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March 3, 2011

Amanda Butler

Jordan Jones

Ndidi Madu


THE MODERATOR: We're ready for the news conference with Florida.
Gators now have won four in a row, improving to 18-13. We have Jordan Jones and Ndidi Madu. We'll have an opening statement from Coach Butler.
COACH BUTLER: Just obviously really pleased. We came in with a lot of momentum. I think we played that way in the first half, really seemed like for a while we may just have this game in hand.
Arkansas is a great program. Tom does a great job. A team I definitely think is good enough to be playing in the post-season.
To be able to hold them off, as many offensive weapons they have, to play the type of defense down the stretch to get the win, really proud of our team and the guts we showed, in particular to make the plays to finish it off.
THE MODERATOR: Ndidi, your thoughts on the game today?
NDIDI MADU: I was excited the SEC tournament was here. I just wanted to be aggressive coming into the game. I wanted to take my shots. I just wanted to be aggressive on the rebounds. I wanted to play good defense, do whatever I needed to to help my team.
THE MODERATOR: Jordan, your thoughts on the game and getting a thousand points in your career.
JORDAN JONES: I had no idea until they told me in the locker room. It's special, but it's even more special it happened in a win. We're coming out here trying to earn some respect. Having won four in a row, that's our goal. That's what our goal was today and that's what our goal will be tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: We'll have questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Ndidi, you had a great rebounding game today. Talk about the challenge of rebounding against Tennessee.
NDIDI MADU: We had to box out and then pursue the ball. We can't get into a jumping match with Glory or Brewer or whoever we're going against at the time.

Q. Jordan, you played Tennessee twice this season. What did you learn from those two games? What do you have to do going into tomorrow?
JORDAN JONES: Obviously, they're a great team. It's going to be a tough challenge. I think we're a lot different team than we were even two weeks ago.
I think the game that we gave them at home, the game we gave them at their place is going to be a different game than we give them tomorrow.
We're a much more confident team, we're playing aggressive, we're playing our best basketball right now.

Q. Jordan, talk about your charge that you took late in the game. Coach Butler has been preaching.
JORDAN JONES: I said this before, she challenged me at the beginning of the season to step up and take charges. I wasn't taking them at the beginning.
Ricketts was being aggressive all game. We preach it every day in practice, take charge, take charge. It was a huge play. It was definitely in my mind, somebody had to step up and make a play. It just happened to be me.

Q. Ndidi, obviously a first-round bye, but you did play the opening game. Little bit of a challenge to get started this early. Do you think that will help a little bit tomorrow? Do you like the way you started the game with a lot of energy?
NDIDI MADU: Yeah, I love the way we started. Playing early, it was our advantage because we have another early game tomorrow.

Q. Jordan, your thoughts about playing early today and tomorrow?
JORDAN JONES: Obviously we know what to do tomorrow. We have a routine in place. Gives you less time to get distracted. We can wake up focused on us and get ready to play.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the student-athletes and take questions for Coach Butler.

Q. Coach, how big were getting rebounds late in the game there?
COACH BUTLER: I think aside from maybe Jordan's defensive play with the charge, it gave us a lot of energy. Those were some of the plays of the game. A lot of times people on the outside look at who hit the shot, what happened on offense.
When a team is offensively as capable as Arkansas is, us getting stops, getting rebounds, was really where we were trying to place our emphasis. Really proud of the fact we could hold such an offensively potent team to 59 points.
But they were huge plays, no doubt about it, in particular some of the offensive rebounds. Deana Allen snuck in there and made a huge play, the play where Harris was injured. I thought we were aggressive and we knew we had to close out the game on the defensive end.

Q. It's not easy to have that opening game on Thursday. Did you like the way you started? Would you like to bottle that up and do that again tomorrow?
COACH BUTLER: Absolutely. We'd like a few bottles of it so if we run out in the first bottle, we can throw some more on the second one.
These kids and their routine, game times and stuff, these kids are getting up and going to class at 8:00 or 9:00. Having to go to pregame on 8:00 is nothing other than what they're doing on a normal Thursday or Friday. It's not much of a departure from what their normal schedule is. I don't think it's a big deal, getting up early.
I thought we had a fantastic start. That's important for our team. It's going to be really important for our team tomorrow, to get out of the gates quickly.

Q. Have you ever had a team blow leads in the same game, up 17, come back, push it up to 11?
COACH BUTLER: You mean another team besides this team? We've done it several times this year (laughter). We've had a little trouble with maintaining leads.
I think that was that first 12 minutes or so, it was probably the best basketball we played. I don't know that we relaxed or what happened, but we just kind of went away from what was working. That's one of the things, we just got to be aware of. I think that's an awareness level thing. This is what's working, this is where our momentum is coming, keeping your foot on the pedal in that direction.
It's a little bit of a problem that we've had. But the difference now, as opposed to before, is we're correcting it and we're holding on, making plays down the stretch.

Q. What do you tell your team about Tennessee, having suffered two losses to them already, to get them motivated?
COACH BUTLER: You know, I agree with everything Jordan said. I thought that was very well-put. We're playing better than either of the times we played against them. The second time we played them in Knoxville we held them to their third lowest point total. We made some strides defensively.
Again, I think that's where our success is rooted, is taking a lot of pride in trying to get stops and rebounds.
Now, is that going to be a challenge against the best offensive team in our league? Absolutely. We'll probably have to try a few different things and see what's working, which people are working best.
But a huge challenge. It's real simple in one way. You said, What do you tell your team? We want to be a championship program. There's one way to become a championship program that's real certain in this league, and that's you have to go through Tennessee.
So we're excited about this opportunity. We don't look at it as, Oh, gosh, bad seed, blah, blah, blah, whatever. It's a chance to go out and show how we're playing, how much we believe in the things we're doing right now, a great opportunity.

Q. How hard is it to scout Tennessee when you're never quite sure who is going to be in uniform for the game?
COACH BUTLER: Regardless, you have to have a good grasp on all their personnel. I think our team does. That's the advantage of playing them now for the third time. There won't be a lot of, Who is this, what does she do? We're familiar with them, their individual strengths and skills.
Just like Ndidi coming right off the bat, we have to box out Johnson, we can't jump her. I think we have an idea of what the challenges are going to look like.
As far as their depth, trying to construct a game plan, like I said, there's not going to be one way to beat them. It's going to have to be two or three different ways. I fully expect, more than anything, our team to play the best game we've played all year tomorrow, and that's where I'll hang my hat.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you for your time.
COACH BUTLER: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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