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March 8, 2008

Nicky Anosike

Candace Parker

Pat Summitt


THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening comment?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, obviously second half I thought our defense really stepped up for us. We went with a little bigger, more athletic lineup, which I thought helped us run our five defense, basically our switching, man to man.
That to me was a big difference. And opened up the game obviously with too many turnovers, just a little bit too careless and maybe over-anxious offensively.
But I think that when you get to the free-throw line, shoot well from the line, and obviously Candace did a good job for us, and also just working hard for the basketball. I thought Nicky Anosike had a tremendous defensive game. Her presence made a big difference in what Vanderbilt was able to see and able to do, so really pleased with our seniors and their play.

Q. Nicky, the regular season loss to LSU, could you just kind of -- what did the team come away with from that game? What did you learn in that game?
NICKY ANOSIKE: I think the main lesson that we learned from that game is that even though you're up by a lot, you've still got to keep fighting and pushing and you should never let up, and the effort still has to be there.

Q. Candace, can you talk a little bit about the defense in this game? You guys have played excellent defense in this tournament, how important is that for you guys right now?
CANDACE PARKER: I think we really picked up our defense, especially in the second half and towards the end of the first half. Like Coach said, we had a big lineup in there and we were able to just play to our strengths. We had a lot of defense translate into offense and transition and things like that. So I think we really did a great job of just playing defense and playing together.

Q. Nicky, you guys had to play Vanderbilt for a third time. How difficult is that to beat a team three times in one season?
NICKY ANOSIKE: I think what makes it so hard is that they know our tendencies and we know their tendencies, but I guess the team that plays the best defense and rebounds the hardest is the team that's going to come out with the win. We knew that going in, and we heard all the stories about how they've never lost in this building, but we just stayed strong, I guess.

Q. Candace, can you just also talk about the match-up tomorrow against LSU, what you all will take from the last game going into tomorrow?
CANDACE PARKER: Well, I mean, they beat us on our home floor, and they won the SEC championship outright, so obviously we have incentive going in. But what it's going to come down to is defense and rebounding and playing a 40-minute game. I think we're a completely different team than we were when we played them, and I think we're going to play with energy and play for 40 minutes.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. For Coach?

Q. Starting out Vandy went into that 1-3-1 defense and you didn't have a lot of success. What did you do to change that?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I just thought we were standing on offense, so we just went into some different offensive sets to attack them better and even went with a triangle, a high post and two low-post players.
I think when you're not shooting the ball very well, you can become stagnant, and I thought they were early, but then we picked our pace up. We had to rely a lot -- we only shot 22 percent in the second half, and I've always believed you're going to have some of those nights, not that you didn't have good shot selection, but obviously you just didn't make shots. We experienced that in both halves. I just really felt like that we stepped up at halftime -- we talked at halftime a lot about having to be a better defensive team because we know Vanderbilt, we run a lot of great action.
But I thought the key for us was that we just got the ball moving a little bit quicker and then we got on the glass. We got on the glass, and that really helped us, particularly in the second half. We weren't out on the boards. Candace had one defensive at halftime, Nicky was the only one that seemed committed to rebounding, and when you're not making shots you've got to get on the glass.

Q. Candace said they're a completely different team than when you played LSU. What's different about the team now? It wasn't that long ago.
COACH SUMMITT: I think that game was a definite wake-up call. I think that they realized that they had just been playing in spurts. I mean, you think of the number of times we've gotten off to a huge lead, only to see it dwindle away and then us have to fight to the bitter end and the last possession to win a game.
I think that that was a costly one for them. They knew they probably had lost the SEC regular season title, and they really had no one to blame but themselves. That was probably when we had our best player meeting and coaches-player meeting. I think that's when they took ownership. I told them -- we had gotten away with being a team that played in spurts and playing the scoreboard instead of playing the game with great passion for 40 minutes. I said, if you're going to be a championship-caliber team you've got to do it.
I've said a number of times, it is difficult to motivate a team coming off of a championship with the exception of the '98 team. They were different.

Q. Talk about the difference in the three-point shooting. They were 2 for 17 and you were 6 for 19.
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think Vanderbilt has been very committed to the three-ball, and I think we did a better job of extending our defense. I think our switching man really helped us because when they set the ball screens in the first half, you know, we were trapping the wing, and running what we call our Velcro in the middle of the floor with a hedge and going under.
But I thought in the second half we were more aggressive and we were switching and closing out on the basketball a little bit better. So I think the shots were more contested than anything.

Q. Can you talk about the tempo was upbeat again tonight, and later on between the first -- at the end of the first half. Is that what you're going to need to have versus LSU tomorrow night?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think we -- I think our team is best when we play up-tempo. We're looking to score in early offense without having to always think setup. This team, I think they really thrive on that, as well, and that's where our defense has to generate our primary opportunities. We've done a pretty good job of that. And also just getting our guards to get to the paint in transition. Candace has done a great job in this tournament of running to the rim. So that puts a lot of pressure on the defense and also opens up the inside-out options, as well.
But I think everyone that knows our team knows that we want to play up-tempo. We want to run at you but not necessarily with you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We'll see you tomorrow night, Coach.

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