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March 4, 2012
Tennessee Â– 70
LSU Â– 58
THE MODERATOR:Â We're joined by Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson.
Coach, if you could start us off.
COACH WARLICK:Â It's just an awesome feeling.Â I'm so happy for these young ladies and our entire team.Â About two, three weeks ago we went back to work.Â We went to work and worked pretty hard.Â These young ladies bought into what we needed to do.
It was a great win for us today.Â My hat's off to Nikki and her team.Â They didn't go away, they just wouldn't go away.Â You know, as excited as I am for us, I felt bad for Nikki because of our friendship.Â But she's done a heck of a job.
Elated and proud.Â These guys, they're awesome.Â They deserve all the credit.
THE MODERATOR:Â Questions.
Q.Â Glory and Shekinna, this is a routine for you guys, winning a third straight SEC tournament championship.Â Does this one mean a little more because of what you've gone through this year?
GLORY JOHNSON:Â Yeah, a lot of people don't expect a lot out of us just because of how many losses we have and who we lost to.Â We want to show people we haven't stopped working, work on the little things, trying to make a statement really.
SHEKINNA STRICKLEN:Â Like what she said.Â We had our ups and downs and struggles.Â But this tournament proved a point, that this team is still together and we're going to keep working hard.Â We're not giving up.
We know a lot of people is down on us, not thinking we're going to make it far.Â I think we're just going to go back to work and then go back to work.
Q.Â Coach and Shekinna, could either of you explain the difference in halves for Shekinna?
COACH WARLICK:Â Nikki coaches the first half, I coach the second (laughter).
I would love for her to show up for 40 minutes.Â I don't know.Â You answer that.Â I can't answer that.
SHEKINNA STRICKLEN:Â I think I'm just thinking too much starting the first half.Â I think I always start the game tense.Â I overthink because I want to come out strong.Â I think I'm overthinking, overdoing it.Â It takes me a while to relax.Â Once I relax, I get it going in the second half.
Q.Â Glory, y'all kind of held onto the boards, didn't convert as many second chances as you might have wanted.
GLORY JOHNSON:Â Coach always emphasizes crashing the boards on the offensive and defensive end.Â LSU does a great job of crashing the boards and their defense is amazing.Â We just tried to keep up with them, making sure if they're going to play good defense, we're going play good defense.Â If they're going to crash the boards, we're going to crash.
That was our mentality and we held that throughout the game.Â It was huge for us.
Q.Â For the players, can you describe how cool it was, just the atmosphere, watching Coach Summitt cut down the net, everyone in the crowd yelling?
GLORY JOHNSON:Â It's great.Â It's one thing doing it for ourselves, our families, our fans, for God.Â But Pat has been through so much.Â We want to let her know we're willing to work for her, go to bat for her.
To see her cut that down is amazing.Â That's what we've been working for.Â She deserves it.
SHEKINNA STRICKLEN:Â I totally agree with her.Â I mean, we was so excited when I saw her get up there and cut the net.
Did she cut it last year?Â I don't think she did last year.
We just all looked at each other and started screaming thinking, Wow, she's about to cut it!Â Nobody deserves it better than our coach.Â We just gonna keep working hard every day for her.
Q.Â In the three tournament games, do you think this was the best stretch of games in terms of both defense and toughness that your team demonstrated?
COACH WARLICK:Â I think the key word for us is 'toughness'.Â We've lacked that throughout the year.Â To play three hard games, and we battled.Â When we needed stops, when we needed rebounds, we got 'em.
It was a great team effort.Â I know these two had great tournament play.Â But I was proud of Vicki Baugh, how she played.Â I was proud of Kamiko today with her defensive stops.
It has been a mental toughness for us.Â We've been trying to really focus and take one game at a time.Â I thought in this tournament we did that.Â We didn't look ahead and we just took play‑by‑play.Â We wanted to get each possession.Â We didn't want to have a wasted possession, especially on the offensive end, and we needed defensive stops.
I think when our back is against the wall, these ladies had a toughness that we haven't had in a long time.Â It showed in the three games we played.
Q.Â Holly, you mentioned Kamiko.Â She looks like a defensive specialist.Â She hadn't played very much the last couple games in this tournament, then she comes in today cold and got some big stops.Â How crucial was that?Â Is it unique she's able to step in there when you need her like that?
COACH WARLICK:Â I think it's the strength of our team, what type of players we have.Â We started so many different lineups this year.Â Tonight we needed Kamiko.Â We needed her on the defensive end.Â We weren't getting stops.
I think she was the only one that didn't play the first half.Â I'm not sure, I haven't seen the stats.Â But she has such ability to take over the game on the defensive end.Â So she had two crucial stops, as you said.Â That's what is so unique about this team:Â anybody can step up and contribute.
That's what we're trying for them to buy into.Â It's a team effort.Â I think this tournament, they did that.
Q.Â Holly, when the buzzer sounded, Glory was on the floor fighting for a loose ball.Â Talk about the irony associated with that.
COACH WARLICK:Â I keep saying, every game, I don't think she can take it to another level, and she keeps taking it to another level.Â That's just her nature.Â She's competitive.Â I absolutely love that about Glory.Â It's in her spirit, it's in her DNA.Â It is what makes her game special.
I wasn't surprised.Â I was not surprised.Â I probably didn't want her to do that because I was afraid she might get hurt.Â It's hard to hold back.
We're trying to get 'em to move forward, and it's really hard to pull 'em back.Â I'm not going to pull Glory back at all (laughter).
Q.Â Glory, every year seniors talk about this thing kicking in, the reality that there's not that many games left.Â It seems like it's kicked in for you.Â Talk about that.
GLORY JOHNSON:Â I try to remind the rest of the seniors that every day we get on the floor it might be our last.Â We never know when our last game is going to be.Â We always emphasize playing as hard as you can whenever you step on the floor.Â That's huge for us, especially now that we're seniors.
You should see a whole new mentality when we get out there.Â We have a whole new mindset.Â You should see it in our faces every time we step on the floor.
Q.Â Holly, every time LSU made a late charge towards the end of the game, it seemed Shekinna or Glory made the big shots.Â Is that something you've come to expect?
COACH WARLICK:Â Absolutely.Â Great players make great plays.Â The timeout we called, we ran the play to Shekinna, and she made the basket.Â I mean, you can draw up all you want, but, as I say, great players make great plays.
She hit the three.Â That's what they do.Â Glory comes up with the big rebounds.Â That's what we have to have at the end.Â It's through their leadership that we keep getting better and better.Â Our younger players and the players who may not play a lot understand what hard work is all about, what we need to come up with big stops, make big plays.
Absolutely, we count on these young ladies to do that.Â They've been in that situation time after time again and they keep coming up with big plays.Â As coaches, we'd be kind of crazy not to go to who got you there.Â That's what we wanted to do today.
Q.Â Holly, the players shared their thoughts with seeing Coach Summitt at the end.Â You're in a unique position.Â What are your emotions when you see everything going on from the spot you're in?
COACH WARLICK:Â Well, Coach Summitt is still my boss.Â She still contributes every day.Â I told these ladies, it's an honor to coach them and it's an honor to coach beside Pat Summitt because of what she's done.
We just approach every day and every practice and every game as it's a group effort.Â It's a group effort from our staff.Â Our entire staff, Dean, Mickie, Pat.Â I've been fortunate enough to have them behind me helping me make decisions.
It continues to be an honor to coach with Coach Summitt.Â The only thing I'll tell you is she's got to learn to cut nets down a little bit better.Â She chewed the net up so bad, I don't think we can put it around the trophy (laughter).
But Pat is Pat.Â She wanted us to go up there.Â See, this year I broke my hand coming downstairs off a plane.Â Pat is the only healthy one that can climb up on a ladder.Â We told her to have at it.
Just proud of Pat and how she stayed focused and what she's meant to this team.
Q.Â Holly, did you get a chance to talk to Nikki after the game?
COACH WARLICK:Â Last night I texted her and I told her I hope her water broke last night so she wouldn't be on the court.Â She texted me that it did and she had a little point guard ready to play (laughter).
No, Nikki and I have a great friendship.Â We just saw each other out there and said, you know, we loved each other and that I will help do anything to help her, and she'll help Tennessee, as well, as we go down this process.
As you're great friends, for 40 minutes you're competing.Â Nikki and I are both competitors.Â That's the nature of this game.Â We coach against a lot of people.Â But obviously Nikki is one of my best friends.Â So excited for us.Â Sorry for her.Â There's going to be a lot more of those to come, so...
Q.Â This tournament just ended, but have you thought at any time about possible seeding in the tournament to come, as to where you might stand?
COACH WARLICK:Â You know, I'm just happy we won tonight.Â I haven't even thought past that today.Â I would think it would help our seeding as we went through and people had gotten upset.
We just wanted to make sure that we had a great showing for us.Â We played Tennessee basketball.Â I think we did that.
It's out of our hands.Â We can't do anything about the seeding.Â I don't know.Â We've been seeded No.1 and I thought we've not got a good seeding.Â I just hope that, you know, we get matched up against some teams that we match up well against.
I'm proud of these young ladies and I think they've put themselves in a great position for the tournament.
Q.Â Glory, did you get any sense when the injury happened to LaSondra, did you get a sense that was happening?
GLORY JOHNSON:Â I think me and Shekinna both realized.Â I think she caught my knee.Â She was laying down.Â I think she missed a layup when Vicki blocked it.Â Right when she was getting up, I tried to run past and Alicia Manning slid this way and I slid that way.Â I think she caught the outside of my knee.
But she's a great player.Â I grew up playing with her.Â Me and Shekinna grew up playing with her.Â I think she'll be all right.Â But we'll keep praying for her.Â I'll probably text her or call her later on, but I hope she's okay.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you, ladies.Â Congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports