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March 31, 2008
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
THE MODERATOR: We are being joined by the University of Tennessee Volunteers. We're glad to have you here, Coach, congratulations on your win yesterday.
PAT SUMMITT: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, your thoughts about last night's game?
COACH SUMMITT: It was two different halves for us. I thought the first half we really didn't step up with our defensive game plan and execute the way that we had hoped going into the game, which obviously put us in a tough situation.
I thought the second half was a much better game. Obviously a much stronger commitment to our defense, our board play, and I just think our basketball team knows what they have to do, and you just leave that behind and move forward, and that's exactly what we're going to do and then get prepared for Texas A&M in the next couple of days.
Q. Shannon, when you were playing in the JUCO ranks and understood that Tennessee was thinking you're a good fit, did you ever think you would be sitting here talking to us about this kinda run in the NCAA Tournament?
SHANNON BOBBITT: No. I did not think I was going to play for Ms. Pat Summit, but I'm so happy that I made this decision. I'm happy I'm here, and if I wasn't at this program, I was cheering for Tennessee. I'm just glad I'm here and playing for Ms. Pat Summit.
Q. If anybody wants to weigh in on the documented stare of the coach to your immediate left, that would be wonderful, because she sure as heck was giving it to you last night, until that second half, of course.
COACH SUMMITT: I want to hear.
CANDACE PARKER: It's not so fun now that she's sitting here. Obviously she had a reason to stare at us, stare through us yesterday. In the first half we didn't come out ready to play, but we regrouped because of the stare, and came back in the second half and played a lot better as a team.
Q. Nicky, you have played so many teams, but this team has never played Texas A&M; I think the last time was 1997. Are you looking forward to seeing a new opponent?
NICKY ANOSIKE: Yes, it's fun when we get to play a different team. Sometimes during the season you play a team two and three times, and it's harder because you pick up each other's habits. But we're definitely ready for a challenge. They're a great team. It will be fun to play someone new.
Q. Candace and Alexis, the Texas A&M players yesterday felt like Duke didn't take them serious at all. They thought that Duke thought they would roll through them. What do you think of A&M, a team that's not on TV very much, a team that isn't shown on the east coast hardly at all, really. What do you think about the Aggies?
NICKY ANOSIKE: I think that they're a team that gets up and down the court, they're aggressive, they get into the passing lanes, and you have to respect every opponent, and that's what we try to do here at Tennessee, because we realize we have a target on our back. We have to respect them; they didn't get here by luck.
CANDACE PARKER: Obviously you can't overlook a 2-seed. They were a 2-seed for a reason. They finished up the season very well, the regular season. We're not going to overlook them, and we know that they play with a lot of energy, and we have to match that.
Q. Candace, you've played with Alexis for quite a while. What does having a guard like that mean for a player who predominantly played on the inside?
CANDACE PARKER: It means a lot. Playing with Alexis, she is obviously a great penetrating guard. She stepped out and hit the three this year. She is just an energizer, she is always going to bring a lot of energy to our team, and I've enjoyed playing with her for three years.
Q. Alberta, you moved into the starting lineup for the postseason. Can you talk about your role and how you're approaching that this time?
ALBERTA AUGUSTE: I think my role is the same as when I'm coming off the bench, bring the defensive intensity, contribute to the ball pressure and also on the offensive end, getting offensive rebounds and driving into the paint.
Q. Shannon, have you had a chance to look at the play of their guard, A'Quo, No. 10? You guys have similar styles. She is very aggressive and spirited out there. Have you had a chance to see any film on her?
SHANNON BOBBITT: I have not watched film with the team, but I have seen her play, and she is very aggressive, quick, and their emotional leader. And she definitely can step out and shoot the three-ball. It's going to be a great game plan against them, and I just look forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for COACH SUMMIT?
Q. Pat, Big 12 teams always do much better the second time around against each other in conference play, because they've seen it and they know what to expect with their defense. As you look at Texas A&M film, what is so special about Vic Schaefer's defense? They do a good job of harassing people and making them uncomfortable.
COACH SUMMITT: It all starts with their defense, and they're high-energy players, obviously athletic, they're committed to playing hard. They're committed to supporting each other. To me, you know, they -- they just bring a type of defense that makes a lot of teams uncomfortable, and obviously they score off of their turnovers.
They play a lot faster defensively than they do offensively. What happens is their defensive pressure generates opportunities for them in the open court.
You know, I think Franklin is obviously a key. Not only is she super quick, but she's the player that I think just leads by example and what they want to do. She's the one that makes them go.
Q. Can you talk about Danielle Gant? She sat out the whole second half last night, but talk about her and the challenges she presents.
COACH SUMMITT: Obviously she can post up, she's a catch-and-shoot player, she can do a lot of things; she can bring the ball up. When you talk about versatility, I think you're talking about a player -- there is more than one dimension to her game. For that, obviously, just her ability to lead a team -- you know, you look at the board play, she contributes in a lot of different ways.
Some players you can count on to score, but are they going to do the other aspects of the game, and obviously she's very, very committed. I think that brings some stability to their team.
Q. Pat, Candace suffered 12 fouls last night, which is among the high -- among the highs that she's had this year. Was that kind of a "hack-a-Shaq" mentality, you think? And how has the opponent sort of defended her over the past three years?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think last night Candace recognized that we were not executing as well offensively, and I think the team recognized that. And when I got so upset was when I just thought we were just jump-shooting the basketball, and we were careless. We let our offense affect our defense. That was the worst half of defense I've had to sit and watch in a long time. It was ugly.
Yet, at the same time, I thought the team recognized the fact that we were struggling, and they got the ball inside to Candace. I say, we want "paint points," whether you get there off the dribble or off of Candace getting touches, but we've got to get paint points. And that allowed us to go in at halftime not feeling like we had dug ourselves a deep hole.
You know, we were supposed to trap ball screens, and I think it was 16 times maybe that they set ball screens or maybe 13 times, but we just went over this in our scouting report, because it was 13 possessions in the first half, that we were supposed to trap, and we only trapped twice.
That's a glaring lack of discipline to your system, and we pointed that out because that can't happen against Texas A&M, no matter what our scheme is. If we're hedging, if we run a Velcro, whatever our action is, we've got to be very disciplined on the defensive end and not let our offense affect our offense. Because this Texas A&M team is going to turn you over and get into you, and we've got to be really efficient offensively and be mindful of taking care of the basketball.
Q. Coach, can you talk about your experience, will it be a factor tomorrow? You've been here so many times and Texas A&M is playing in their first Elite 8 game.
COACH SUMMITT: I've never scored a basket in postseason. Gary Blair is a great coach, I played against him in the league and now we're meeting in this setting, but I do feel like we have a veteran team. I'll be disappointed if our seniors are not on top of their game and the leadership is not in place. I expect us to play a much better game, because I think we learned from our first half last night.
We're always learning, continuing to try and get better and be more efficient. But I don't know that me being on the bench is going to make a difference at all. I feel like sometimes I'm more of a cheerleader at this point. You want them to feel good, you want to keep them focused, and that's my job.
I can get their attention when I need to; it seems to happen at times that you need to. But I told them today, I've got three great assistants, and we're going to work hard and we're going to prepare them for this game, but ultimately the players have to play the game.
Q. Coach, I watched Duke and A&M play yesterday. It was interesting to me because Duke came out with an enormous amount of pressure. They both, did but Duke seemed to have more to me, and throughout the game A&M seemed to wear them down. At the end they seemed to be completely fatigued. At this stage of the game, how concerning is that for you and how do you balance that out?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think you -- there will be spurts, Lisa, that's part of the game. That's what happens with the changes and who has the momentum. I always believe the way to put the brakes on is with your defense and your board play, to influence. Fatigue does not concern me with this team. I think we're one of the most well-conditioned teams in the country. You look how many minutes that a lot of our players play, and the one thing that I have learned throughout my career is, you know, what you do in preparation now is -- we won't spend much time in practice today doing anything other than walking through.
Between our Purdue game and coming here, we never went full court. Everything was half-court, most everything was walk-through. We kept our offense sharp in that regard. Same thing will happen here, because we will meet our legs against Texas A&M, and I think last night was a good indication that we had our legs. We were sharp in the second half, and typically we are a second half team.
Q. You mentioned Gary Blair. I wonder if you would comment on his unique personality and any experiences you have had with him.
COACH SUMMITT: Gary is always whining, they're not a very good team, not sure how he got here! That's how he was in the conference, you know, he was always, "I don't know about this team," but you know you can't believe a word he says in that regard, because he knows he's got a great team, he really does. This team is -- it's fun to watch just the energy level that they play with.
And, you know, I have tremendous respect for Gary. I consider him a friend in this profession, and you don't have a lot of 'em. So Gary certainly is someone that I consider a friend. I miss him being in the conference because of all the meetings that -- he was always one to speak up, and it took him quite a while to get everything said, but that was okay.
Q. Talk about Candace and the fact that she has so many, I guess, pressures of being a face and name for this game right now, and yet when the clock is running, she plays like those things don't even matter. Can you talk about the balance she strikes that way?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, first thing I want to say is Candace Parker is the best player in the women's game, and there has been a lot of questions or suggestions who is the best player. My comment on that is, the big question should be who is the best player in the world? Is it Candace Parker or is it Lauren Jackson?
I don't think in the college game, if you watch Candace play and what she brings, and to get to what she does bring, obviously she brings a game of being able to post up, being able to score in transition by running the floor, being able to score off the dribble. I think, you know, her skill set is so strong, and how many 6-5 players have you seen ever in the women's game play the way Candace Parker plays?
She brought a whole different dimension and package. So what she does for us is -- you know, it's so significant because I think she brings so much attention that her teammates benefit from that, but she also is unselfish and wants to be a great teammate, sometimes to a fault. Is there anything else in that question you want to know?
Q. Just how she balances the off court, questions, autographs, all of this, being the face of the game right now?
COACH SUMMITT: We try to protect our players, and certainly with Candace after games, you know, she'll have an autograph night, as every player does at our home contest, but aside from that, just trying to protect her. We have open practices -- sometimes we may have 100 people come watch practice. After practice, I just let 'em know that the players have class, so they're not going to be able to sign.
I've been really sensitive to the demands on Candace, and Shannon has been a very popular player, Alexis is a popular player. So that's something we're mindful of -- not being disrespectful to our fans. We love our fans. I think a lot of times I try to step up and help out in that regard.
Q. Notre Dame said yesterday that your transition is one of the things that shut them down. How are you guys going to address that coming against an aggressive A&M defense?
COACH SUMMITT: I don't think we'll change what we do in our transition. I think identifying the ball is a priority, always, for us. Doing what we can do to slow the ball down -- it's slowing the ball down and always use the concept of our team, it's all about what the ball can see in transition. If we do a great job of matching up and not letting them see someone sprinting to the paint, not allowing the long passes.
It takes a the lot longer to dribble the ball the length of floor than it does to pass it, so we have to be mindful of pressuring the basketball and extending our defense and taking away long passes.
Q. A lots been made of preparing for A&M's defense and trying to simulate that in practice. I think Coach McCallie mentioned it was tough to simulate that. Have you prepared for that style of defense this year, and how do you intend to simulate it going into tomorrow?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think we're a decent defensive team, and the one way we prepared before we caught our plane to come here was with our practice guys, just overplaying us. And as I said, we didn't go full court, just worked in the half-court. I think our schedule has been such that we've gone against a lot of athletic teams. Obviously playing LSU twice was good preparation because they have size and they also get after you, not only in the half-court game but the full court game.
Looking at our schedule overall and the number of athletic teams we have faced -- now, have we faced someone that is as relentless on defense as A&M? Probably not.
But, you know, I think that, again, there's similarities in the two teams. Just taking care of the basketball is going to be very important for us.
Q. Speaking of defense, I wonder if you would talk about the impact Alexis has on your defense, the number of steals she had in the previous round game and then a couple more last night?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, Alexis, I think her game starts with defense, and just her commitment to get in the passing lanes. She's great on the ball. She is even more dangerous off the ball because she does have great awareness, great anticipation, and she is a risk taker. I think she's constantly look and she'll gamble, but for the most part, she's so heady in making those reads and one of the best all-around guards I've coached at Tennessee.
She obviously, you know, just gets out and gambles and gets after it and she's passionate about defense. Last night she didn't shoot the ball well, of course, she is wanting to settle for three-balls, and she needs to get paint points, so she'll do that tomorrow. At the same time you look at her, I think she had nine boards, she was all over the glass, so the thing about Alexis is she's going to do the dirty work, and it's hard to get sometimes great athletes, high-profile players that say, "Hey, Coach, let me guard the best player," or "I'll get to the glass. I'll get to the boards!"
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Coach. Best of luck tomorrow.
End of FastScripts