Tennessee Press Conf. Transcript (3/22/13)

March 22, 2013

Holly Warlick, Tennessee Head Coach

(Opening comments)
"We're excited for it to get going. It seems like it's been forever since we played. We had a chance to heal and get better. We worked on a lot of fundamental things. We've gotten better the past couple weeks. We're excited for these two young ladies [Kamiko and Taber]. They've been very instrumental in our success as seniors. Both have been great leaders. I look forward to having them compete and them continuing to compete in a Lady Vol uniform."

(On Isabelle Harrison)
"Izzy's status is that she's going to play. It's not that can she or do we-she will play tomorrow. She's a huge asset to this team. She brings confidence to us. She brings confidence on the defensive end. She brings energy. She is a great presence. The team respects her and how hard she's worked over the summer. When Izzy gets upset because she is tired of being hurt, she has a love for this game and this team. I'm looking forward to having her back. It's difficult. She's had two knee injuries and an ankle injury in one season. It's not been easy. Jenny has rehabbed her and she's put in a lot of time. It's been hard for her. To have the will to want to come back is huge. We will definitely use her and need her tomorrow."

(On the team's strong bond)
"I think it started at the first day of practice. With a new and energetic staff, two seniors that are great leaders, it started the first day we walked on the court. It's gotten better as time's gone on. I respect what they've done. It's not easy. It's not easy to be a leader, and these young ladies haven't had to do that in their first three years because there was always someone in front of them. They took a young team-who we had no idea how they'd be together or how they'd play-and they've been extremely positive. I give them a lot of credit in staying on top of the younger players and being mature about it. They're trying to get a maturity and seriousness to our freshman. They've done an outstanding job."

(On Izzy playing tomorrow)
"She's ready to go. I will say this, she and Bashaara hit pretty hard yesterday. They both fell out and didn't move for a minute, so I was like, "Are you kidding me?" But they both got up and got back in the drill and competed. I'm hesitant with this team, to play against each other and have contact. Yesterday, they had full contact. She's going to play. It's not if we need her. Izzy will play and will be welcomed back on the court."

(On the best part of their season is still to come)
"As we were disappointed in the loss, we were really disappointed for Taber because of the great, great game she had. That's the sign of a team that's extremely close, when they were physically upset and it was about the team, but it was also that they didn't allow Taber to play one more game. In the past, we haven't done that. This team has a togetherness that's a strong bond. I think you see that when we play, and I think if you were in the locker room, you would see that as well, and how they hate defeat."

Taber Spani, Tennessee Senior Guard

(On what kind of feedback she got after her big scoring game in SEC tournament)
"Well, I think more than anything, our fans support us through thick and thin, but in the end we didn't come out with a W. So to me, individual performances don't really matter when you don't come out with a W. Obviously, we were just all trying to compete and lay it on the line and we wanted that game, but like Holly said it's time to move on and we have gotten better. In regards to the 'Why don't you do that more' well I think obviously I was on fire. You know, I was shooting the ball well that night and it's a chance for me now to, these upcoming games, to hopefully continue that. And Kamiko (Williams) and I just want to leave everything we have, every part of our heart, here on that court and this first 40 minutes. And we're not looking past anything else but these first 40 minutes."

(On the team's mentality)
"We definitely have that refocused attitude. I mean you have to. This is why you play, I mean I tell our team this is why literally we started working the day, pretty much the day after we lost to Baylor last year. I mean this is what it's for. This is why you come and play. For a chance, hopefully, in six games to cut down nets. Obviously, I've been talking to former Lady Vols in different times and one of the biggest things I hear is 'You have to take it one game at a time.' That's really what we're focusing on, and especially with the young team that we have. These first 40 minutes and from there everything else and your dreams hopefully come true once you take care of business at the beginning."

(On what they have told the younger players to expect in the tournament)
"Yeah, I think the biggest thing is understanding that literally you can't save anything. There's no point in saving anything when it's a one, you know, lose/go home, win/advance kind of mentality now. So there's no reason to leave anything in your gas tank. No matter if you're playing first round, second round, third round, whatever all the way up, you have to leave everything out on the court on every given day. I think that's a different mentality coming in to a tournament time. So with these young players, we definitely have to stress that and I think we have been trying to do that."

(On the best part of their season is still to come)
"I just believe in our team so strongly. I believe in our coaching staff and what we've built on ever since that first practice. I've seen the competitiveness and the fight. You could tell in the locker room after we lost to A&M that pretty much everyone was devastated. Being a part of three different teams here, that was a little bit different. I think seeing that from everyone in the room, and seeing how much everyone wanted it and how badly we wanted to win. We want to represent Tennessee and the Lady Vol program is what prompted me to say that, and I still believe that. I believe we have the ability to do something really special. It all comes back to taking it. All we're focusing on is this practice and preparing for Oral Roberts and tomorrow, we tip it off. That's the most important part: staying in the present and the moment and not getting hopes set on the future. You never know what's going to happen. You may not get to go to Oklahoma City in the future if you don't take care of the present."

(On giving advice to themselves as freshmen)
"I would just say enjoy the moment. Everyone always says stuff goes by so fast, but it really does. I tell our team that we literally don't know how long this team will be able to stay together. It could be one game, but it could be up to six games. This team will never have a chance to stay together because every year it changes. Kamiko and I...this is our last go round. So, to our freshman, just enjoy every part of the journey. Don't take anything for granted and don't take anything lightly. These really are some of the greatest years of your life. You have the chance to be happy and the NCAA tournament, having Knoxville host and playing in front of your fans. Those are things that are really special. Just enjoying the journey is something I really stress with our freshmen."

Kamiko Williams, Tennessee Senior Guard

(On thinking Senior Night was not really their last home game)
"Most definitely, I mean, having the first two rounds here, it's always a good thing. But I just kind of take it a game at a time. I don't try to look too far ahead and I'm sure Taber (Spani) does the same. So like Holly (Warlick) said, we're just trying to take it a game at a time and get ready, prepared, and hopefully we come out with a W tomorrow."

(On the team's mentality)
"Just going in with the mindset, like she (Spani) said, getting individually. And then this past week we've just been putting it together, getting better as a team. We've focused on our defense a lot because that's what got us against Texas A&M. We couldn't make stops when we needed to. So that's just something we've been focusing on. We have great energy, and I mean the practices we've been having lately, I think Holly (Warlick) didn't know what to do with us for a moment. If we can just continue doing that and take it a game at a time, don't look too far ahead, we'll be okay."

(On what they told the younger players to expect)
"Don't take anything lightly. I mean, Holly's stressed that since day one. Because in the past, Ball State came up and beat a great team and we don't want to be in that category, that situation. Just take it a game at a time and take every team seriously. A lot of teams now, coaches have been stressing they're not afraid of Tennessee and we're trying to get that back. So they're going to come in, they're going to give it their all and we're just going to have to do the same thing."





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