March 2, 2011
Lady Vol Head Coach Pat Summitt Teleconference
"The chemistry of this team is solid. Obviously, Shekinna (Stricklen) has done a great job in a leadership role. Angie (Bjorklund) has showed us that she is going to be ready to go, as well. Having Angie and Sydney (Smallbone) as our only seniors, they have been great leaders for us. They've been great ambassadors for the Lady Vol program, and taken care of business. (Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations) Debby (Jennings) wanted me to know that we've been to Nashville three times and only won once in2008 with the (Candace) Parker, (Nicky) Anosike and (Alexis) Hornbuckle team. That kind of got my stomach turning. We've had a lot of success because of the commitment the players have made this year. Our staff has been tremendous - having Mickie (DeMoss) there, Holly (Warlick) and Dean (Lockwood) - the whole group. What we are trying to do right now is make sure they understand that we are trying to take care of business. Most of the teams coming (to the SEC Tournament) are going to be coming in with an attitude of a must win. Our focus has to be there. "
On last season's SEC Tournament winning team compared to this year's squad:
"I think the one thing that has improved is leadership. I thought their focus last year was good. But what a difference a year makes. I think where we are right now with our commitment, and us being very vocal on the floor - talking our action, and doing what we have to do - if they don't respond right away, usually it only takes one timeout or one huddle to say `this can't happen.' They've been very good at calling each other out and embracing what they have to do."
On junior Glory Johnson's extra work and new turnaround jump shot:
"(Assistant coach) Dean (Lockwood) doesn't let her off the hook. She has gained a lot of confidence with the extra time in the gym."
On redshirt junior Kelley Cain's availability for the SEC Tournament:
"I think it's still wait-and-see, I don't want to fast forward anything. I know she can have great impact on both ends. More than anything if she isn't ready to go we are not forcing anything. If she is ready to go, it can make a big difference, particularly as we move through the tournament."
On Shekinna Sticklen winning SEC Player of the Year award and if it will build her confidence:
"I think she knows she can be very good. She's laid back. The other day I started to say, `Stricklen ...' and she said `I got it coach.' Because she was nowhere to be found - she has to stand out and speak up. She has to be a player of impact. As freshman would she have responded? No. Not even as a sophomore. She knows that she has to be a strong voice for this team."
On winning the SEC Tournament only two times in the previous eight times UT swept the SEC regular season:
"(We went) in with false confidence. Thinking - `hey, we've been able to get away with some wins we probably shouldn't have won, but we are undefeated in conference play.' Are they on a mission, or are they satisfied? That is the real question. That's where we are going to talk and communicate. It might be a good time to sit down and have a team meeting."
On the Lady Vols' impressive shooting and if that allows them to be lackadaisical:
"On Sunday, once we got a solid lead, we didn't go out and play with the same intensity. This obviously did not please our coaching staff. They've been doing a good job, I can either blow up or we can get better. We can't continue to pick and choose when we play hard. In that particular game, I wasn't particularly impressed."
On this team compared to other elite Lady Vol teams:
"I think this team has matured tremendously. It's predominantly a junior class now. (Freshman) Meighan Simmons is a very talented freshman. We don't have necessarily a true point guard. I think Meighan and Kamiko (Williams) have stepped up, and we know Sticklen can go there. We have the versatility and the depth. On a given night we'll have different players step up. Alicia Manning has stepped up in recent games. Glory Johnson knows how to battle on both ends. Her skill set has really improved."
On confidence and concerns:
"My biggest concern is having a letdown and not understanding that we're going to get everyone's best shot. We want the statistics of the Lady Vol teams that have had great regular season's and not fared well in the tournament. Maybe giving them a little history lesson with help them."
On senior guard Angie Bjorklund:
"I think she will get to play. There's no doubt. We just don't want extended minutes. We're hoping we continue to play some games. Sometimes it's day-to-day. If she doesn't have to play in some of these earlier games, then I'd prefer her not to. But if (Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine) Jenny Mosack wants to get her a few minutes - then we will manage her minutes and keep them short. So as we go through the tournament she will be ready to be a factor."
On the starting lineup:
"We've not really made a final decision. With Kelley (Cain) being out, we'll talk about that. It may change. Obviously with what Shekinna has done and what Glory has done, and the position Meighan has been in - that has been really solid. One of the best things we've got going for us is our post game. We've got the size, when Vicki (Baugh), Glory, and Lissi (Brewer) are ready to go- if you add Kelley Cain in there - this one of the biggest lineups we've ever had."
On this team's ability to offensive rebound:
"We've become a very strong offensive rebounding team. We've made it a primary focus. I think they've responded. I said, `If you don't like rebounding, you can come sit with Coach Summitt.' They don't like sitting with me, imagine that."
On Lady Vols' strong shooting percentage:
"We have two courts in Pratt Pavilion, and then we have Thompson-Boling Arena. We have the (ball) gun. You don't even need to have somebody rebounding for you. Our players have been committed to getting extra shots. I think that has made a huge difference. Knocking down shots, there's no substitute for getting in the gym and knocking down reps. Having three courts to do it on - that is pretty amazing."