Dec. 30, 2012
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Holly Warlick
(Opening statement) "I loved it so much that I sprinted to the press room. I loved it. That group there is fun to watch. I think you see the result of two days of pretty tough, hard practices and staying on them. As a coach when you teach something and they respond, that's exciting. I think our players responded to the coaching staff. I'm just proud of them. I can't say enough about a great team effort today."
(On Taber Spani's physical condition and how that affects her play) "Taber's had a little bit of a sore back, and I think sometimes that bothers her just a little bit. I don't think that hinders her. She's such a competitor and she's diving on the floor and I think her defense and that action got her going on the offensive end. I don't think any of her problems are hampering her.
(On if it affects her shooting) "Probably a little bit, but you can't tell with Taber because she's just a competitor. I think she shot the ball good tonight -- 50 percent. 1 for 3 from three, 7 points. Taber can always say that she can shoot better, but as long as Taber is in there giving us effort. She rebounded the basketball really well tonight.
(On Meighan Simmons' performance on defense) "The way Meighan started on defense kind of took her mind off her offensive game. Our goal today was to score in the paint, whether it was post feeds, perimeter penetration or rebounding. We went to Meighan early and then I think really put focus on her and Massengale -- and any of the perimeter people -- attacking the ball and putting ball pressure on the point guard. And I think to start off the game, both those two set the tone with their defense and allowed everyone else on the front line to take chances."
(On defense early, before UT offense picked up) "I thought today that the defense allowed us to take good looks at the basket. When we turned it over -- we had 18 turnovers -- but I liked being aggressive and we still stayed focused on our defense. We didn't let our offense affect our defense, and I think at times we've done that. In this game, we did not, and I think we took good shots, but you take good shots when you're getting steals and shooting layups instead of settling for jump shots."
(On if she was concerned with turnover count) "Well, not really. I think it was a fast-paced game and I would have liked Izzy and Cierra to not have so many turnovers, but I thought both of them were aggressive. We attacked. Our goal was to not run an offense. It was to attack the basket and score out of transition. So, I'm OK with those right now, but if I had come in here and we would have lost, I wouldn't be happy with it."
(On if Jolette Law (former Rutgers and current Lady Vols Assistant Coach) is glad the game is over) "Yes, most definitely. It's tough, it's hard to play a former team that you played for or coached for a long time. It's a little emotional for her coming out and hugging Vivian, she played for Vivian, coached for Vivian, it would be like me going somewhere else and coming back to coach against Pat. She has the utmost respect for Vivian."
On the play of Kamiko Williams "She plays up and down and when we need her, she seems to rise to the occasion. I think she has matured and gotten better. I think she plays on a basis of if we need her, and tonight she played 13 minutes. She's a leader for us and I want her to be a positive leader, and she's done an outstanding job in practice of leading us and I just want her to play up to her potential all of the time."
(On Graves and Harrison both with double-doubles) "I'm not going to lower my expectations for them, I want them both to keep getting better and better. We preach playing inside out and we want to get the ball inside, whether it's with the guards or the posts. We've always been a very strong post-oriented team. I know we're not big, Basharra's not big, Izzy's 6'3, but those two find a way. As long as they keep finding a way, they're scoring and shooting in the 50's, we're going to keep feeding them the ball, that's going to be our game plan. We have other people capable of scoring, but those two keep putting up the numbers."
(On whether this was a good preparation for SEC play) "Absolutely. I think Rutgers is a team that is explosive. Jolette and Kyra (Elzy) got a little nervous when I said I was going to shorten the rotation because they're so explosive and can do things. I give them credit, they never let up. They made us grind it out and answer some runs that they made. In order to win the SEC, you're going to have to grind it out, going to have to answer some runs and you're going to have to defend somebody. Hopefully, we understand that after our Stanford game and what we've done against Davidson and today. I think we understand the importance of defensive rebounding."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR GUARD Meighan Simmons
(On establishing a defensive focus early on) "It was a focus. We've got a pretty good history with Rutgers and the games are usually pretty close. We took that to heart that we had to start with defense before anything. The ball pressure we had helped today, and I think that's something we've been working on the past couple of days to prepare for SEC, because that's what we're going to need to do; we've got to play really good defense and take it one game at a time."
(On reflecting back on Stanford and Baylor after this game) "I sometimes don't even like to think about the past; I like to think about the now. But I think that it's always a lesson learned from games like that. But it's not about good teams, because Baylor and Stanford were both good teams. You don't have to play against a good team to play like we did today. I think we make sure we take it one game at a time and stick together as a team. When we do that, no one can stop us. Once we put our minds to the mindset of Tennessee basketball, with defense and rebounds, that's something that we take pride in."
TENNESSEE SENIOR GUARD/FORWARD Taber Spani
(On her health) "I'm definitely not 100%, but you just have to deal with it. Right now, we're focusing on getting ready for SEC play. We have a day off tomorrow and then two days to get good prep for South Carolina. We need to start off SEC play with a good game against them. That's what we're focused on."
(On the steal in the lane) "I thought, "I have to get that; that's my draw in rotation." I was trying to do anything I could to get there and grab it. Honestly, I knew someone would be there, so I just tried to flip it back behind me to save it. I just wanted to get a touch off that ball because otherwise it would have been a layup and we're stressing defense pretty hard right now."
(On the first half) "It's just a mindset for us. We really stressed after Christmas defensive boards and really the guards setting the tempo. Ariel, Meighan, and Kamiko did a really good job of getting in at point guard and setting the tempo for defense so our posts can get in. Izzy did an awesome job with six steals, and the guards can get out and guard on the wings. Everyone really came into the first half with that tempo and that mindset. It was great."
(On successful defense despite less stellar offense) "I think our maturity wants to get us to where our defense is dictating our offense instead of offense dictating defense. I think these last few games, we've finally gotten into that. They haven't been our best offensive games. We only scored 66, and I don't remember our score against Davidson, but it wasn't what we normally are scoring in the 80s or 90s. It's great to understand that defense is going to win for us right now."
(On Holly's anger this week) "I've never seen her that angry. I think that's the most upset I've ever seen her. We came back after Christmas and watched all of our defensive possessions against Stanford. Honestly, I think she had the right to be angry like that. I think, after watching it, that was the worst defensive effort I've seen a Tennessee team make since I've been here. We understood that, and it's not only the coaches who should be upset; we should be upset by our performances. Obviously, the focus and emphasis the defense have played since, we've taken in to heart. Our entire practices have been all about defense. We haven't done much shooting or offense at all. It's where our emphasis has been, and it's nice to see the production out of that."
TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE CENTER Isabelle Harrison
(On physicality of the matchup) "I knew it would be tough, especially after last year's game. I warned Bashaara that the posts go hard and they're great at rebounds, so we have to put that extra effort into the defensive game."
(On whether she prefers 18 points or six steals) "Six steals, definitely. I love defense. Whatever I can do to help on defense, and I think that it helps us so much on offense. I'm really proud that I contributed on that."
(On Rutgers working their way back) "Our timeouts changed things. Holly coming into us and telling us we had to buckle down. That we couldn't get lax; we had a great first half, but the game wasn't over. We really understood what she was saying and tried to step it up. I think we did get a little lax because of the lead we had. I think we stepped it up and picked each other up. We knew we couldn't relax."
RUTGERS HEAD COACH C. Vivian Stringer
(Opening remarks) "I was talking to Pat a little earlier, and I was telling her she must be extremely proud of Holly. I think that this Tennessee team is playing in my opinion closer to the outstanding, extremely aggressive but very good intense Tennessee teams that have always played. I haven't really thought that always in the years past, and I've talked to her about that. I thought that they played in her image, and I know that she's extremely proud of Holly. The assistant staff, they really have them playing real well. They're aggressive. I know they have to be pleased. On the other side of it, I wish we had been able to start quicker, better. I apologize to everybody for your time that was wasted coming to see this, and hopefully we'll grow from this."
(On losing Monique Oliver to injury early in the game) "It was huge because a lot of the offense that is run involves one of them i.e. Chelsey or her. ... Let's look at it like this: It gave us an opportunity for some other people to play. This would not have been the time that I would've wanted that to happen, but I was pleased Chelsey Lee didn't give up in her effort. She wanted to be there."
(On this Tennessee team compared to others she's seen in the past) "I think that this team, their energy, their fight. They're real intense. They started the trap, and they just pursued that trap. ... It's not too much the skill necessarily. It's not just the skill; it's the mindset, the mindsets of the players. I just think that this group just reminds me of championship years."
(On continuing the series with Tennessee, a competitive series of 11 consecutive years) "It has up until this. I don't know. I would invite it because I'm a competitor anyway, and I gotta believe we're going to get better. We've had a lot of close games over the years. We'll play better because I'm not going to waste their time or ours, but I would prefer to play Tennessee."
RUTGERS SOPHOMORE GUARD Shakena Richardson
(On the better second half by Rutgers, what the mindset was after halftime) "To step it up on the defensive end and try to cut the lead in as much as we could."
RUTGERS SENIOR FORWARD Chelsey Lee
(On the crowd's volume, energy after the fast start by Tennessee, how you recover from that) "That's expected when you're coming into somebody else's home to know that everyone in the crowd will be cheering against you."
(On missing Monique Oliver, her fellow post, who left early in the game due to injury)
"It was hard, but like Coach said it gave Rachel Hollivay and Christa Evans a chance to step up and get some playing time. It wasn't the ideal time for it to happen but."