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April 6, 2008

Shannon Bobbitt

Alexis Hornbuckle

Candace Parker

Pat Summitt


THE MODERATOR: We'll do some opening statements, and questions for the student-athletes. We're joined up here by Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt, as well as student-athletes Candace Parker, Shannon Bobbitt and Alexis Hornbuckle.
Coach, when you're ready, an opening statement.
COACH SUMMITT: Obviously I'm very proud of our basketball team, because we fought through a lot of adversity tonight. Did not shoot the ball particularly well, and that really at times I thought could have affected our defense.
But I thought our defense, for the most part, had some great stops and stands, and that's what you have to have when you're shooting the ball poorly. And obviously we couldn't figure out how to get to the free throw line. When I look at those two things, just thinking that it was difficult for us. I mean, we were 2 for 7 from the line. Obviously they got to the line a lot more than we did.
But I'm just proud of our team for fighting through some adversity, when things wouldn't go our way, for whatever reason. I thought our defense did step up and also I thought we had different players step up and help us out tonight, and that was huge for us.
A little bit more balance, at least in terms of trying to get people involved. Obviously, Alberta did a great job for us in that regard. I just thought we hung tough. Shannon had some big plays for us, and obviously Candace was a target and had a target on her back all night. But she stood tough as well.
So a good win for us, just proud of this team. We're back where we wanted to be and it's because they fought through adversity and never quit.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Alexis, could you kind of go over that last shot and did you realize you hadn't made a shot all night before the last few seconds?
ALEXIS HORNBUCKLE: I mean, of course I realized I didn't make a shot all night. It was frustrating, but at the same time I knew I couldn't give up on myself and my team. It's bigger than yourself when you come to the Final Four. I just wanted to stay positive and I crashed the boards and I looked up and I said, I don't want to pull this down; with my luck, I might as well try to tip it in. And luckily it went in.

Q. Can you describe what your limitations were? Seemed like you weren't running the court with the same ferocity but you went to the boards after an initial hesitation. Can you talk about that?
CANDACE PARKER: First, I want to say how proud I am of my team. They really stepped up and gutted it out and were great teammates. And, secondly, I feel like early on I was a little hesitant. I feel like in the game I was a little hesitant to go to my counter and be able to go to my left hand. But Coach got in my ear about rebounding midway through the first half, and I just went in there and just wanted to give it everything I had.

Q. Could you guys just talk about the defensive effort tonight on your side of -- both sides, for that matter?
CANDACE PARKER: Obviously LSU is a very defensive team, as are we. And we just knew that we couldn't let them get easy looks. Coach talked about the high-low. And we really looked at the North Carolina game that they played in and we realized that they did a good job of working the high-low. So we knew we had to take that away.
And obviously get out on Quianna Chaney, she's a great 3-point shooter. Those are the two things we looked at. I think we did a really good job of -- we held them to 18 points in the first half.

Q. Candace, could you talk about the last play, what was going through your mind? Were you told to pass, because you've had a tough shooting night or what was your strategy on that last play?
CANDACE PARKER: No, I really want to say I'm happy my team still had confidence in me after this game, shooting as poorly as I did, to put the ball in my hands at the end of the game. That's what I wanted. I knew I wanted to just come down and create, whether it was a shot or a pass, whatever it was. I just wanted to come down. We've worked on that in practice a number of times and been in those situations. So I was just going to take what the defense gave me.

Q. Candace, can you talk about your shoulder, how it might have affected you throughout the game? I saw you wince a couple of times. And if you changed anything from the last round until tonight's game, knowing that it might be a different game for you?
CANDACE PARKER: I made the decision to step out on the court. I'm not going to make any excuses about my shoulder or anything like that. It's fine. I'm going to continue with the same rehab process. And just go from there. I'm really excited that we're in Tuesday's game.

Q. Shannon, don't look shocked that someone's asking you a question. I saw that. Several times during the night Pat would pull you aside and talk to you by yourself. What would she say to you and how would you assess how you ran your team tonight?
SHANNON BOBBITT: At times when we were in the clutch times, she would tell me keep my composure and be the great point guard that I am and make sure I get my teammates involved and stay positive throughout the whole game.
COACH SUMMITT: And hunt shots (laughter).

Q. Candace, can you talk about Sylvia Fowles today and the effort she gave? Obviously she doesn't want to go out with a loss.
CANDACE PARKER: She's a great player. She's really improved every year and I think that's what makes her special. Obviously having led her team to the Final Four four times that she's been on here. And I really just think that she's going to do great things at the next level and obviously, you know, we were competitors when we step on the court. But off the court she's a great person and I'm really excited about what she's done in her career.
Questions for Coach.

Q. Pat, did you get the sense that running the floor hard was bothering Candace's arm, because the last couple of games she's been flying down to the low post and she wasn't doing that?
COACH SUMMITT: I really thought tonight just watching Candace, I thought Candace's emotionally struggling. Just what she's been through and also I don't think Candace has had a lot of sleep. She's spent a tremendous amount of hours in her rehab.
First thing I ask her pregame today is did you sleep. She said -- I guess she had taken about a two-hour nap. But I think just what she went through emotionally, can I play? Is my shoulder going to come out again? And I think she was a little emotionally spent.
But I just kept trying to be positive with her. And encourage her. But I think there were times early on she took some possessions off on the defensive end because of fatigue. And she needs a lot of rest between now and Tuesday night.

Q. Seemed though in spite of all that her ferocity as a competitor still came out?
COACH SUMMITT: It did. I mean, I was probably a little demanding on her in the first half. I knew at halftime I needed to switch my approach and just really be positive with her, because I realized that she was a little emotionally whipped, and that she was a little frustrated, too.
We weren't getting any opportunities to go to the free throw line, and she was taking it hard to the basket. And obviously Sylvia, she's a tough defender, and so I think Candace got a little frustrated.
In the second half I realized for the whole team that my role was one of a cheerleader. And I compliment my assistants, they gave me a lot of good suggestions, what to run offensively and defensively. And for the most part I was really just trying to be very engaged with the emotional level of our team and keep things positive.

Q. Pat, still with everything that was going on with Candace, you still put it in her hands for the last play. What was your strategy? What did you tell your team right before then? What did you want her to do?
COACH SUMMITT: I mean, the first thing that Nikki Caldwell says is we gotta get the ball to Candace. I didn't disagree with her. I think when you have the best player in the game, the best player needs to have the ball in her hands when the game's on the line.
And I trusted Candace to make the play for us, and I thought it might also draw attention and we might be able to get someone else an open look if they decided to double. But as things turned out, obviously you gotta give Alexis a lot of credit. She's come up with some big plays for us in late seconds.
But I still -- I'd do it over and over and over. You give your best player, your best offensive player the ball.

Q. Pat, could you just kind of go over from your viewpoint, watching that last few seconds on that last possession, what you saw and did you think it was over with when Anosike missed the first shot?
COACH SUMMITT: I was fearful it was over with just because of the clock. And then Alexis comes up and makes a tremendous play. If you look at Alexis, and I've said this, she's one of the most athletic guards I've ever coached. She struggled tonight. I just really felt like it would be hard for us to win if Alexis didn't play well offensively.
But at that time when she went up, I went straight to the clock, and I realized then that we had time to get the shot off when I saw her go up. I looked up at the time and the next thing I know it's going in.

Q. Pat, you mentioned that Candace was tired there in the second half. You took her out for a while, maybe a couple minutes or so there. Decent stretch. What's the risk and reward to keeping her out or putting her back in?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I mean, it's really kind of a guessing game. But I think just knowing Candace as well as I do, I thought, you know, Candace just needs a little breather, because she was fatigued.
But I really -- I firmly believe it was more emotional than anything. She wanted to help her team. She was willing to lay things on the line. But I just -- as I said, she's been through a lot emotionally in the last couple of days. And I just -- I felt like if I could get her just a little bit of rest, it might give her two or three quality possessions after she went back in the game. And she did some good things.

Q. Pat, could you just give your impressions of Stanford?
COACH SUMMITT: Obviously, we lost to Stanford earlier in the year. And they're a great basketball team. They're a team that plays very well together. I just -- I didn't get to watch all the game tonight. But what I saw, I just think that they have a lot of offensive weapons. They have more offensive weapons than we've shown we have. We're going to have to have a little more balance.
And having played them at Stanford -- and I know they're a much better team now -- but I think I'm glad that we've played them, because we at least know their personnel. We know some of just some of their tendencies.
But they're a great basketball team. And Candice Wiggins is playing terrific for them and providing the kind of leadership by example and vocally that you need if you're going to be a championship team. We've got our work cut out for us.

Q. Coach, knowing your history with Connecticut and the big rivalry you've had for years with them, is there any love loss that you won't be able to play them in the final game?
COACH SUMMITT: I haven't even thought about it. All I did was watched to see who was going to win that game. And my mind was on LSU the whole way. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Tara VanDerveer and what she's done. And right now I think her basketball team, they definitely showed they could play at this level and be a championship level team. So we just gotta get ready.

Q. Anything you're going to specifically try to overcome and work on before Tuesday?
COACH SUMMITT: We will. I'll go back and meet with our staff. And they've done a lot of scouting. At this time of the year, I'm more into letting them do the scouting and trying to get our team prepared in what sets we want to run and they tell me what action we have to defend.
But I will definitely, in the next 24 hours, learn a lot more about the action that Stanford runs. But bottom line, they just -- they're a skilled basketball team that shares the ball very well. They're tough on the defensive end and on the boards.
So it's going to be a big challenge for us, but I'm just excited that we put ourselves in the position to be in the national championship game.

Q. What did you tell Van after the game after a game like that and how do you think LSU played late?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I told Van that obviously they played a great game and it's a tough way to lose a game like that. And he had done a great job. I just wanted to compliment him and get a chance to say something to Sylvia and what a great game she had and what a great player she is.
And I had some tough losses. I don't remember having one quite like the way the game ended tonight. I'm sure I did, as long as I've been in the game. But I knew when it came down to the wire that whatever happened, it was going to be tough.
And I'm just thankful that Alexis came up and made a big play and we hung in there and found a way to win. I'm not sure how, by looking at this stat sheet. It's confusing.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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