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March 3, 2012

Markeshia Grant

Dawn Staley

La'Keisha Sutton


Tennessee – 74
South Carolina – 58

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, Markeshia Grant and La'Keisha Sutton.
We'll take questions.

Q.  What did you tell them in the locker room after the game?
COACH STALEY:  I told our seniors and our captains left a legacy here this particular year in the SEC tournament.  What they've done to get us this far, you know, our program at South Carolina.  I told them how important it was to be one of four that gets a bye because today will be our championship game.  It's really hard to play all these games just mentally and physically.
But they left our program in good hands.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions.  For the players, talk about what happened today with Tennessee versus what happened a month ago?
MARKESHIA GRANT:  I think a month ago, I mean, we just had a type of mojo about us going into Knoxville.  I think we were just hitting shots, winning the hustle plays, out‑playing them.
Today I think we did the same.  But I think we just came up short.  We did work hard.  I think we did play hard.  It was you just not our night.
La'KEISHA SUTTON:  I would say a month ago we had two or three days to prepare and rest for Tennessee, whereas today we came in from a game yesterday against Georgia, just tried to put 40 minutes together.
I think we did play hard.  We just wasn't fresh.

Q.  Dawn, what do you take away from the experience this week that you'll take with you when you start the NCAAs?
COACH STALEY:  We're in (laughter)?
Just I think playing in front of a crowd like this is very much like the NCAA tournament.  May be very similar in that you could be put in a region where you're playing on somebody's home floor.  Tennessee and their fans gave us an opportunity to play in a situation like that.
But just knowing that we can play with anybody in the country because of the type of parity that's in this particular conference.
MARKESHIA GRANT:  I think just like preparation for the type of crowds we're going to face in the future, just handling the noise, just staying together 'cause if we go into an arena with loud crowds like this, then we'll have to stay together and communicate with each other.

Q.  You have some experienced players on your team.  Tennessee has so many seniors, graduate players.  Do you see that helping them?  Is that a big asset for them?
COACH STALEY:  Oh, absolutely.  They're so used to being in this situation year in and year out.  I think we got out‑experienced today, along with I think we got out‑talented.  Their talent was better than our talent today.  You certainly have to take your hat off to them.
I hope they get Coach Summitt another SEC championship.

Q.  La'Keisha, tough shooting game for the team.  Was there anything in particular that shooting wasn't as crisp?
La'KEISHA SUTTON:  Maybe the fact that we're not familiar with this arena.  But, I don't know, we took shots with our offense, they just wasn't falling.

Q.  Dawn, just a historical standpoint, you and Nikki Caldwell, the battles you've had as players, what does that say when people look at what you've been able to do so young in your coaching careers?
COACH STALEY:  I think it goes to show we've been taught well.  We come from very respected college programs, coached by some coaches that have coached this game for 30 plus years.  So they have passed down, you know, a lot of knowledge and approach to the game.
We're only just kind of paving the way for younger players like you see sitting here to do the same.  I'm very proud of Nikki for getting to the finals in her first year.  She coached with Coach Ryan, Coach Summitt.  So all of those coaches have given us knowledge, tough love, all of those things that help us in these situations put our teams in a situation where we're competitive and possibly win at a high level.

Q.  Coach, with a lot of younger players on your roster, what do you think they're going to be taking away from this as you move forward with this program?
COACH STALEY:  I hope our young players found out what it takes to play at this level year in and year out.  I know they really can't understand it from an experience standpoint.  But we did try to put a team of five out there that would play in this situation next year just to give them a little experience at it, to play against a team like Tennessee, playing against Glory Johnson.  Glory gets two feet in the paint every single time.  We want to draw some experiences that will help her in the near future.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, ladies.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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