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April 2, 2000

Tamika Catchings

Kara Lawson

Semeka Randall

Pat Summitt


COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, first of all, while this was an extremely disappointing performance by our basketball team, and very painful loss, and in no way do I want this to take away from the fact that this team this year has competed with great teamwork and desire, great competitiveness. And tonight, we got into a situation, and I don't think that any of us expected this quite to this extent. When you go against a team that plays as aggressive and as physical and as intense, and gives you the looks that Connecticut gave us early, you have to have great guard play. I thought they came out with a great plan to really take us out of some things we wanted to do offensively and doubled the ball. And so then a lot of times, you're playing out of your offense and just really attacking the basket and all you have to do is pick up the stats sheet and look at guard play and we don't. I thought we took some quick shots and it really hurt us. Where we've been really strong when we have played poorly offensively has been on the defensive end and unfortunately tonight, we just -- we got beat on back door cuts and we got beat on cuts across the middle, the two offenses they ran consistently, over and over. You know, we have to have our veterans play better defense and we just didn't come to play on that end of the floor, and didn't play maybe as an ultimate, we were struggling offensively. Having said that, you can ask the players questions.

Q. Kara, when you had your shots, was it a matter of rushing the shots, trying to get the points back quickly and they wouldn't fall for you?

KARA LAWSON: Yeah, I think I took a couple quick shots early in the offense, and that was something that we weren't trying to do because they were pressuring us. They did a good job of smothering me and making sure I didn't have any open looks; so I have to credit their defense. But I think I lost my composure a couple times out there; so I think that contributed to it.

Q. How much of a factor was their team speed? They seemed to get a lot of the fast breaks. It was sort of three dribbles and right to a lay-up. I wonder if that was a factor, too, please?

TAMIKA CATCHINGS: I think any time you turn a ball over against a team like this, that's what you look for, that's what the team is going to do. Any team is going to convert on any turnovers and looking down we had 26 turnovers -- they got all the turnovers they got all the hustle plays and they converted them basically every time.

KARA LAWSON: I think that coming in we knew that transition defense was going to be a key for us to be successful against them and a lot of times we took quick shots and we weren't able to set up our defense and we really wanted to make them play in the halfcourt offense and we weren't really able to do that.

Q. Kara, how much of a distraction or disturbance was it to have Ace go down with the injury, you know at the last minute?

KARA LAWSON: Well, Ace is obviously, you know a starter and it hurts to lose a starter on game day. But I thought that we kept our focus pretty well, and we knew we could still win the ball game, even if we didn't have Ace. So I don't -- I don't think we responded to it very well.

Q. Kelly Schumacher blocking nine shots; did it surprise you, change your game at all, disrupt you guys offensively?

SEMEKA RANDALL: Yes. I know a few times -- most of the time I drove it to the key and obviously my shot got rejected. It was a huge factor. Her block shots were very important to their winning the basketball game.

Q. They seemed to get a lift off their bench especially when Asjha Jones came in, can you talk about her play?

TAMIKA CATCHINGS: That's one thing that, you know coming in before the game, you know that UCONN had a great advantage over us by their bench. They had fresh bodies rotating almost every minute and a half. I think that was great for them. They were able to just keep coming at us. I think Asjha played really good. She basically did everything that they needed whenever they wanted a rebound, she got one, scoring points, she played great defense.

Q. Where do you see the future of this team, looking past this loss?

TAMIKA CATCHINGS: We've got a whole summer ahead of us. Pat went in the locker room and said next year is all about what you do during the summer. We've got to come back -- we can't reflect back on this loss. We can only use it as a motivator for next year. Everybody has to get better for next year and we have to become stronger.

SEMEKA RANDALL: I guess from this loss what I learned is really you need to grow up and handle adversity.

Q. Could you comment on the play of Shea Ralph?

COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, I think across the board, everyone played well. But I told our basketball team, I think Shea Ralph is the hustle player of that team, and she just gives them so much energy, you know she takes the ball to the hole, she gets rebounds. She's got a huge heart, and obviously, is a great leader by example. And I don't know from not being on the inside what all she does but I can tell from you being on the outside and watching, it's very, very impressive and very, very effective for their team.

Q. Do you think that Kristen Clement missing took away something and forced their interior defense?

COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, would that have changed the outcome of this game, you know, I can't say that that would have happened, but I can tell you this: We've relied greatly on Ace Clement. She's been our best defender on the perimeter, and I think just -- she's been a player that's greatly influenced the intensity and the attitude of our team, and we missed her greatly tonight. When we started I thought it really affected our press offense. You know you can't lose a player like that and not be hurt by when you have the situation where our bench is not nearly as deep as their bench. When you look at the stat sheet we had 26 turnovers, 20 of them came from juniors and seniors. And as much as I knew we had young guards and obviously at the point, but my greatest disappointment is the people that had to play tonight didn't step up and play and handle the ball for us and unfortunately didn't defend well for us at the other end. So guard play was really, really big. And as far as the rebounding aspect of the game, I thought it just a matter of us physically not being able to withstand the bodies that they rotated. They have great depth in the interior.

Q. Same question I sad to Semeka, how much did Kelly Schumacher -- how much did her performance surprise you?

COACH PAT SUMMITT: I think she played terrific, played big inside, had some great blocks, and really, I think a few times just broke our spirit when we went in, she played so active and aggressive and got a piece of the ball and that certainly was a big factor. And we didn't adjust well to it. We really didn't. You've got to give credit, though. They doubled on us, doubled off of Elzy, trapped on the wings and kept us really at times in a bit of a panic on the offensive end and then we would take the ball and drive it too deep, and, you know, obviously the block shots came off of our penetration late in the offense and it definitely broke our spirit.

Q. Describe how Ace got hurt on a walk-through?

COACH PAT SUMMITT: Been doing this 26 years, I've never experienced anything like today. We just -- we were shell drilling, five at each end, going through our offense, without any defense, and really, just more to review sets. And she went to the basket on a drive -- I didn't see it, and came down on Michelle Snow's foot.

Q. Your '98 team is generally regarded as the best team ever. How does this Connecticut team compare to that team?

COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, this was a great team tonight. I mean, there's no question about it, they were awesome. It's similar in terms of up-and-down tempo. I think probably that team relied more on full court pressure than this team had to rely on it not that they couldn't. But right now it's hard for me to know without really going back and looking at it. I think I was probably just too into -- a situation where I was trying to help our team. I was frustrated; they were frustrated, and my job as a coach is to try and help them throughout the course of the game and there were times I felt helpless, so I'll look at that later. No time soon, though.

Q. You mentioned defensive problems. How were they getting inside on you the way they were?

COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, they came down and they ran on the ball side. They ran the post up, ran the back cut, they just backed up from back cut from the strong side and then they rotated their wing off a back pick, out of their motion offense . So not anything new; we'd seen it. Then they ran out of one-four high instead of ball zone and made that beautiful ball-to-board post pass, and then obviously everything they did we scouted and knew it, but I think a lot of times when you get into a situation that we got into offensively and we're struggling. Semeka Randall was too tight on the help side. She's one of our best defenders and tonight she got lost defensively, probably more than anyone, and I think that happens. Everyone got beat on the back cut on the strong side wing and the back screen from the wing side across to the block, and then they spread us out. I wanted to play man, to try and get something going; I'd have to go back to zone because, how many lay-ups do you want to give them? So we kept switching back and forth and nothing worked and they obviously did a great job offensively.

Q. After the game, when the players were making their way to the locker room and you made them look at the celebration and made them shake hands and Pat backs. What did you want them to get out of doing that?

COACH PAT SUMMITT: I think that's just good sportsmanship. They went out to shake hands but obviously UCONN was celebrating and some of them waited and some of them turned to go to the locker room. Not -- I don't think they left out of anything disrespectful, but I think just knowing that they were going on to celebrate, but I just, you know, we've always run a class program, we've got class kids and you handle success and you handle failure and you do so with class. But they're kids; they are disappointed, probably embarrassed about how they played and, you know, I'm disappointed for them. But that doesn't take away from the fact that I have one of one of probably the best years in terms of coaching and enjoyment and teaching this group. They are young. We are not going away. I am not as old as Geno thinks I am, and I'm certainly not on my way out and we'll be back here, hopefully again, next year.

Q. With both teams returning basically intact, what do you see from Connecticut and Tennessee in the future, and now do you have to change something in your team to match up with the Huskies?

COACH PAT SUMMITT: Well, certainly in the first two games, you know, I felt like we competed at a different definitely. If you just look at tonight, we have a lot of things to change. But you can't let one game -- that doesn't mean your program's falling apart or that you can't be competitive at this level. We haven't won six titles thinking that way. We've lost some along the way. We'll go back home and try to figure out how to get back here and win one. But no, with this game, you know, I think the players have to learn more than anything about how they handle the situation and what they learn from it. And as coaches, we'll learn. We have four freshman coming in I'm really excited about. We won't be hanging our heads for long, I can tell you that.

End of FastScripts….

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