March 26, 2007
Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt
"Well, obviously, we're excited to be playing in the regional championship game here in Dayton. When you look at our opponent, certainly we are both very familiar with each other. Just watching Ole Miss and seeing how they've played in post season, they've been very impressive. There are obviously two teams that have a great commitment to defense, and certainly we have to understand that our ball security is number one on our list and our rebounding will be number two on the list. Armintie Price, to me, she's an All- American. She's played that way all season long and just watching her again in this tournament, I just think she is what really has led their team to this kind of success. The fact that they've put up an average of 89 points a game in the last three games, I don't care what you say, that's impressive. They've done it with intensity on the defensive end."
On defending Armintie Price:
"I think Armintie [Price] is going to be a real challenge for us from a defensive standpoint. I do think that we have some players that we might even rotate defensively. [We] may change up our defenses. I try to go into a game with a game plan, but so many times you have to have some flexibility there. You may have to alter your plan as your progress through a game. Certainly in Knoxville, she got in foul trouble. Had she not been in foul trouble, it might have been a different outcome because we beat them by twelve, and they shot the ball well in the first half without her. To me, she is a player that makes them go at both ends of the floor. Not a player that you have, I wouldn't even go into a game like this saying, `we're going to shut down Price', but we would like to think that we are going to bring some defense and make her work for everything that she gets."
On being the favorite and motivating the team:
"Well, I hadn't had the same team all these years. Players come and go. The philosophy doesn't really change that much. But I think with this team, I think, that you have to have your defense and your board play and take care of the basketball if you want to win at this time of the year because people that turn the ball over obviously give up easy points. Certainly in the last few teams that Ole Miss has played, they just got better toward the end of the year. I just think they just got a lot more in sync with what they wanted to do. They're not a team that's going to make you guard five, six, seven passes, necessarily. They're going to come down. They shoot early. They rebound the ball. They play great defense. They like that hectic pace. I think for us we just have to go in. It's going to be a battle of wills, which team controls the tempo, which team controls the boards, which team takes care of the basketball. I expect it to be a game to be played with great intensity on the part of both teams. A typical, SEC [Southeastern Conference] matchup, without question."
Having played Ole Miss earlier in the season and having them in your conference, is it a detriment to your team to have face them?
"I don't think necessarily it's a detriment to our team or will influence. I think the good thing after our game against Marist, they wanted to quickly go out and watch Ole Miss, and I think that was probably very telling for them. You can watch them on TV, and you can watch them in person and that's two different opinions of how they play. On TV, they don't look like that they're that much faster and quicker and more aggressive. But when you see them actually play, when you saw them against Okalahoma, it was glaring. Their overall team speed and quickness and they're ability to get up and down the floor on both sides of the ball. It was obviously very, very impressive, and I think our players, even last night at dinner, they were talking about what they saw from Ole Miss now that they didn't see earlier and probably, early on, they were not pushing the tempo. That's the biggest change. They've always been committed to defense. Coach Ross does a great job getting her teams to play with passion at both ends of the floor. I just don't think they were coming down and pushing as hard and taking as many early shots."
On preparing for a team that goes so fast and frenetic:
"It's probably a lot like playing against our practice guys. They don't run a whole lot of sets. They like to shot it, and they are aggressive. I mean that as a compliment. It's hard to guard when there's not any patterns, but there's a lot of individual plays, one-on-one plays. I would call their offensive finisher one-on-one. They're hard to guard one-on-one, and you really have to be disciplined and very committed to your defense, and in particular one-on-one game. The one thing I thought about the teams that we've played this year that might reflect what Ole Miss brings now, North Carolina would be one, obviously LSU, as well as Ole Miss. If you think of teams that really push tempo and play off the dribble with a great deal of success, they're right there with those two teams in particular."
On taking care of the ball:
"We put a high premium on ball security, and we understand against teams with the speed and the quickness and athleticism overall of an Ole Miss that a turnover usually results in a layup. I think we just have to be disciplined in our action. We have to have great spacing. We don't need to be risk takers with long passes. Short and obviously tight action and our screen-in action has to be there. We really have to do a good job of playing together in that regard. I do feel like this Tennessee team in particular understands what they need to do, and they do a great job of correcting themselves through the course of the game. I do think that taking care of the basketball and making sure we have sureness on the offense, and that's going to be a real key."
On Tennessee players predicting earlier in the tournament that they would be playing Ole Miss:
"I wasn't that surprised just because of their overall team speed and quickness and just knowing what [Armintie] Price brings to their team. Also, it's a situation where we're much more familiar because we play in the conference, and if you haven't seen this team, I'm sure that probably Sherri Coale [Oklahoma head coach] saw a different team on the court than she saw actually on film. It's hard to really appreciate the speed and the quickness of the speed and the quickness and the athleticism of this Ole Miss team if you haven't been on the court and played them or been in the stands and watched them play. I thought that that was where they had the advantage over Maryland and obviously, again over Oklahoma, that speed and explosive and just coming and just running the ball up your back constantly."
Did you recruit Ashley Awkward?
"No, we did not. We knew of her, but as far as offering her a scholarship to Tennessee or recruiting her, we did not. But she's obviously done a great job there, a terrific job."
What is the biggest difference in tempo between you and Ole Miss?
"Obviously, we are going to look to attack in transition and push tempo, but if we don't have it, I think you'll see us be a little bit more deliberate in the half-court game and try to get certain players touches. Obviously, Candace Parker is a go-to for us. In that situation, just be a little more patient. I think with Ole Miss, they're not as patient, but that plays to their advantage because they're so good at their half-court attack and attacking early in their offense. We may not have our early offense, and that's when we become more deliberate than just all-out aggressive to the rim."
On the tournament's predetermined site set-up and lack of attendance:
"Well, I do think it's time to re-think, to look at where we are in the women's game. I supported neutral sites because there were so many people that I think out there, that felt like we were ready. Clearly, we're not ready. It's disappointing to see all the empty seats in almost every gym. Obviously, Dayton's had the largest crowd. If you take that into account, I think what we have to do as coaches and administrators throughout this country is to decide what is the most important thing to grow our game. We need to demonstrate, through our seeding and not just seeding, but where we place our teams in terms of arenas. Maybe we need smaller arenas. Maybe we need people guaranteeing X amount of people in the seats. This has been really something that I think is a cause for concern and a reason to reevaluate where we are and what we're doing and what we want to go as we move forward to protect and promote our game. I think it has to happen now. I would hate to see us go into another post-season and experience what we have this year. If it ain't broke don't fix it, but right now it appears that it may be broken."
Tennessee Student Athlete Quotes
Candace Parker talking about her style of play compared to Ole Miss player Armintie Price:
"I feel like Armintie and I different styles of play. She plays on the perimeter and mostly I'm inside playing the four. I respect her as a player and I faced her a couple times during my career. She is hard-nosed and plays both ends of the floor. She just provides a tremendous boost for her team."
Candace Parker on what the difference will be in the game tomorrow night:
"I think the difference will be taking care of the ball and rebounding. On defensive end, it will be taking them out of the things they like to do."
Alexis Hornbuckle on how important will be in rebounding in this game:
"I think it is very important to control the boards. Who ever rebounds controls the tempo. Getting offensive rebounds and putbacks makes it harder for them to get their transition game started. If we can control the ball on defense and limit their second or third chances, it will help us."
Shannon Bobbitt on taking care of the ball, knowing how aggressive Ole Miss is:
"Definitely, not playing around with the ball. Just getting it up the court as soon as possible and staying intense."
Alexis Hornbuckle on keeping the game under control:
"Taking care of the ball is very important. They want to create Helter Skelter game. It is very important to take care of the ball, make sure things are open before you throw it. They live by getting in the passing lane, disrupting guards, doubling teaming the post players and creating turnovers. It's very important to move the ball and get good shots."
Nicky Anosike on what sets the SEC apart from other conferences:
"I would have to say our commitment to rebounding in the SEC. In the SEC, LSU has a great rebounder, Ole Miss has a great rebounder. We are committed to defense and rebounding which is what wins game."
Candace Parker about her style of play:
"I feel like I played inside and out ever since I have been younger. Moving the ball and getting through the holes in the defense, I think it is also important to have a defensive presence. I think I have developed that over my career."
Alexis Hornbuckle on seeing Ole Miss pressure play and how it helps her prepare:
"Facing them earlier in the season, it gives us a great scouting report. At the same time, they are a different team from when we played them last. They are playing aggressive and a lot better together and with a whole new attitude."
Shannon Bobbitt on playing with Candace Parker:
"Candace is a great player. She takes a lot of pressure off me at the point guard position. That is a hard position to play. Just playing with her, she has done a good job for us this year."
Alexis Hornbuckle on playing with Candace Parker:
"It's an honor to play with just a versatile player like Candace Parker. She is well-known but she also lives up to the hype on both ends of the court."
Ole Miss Head Coach Carol Ross
"The little Running Rebels lived another day. It's great to be able to coach these young women another time. It is a privilege to sit on the bench and watch them play, with the intensity and enthusiasm they show for the game of basketball and also how they play for each other."
"I'm just excited that I get to be apart of that one more time, hopefully more than that. But, we have a tough one in front of us that we respect in a great Tennessee team with a great coach on the bench and the best player in the country running around on the floor. In addition to a host of players that compliment her (Candace Parker). We realize the task in front of us. It's a good thing we have some time to figure out what we need to do, because, about 7:00 tomorrow night we have to have some answers for those questions."
On asking the players about playing Tennessee's Candace Parker:
"They are probably nervous. She is such a tremendous player. We have had about 30 minutes to talk about Tennessee and so much of what they do runs through Candace Parker. I don't know what their giggles were about. Maybe that's a sign of exhaustion. The great thing about our league is that great players come through our league so often. Even though I have been in the league a long time, the greatness that is coming through our league right now is Candace Parker. She's not only what the whole SEC is talking about, but, what the whole country is taking about. Certainly, our players are aware of her persona, swagger and her ability."
On whether the players are coming in loose to this game:
"I don't know whether they are loose or not. I'll be coaching them here in a minute and I'll find out then. We play loose, but, we don't practice loose. Our practices are pretty intense. We will find out at practice what their mindset is."
On what she is impressed about with the seniors:
"Everybody gets to see how they play. That alone is a great gift if you are a basketball fan. Most of us aren't superstars. I think our seniors epitomize how most of us play. They play with such great intensity. You can tell they love being teammates, leaders and share all the responsibility both physically and emotionally. I talked to our team earlier about our three seniors and how balanced they are. They all play and bring great heart to our team. They have never lost their enthusiasm for playing the game and I love that about them. They keep things loose. I'm not the loosest coach and my intensity sometimes is overpowering. Sometimes, they balanced me well too. When things are chaos around us sometimes, they keep things in perspective. They keep the game in its proper place."
On the crowd yesterday at UD Arena:
"In that Oklahoma game, it was pretty great. A lot of the Orange people were yelling for us. I don't know what it's going to be like tomorrow night. Tennessee has a lot of people that follow them. It has been tremendous. We played the first two rounds in Connecticut and I thought it was well attended for a neutral court. Coming here and seeing the Dayton community along with the supporters from each respective school it bodes well for us. I think playing in front of a high number of people is good for us. We enjoy that and it's great for our sport."
On showing tape from the last Tennessee game:
"I haven't decided yet. I'm not scared to show it. From a mental standpoint, I have to decide how much good it will do. We didn't watch any of the Maryland tape; I didn't even travel with it. I'm not scared to show them their mistakes. I'm pretty blunt and brutal when we are not good at something. If I think there is something they need to see, we will cut it up and show it to them. We will have a good meeting tonight before we go to bed and I'll have an answer by then."
On talking about the country seeing Armintie Price play:
"The SEC has been aware of her ever since she was a young player. For me personally, it is great to know that she is going to have the national spotlight and for her to have that, our team knows that we have to keep winning. I'm happy for everybody, but, it would really be a sad, sad day if a player of her caliber is not recognized for her greatness. Certainly, if she's not a Kodak All-American, they don't need to have a team. She is one of two people in the history of the game to throw up some staggering numbers that put her in the company of Cheryl Miller. For most of the season, she was one of five players in the history of the game to throw up some crazy numbers with points, rebounds, steals and assists. She's not only made herself one of the best players this season, but she is made her mark in the history of our game. It would be a terrible injustice if she wasn't'an All-American."
On the gameplan for tomorrow:
"I would like our players to play freely tomorrow with a lot of intensity. We won't spend a lot of time talking about our opponents. It's not that we don't respect them. It just does not bode well for how we prepare. We do what we do. If it's good, we get to keep playing. If not, we will pack up and go home. We have to play with a lot of intensity on the defensive end. We have been doing it well recently, and hopefully we can continue it one more time."
On limiting Candace Parker:
"We did a heck of a job gameplanning for Courtney Paris last night, but, I'm trying not to overcoach here because she had 30 and 20 I think. We realize her greatness and the impact she has along with the Tennessee team. They are a great team and she is a part of that. We will take the Old Miss team and go up against the Tennessee team and not get too sidetracked by individual players. We are supposed to be crowding people all the time when they get the ball."
On coaching against Tennessee and Pat Summitt:
"I don't think about things in those terms. I think our team are fierce competitors. We dream big and don't limit ourselves. We don't disrespect our opponents, but, we don't play a lot of attention to them. It's not being disrespectful, but, we are in our own little world and we like that. We don't want to invite a lot of people in to it. When you get distracted by talking about the other team's players and coach, then you have lost who you are."
Ole Miss Student-Athletes
On the mental approach toward Tennessee having not beaten them in her career:
"We have heard about that and have been aware of that, and we are excited that we get another chance at Tennessee, and we'll try to prepare for tomorrow night and give them the best that we've got."
On Tennessee forward Candace Parker:
"She's a great player, a wonderful player. Anybody that can dunk that's a female, I think they're awesome. She has great moves, inside game and outside games. It will be a good match-up tomorrow."
On this season's previous match-up with Tennessee:
"I think I got my fouls in about the first three minutes of the game, and I sat down and Candace [Parker] came took over like she usually does, and she made great shots and [Alexis] Hornbuckle got a little hot and [Sidney] Spencer did too. I came back in the second half, played a little zone, and we froze up, and we lost."
On Tennessee's pressure defense forcing turnovers:
"The thing about Tennessee is that they are taller. They have longer arm span and things like that. I think that's why they create turnovers. It is because they are taller, and they have Candace Parker playing at the top sometimes out there creating pressure for the guards."
On being a Tennessee native playing against Tennessee:
"I played for a Nike team in Tennessee coached by Rick Insell, who's now the head coach at Middle Tennessee. I left his team because he said that I didn't fit into his system. So, I left his team, and then I stopped being recruited by Pat Summitt. I didn't want to go to the top team in the country. I wanted to be the person that went to the team to help change a program around, go to a state or school that beats the Tennessee's, the UConn's, the Duke's. I didn't want to go somewhere where every body is on top. Everybody is more impressed by the underdog and people who turn things around. So, that's what we're trying to do here at Ole Miss is turn things around."
What is the difference going to be tomorrow night?
"The difference tomorrow night, has been the difference the whole tournament, is we are a new team and we've been doing new things and better things and hopefully we can keep going, and keep flying around and keep making plays like we have been doing."
On the recovery from yesterday's game in heat:
"Of course, it was just like playing in a high school gym. You had a cold towel and ice around you to stay hydrated the whole time. Every day we practice, we practice really hard. We sweat really hard. It takes a lot of energy out of us. It was the same thing playing in this gym. We had a lot of energy to give. A lot of energy was taken from us. Yesterday, we slept, we hydrated, we ate."
On getting one more shot at Tennessee:
"We are excited. Basically, it's just another chance to play hard."
On getting one more shot at Tennessee:
"It's a great opportunity because they are a great team and to be able to play against them again and to have the time to just go out there and do what we do best and play our defense and fly around."