SEC Women's Basketball Tournament Preview

Feb. 28, 2011

2011 SEC Tournament Bracket Get Acrobat Reader

The SEC Tournament's first and second round games on Thursday and Friday will air on SportSouth, Fox Sports Southwest and Sun Sports (in Florida). Saturday's games will be on ESPNU, while Sunday's championship contest will air on ESPN2. The top-seeded Lady Vols (28-2, 16-0 SEC) open play in the 2011 SEC Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday at Noon CT (SportSouth). Tennessee will take on the winner of No. 8 seeded Florida (17-13, 7-9 SEC) and No. 9 seeded Arkansas (18-10, 6-10 SEC) who play in opening round action on Thursday at Noon CT.

Is it March yet? Join us for another season of "Food, Fun, and Rocky Top" at the Big Orange Tailgate Tour. The BOTT begins its journey in Nashville the weekend of the Women's SEC Tournament on March 3 - 6. Enjoy the UT Pep Band, Smokey, door prizes, and more!

March 3: An Evening with Pat Summitt and Joan Cronan
$26 for those preregistered, $30 at the door. Walks-ups limited, and registration is highly recommended. Register Online »

Marriott Renaissance Hotel
East Ballroom
611 Commerce Street
Nashville, TN 37203

5:15 pm CT, Registration
5:30 pm Reception/hors deouvres
6:00 pm Program

Big Orange Tailgate Tour - Lady Vols Edition
B. B. King's Restaurant and Blues Club
Located within walking distance to Bridgestone Arena. No reservations required, order from the menu.
152 2nd Avenue N
Nashville, TN 37201

Friday, March 4, 9:00 am - 11:00 am CT
Saturday, March 5, Noon - 2:00 pm CT *
Sunday, March 6, 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm CT *

*Saturday and Sunday events contingent upon Lady Vols advancing in tournament

Each SEC coach spoke to the media at Monday's tournament teleconference. Lady Vol head coach Pat Summitt's transcript is below, as are the transcripts of Florida's Amanda Butler and Arkansas' Tom Collen.

Opening Statement:
"Right now I think our team has been very, very focused. We really don't have a true point guard. (Freshman) Lauren Avant has had some injury issues. We've been able to piece it all together with guard play, especially Meighan Simmons and Kamiko Williams. Hopefully, Lauren will be good to go when we get into the tournament. I think our post game has probably been our biggest improvement - with the depth we have in the post. (Juniors) Vicki Baugh, Lyssi Brewer and Kelley Cain bring a lot of size. If we could get them all healthy at one time, I would feel good about our team moving forward."

On the SEC's 16-Game Conference Schedule:
"At this point, I really like the 16-game schedule. There are pros and cons. I think it has been good for our league. I'm open to what all of the coaches want. I have been in favor of it."

On the SEC Player of the Year Candidacy of juniors Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson:
"They're two players that have had a great impact. Shekinna has provided great leadership. She's playing like an All-American. I think both of those players have demonstrated that they are go-to players. Glory has developed her skills. Her athleticism speaks for itself, but I think her skill set is so much better than it's ever been. They're two players that are very special. We're not winning games at the level we've been winning games, without those two players."

On Whether Anything Less Than a Title is a Disappointment This Weekend:
"Of course. That's the way we think. Once you get in to this arena and start competing - everyone is fighting and battling. What I don't want us to do is have a letdown. We've got to stay focused. We've got to be a team on a mission. If they're satisfied with what they've already accomplished then we are going to be going home early. We've got to keep reminding not about what they have done, but about how much more they can do."

On Tournament Seeding:
"I know that we're going to get everyone's best shot. The underdogs want to be the top dogs and they can be. On any given night, in this league - as physical as it is - and the as good as the coaches are, anything can happen. We've got great coaches in this league. We will constantly as a coaching staff remind them that you never arrive in this game and you better bring defense and your board play, and obviously ball security. We have an aggressive league. We've got to bring our `A' game. If we don't bring our `A' game anything can happen. We just have to be mindful, that we have to do everything we can do to make sure we do what we want on the court."

Opening Statement:
"We're really pleased with the way the last three games went and being able to generate some momentum in a lot of different ways. The Mississippi State win got us going. We had some individuals that stepped and played some of their best basketball. That carried over right to Vanderbilt, which is a tough place to win. It was a place we hadn't won in my time here. Going into yesterday's win over Georgia. It's a big rivalry game, and there was a lot of emotion and intensity with two really competitive teams. We feel really good and really confident. We're playing the best basketball that we've played all year long. Hopefully, that's a trend that we're going to build on, as we go back to Nashville.

On Wrapping up the Regular Season by Playing on Friday and Saturday:
"It was a really huge mental challenge more so than physical. You might look at that and go, wow, you might have one less day to let the kids rest. I really felt like it was much more of a mental challenge for our team, and was just really pleased with the way that they handled it. Obviously, it was not an impossible feat. Maybe it was a good thing that it was Georgia (on Sunday) and somebody we were familiar with. Personal familiarity and some of their things they do - it was easy to get our kids back into the groove of what to expect. I thought our kids showed a tremendous amount of poise and leadership, and focus. I was really proud of that."

On the Possibility of the First Round SEC Tourney Game Being an Elimination Game for NCAA's:
"We definitely have been very honest all season long about what we had to do to be in the tournament and just the realities of that. We're in the situation where we got ourselves back in that conversation. The biggest thing is just to stay focused on Arkansas. It's deduced a little bit more of the big picture, of `this is what we need to do, guys' certainly. You want to manage that focus. It can't be too big. We've just got to beat Arkansas and keep our focus right there. Unless we can be playing on that last day, it's kind of out of your hands. As a team, we've kind of maintained a philosophy of `let's just control what we can control.' The only thing we can control right now is our preparation for Arkansas and how we play on Thursday."

On the Central Location of Nashville for the SEC Tournament:
"I may not be the best person to ask because I love going to Nashville. That's where I'm from. I like the tournament being in Nashville because I think there is great high school girls basketball - especially in the mid-state, and a lot interest in women's basketball. You might not just be getting Vanderbilt fans or the Lady Vol fans, or whoever. There's women's basketball fans who are there. Whenever you can draw that sort of local interest - even if there isn't that sort of local fan affiliation, then I think that's good for our tournament".

Opening Statement:
"I think we have been a little bit up and down all year long. The hard thing for us right now is we potentially had our bubble burst in our last home game against Alabama. It started off with really kind of devastating loss at Kentucky, which might have been the difference maker to put us in the NCAA Tournament. In my opinion, if we would have pulled off that, and of course we let a five point lead be squandered in the last minute of the game. That was pretty heartbreaking heading into the Alabama game, but with that said, we felt like if we took care of business there and maybe got to the SEC Tournament and could find a way to win a first round game we would have a pretty good shot of getting in. The loss to Alabama was a big blow to our kids. I can't tell you where there confidence is at but my guess is it is going to be a little bit of a chore to get them back up. We talked to them after the game about the challenge of doing some things for the first time. Going out and winning a first round game in the SEC is something Arkansas hasn't done in a few years. If you find a way to do that, no doubt it is a tough draw going against Tennessee. In the same time, it is an opportunity. If you want to try and play your way back onto the bubble, what better way to do it than win your first game, play Tennessee, play them tough, maybe even upset them and then that puts you back into the picture."

On Florida:
"They were our very first SEC game of the year. We went in there undefeated and thought our kids were up and they shot the ball well and kind of stunned. We chose to play man-to-man in that game and we stuck with that. We battled back, we got in the game and we didn't get close enough to say that we were going to win it in the last few possessions but we battled back in the second half which was good. I think our players memories of that game is that it got us on a road that we didn't want to go down. I think if there was a team we wanted to play it would be a team we lost to as opposed to a team we already defeated. From that perspective I think it will be a good challenge for our players."

On the WNIT:
"We want to get to postseason play. We still have a relatively young team. One of the things is you go out there on senior night and we honor three or four kids, but they were all kids that didn't play or medical redshirt. The good news for us is that we are not losing anybody and some of our better players are freshmen and sophomores. Our leading scorer is a junior, so we still have a lot to accomplish and a lot to prove and we want to continue to grow and build this program."

On Florida's NCAA Chances:
"I think everybody in the middle of the pack is certainly of the caliber that can play in the NCAA tournament. When you look at all the teams that get automatic bids, I think a lot of SEC teams can beat 20 or 25 teams that are automatic qualifiers. So from a talent standpoint, I think everybody in the middle of the league and up is a good enough basketball team, not just to get it, but get in and win games. Unfortunately, you know you have to look at everyone's resume individually. I haven't had a chance to study those resumes, but felt like going into the last week of the season we had the fifth best resume but everything has changed. I think it's anybody's go. I wouldn't know what's on the committee's mind at this point. I don't think they set a number of how many teams they are going to take from any conference but think they look at each team on a case by case basis. Florida is certainly on a roll. They have two top-50 wins in their last games and I don't know where we are in the RPI now but if they beat us they get that challenge to play Tennessee. My gut is, if they could challenge Tennessee and find a way to win that game they would be in too."

On the League's NCAA Tournament Resumes:
"I haven't had a chance to look at how the RPI's have shifted. The only RPI that I look at is the NCAA RPI. I think that is the most accurate. Going into this past week, I felt like there was a good possibility that six teams could get in. I don't know whether if seven would have been a stretch or not. I feel like we were one of those teams in that five or six hole somewhere, even though we weren't there in the standings. I think we have dropped off that now and there are a lot of teams ahead of us and I don't know how their RPI's have shifted and went up. It's really hard to say. Probably by the end of the day if I had the chance to look at it I could probably give you my best estimate as to what I think what might need to happen. I certainly think a 16-game schedule doesn't help the SEC. Looking at some of the other conferences, the ACC still plays 14 and they don't have any plan to change. I think that enhances their opportunities and enhances their RPI's as well."





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