April 3, 2005
DEBBIE BYRNE: We'll start with an opening statement by the coach.
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, obviously this is a really tough loss for our basketball team and for our coaching staff and all associated with our program. While I want this team to understand how proud we are of them and how they represented us all year long, unfortunately, tonight's second half, we go up by 16 and we know we have to answer runs when you're ahead. I thought we lost our composure at times, they scored 19 points off our turnovers. Got to give them all the credit for doing so. But then I thought we -- two things happened. I just thought our defense didn't stand up to the test of disrupting their offensive flow and they got the looks they wanted. Their three-point shooters were able to catch and shoot. Their post people were able to run their inside action. And at the other end, I thought we got the ball inside, but we mishandled it, we played in a bit of a rush. And we didn't have the composure and kick the ball out. So you have to give Michigan State credit. They had the composure and we lacked it at times and they made the defensive plays and I thought again we were on our heels. I don't understand it, because it's not the way we have played to get here. But I'm really proud of our team for the type of season they have had and I thought Loree Moore was terrific tonight in pushing tempo and playing the kind of defense she had to play. Obviously this is a very, very disappointing loss. It will be a long time before I get this one out of my system. I'm sure the players probably feel the same way.
Q. Shyra, can you just talk about how you're feeling right now?
SHYRA ELY: Obviously I'm disappointed and really upset with, I mean, myself and the outcome of the game.
Q. Loree, can you talk about what went on when they made that rush back at you in the second half?
LOREE MOORE: That was a run. The game of basketball is made of runs. And they got us on our heels and they were attacking us at every angle. And we just couldn't find a way to stop them when we needed to. At times we didn't make some key stops when we really needed them, we kind of turned the ball over on offense, and we didn't execute the way we needed to on defense. So you give them the credit, all the credit for what they did and the way that they did it.
Q. Shanna, did your team relax just a little bit when you went up 16, and when did you know this was going to be a fight to the finish?
SHANNA ZOLMAN: The first thing that went through my mind was the LSU/Baylor game. Because that was the same exact thing that happened. And I don't know if we relaxed, I don't know if we just -- we knew they were going to make a run. Like Loree said, the game of basketball is about runs and we knew they were ready to make a run back at us. And we realized that we have to be able to counterbalance that and be able to make a run back at them ourselves. But we were just never able to do that. Never able to get over the hump and buckle down and make defensive stops and be able to answer them back on the offensive end. But like she said we were well aware of it, we just couldn't do it.
Q. Shanna, is this any more disappointing because it happened in your home state or on your home ground so to speak?
SHANNA ZOLMAN: I don't care where it's at. It could be in Alaska and I wouldn't care, it's a loss. Obviously it's all the excitement and coming into it, yeah, there's all the hype coming in, playing in your home state, in front of home family and crowd but a loss is a loss. It doesn't matter if it's here or Nova Scotia, it's a loss. So it's not any more depressing.
DEBBIE BYRNE: Ladies, I'll let you go back to the locker room. We'll start with questions for the Head Coach. Go ahead.
Q. Normally when you're able to get a double-digit lead on teams you're pretty much able to lock them down; why were you unable to discourage Michigan State tonight?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Obviously they kept coming at us and I thought they were aggressive in transition and also they did an excellent job of executing their half-court offense. They got good looks. It wasn't like they were forcing shots. I thought that they were very committed to setting and using screens, they read well off of their screens. They got a lot of open looks against us. I thought our defense, as I said, it kind of withered away at times. We didn't really stand up to the test. We had to be able to influence how they were running their sets and I didn't think that our defense really disrupted them like obviously theirs did against us.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Shyra's play over the last four years in your program and her bright future that she has ahead of her?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, obviously Shyra is a terrific athlete. She's certainly developed her game. I know if we look back over her career and think about four Final Fours, you got to really respect that. Not many classes get to do what Shyra, Loree, and Brittany have done. It just speaks to the impact that they have had on our program. And I know she struggled some tonight and usually it's when she's trying to do too much as opposed to not stepping up to make plays. So you got to respect the fact that she was trying to get the job done and had those turnovers late in the game because they really keyed on her on the inside. But she's not the only one, I just thought that we played a little bit more like "I've got to do it." Every player was like "I've got to do it" as opposed to continuing to run what we needed to run offensively, so we lost our composure as a team on a number of possessions.
Q. I think somebody asked you yesterday one of the keys to the game or something along those lanes and you said rebounding and you beat them by 10 and you hurt them on the offensive boards which I know you thought was important. Yet you still lost the game. I know it's disappointing no matter what, but does that make it even hurt a little more? You did the thing that you thought, hey, this is what we got to do, yet you still kind of lost your composure at key points.
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, what really bothers me is you got to make lay-ups and free throws if you want to win. Obviously defense and board play are key. But those easy shots, you got make the free throws. And if you just look statistically at our free throw shooting then you think about how many lay-ups we missed. I mean, we had three shots late in the game in one series. So I did not think that we did a good job of finishing around the basket and hitting our free throws. And then turning the ball over. We have a turnover on top of the floor late to give them the go ahead. That was such a momentum for them. I think probably it put a little bit of even more pressure on us. That's when we missed those three shots.
Q. You addressed it just a second ago a little bit, but that last offensive possession you were down by two and you had like three or four chances to get good shots and seemed like the players thought there was a little bit less time left than there was. You might have had three or four more seconds to do that. Would you talk about that.
COACH PAT SUMMITT: I think they were just overanxious. I think they were just trying to make a play. And I would rather have someone trying to make a play than avoiding that type of situation. And certainly we had -- all three shots, if I'm clear on this, came inside the paint. So obviously we had our chances. We had our chances. But it doesn't come down to just that one play. I think as you look throughout the game, I guess the things that stand out in my mind is we didn't deny the middle of the floor. We let them run their offense and get into a good rhythm. We didn't identify the three-point shooters. We shot the ball, I think, well at times, well enough probably to win for a Tennessee team, if we buckled down and played great defense and had more impact with our defense. Our rebounding was good enough to win, our defense wasn't, and our turnovers were costly.
Q. What does it say about the growth of the women's game that tonight we had two teams that never had been this far before, came from a combined 31-down to get the right to play Tuesday?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, I think it does speak to the parity. I think to have two teams here for the first time and the two teams here for the first time are the two teams that will play for a national championship. I think that we have talked about this for years, but now we're seeing it firsthand. And the women's game has changed tremendously in a good way when you talk about parity. And I don't think that this is any fluke and it happened one year and that's it. I think every year you're going to see teams really battle it out and probably going it see more upsets in first and second round play.
DEBBIE BYRNE: Thank you very much.
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