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March 3, 2006

Candace Parker

Pat Summitt

Shanna Zolman


THE MODERATOR: From the University of Tennessee, Coach Pat Summitt, Candace Parker and Shanna Zolman.
Coach Summitt, would you open up with a statement, please.
COACH PAT SUMMITT: I thought this was one of our better efforts as a basketball team, just in terms of how we shared the ball and our willingness to get the ball inside, just find open players; we had inside, outside action. I thought Shanna ran the team well. Candace obviously did a great job on the boards for us, helped us. She was like a second guard on the floor when she was on the offensive glass.
Our bench gave us some energy. Didn't have the numbers off the bench, but if we can get those quality minutes, I think that's really going to be key for us in this tournament.
We did a lot of good things. Our post game has really stepped up and been one of the most consistent parts of our game. Obviously, our rebounding today was very, very strong for us.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take some questions, please.
Q. Pat, can you talk about how you got started each half, you know, the hot start both halfs.
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, we did. I think just the fact that we shared the ball, really ran our offenses, obviously played from the inside out. That has been something that we've been inconsistent in in starting sometimes, the first half in particular. So it was good to see that we went inside right away.
I think that has to be where we go, is get the ball inside, get paint points. You get inside, outside action. You really make the defense work. We were patient. Likewise, I thought we did a good job pushing tempo. That got us some paint points, as well.
Q. Pat, could you talk about defensively how you started the game. You came out, I think full-court pressing in that first possession and you were playing man. Looked like you -- were you trying to set an aggressive tone there? What's the strategy there?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, the interesting thing is that we have, at times, opened up in our zone. Sometimes we're aggressive, sometimes we're not. I told our staff, I just want to open up in man. I want to open up so we are aggressive, we're on our toes, we're generating some energy, and hopefully some good things off of our man defense. We can always switch up.
Obviously, we went to the second half with our zone. But I felt like we were already in a good place as far as our intensity and just our commitment on the defensive end.
Q. Pat, can you talk about the way the game unfolded. It seemed like it was perfect for what you wanted in being able to get the starters rest and going to the bench early.
COACH PAT SUMMITT: I told our bench this. I mean, I think it's so important. When you have your SEC tournament that you get quality play off the bench. I'm not asking them to, you know, give us a 10-point lift. I'm asking them to go in and let's just be as efficient as we can be and let's keep things the way they are. If you can add to it, that's great. But don't go in and cost us points. Make sure that you bring that intensity, that type of play.
I thought today was one of the best jobs that we've done.
Q. The second half, with all the three's, was that in the cards? Was that a pleasant happening?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: That just happened (laughter). No, definitely not in our game plan. But I do think that our ball movement was obviously very good. I thought spacing allowed us to get good action. You know, we had some good looks on the skip.
I just think we really were alert. When you have that alertness in a game like this, I think it's going to allow you to get some good looks and not just settle for a one- or two-pass offense.
Our players really space well.
Q. Pat, can you talk about the change, maybe in intensity from a second-round game like today to a semifinal round game tomorrow night?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: I think this team knows what they have to bring each and every game. I like the intensity today. We had some lapses. But I think overall they understand it.
You know, our goal obviously is to come here and win three games. It's not going to be easy. We're going to have to work at it. We're going to have to be competitive and not take possessions off. But that's the goal.
We've got one down and now we just have to focus on the next game and be ready because either opponent obviously that we will face, we have faced already twice. You know, I think coming in and knowing that we have to beat a team that third time is going to be something that we can do, but obviously we have to match the intensity of our opponent because they'll bring it. I mean, they obviously feel like, I'm sure both, that they let a couple of them slip away.
Q. Shanna, you guys came out and got on them pretty quick. How anxious were you guys to come here and get the post-season started, especially having lost on Sunday?
SHANNA ZOLMAN: We were extremely anxious to get here, and not only being able to play our first game on this floor in Arkansas, but most importantly to get that first game under our belt.
We were really trying to stress, along with the coaching staff, and emphasize the importance of being able to come out and just make a statement the first half, the first game, because this is a new part of the season. Despite how, you know, our regular season went, our SEC regular season went, this is a whole new season now, and we're trying to make a statement the first game.
I think with the intensity that we brought in both halves, I believe that we made that statement, and hopefully we can carry that out throughout the rest of the tournament.
Q. Candace, you have waited a year for this, your first post-season play. Can you talk a little about how that was for you out there today?
CANDACE PARKER: It was a great experience to start off like we did. Last year, you know, obviously I was sidelined with my knee injury. I was really excited to get here. To finally be able to play is amazing. I talked to my dad yesterday. He was, you know, telling me that, you know, last year you couldn't play, just all the -- I was anxious and everything like that, and I should let that carry over to today now that I can. Just hustle and play hard because, you know, I mean, every game is a promise, and I've learned that from my career.
Q. Candace, what was the situation when you came out of the game I guess seven, eight minutes into the first half?
CANDACE PARKER: I'm okay. I strained my good knee, my right knee. But it's okay. Jenny checked it out. She gave me the green light to go back in. Yeah, they're both good.
Q. Candace, can you talk about your role on this team, how it may or may not have changed from the beginning of the year when it was a little bit smaller lineup, maybe more guard-oriented, to more of a big lineup?
CANDACE PARKER: Well, I think that, you know, all of our roles have changed as a team. We asked Shanna to move over to point guard. I've had to move up to small forward and everything.
But I think we're adjusting as a team. We're doing a great job of just, you know, helping each other out, playing positions that we may not, you know, be comfortable with, but I think we're just bringing energy and making mistakes through hustle.
I think, you know, this team is adjusting well through all the adversity and all the things that we faced.
Q. How much does it help this team to have this kind of a defensive effort in the first game of the tournament?
CANDACE PARKER: It's huge for us. It's huge to have the defensive effort in the first game. Hopefully it will carry over to the second. Like I said, our team does it when we have to. That's not necessarily the attitude that you want to have in the regular season. But in the post-season, I think it's great because, you know, we know we have to, otherwise we're going to go home. I mean, we did it today. I was really proud of our defensive effort.
Q. Coach, in light of the injuries that y'all have had in the course of this season, were you a little concerned when Candace did come out of the game in the first half?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, I wasn't sure what she felt or what happened. But once I asked Jenny after she checked it out, she said she was fine; Candace said she was fine. I think the one good thing that we have is a great trainer right there with us that, you know, obviously has been in this profession and is regarded as one of the best at what she does.
You know, that eliminates any confusion about, can she go back in or not? Obviously, I knew she was good to play. But any time a player is experiencing anything that's unusual pain-wise, whether it's the knee, the ankle, the hand, whatever, I've been through pretty much everything, and you always, as a coach -- it always concerns you until you have the answer.
Q. Shanna, before you left Knoxville, you told the media that you wouldn't know for sure if it would be the team's idea to win this. Pat was talking about how last year Tennessee won because it was the players' idea. Have you been able to read the team now?
SHANNA ZOLMAN: Definitely. I think we came here with the same attitude as last year. Went out the floor today, starting the way we did, that tells a lot. It's not necessarily something that we came out and we were just kind of lackadaisical with the ball, not very intense defensively. I think that we came out in the same way that we came out last year.
I'm not saying the outcome is going to be the same. I'm not going to make any guarantees about that (laughter). I know that our minds, our intensity and our hearts are in the right place, and that's where they need to be.

End of FastScripts...

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