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April 7, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes first. After about 15 minutes we'll let them head to their breakout rooms, and then we'll entertain questions for the coach.
We're joined up here by Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt as well as student-athletes Candace Parker, Alberta Auguste, Nicky Anosike, Shannon Bobbitt and Alexis Hornbuckle.
When you're ready, Coach, an opening statement.
COACH SUMMITT: Obviously, we're excited to be in the position to play in a national championship game. This group has -- they've been there before and we know it's going to be against a great Stanford team. Obviously a team we lost to earlier in the year at Stanford, and I thought that was probably a defining moment for us in terms of making a commitment to our scouting report defense and stepping up and making plays.
And I think it's going to be two great teams going at it. Hopefully we'll be a little better on the offensive end. But I'll let you hear from the players and I'll talk to you afterwards.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Alexis, I'll start with you. As efficient as Stanford has been offensively, Coach just said you need to be better offensively. Do you feel like you need to put some more points to keep up with the way Stanford has been playing offensively?
ALEXIS HORNBUCKLE: I think it's definitely important to be efficient on offense and put up more points. But at the same time it comes down to defense and boards. So we just have to step up our defense in case our shots are not falling in.
Q. Candace, did you ever in the past year have, for better or worse, a Matt Leinart moment where you thought maybe I'll stay at Tennessee, take a couple of grad courses and finish out my final year of eligibility?
CANDACE PARKER: Obviously I've talked about living in the moment and just staying day-to-day. That's what I'm trying to do now. I'm focusing on that. I haven't had time to really think about it.
Q. Candace, can you talk about your relationship with Candice Wiggins. I know you guys have spent a lot of time together with U.S.A. teams. And I had heard that somebody showed you a box score from when she put up the 44 against UTEP, you smiled and shook your head. Have you smiled and shook your head at what Candice has done through this whole tournament?
CANDACE PARKER: Candice is a great player. I remember watching her play when we were in eighth grade and we were watching the championship national game. Nicky Anosike was playing her team in Orlando, Florida, and she was a ball of energy, always moving.
She's progressed and gotten better every year. I think she's a great leader for her team and she really inspires by her play. She inspires her teammates. Obviously we're great friends. We've played on a lot of the same U.S.A. teams and things like that. She's a great person as well.
Q. Shannon, that first meeting with Stanford, I think Wiggins only took 12 shots in that game. I want to ask you about the supporting cast and the other players at Stanford and maybe what the toughest aspects of defending the rest of their players will be tomorrow night.
SHANNON BOBBITT: Yeah, she only took 12 shots and Tennessee players did a great job limiting her touches and making all her shots tough. And she has a great supporting cast and they can all shoot the 3 ball as well. Stanford is a great team. So we all have to compete and guard all of them.
Q. Alexis, JJ Hones wasn't in the rotation when you played them the first time. From what you've seen of them since then, what has she added to the dynamic, particularly with her size and particularly as a defensive player?
ALEXIS HORNBUCKLE: She's stepping up, hitting big shots, whether it's going to the basket, hitting pullups, knocking down the 3 ball. She's adding a new dynamic to their offense. So we have to be ready to defend not only Candice and Jayne Appel but the other three as well. It's going to be 1 through 5 is good, and they're playing together, so we've got to defend 1 through 5.
Q. Alexis, Candice Wiggins singled you out as one of the better defensive players she's gone up against. I wondered what your feelings were going into that matchup against her?
ALEXIS HORNBUCKLE: I know I have a tough defensive assignment. Like Candace said, she's a big ball of energy, never stops moving, she hunts for her shot. They do a great job of getting her open, running off screen. She's going to get handoffs, so I know I have a tough defensive assignment. I can't rest and I can't take a possession off.
Q. Nicky, you're wearing a T-shirt that says "Touching Third Base," I don't think that's a softball shirt. Can you tell us what that means?
NICKY ANOSIKE: We all just kind of made promises to each other we would touch third base, which basically means you don't make it to the finish line unless you do what's necessary beforehand to be successful at the end. So just focusing on the little things. You can't get a home run unless you touch third base, which is what we've been focusing on the whole season.
So our strength and conditioning coach made these shirts up for us and we wear them to bed every night just to remind us that it's the little things that count and we can't get to our ultimate goal without doing those little things. So it's really helped us just reiterate what we want to do.
Q. Candace, what do you remember from Kayla Pedersen from that first game? And, secondly, she says that their plan is to force you to your left tomorrow because your left-handed shots appear to be short. Do you think that's a dangerous tactic for them to attempt?
CANDACE PARKER: (Laughter) obviously I remember the Stanford game in my mind like it was yesterday. We talk about how it ruined our Christmas and ending the year on a loss. Obviously Kayla has really stepped up her play throughout the NCAA tournament. Glad I got some insight on what they're planning on doing. And obviously I'm just going to continue to try to play my game, and obviously if I step out on the court, then all's fair.
Q. Candace, I'm sure you're getting really tired about talking about this, but how is your shoulder feeling now and what have you done between the time the game ended last night as far as rehab and getting rest?
CANDACE PARKER: Jenny Moshak is the best trainer in America. She obviously has me on rehab programs, just do going strengthening exercising, stim, ice, getting circulation back. Obviously the stiffness from yesterday was tough this morning, but it feels great. One more game. Just get through it and worry about it later.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. They've played two beautiful basketball games the last two games, that two good teams made runs at them, they never got rattled. How much better do you think they are from what you've seen in these last two games and what you saw on December 22nd? And the other question would be: They played you man to man pretty much straight up. A lot of teams don't dare do that because of Candace. What do you think is it about them that allows them to do that?
COACH SUMMITT: First of all, I think Stanford is a much better basketball team. They're running their offense with great efficiency and getting great looks. And I think the question about the defensive part of it, I think they have the size to match up with us. And I think that's what allows them to be able to defend us in man to man.
And Jayne Appel has got a great presence inside. But if you just look at our two teams, it's not like we have a distinct advantage from the standpoint of our size.
Q. Pat, I know earlier in the year out of frustration at times you compared this team maybe to the '99 team, not playing 40 minutes. Have you changed your opinion somewhat of this team now that you're at the Final Four?
COACH SUMMITT: This team has changed my opinion of them. And this started after our loss to LSU. When the wheels came off in Knoxville and the next day we went into our conference room and had a board meeting, coaches and players, and just pretty much laid out what they would have to do and expressed to them how mad I was. I was mad at them, real mad, and disappointed in how they -- I thought they quit in that game. And that's the first time I really felt that about this team.
But once the coaches expressed how we felt, we left the room and they had their own meeting. We got to Nashville. We went to play Vanderbilt. I was really concerned about what might happen. And that's when Alex Fuller dropped a note in my lap when she got off the bus. When I read it, she said: Coach, everything is going to be okay. We've had a meeting, we're ready to play. This won't happen again.
I felt better. I knew when it's their idea it works a lot better. And I knew that they were embarrassed and I think from that moment on we've been a different basketball team.
Q. Pat, could you comment a little bit on the contrasting styles between Candace Parker and Wiggins, but also their similarity in being great leaders and getting their teams to this point?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, with Candice Wiggins, I mean, she's got great skill set. Obviously a player that can shoot the 3, that can create off the dribble, makes everybody else on the floor better. She's a big play person. She steps up and provides great energy.
I think she brings a lot of energy to her team. She's very positive, a very positive leader. And she just -- she's one of the best players in the country, there's no doubt about it. And what she brings to her team, I think, gives them a lot of confidence and keeps them motivated.
When you have a player with that kind of energy, it filters throughout your team. We get that from Alexis. But I think Candice is such a skilled offensive player and a player that makes good decisions on the floor, she makes everyone else better.
Candace Parker, obviously very similar in what she brings as far as the points, the contributions, her passing skills. Much like Candice Wiggins, Candace Parker is very unselfish.
Even last night when she came down the floor and hit Nicky Anosike, when I anticipated Candace would take that shot, she saw the opening and made the great pass. But with Candace, I think that Candace Parker is just a great all-around offensive player because she has been in the gym and expanding what she can do with the basketball, meaning going left, going right. Unfortunately, the shoulder's preventing her from going left as much as I wish she could go left, because she is very strong in that regard.
Hook shot, left, right. Pull up, 3 ball. Just the versatility of a six-four player in this game, you don't see that very often.
And I have great respect for what Candace has done in terms of getting in the gym to expand her game.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about your history with Tara. You've known her for a long time. She hasn't been here for 11 years. Did you think the game had passed her by?
COACH SUMMITT: I didn't know it had been 11 years. No, I never think the game will pass Tara by. Tara VanDerveer, she's a great teacher. Great coach. Obviously she's showing more emotion than I've seen her show in post season.
And I think that's been a good thing for her team. Typically she doesn't get up. It's good to see her get out of her chair and encourage her team. When you talk about the great coaches in the game, I mean, she is someone that I have felt was one of the very best at her teaching of the game and just game management. And doesn't surprise me that she's back here. It surprises me that it's been that long.
Q. A lot of the talk has been about Wiggins. I wanted to talk about their front court, Appel and Pedersen. Having two six-four players like that, is there another front court you guys have seen this season that has that kind of size from two players and how would you compare those two with the front courts you've faced this year?
COACH SUMMITT: Obviously Appel and Pedersen, they've got great size, and we typically have faced teams that have one six-four post player. We haven't really had to face two as skilled, as talented as they are. They're aggressive, play well together.
Their high-low game is one of the best in the country. It beat us when we went to Palo Alto and played them. There's no doubt in my mind the high-low game beat us. Because we did not defend it well. They can stretch you out.
Their spacing on offense is obviously very, very good but particularly in the high-low action with those two.
Q. Just to continue that a little bit, can you talk about Pedersen, specifically your impressions of her, and if indeed they do try to force Candace to her left, what are the dangers of spending so much energy trying to force a player to go one particular way?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, first of all, I recruited Kayla. Went out and watched her practice and loved her game. And I thought that she was very, very skilled as a high school player and just had a great stroke, which she obviously has demonstrated and fit in extremely well with the Stanford team.
But what was the second part of --
Q. If they do really try to force Candace to her left, what are the risks of doing that?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I mean, we've been in situations where we've tried to force players left, not because of an injury, but because they didn't have a good left hand. I think Candace can -- I think she can go left. I don't think that's a problem as far as taking the ball off the dribble.
Will she shoot the ball left-handed? Probably not. But with her size and obviously she's going against size, I still think she can make shots going either way.
And I've had situations where I thought we had to do that. You know, even in national championship playoffs, and if that's what it takes, that's what you do. I guess I go back to our first championship, and I thought our scouting defense of forcing them left, we went and played Long Beach State, I think that was key to our victory. So it can be effective.
Q. Do you think that you've ever had a player that's come to Tennessee and really fully understood the expectations there? Because realistically you never find too many coaches who say I found a fault with a team going a 34-2 season, a Final Four season. At what point do they start really understanding what it means to play for your program?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I try to explain it in the recruiting process. And I start by saying: If you're not a great competitor and you're not committed to hard work, and there's a reason they call it hard work, don't come here. Because you'll be miserable and I'll be miserable. And when I ain't happy, ain't nobody in the camp happy.
And, I mean, I've had a lot of one-on-one conversations. And even with the parents. I've had players that I've said: I like your game in terms of how skilled you are. But I don't like the way that you take possessions off, you don't bring the intensity all the time. I like to watch them practice more than watch them in the game because you learn so much more about players when you watch them practice every day. I mean, you see who they really are and what they're willing to bring, to get better.
And I've made some mistakes, obviously, in players. And it was a long four years. And they didn't play a whole lot.
Q. This team's confidence obviously has served it well in the last couple of games. Do you think earlier in the year, when you weren't so happy with them, that overconfidence might have been an issue with this team?
COACH SUMMITT: Oh, definitely. I mean, they thought they were going to win every game. They thought they were real good. I'm not sure they thought they had to work as hard as they worked the previous year. I think that goes with winning a championship. It's tough. That's one reason I want to go back to touching third base. I asked Larry Pratt when we donated or dedicated the Pratt Pavilion, which he obviously committed to significantly.
I asked him if he would speak to my team before we played. And he came in and he talked about touching third base and there being no shortcuts to success. Of course, I spent a lot of time with him telling him how this team was driving me nuts and that they really needed to understand attention to details matter.
And he did a phenomenal job. And I think that had a great impact on them, just knowing there's obviously -- always say there's no shortcuts to success, and we took a lot of them. But I think that was also something that helped us be more attentive, and also realize that we're not as good as we really thought we were.
Q. When did he talk to them?
COACH SUMMITT: The day after the dedication.
Q. If my short memory doesn't let me down here, you were talking a lot about paint points in Oklahoma City. Looking at the stat sheet from last night, you guys only went to the line seven times. Are those two numbers related, and what's the focus? Maybe is there a focus on getting both of those up Tuesday night?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, we win in the paint. We win in the paint over and over and over. I thought Candace settled for too many jumpers early and shied away from the contact. And once she started going inside, and obviously I thought Alexis and Alberta, if you look at what Alberta and Shannon brought to our team last night, without those two, we don't win.
I just go back and thank my staff for bringing those two in. But we win in the paint, we couldn't, for whatever reason, could not get to the line very often. And then we didn't make free throws.
Q. Is it just a little bit of you that's happy that this whole press conference is not Pat and Geno and the whole feud?
COACH SUMMITT: I would say I didn't want any -- I wouldn't want any of that as far as being a distraction. It's not about the coaches. This is all about players. And unfortunately I think some of the media folks out there wanted to make it about Pat and Geno. And it's all about the players.
Q. You talked about Stanford being an even better team now than when you originally played them earlier in the season around Christmas. What is it going to take to beat them now at this point? Can you talk about the play of the game?
COACH SUMMITT: It's going to take a tremendous defensive effort. It's going to take control in the boards better than we have. They're such a great passing team. They run the triangle offense with great efficiency, because they're so skilled and they pass and they read and they make shots.
And they've got people, obviously, that can make plays. Create. So we've got our hands full. We have a great challenge. But I have a lot of confidence in this team. They've been on this stage. They understand what it's going to take and they just have to bring it. It's not a time to do anything other than step up and bring your A game, individually and collectively we have to be on.
Q. Along that line, do you guys have to score more tomorrow night than you have been to win this game?
COACH SUMMITT: Absolutely. We've got to make shots. Alexis Hornbuckle has got to score for us. I challenged both those guards last night. Alberta made shots, made plays. Shannon. I gave Shannon the green light. I was in her ear constantly telling her get in the corner, look for the 3 ball. I thought she and Alberta responded really, really well.
For whatever reason, Alexis just couldn't make shots. I don't know if she put too much pressure on herself. Hopefully we get in the national championship game and we can be a little relaxed, a little more relaxed with certain players.
I thought Vicki Baugh played with a lot of freedom last night. We had Alex Fuller come in, she's been shooting the ball great. Rushed. I would have said that she would be a player that would come in and help settle us down.
So we were overanxious. We were really overanxious offensively. And after watching the tape, I'm even more convinced of that. So we've got to have some composure and be more relaxed offensively.
Q. What do you remember about recruiting Shannon and Nicky?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, with Nicky, obviously I just remember going up and going to school with her and going and just sitting on a bench with Nikki Caldwell and just getting to know her a lot better.
We went over to visit with Nicky and her coaches and her mom came, Ngozi. She's about five-foot-four. That may be stretching it a little bit. Ngozi came in and sat down and she goes, oh, Pat Summitt -- she said, I just want you to know that my daughter's going to play for you. And Nicky was sitting between us and she punched her mother, like, Mom, because she already set up visits to go to Georgia and Duke, and come to Tennessee and her mother was a big reason she came here.
And I asked her mother why. And she just said, I have watched you coach for many years. I think you're a strong role model for women and I want my daughter to be in that setting.
And even when Nicky came on a visit and she called her mother, she said, put Pat on the phone, and she goes: She's coming there, don't worry. (Laughter). So Ngozi, I don't know if you know the story, but when she came from Africa to New York, and they lived in the Projects. She had Nicky and some of the older children help raise the younger son. And she went back to get her degree and she -- her first classroom she walked in was in the sixth grade. And she went on to graduate from high school and go to nursing school. She's a self-made woman and a woman I have tremendous respect for.
And Shannon, I never actually went to New York and visited with her family. They came on an official visit. Her mom and dad were very supportive. Rutgers got involved late. I thought there was a good possibility there that we might lose out in the end. But I think the fact that they had so many guards, and I said: Shannon, look, just look around. It's not a matter of will you play, it's a matter of you've got to come and play a lot of minutes here at Tennessee. And I think in the end I think her parents and her high school coach, they were very instrumental in helping us seal the deal in the end.
Q. Do you remember sitting on a bench with Nicky?
COACH SUMMITT: Yeah, it was out on Staten Island overlooking the water.
Q. I know you have family here, Mom's here, and others who helped teach you basketball. Everyone knows it's competitive. Where does that drive come in you, the drive that makes you swing at a raccoon and try to put your own shoulder back in place?
COACH SUMMITT: I grew up on a dairy farm and cows don't take a day off. You milk twice a day. Fortunately we were in school. I didn't have to milk in the morning. But I went and helped my mother and my dad. My parents are the hardest working people I've ever known in my life.
And I just remember my dad taking me out to a hay field and leaving me there and saying, you need to bale this hay. And I said, Dad, I've never done that. Or actually rake it. I said, I've never done that. He said, well, you're going to do it today.
So I got on the tractor. He drove off. And I got it done. And he came back in about four hours. And I said, how does it look? He said, it's fine. Got in the truck, took off. And we raised tobacco. I was in the tobacco fields early and stayed there late. Typically if I was going to plow tobacco, I would take a sack lunch with me. And I did that for hours upon hours.
And as far as the basketball part of it, at night, after we finished all of our chores, we went and played in a hay loft. We had lights. And we had the neighborhood kids come over and we had some knock-down, drag-out, one-on-one, two-on-two. My brother Tommy, who played at Austin Peay, I'm still mad at him because he didn't go to Tennessee, because he was recruited to play at the University of Tennessee. He chose a different route.
But he was just tough and they didn't take it easy on me. They just would run over me. But that was okay. So that's just a little bit of background on how I grew up and I just -- I admire my parents so much. My mother, she's here. She's 84 years old. She's had seven ankle operations. She's had all kinds of -- she had to have her knee fixed, her shoulders. She just keeps going. She's my inspiration.
Q. In your time, in all the NCAA tournaments, can you remember anybody having a tournament like Candice Wiggins has had carrying her team, scoring over 40 points twice, putting up the 25 last night? Anyone you can remember coming close to that?
COACH SUMMITT: Sheryl Swoopes. Texas Tech. I don't know how many points she put up. I know in that championship game she dominated when they played Ohio State, I believe it was, in Atlanta.
That would be the only person that comes to my mind right off. And I don't know her stat line. But what Candice did in the regionals and what she did here, it's just so impressive. And obviously just the confidence that she's playing with and the efficiency.
Q. I'm not trying to be antagonistic and I hope you don't take it this way, but is it fair to blame the media for the feud angle when you and Geno have been going tit-for-tat back at that end. When the series got cancelled, you've been around long enough to know that this was going to be a story, and when there's been no definitive definition before, can you really say it's unfair that this story is still around?
COACH SUMMITT: No, I think it's fair to say that because of all the unknown, that people are still digging and interested and writing about it. I can respect that from the media. It doesn't mean that I'm going to reveal anything. But that's just -- when I make my mind up, I'm as stubborn as my father was.
Q. You say your mom's your inspiration. How does it feel to have her here at the games? And then also how important is the role of the fans at these games? How do those two things tie together? One, your mom, how do you feel about that, and how important are the fans?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, it's great to have my mom with me. She's spent a lot of time with me in the last couple of years after the death of my dad. Everyone else lives at home. She's got 18 grandkids and great grandkids combined. So I brought my whole family here. My brothers, their wives, kids, everybody. I said, I hope I get a good bonus. But my family is just -- they're just so important.
And our fans are amazing. It's like senior night, I'm standing out there with those seniors and there's probably 22,000 people in the gym, and, I mean, we had the best attendance we've ever had this year.
And just seeing all the orange when I walked out last night, it was amazing. I had no idea that we'd have as many people here. I know we had about six charter flights come in on private planes, which was great. Bruce Pearl was here. I didn't get to see him. But I just appreciate the relationship I have with Bruce and obviously Dr. Petersen and his wife Carol. And our administration is there to support us in a huge way. But our fans, a lot of these fans come are from all over the country.
Nashville I had a lady walk up and say that she was from Montana. And I'm like: What are you doing here? And she said: I've just been a Tennessee fan forever. So I just appreciate all of our fans.
Q. I wanted to get you to talk a little bit about your starting five, because it seems like the more you talk about the way they come through for you, it seems like -- that last play in the game last night, it's like they do exactly what you need them to do in those crucial situations. Kind of like an autopilot situation for you almost.
COACH SUMMITT: Well, just like what we did last night, we flattened out, and we've practiced this, late-game situations. Probably not as much as I should. Because we haven't had the close games in the regular season at times that you're going to have when you get into post season play.
But I think that the composure comes from the experience and the confidence that they have. They're a team that -- I don't think people like appreciate how they play defense. And you really -- it's hard to explain it until you go against it. And like our practice guys have made us so much better. They go against our practice guys, it's brutal. It's like we got in post season, I tell the practice guys, don't foul anyone, don't touch anyone.
They were I'm sure they felt like little sissies out there standing around. Because of how our team, they know one way to play on the defensive end when they're in their man to man, and that's just to go after it. And coming down the stretch last night, the composure they had I think is because they've been there. They've been there. They were there a year ago. And I think the fact that they've been to Final Fours and they have a lot of confidence in each other, I think that really helps us.
Q. How do they rate against past teams?
COACH SUMMITT: The Holdsclaw, Catchings, Jolly, Randall group, that group was a great starting five.
I think if you compare, the Holdsclaw group was -- that they were a better offensive team. Not necessarily a better defensive team. But they were a better offensive team from all spots.
Q. To follow up on the comment about Coach Auriemma, did you anticipate if the game had come to play that you were going to have to answer the questions about the series, what was your tact going to be? And, secondly, can you give us an indication of what it's going to take to mend the fences from your point of view, if in fact there's a rift that needs to be mended?
COACH SUMMITT: I hadn't really thought about the questions that I might get asked, because I wasn't going to really talk about anything, other than players. I have tremendous respect for Geno's coaching skills and abilities and I think he made us better. They beat us enough that it made us better.
And the fact that we're not both here today, it's not going to change what I want to say or talk or what it takes to mend it. I haven't even gone there. My mind right now is on trying to figure out how we can win one more game against a great basketball team. And that's pretty much it.
Q. A moment ago you talked about the composure your team has shown. Can you talk about Stanford's composure, especially since, aside from Wiggins, they're a pretty young roster and what they've done in this tournament to this point?
COACH SUMMITT: Great composure. Well-oiled machine. They are clicking on all cylinders. They have great composure. They answer runs. They make plays. I'm just totally impressed with their team and how they all fit together and play together.
Q. Candace Parker has been through a lot. Are you worried about how much she has left?
COACH SUMMITT: Her tank was just about empty last night emotionally. I think it's more the emotional part of it than anything. I'm hopeful that she can get some rest. That's a key thing. I think she's spent a lot of time with Jenny in rehabbing, but I think her shoulder responded and hopefully that time won't be as extensive now that she is in a better place.
But she needs rest. She needs rest. I mean, Candace Parker was not Candace Parker last night, in terms of offensively. And I think she'll be much better on Tuesday night.
Q. I'm going to ask you the same question I asked Candace. To what extent was there any conversation in terms of maybe allowing her to stay another year or did she just come in and say: Coach, I've made up my mind, I'm going even though I've got eligibility left?
COACH SUMMITT: Candace, I didn't know what she was going to do. There's always rumors flying all around, until she said she was going to go through senior night, and she did ask me, why haven't you asked me to stay? And I said, well, Candace, I would love for you to stay, but it's strictly your decision. She's a very bright student. If she stayed she'd be in grad school.
But I think Candace has mapped out everything from wanting to win a national championship to then playing in the Olympics and the WNBA. She kind of mapped out her path or the path she wanted to take for the next couple of years at least.
Q. I'm going to ask you to look back a little bit and forward a little bit, if you don't mind. You talked about Tara changing as a coach. Can you think about the coach you were in your formative years and how you might have changed? And then looking forward a little bit, have you thought about how much more time you want to give to this crazy sport, how many more titles you want to win?
COACH SUMMITT: I've changed so much, I don't even know myself at times. I think when I started out coaching I think I was so tough on players and so demanding and I think I've come to realize that they really don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
And it wasn't that I didn't care about them, I just don't think -- probably this is how I grew up -- that I had the skills of sitting down and communicating and knowing when to raise my voice and when to be soft, and I think I treated every player about the same.
And that was just my inexperience. I took the job when I was 22 years old. I had four players 21. I thought I was going to be a graduate assistant. Well, I made a stipend of $250 a month. And not having ever coached a day in my life, I was just trying to get through it. I was reading books. I was calling people. Coach Moore, who is my Olympic coach, my mentor, helped me tremendously. My brother, Tommy, who also coached high school basketball. I went home. I met with him about what are we going to do here, what am I going to run on offense, what am I going to run on defense.
I remember I coached my first game. I call home and my mother, my sweet mother, answers the phone. She didn't even ask me if we won. And all she wanted to do: How are you doing? Are you enjoying it? How's your team? I was like, oh, just put Dad on the phone, let's get this over with.
So my father, who never has said hello in his life, he goes: All right. And I was waiting for it. And he goes: Did you win? I said, no, sir, we got beat. And he goes: By how much? And I go: One point. Long pause. I knew he was going to blame me. Long, long pause. And he goes: Well, let me just tell you one thing, Trisha. Don't take donkeys to the Kentucky Derby.
And I knew what he was telling me. You gotta get players. I thought I had a pretty good team. But that stuck with me.
And it's all about recruiting great players and having the talent. And I think I learned so much in those first years about myself and I've changed because I want these student-athletes to know they are family to me and they're daughters to me and they will to be for the rest of their lives.
How long am I going to do this? I don't know. When I walk on the court for practice, I love practice. I mean, I love practice. I can't wait to go to practice. It's like the highlight of my day.
When I go to practice and I step on the court and I don't have that in my heart, I'm not going to cheat the players. I'll walk away. I don't think I'll do it in the middle of the season.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
End of FastScripts