March 31, 2000
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Obviously, it was a very tough, competitive, hard-fought game on the
part of both teams. I thought both teams brought great intensity defensively, really
battled the boards hard. I was really pleased that our basketball team could continue to
play on the offensive end when they weren't shooting the ball particularly well, get on
the glass. We were able to push tempo. Kara Lawson deserves an awful lot of credit for the
position that we put people in, and we got the ball and I thought -- to certain people,
but I thought she just did an excellent job of breaking down the defense and running our
Q. Kara, was it a matter of adjusting in the second half or did you just step up the
execution in the second half for your team offensively?
KARA LAWSON: I think for us in the first half we really played on our heels and we
weren't in an attack mode and we let Rutgers dictate how we were going to play
offensively. And so in the second half we really wanted to push tempo, even after baskets,
try and put them on their heels and work the ball around. We thought if we got some ball
reversal, we'd get some open looks, and we knew we could be aggressive, that's what
Q. You talked yesterday about not wanting to take quick shots, were you too patient in
the first half?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: I think we were. Like she said, we played on our heels and sometimes
I can help and sometimes I can't. But in this case, we were trying to be patient and not
quick shoot it but everybody wasn't watching the shot clock, and that hurt us.
Q. Do you like these more physical games? Do you like playing in games like this that
are more physical?
KARA LAWSON: You know, it doesn't really bother me either way. I like playing in the
Final 4, and I like playing on this stage and I like playing in a tournament where, you
know, if you lose, you go home. And so I think our team likes this type of atmosphere. I
think our team thrives in this type of situation. We come out to play whether the team we
are playing is physical, whether we play zone, whether they play man -to-man. We're just
happy we're going to be in the championship game.
Q. In the second half you looked a lot more assertive than in the first. Did you or
coach tell you to step up your game at halftime in?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: Obviously the first half, I think Rutgers played great defense, and,
I mean, I just couldn't get open. I couldn't get the ball, and it got kind of frustrating,
but halftime, Coach Summitt would just tell me you've just got to make sure you move
around and that was for our whole team everybody was standing around so it was hard to get
good shots like we normally do. She just told me to move around and be more tactical. I
started hitting the boards more often and just moving around, getting the ball.
Q. What is this about Kara's play that made her seem older than a freshman?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: She did it all for us. She stepped up her game definitely, just drive
and penetrating in, penetrating the gaps. That's what we really needed. We could have
easily just stood out there and quick shot the ball and shot 3s all night but Kara made it
a point to go in and draw a foul and hit free throws.
Q. In the second half which engine was driving the horse, defense making it easier on
offense for you guys would you say?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: Definitely. We feed off of our defense a lot. In the first half we
didn't get a lot of easy shots because we weren't playing great defense but we stepped it
up in the halftime, we came out in the second half and thrived off our defense. We got
some easy baskets and were able to push the ball out.
Q. Was their defense doing anything to you that confused you or that you had to kind of
get used to in the first half that you were able to break down in the second half?
KARA LAWSON: I think their defense is obviously something that we haven't seen a lot of
this year. So I think it took us a good five or six minutes to just get used to what they
were doing. And then I think in the second half we were able to really pick them apart. We
were able to exploit the baseline in the middle which were areas that we thought we could
get good shots. I think once we got more familiar with what they were running and how they
were -- the angles they were running out and they were getting out of traps and I think we
were able to break them down.
Q. In the first half, Ace got in foul trouble early and had to sit out 13 minutes, how
did that affect you and the team, and what she means to the team?
KARA LAWSON: Ace certainly is our best defensive perimeter player. She really got off
to a good start shooting the ball. I think you have to credit Kyra for coming in and doing
a great job on Tasha Pointer and really affecting their perimeter on offense. I think Kyra
stepped in and gave us a lot of energy and forced them into some opportunities and forced
them to play fast.
Q. Did any one player take charge at a certain point to push it around?
KARA LAWSON: I think halftime was the key for us. I don't think it was one player. I
think collectively we said if we come out and we play Tennessee basketball, we can put
ourselves in the championship game and that's how we've done things all season, we do it
as a collective group and we're excited to be in the Championship game.
Q. You talked about the mental toughness, was this an indication of that tonight?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Clearly I felt as the game wore on we became a more determined
basketball team. We focused less on what we didn't do and more on what we needed to do. We
were obviously much more committed to rebounding, I thought much more aggressive
offensively when we talked particularly in the second half after our halftime discussion.
I thought we stood a lot against their zone and we were running a lot of zone offenses and
in the second half, we ran a lot out of our man-to-man offenses. And I thought that was a
real plus for us, because typically, when you run your man patterns, I think you just have
better player ball movement and you're more aggressive, at least for our basketball team
because we see a lot of man-to-man, so that's what we went to in terms of our offensive
scheme in the second half and again I thought we moved better and had better looks at the
Q. In the second half, the key play, about midway through you went up about nine, what
made you able to get the lead and maintain it throughout?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: I think once you get it, I think it's important that you go back and
continue to play the kind of defense you want to play. I think just extending our defense
was important. I thought we had some opportunities there to get a quick shot and be able
to come up with a rebound and go the other way, and also during that time period, I felt
like we were able to push tempo and really be -- and Kara said it best, in the attack mode
on the offensive ends and stayed aggressive and got some good looks and put the ball in.
Q. At this point, does this kind of game out of Kara Lawson surprise you?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: No. Nothing Kara Lawson does surprises me. I have very high
expectations of her. She's a winner. She's the type of competitor when the game is tight,
she wants to make the plays and she wants to distribute the ball. When we call something,
I know she's going to make good decisions for us offensively, and, you know, we took her
off the point and it took us just a very short period of time to put her back there
because she can beat people off the dribble, she can knock down the 3 and she can run a
basketball team in a halfcourt game. As a freshman, I haven't had one quite like her in a
halfcourt situation. She's got a great mind for the game and makes great decisions.
Q. What did you all do defensively, specifically in the second half? What were you
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, we ran a variety of defenses. We played man-to-man when we
needed to stop; that's our trademark and that's our bread-and-butter defense. I thought we
did on Pointer and Stewart a great job, particularly picking up the ball early, making
other players handle it up the floor. I thought they had to work hard to make plays, and
you're not going to stop great players, but if you can influence and make them work for an
extended period of time, then I think you have a chance to make some stops, or at least
wear on them. But I thought other players handled the ball, and also I thought when we
took them away, I thought they kept going inside to Sutton-Brown. She took a lot of shots
and we wanted her to take a lot of shots, because if you go down the lift, she certainly
was No. 1 and No. 2 priorities we felt we influenced and we thought we could give her some
shots inside and get some help.
Q. Coach, you talked about your discussion at halftime. What did that discussion center
around, and at the start of the second half, in your first possession, they scored a field
goal and then you got the ball and Kara went right up and took it right all the way in all
by herself, was that part of that?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, the first thing that I said is, you know, our two
all-Americans Tamika and Semeka, I looked at them and said "This is life for the
all-Americans, people key on you." They double-team you. You have to learn to do
other things, and you have to be more aggressive. And also, while being aggressive, you
have to hit open teammates when that happens. I thought Tamika was too tentative in the
first half in particular. And so we talked about soft spots in the zone or open spots on
the baseline, and at the elbows, and also told the guards, you have to penetrate the gaps,
you've got to be aggressive. And that's all Kara needed. She had the green light then to
penetrate, and I thought that -- that helped our basketball team understand that we wanted
to play aggressive and get on our toes and push the tempo, and then we got a lot of energy
from that, that one particular play.
Q. Michelle Snow had seven blocks. Talk about her contribution inside?
COACH PAT SUMMITT: I thought she had a real presence for us and had some great
defensive series. Got some key rebounds. Just her presence alone, I think a lot of times
is more of a factor than you really realize, just sitting and watching the basketball
game. But if you're a player playing the game, you go in there knowing that you have to
score over Michelle and that's obviously something that's a challenge at times. She's
become more active defensively. At first she was a liability defensively and now she's a
real presence, and that's probably the biggest improvement in her game in probably the
last probably three weeks of play.
End of FastScripts