 15 in the first half kind of took us out of the game. Plus, they shot 64 percent. They shoot like that and you turn the ball over like that, you don't have much of a shot. We didn't quit; I was really proud of that. We kept getting into them. We kept attacking them. You know, we learned some things today. Tennessee's got a great team, they're well-coached, and they play hard just like we play hard. They've just got six inches on us at every position."
(on trailing at the half): "We just talked about the fact that we were going to go out and get into them. Then we changed our philosophy once we got on the bench. We thought we might run more triangle and two, then right out of the box, they come out and hit two threes. We knew if we opened the floor up their athleticism and their size with the high-lows were going to give us problems. There's no way we can defend (Candace) Parker and (Nicky) Anosike, then (Alexis) Hornbuckle when she's slashing and the other kids that they've got. (Alex) Fuller came out and stuck some shots early, then (Sidney) Spencer stuck some shots. We were hoping those shots wouldn't fall."
(on Alex Fuller): "She's a winner. Great family. I coached her for seven years, all the way through junior pro and then junior high, AAU and high school. What a great family and a good young lady. Not only is she going to be successful on the court, which she is right now, she is going to be very successful off the court. She's come through a lot of hardships like knee problems, and she's overcome all of that. And that says a lot about the person. And I'm very proud of her and her mom and dad.
(on continuing the series with UT): "Absolutely. We'd like to get the Lady Vols to Murfreesboro. Pat and I have been friends since the late 70s, early 80s. She's built the Tennessee program here while I was coaching at Shelbyville. If we're going to take our program to the next level, we're going to have to play the Tennessees to get it there. All this game did was help us. We know what we have to work on now. We'll go back and break the film down. I think our young ladies know we did some things. We were intimidated by their lateral quickness, and we've got to get over that."
(on getting an early lead): "We've got a pretty good team. I hate to brag on my team. It might not have looked like it to some people tonight, but I'm really proud of what they've done already. We've probably played the second-toughest schedule in the country behind Tennessee. We've still got Georgia and Old Dominion left on the schedule along with our conference. And if you know anything about the Sun Belt Conference, we're the ninth-toughest conference in the country out of 31. And I think we're probably going to raise that up to maybe sixth or seventh because a lot of our teams have beat a lot of teams around the country in their non-conference schedule. So I think that's going to help us some."
(on UT hitting 3-pointers): "We were banking on that they wouldn't hit some of those threes. We were hoping Fuller might take a few shots from 3, hoping that (Shannon) Bobbitt might take a few, and (Cait) McMahan might take a few. I coached McMahan in AAU also, so I know McMahan's a winner. But she hadn't been shooting a whole lot, so we were trying to play with that a little bit. She was looking pass more than shot, and we were hoping she'd lay off of it, and Bobbitt, too. Spencer came out, we got lost a couple times, and she just drained it. Tennessee played great, they just flat took it to us and controlled every facet of the game. But we didn't quit."
(on comparing Tennessee and Maryland): "They are two great teams. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see them both in the Final Four. Maryland is very gifted like Tennessee. The difference today was that we played Maryland at Middle Tennessee. We might have had just a little bit of a home-court advantage. And Tennessee might have had just a little bit of home court advantage today. We played well against Maryland, and it was the first game of the year. Some of the things we did bothered them a little bit. There was not a lot of film out there. They're two great teams, two great programs."
(on what you take from this game): "This game not only prepared us for the next game, but it also prepared us for the rest of the season. Our goal is to go deeper into the NCAA Tournament. We won't have to play a team as good as Tennessee to get to the Sweet 16. Hopefully we can play someone like them or Maryland or Georgia in the Sweet 16. We'll be able to take this film with us the rest of the year. Not anybody out there is going to get anything out of this film because not anybody out there is going to be as athletic as Tennessee on the perimeter. When you can run a 6-4 or 6-5 young lady out there to defend Chrissy Givens or Amber Holt, that's tough.
"Last Sunday, we played in front of 6,000 or 7,000 at Minnesota, and they haven't lost many games there. That was a good experience for our kids. The best fans in the country are from the state of Tennessee. We're building a great fan base at Middle Tennessee, and Tennessee's already got a great fan base. They're knowledgeable, they love their women's basketball, and that's what I like about this state."
(on scoring 20 points against Tennessee): "None of them really mean anything unless we get a `W.' To me, it's almost as if I didn't score anything because I'm hurting right now over of the loss."
(on not being intimidated by Tennessee): "One thing I like about this team is that no matter how big of a team we are playing, we're not afraid of anybody. Middle Tennessee had nothing to lose coming in here. Our mindset was that of going into any other game. We knew it was going to be tough, we knew it was going to be a different brand of girls we were playing. You can't be scared. Like coach said, this is preparation for the NCAA."
(on problems with TN): "They're six inches taller than us at every position. Whether you've got a hand in their face or not they're just shooting over us. We missed a couple of screens, and they shot really well from behind the three-point line. I think rebounding hurt us a lot. Their second-chance points should have been cut. You don't have to have skills to play defense, it's all about having the heart to want to go out there and guard somebody."