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March 2, 2007

Alexis Hornbuckle

Candace Parker

Pat Summitt


THE MODERATOR: Joining us now, Tennessee head Coach Pat Summitt, along with student-athletes Candace Parker and Alexis Hornbuckle.
Coach, if you could make an opening comment.
COACH SUMMITT: It's always good to get that first game out of the way with a win. We knew that South Carolina would come at us, play very aggressive basketball. I thought the first half, without question, Alexis Hornbuckle really stepped up, made a lot of big plays for us, took on a leadership role of our basketball team.
In the second half, I thought we had much more balance. I thought Candace did a better job, kept her defensive intensity, as well as all of our post people.
Sidney got much more involved offensively in this game, particularly in the -- after the halftime.

Q. Is it a good thing to look at the box score and see that Candace is your third leading scorer today?
COACH SUMMITT: That is a good thing because we know people are going to key on Candace. She was taking obviously a lot of physical play. But I thought she kept her composure. It's good to see other players step up and not stand around and watch her play.
I think Alexis has done a great job of being much more assertive on the offensive end, much more efficient. Good to see Sidney, in particular, I guess they'll all want to take a week off from practice, because that's what she did. She looked okay today.
But I think if we get a little bit more balance, people can't key on one player, and obviously Candace has been a target all year for our opposing defense.

Q. Coach, you started that second half on a 16-5 run. Was there anything you said or sort of adjustment you made that was allowing you to open up the game in the second half, get that lead?
COACH SUMMITT: Not really. I think we came out with five people playing on the defensive end. I thought the first half we had three people playing, and two not really putting the type of pressure in the passing lanes. I didn't think our post defense was very strong in the first half, but we definitely stepped that up in the second half. That matched the intensity of our perimeter defense which generated a lot of easy scoring opportunities for us.
It came from the players. As I told them, you can't be at Tennessee and pick and choose when you want to play defense and rebound and expect to be very good because everyone gives us their best shot. So I think we have to understand who we are and how we have to play.

Q. Coach, Cait and Shannon, I saw you talking to them frequently during timeouts. Can you comment on your point guard play in this particular game.
COACH SUMMITT: I thought we did a lot of good things. I thought we got careless with the basketball. I thought we get in late seconds on the clock too much. I just think game management from the point position is key.
I expect that from Shannon and Cait. I don't want to have a put Alexis at that position. I thought we could have done a much better job of managing the clock. I thought we got a little careless with a couple of our decisions.
But overall I think these two players complement each other. I've been pleased with them. I think they've made a lot of progress. I like where we are with our point guard play overall.

Q. With so much success in this quarterfinal round historically, how do you not let this team sort of taking these early round games for granted, overlook some of these early-round opponents?
COACH SUMMITT: I think it's all about leadership, it's all about what they want. I've learned that in my career many years ago. Coaches always, always want to go into every game, they want their team to play a certain game. It's when they, the players themselves, decide this is important to us, this is something that we want. If they want to be playing on Sunday, then I like our chances. If they're not that inspired about it, I'd be concerned about our chances.
I think this team has had the kind of leadership that allows a team then to step up and play and maintain that kind of intensity and focus. It's been a great team to work with because they have taken the ownership, with only a one-game exception. We learned from that.

Q. Candace, you had four shots tonight. Were you deferring intentionally, or shot opportunities not there? Were you looking to get Sid and Lex the ball more often?
CANDACE PARKER: No. I think we did a great job moving the ball. Like I said all year, pick your poison. I think we moved the ball well. We went into our motion offense. A lot of people were getting a lot of different open looks.

Q. In reference to the physical play, there was a brief skirmish. You came back with a block shot basket. What happened in that exchange? Were you motivated by that?
CANDACE PARKER: I think it's just playing basketball. That's something we've dealt with all year, is teams are very physical against us. But, I mean, we've been in the weight room all summer and we're willing to take it and can handle it.
I think, you know, that motivates us to play strong with the ball, play smart. I think we were motivated coming into the second half. I don't think it was just that play that got us motivated.

Q. Alexis, could you talk about your offensive effort in the first half. Were you conscientiously (sic) looking for your shot more, or were the opportunities there and you took advantage of them?
ALEXIS HORNBUCKLE: I just saw open opportunities, whether it was pull-up jump shots or getting to the hole. I just took advantage of them and tried to play on balance. It came easy to me tonight. I guess coach is right, the more I play on balance, the more efficient I am.

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