Dec. 8, 2013
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Holly Warlick
"I thought it was a good win. We didn't necessarily play a good first half, but we figured out what to do in the second half and got the win."
(On the decision not to start Bashaara Graves)
"Bashaara didn't have a good week of practice and so she didn't deserve a start. So we went with Mercedes. I preach practice and the importance of it. We don't have a lot of rules. When I preach it and it doesn't get done in practice, I can't reward starting because that's a big thing for kids. Hopefully it will change for her upcoming week of practice."
(On whether she's concerned about Graves)
"No, I just think she had a bad week. She's in the middle of exams. Bashaara understood. I said 'Bashaara, I can't start you' and she said she understood. It's not a disciplinary thing. She had a tough week of school and exams and she just didn't come like Bashaara plays. My expectations of Bashaara are extremely high and it's not going to be anything held against her. She just didn't have a good week of practice."
(On Jasmine Jones)
"Jones had a great week of practice. She was absolutely awesome this week in practice, so I told her she was starting and she had a big grin on her face. We can go down the line and start anyone so I don't want to focus on Bashaara. She's a great kid and she works hard but she just had a bad week and that happens. Jasmine had a great week so I went with her and Mercedes."
(On Mercedes' free throw shooting)
"It's amazing what practice will do. I think Mercedes is a very good free throw shooter. I just think she got up to the line and mentally hit her free throws, but as a team we weren't very good. Layups and free throws were a little bit of our demise today. We missed a lot of layups and a lot of free throws. It's difficult to win the way you want to win if you miss layups and free throws."
(On Mercedes Russell's offensive performance)
"I explain that as everybody else stepped up. I'm not worried about Mercedes scoring. I know what she can do and her presence on the court. I thought she had some big rebounds and she's playing along side some very talent (players). Isabelle Harrison had a great game and she didn't get in foul trouble. Bashaara Graves is a great player. Mercedes is learning to me. I don't care if she's the number 1 kid in the country; she's still in the learning process. This game is fast and it's physical and Mercedes is getting better every day. I don't worry about Mercedes; I know where she's going to be. I know that our posts combined are a tough inside group so that doesn't concern me really."
(On Isabelle Harrison staying out of foul trouble)
"Isabelle called me one night and we decided we were going to meet in my office and look at all her fouls and we did. So I thought that we saw a lot of fouls that were totally unnecessary for her - screening and moving, fouls away from the basket. Even when I saw, I thought, 'Wow, you're really just picking up fouls that are so unnecessary.' I'm okay with her inside and blocking a shot and getting a foul called. I like that aggressiveness, but she's getting fouls that totally didn't need to happen. I think when she saw it and when I saw it, I think she's had her issues thinking about it. I said 'Izzy, these are some things that you can correct.' I think once she saw that, it made a whole difference to her. She says 'All I do is think about not fouling' and I said, 'You can't but you're going to foul if you think about it.'"
(On what she told the team at halftime)
"I pulled out my halftime speech. I just think we are better than what we have started off. They know it. I honestly don't even have to go in there and say a lot. They know, and they write on the board what they should be doing. I come out and say, `Yes. Yes. Check. Check.' I have to raise my voice a little bit, but they are smart kids, and they are smart players. They understand the game. There isn't really a whole lot that I have to say. They work hard, but in the first half, they didn't work as hard. It is amazing to me. We can work harder in practice against guys that are fast and physical. When we get out into a game, we are a little hesitant. Maybe it is up to me to find where we bridge that gap. I don't know."
(On being able to assess how good the team is without having played as tough of a schedule as usual)
"I think teams get up to play against Tennessee. I don't care if they are ranked or not. I thought Texas was an outstanding basketball team today. I think we bring out the best in everybody. I judge how we play on our effort, our heart, and how hard we play. I don't care who we play. I want the effort. I want us to dive on the floor and have a big heart. We have the talent. We recruited talent. You don't teach talent. You get them and get them going in the right direction. That is what I judge. We are going to throw the ball away because we play fast, but are you diving on the floor and going after the ball? Are you going after a rebound? Are you into the game? If you are selfish or into the game, and we don't have that right now. I am ok with how we are playing. We just need to clean up some things. We have to make lay ups. We have to make and ones. We have to get to the free throw line, and we have to get stops. We work everyday on guarding one on one. I thought we broke down at times. Those are the things that, I don't care if they are number one in the country or thirty, teams are going to drive to the basket because of the way games are being called now. We just have to get down and polish things that we have to take care of."
(On how Meighan Simmons played)
"I loved it, but I don't like her four turnovers. My deal with her is that she needed to improve on the defensive end, and she has gotten better. I thought she took very good shots for the most part. When we stalled during the first half, we weren't taking good shots, and we weren't rebounding because we didn't know where the shots were coming from. I thought Meighan took some good looks. We have to continue to just work on her at the defensive end."
(On getting into transition)
"Your transition starts with your defense, and we decided to play defense which ignited our offense. That is a huge correlation for us. If you look at the second half, we missed like three transition lay ups in a row. That could have broken their back, but they came down and scored. I love it when we play hard on the defensive end, and it translates on the offensive end. That is our game. It is what we work and practice on. When we see that, it ignites us and gets us energized."
TENNESSEE SENIOR GUARD Meighan Simmons
(On her mindset)
"I was getting inside my own head today. I was getting frustrated because I was getting scored on and that's one thing I've been trying to take pride in, is playing hard defense and the Tennessee defense. So, I think that me not playing the way I know how to play on the defensive end traded my shot. I wasn't really worried about it and I continued to play. Everyone else was getting to me and telling me that they needed me, so I had to step up in the second half."
(On the Harrison to Simmons play)
"I think I had already seen her and I saw her and threw the ball right to her. I already saw her and I was just waiting for Ariel to get me the ball so I could throw it to (Isabelle). I feel like (Isabelle) and I have always had that chemistry in the open court and it's not just with me and her, but if Ariel sees her from a distance, or Andraya (Carter) or Jordan (Reynolds), everybody has just built that chemistry with our post players and it's a great thing for all of us."
(On the challenge of Texas)
"It was a very difficult game. There are some things we need to work on, like making easy baskets, making our free throws and working on our two-three a little more. Our two-three can be very effective. I think it was a good test. Adversity hit, but we continued to play and we didn't let up. Once we came out and started playing Tennessee basketball and played transitions, I think it gave us a good up in the second half."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR GUARD Ariel Massengale
(On the transition game)
"I'm a firm believer in that it's hard to transition when other teams are scoring on you. In the second half, we took pride in our defense. When we get defensive stops, rebounds and one-shot and done's, it makes it much easier for us to put the ball in transitions."
(On what advice she gave Isabelle Harrison about staying out of foul trouble)
"First and foremost I told her that I needed her on the court. She has to be out there with me. Just playing smart, you can be aggressive and still be smart at the same time. I told her that you will get your first foul early but you have to play smart because if you get two they will sit you for the rest of the first half until the second half. I think she played a tremendous job, she was aggressive, she got after it but still played very smart. One foul - probably her record. You can see from the stat line what she is capable of doing when she is in the game."
(On today's win)
"It gives us a lot of confidence but like we always say we have to get better. We have to get better starts, we are still trying to figure that out, what it is that is going to make us go in the first half. It is a long season and hopefully we will figure it out soon."
(On being prepared for tough situations on the court)
"I don't think so. I think in all the games we have played up until this point there have been times where our backs have been up against the wall. Our coaches have also done a great job of putting us into tough situations in practice so that if a time comes like that in a game we are prepared for it. I think every time we get on the court we are trying to be as best as we can be. We are not trying to compare ourselves to other teams but we know how good we can be and what we are capable of. We are just working towards doing that for 40 minutes."
(On running the zone in the second half)
"The zone was very effective for us. Honestly, that is one that we haven't worked on much because we have been working a lot on our man-to-man but we went to it, we communicated, we moved well, they took quick shots which is what we wanted them to do and we got rebounds. We had them one and done. We got to push in transition which is what we are best at."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR CENTER Isabelle Harrison
(On Texas's Nneka Enemkpali)
"It's been a while since we've faced a post that big. It makes rebounding harder and it makes the physicality harder for us. We did what we were supposed to do and boxed out as best we could. Our guards were crashing too."
(On having one foul today)
"Me and Ariel just had a long talk about that last night. I have been frustrated in practice lately about it but I definitely took her advice and what my dad was saying and I really took my time and I knew i need to be out there for my team. Just played a lot smarter."
TEXAS HEAD COACH KAREN ASTON
"First of all, what a terrific environment to play in. I told our players before we came up here that this is a game that should, and usually is, marked on our calendar and most of it is obviously because of the tradition at Tennessee and the wonderful fans you play in front of. It was an enjoyable experience from that part of it and a great learning experience from our team, not fun to lose. I'm proud of our effort. I don't think the score is indicative of how hard we played and how well we played. We just had some mental lapses in the middle of the second half and will say a lot of it had to do with Nneka when she got in some foul trouble and it hurt our team because she's a big part of it, but the mental lapses where we gave up transition opportunities in the middle of the second half, I thought what were really what hurt us in the game."
(On playing in this environment)
"I think it's a learning experience for this team. We do have some that haven't played at this level before. Krystle is learning to be a point guard at the highest level and I think she was better today than she was against Stanford, particularly in the second half. It's just about execution, staying focused on execution, staying focused on your discipline. What our team tends to do is be extremely dedicated to game plans and being disciplined in the first half and then we lose a little bit of our discipline and I'll take the blame for that. Somewhere along the way I have to figure this out. That's on me."
(On if the team struggled shooting today)
"I thought Chaz got some really good looks. There were a couple late in the half where she may have forced some things trying to make a play for us, especially after Nneka got in fould trouble, but I actually thought she had some really good looks, they just didn't go in. She and Brady [Sanders] both had some really good looks and I feel like they usually make those shots. Kelsey had a little bit of stage fright today. She missed some easy shots early in the game that she typically makes. It was a good experience for her and I think she'll be better down the line from this game."
(On trying to limit Tennessee's transition game)
"That's all we talked about for two days. We had a midweek game coming off the Virgin Islands trip and in hindsight I would have liked to not have that game and a little more preparation, but I thought our players did a great job in preparing in two days. It's hard to prepare for a team that puts that much heat on you from transition standpoint. Rebounding and transition is the key. We were ahead on the boards at the half and had not given up but maybe two points in transition and that completely turned around in the second half. Credit to them, they did what they do best."
"Again, I thought we were tremendous on the boards for a long period of time and I will agree with with Nneka just said about her difficulty in playing with fouls, and what our issues is that we don't have enough depth at that position and I would love for her to be able to play free and I think that's the thing that being able to swing Burdick to the four for Tennessee, that depth at that position, when you see that you have two of their normal players that didn't really have great nights, but Izzy has a good night, and Cierra comes in and is able to go to the four position and that's a position for us that puts a lot of pressure on Nneka because she is an aggressive player that lives off of intensity and aggression and she probably doesn't feel like she can play as free as she can but she needs to and we'll find an answer for that."
(On if this was a particularly challenging game for the post players)
"I think it was challenging game for all of us. They're legit. There's no question about it. I watched a lot of film, and they are a legitimate top five team and we've seen several teams so far so that we know what they look like and I think they're really good, and I think what we have to take from this team, as Texas, is that we're on our way to being a good team. I think we're a very competitive team and this is what we didn't know about our team last year at this time. We didn't have enough tests to know what we had in us and where we could get better and I think we're in a good place and I'm proud of how we played."
(On how Tennessee compared to Stanford)
"Both are really good teams, both are really good on the boards, they're both balanced. Tennessee can throw a lot of different looks at you because they have a lot of depth but they're both really good."
TEXAS JUNIOR GUARD KRYSTLE HENDERSON
(On being able to come into the environment and put pressure on Tennessee)
"I think we came into the game thinking that nobody was expecting us to win it so we had that chip on our shoulder. The plan that Coach and the rest of the coaching staff put together was to stop their transition because that's what they do is get in transition and then throw it inside so we were really focusing on that in the first half but in the second half I think we got away from it and that what opened the ball up for them because they got two easy transition buckets to start the second half so we just have to focus and key in on the details."
TEXAS JUNIOR FORWARD NNEKA ENEMKPALI
(On the technical foul)
"It was the wrong move on my part. It was not, in any way, a reflection of who I am as a person or my program. It was just the wrong call, I was in the heat of the moment and I have to learn to make better choices."
(On if she felt like they were still in it down by just a few points with about eight minutes left)
"I felt like we were in it the entire time and like Krystle said, we failed to pay attention to details in the beginning of the second half they got a couple of easy transition buckets and we just weren't able to readjust to that but I feel like we played as hard as we could for as long as we could."
(On getting into foul trouble)
"It causes me to think twice about what I can and can't do, and it causes a player like me to play a little bit more timid than I like to play. I have to figure out how to stay out of foul trouble, stay on the floor and be effective for my team."