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March 4, 2011
Tennessee Â– 92
Florida - 75
THE MODERATOR: We're here with the University of Tennessee. We'll start off with an opening thought about today's game from COACH BUTLER.
COACH SUMMITT: Obviously, you'll take a win anytime. Thank goodness that we had Shekinna and Glory come to play. We were having a little bit of trouble off the bench, trying to find people that could knock-down shots and defend.
But overall, you know, when you get a win, you're in the situation we were in, it's survive and advance and move on, and that's what we're going to do.
THE MODERATOR: Shekinna, your thoughts on the game today?
SHEKINNA STRICKLEN: You know, I think our defense wasn't really there the whole 40 minutes. We played good defense at spurts. Coming in as the No. 1 seed in our conference, we have to play 40 minutes, great defense the whole game. We just got to pick it up on our defense and rebounding.
That's what coach says, you win games by defense and rebounds. That's what we've got to bring.
THE MODERATOR: Glory, your thoughts on today's victory?
GLORY JOHNSON: We started out strong. Let up a little bit in the game. Whenever they made runs, it hit us hard. We need to work on playing a 40-minute game. We tried. We need to put it into effect. What we do in practice, we need to bring it over into the game. We'll be a lot more successful and make our coaches happy when we do that.
COACH SUMMITT: If I ain't happy, ain't nobody happy (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Glory, you played with a smaller lineup for a lot of the game. You had a great game. How do you like playing in that smaller lineup with you at center? Talk about the effectiveness of the press in the first half against Florida.
GLORY JOHNSON: I think just being one of the bigger post players in the game at the time, I think the guards rely a lot. Whenever they kick it inside, they want us to be effective as post players. Inside out. It's go to work.
I think being one of the post players, Leesey started off strong. Whenever she was strong, I tried to hit her. Whoever is strong, we got to hit them when they're hot.
Our press shook them a little bit. Closing our traps and everything like that, I think that was really effective. They kind of caught on through the rest of the game throwing long passes. I still think it shook them up a little bit.
Q. Glory, your size advantage inside, I think you in the paint were 50 to 30 points. Talk about how tough it was in there and how you used your height advantage?
GLORY JOHNSON: It was extremely tough. Florida is a physical team. They were giving me a hard time. I don't know if it looked like it or not, but they were giving me an extremely hard time. Just going up strong, trying to go up strong no matter what. Drew fouls with their hands up. Got to be strong with the ball, have ball security, play as hard as I can. That's something that I try to do.
Q. Glory, this is a start of what you hope is going to be a very long post-season run through two tournaments. Is the realization of Game 1 in the post-season make you up your game?
GLORY JOHNSON: I think it's just a start. You got to take it one game at a time, focusing on your opponent at the time, the time being. After that, when you're done with that game, move on to that one and focus on your next opponent.
It's not about who we play, but Tennessee playing their game, us playing the Tennessee way, everyone being on the same page throughout the whole game, and we're bound to be successful.
SHEKINNA STRICKLEN: You know, I give a lot of credit, Florida came out, they played us real tough. They played a great game. This first game just kind of woke us up that we have to come ready to play no matter who we play. We got to play Tennessee ball, that's playing every possession, just rebounding, playing great defense, mainly playing a whole 40-minute game.
Q. Glory, there was a moment when you were on the bench and the cameras caught you after you scored your career high. Why so bashful about playing such a great game today?
GLORY JOHNSON: I don't know. I can't take all the credit. Being a post player, you have to get your touches from the guards. Just having the camera on me, I wanted to get Kelly in the camera, too. I kind of hid behind her. We joked about that a lot.
I'm not trying to take all the credit. I have off games. There's times where I'm not hitting shots and not pulling rebounds. That's why I rely on my teammates. Today they relied on me and Shekinna. I think we just kind of stepped up.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies, you're excused. We'll continue with Coach Summitt.
Q. Pat, you made a couple of substitutions early that seemed to help right away offensively. You took out Spani, put in Bjorklund. Kamiko Williams seemed to have a good game at the point offensively in place of Simmons. Could you talk about the thinking behind those moves.
COACH SUMMITT: I thought Kamino came in, did a really great job for us. She at times gives into fatigue. Taber wasn't on her A game. That's why I wanted to make a substitution there.
Meighan is a great athlete, but she's learning to become a more skill player and distribute the ball. I think she's going to be a great player for us. But just seeing and having a feel for it, making those adjustments, it's something as a coaching staff we talk about throughout the game.
Q. Coach, Florida I don't believe had eclipsed 40 points in either of their regular-season meetings with you. Can you talk about what they did differently in terms of an aggressive approach on offense?
COACH SUMMITT: They shot the ball (laughter). You can tell, they spent a lot of time on their offensive game. The ball didn't stuck in players' hands. I thought they were really aggressive. They're tough. I mean, it's obviously the best that they played us, in my opinion. They played us with just a real attitude, aggressiveness and, like I said, toughness. They're really tough.
Q. (Question regarding the second half.)
COACH SUMMITT: If you would have been in the locker room halftime, you probably would have heard us.
Yes, obviously we had to really just dial 'em up. I wanted to make sure that everybody that went in went in with passion to play great defense, to rebound, and to take care of the basketball.
Q. The fact that they played so well, you maybe not your A game, you still get a win, do you take satisfaction off that being in the post-season?
COACH SUMMITT: Not really right now. Might later on. I think we just have to hold this team constantly to the level that we expect. We do it in practice, we do it in games. When we don't reach that, we'll obviously go back and talk about it.
I think because we play a lot of people, sometimes I think that might affect us. So we may have to shorten the number of players that we play. I hope not because it can be very effective.
So, you know, it's kind of a feel as we go through it.
Q. Pat, talk a little bit about Amanda Butler. Did you know her at all as a high school player? Did you recruit her?
COACH SUMMITT: No. Let me tell you, she's tough. Amanda kind of reminds me a lot of myself. She's not going to take a player taking a possession off, she holding them accountable. She's got a toughness. I think her team responds very well to her, and they play really, really hard on both ends.
I think their defense has been one of the best in our league. The way they shot the ball, you know they've been in the gym. But I have a lot of respect for her game and her team and how she goes about her business.
Q. Did you know her at all?
COACH SUMMITT: I knew of her, yeah.
Q. You went undefeated in the regular season. To win the tournament, you have to continue. Is there some weight that comes with that, carrying that undefeated streak through in the conference?
COACH SUMMITT: You know, I didn't feel it going through the conference. It was just all about the next game, the next possession, what we needed to do, finding the people that would bring their A game, have a sense of urgency.
I think the whole team has really become very, very close, predominantly with this junior class. When they were freshmen, we lost to Ball State, I was about ready to slit my wrists. We went back and practiced the next day, so that cured my ailment there for at least a little bit.
But I think that was probably one of the best things that happened to a young team.
As sophomores they were a lot better. Now as juniors, they're at a whole different place. That's why I think Shekinna has really stepped up. I've challenged her to be an All-American, and she's been that. I remember when I went to visit her in Arkansas. All she wanted to do was go fishing. So I went fishing with her. I thought, What am I doing (laughter)? I went down and watched her fish. I met all the family. I thought, These are the most laid-back people.
When she stepped on the court as a sophomore, she was very different. As a junior, she's been terrific. I don't even have to say anything other than look at her and we kind of connect.
Q. Big game from Glory Johnson. As the week goes on in practice and pregame warmups, is that something you can sense?
COACH SUMMITT: The thing about Glory is that you know she's going to play hard. I think she's really committed to getting paint points. She's using the glass so much better, using both hands a lot better. I have to give Dean Lockwood a lot of credit. When we finish up and they go over to Pratt, they get in a lot of shots.
Her face-up game is better, but I like her in the paint because of her skills there.
Q. I know even Glory mentioned it's been a problem, not playing the full 40 minutes. Now that you're in post-season, what's happened in the past, how big of a frustration and concern is that for you now?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, it's a concern, but not the entire team. I think Glory is doing what she needs to do. I think Stricklen is doing exactly what she needs to do. Our guard play was not that good until Kamino went in. We need Meighan at a different place and we really need our perimeter game to really take care of the basketball. We had some careless mistakes. So we can get better.
We'll watch this game and get ready for the next game. But we can get a lot better.
Q. With all the uncertainty in the past, is that smaller lineup becoming a more viable option? Also the effectiveness of the press today with that lineup.
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think the lineup was pretty good for us. I think we're going to have to mix things up, just like we mixed up our man-to-man and our zone. But that's not something uncommon. It's kind of a wait and see.
Let's say we want to go straight man, you know, just player to player, if that's not working we're going to change. I used to be so stubborn, I wouldn't change. But I have three other coaches on my back, so I have to change.
But I think our man-to-man has been very good. But also our zone, when we go with a bigger lineup, we're long and rangy. I think it's hard for people to get inside in that situation.
Q. On a 1 to 10 scale, how would you rate the Pat Summitt peel the paint halftime talk?
COACH SUMMITT: When you're happy, and our governor was there, I told him to come up and talk (laughter).
But, no, I was just disappointed. Look at all the orange. Look at our fans. We have the greatest fans in the women's game. Don't just mess around. Let's take care of business and go out and get refocused.
That's what we did. But I was not happy.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.
COACH SUMMITT: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports