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March 31, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
Tennessee Â– 74
Oklahoma Â– 59
THE MODERATOR:Â We're now joined by coach Holly Warlick from Tennessee.Â Coach, your opening thoughts.
COACH WARLICK:Â It was a really hard‑fought game for us.Â I'm extremely proud of these young ladies.Â We talk a lot about where we start and then where we are now.Â I keep saying this, but this team, they play in the moment.Â They play each possession like it's their last.Â As a coach, you don't want to coach effort.Â I have not from day one had to coach effort.Â We've actually coached and taught.
The credit is to them and how hard they've worked, the hours they've put in, just their listening and wanting to go to practice.Â I know it starts with practice.
The only time they didn't want to go to practice was the day before yesterday.Â They keep thinking we go too long, but I'll let them slide on that one.
I thought Oklahoma, a great crowd, a tremendous crowd.Â I think Sherri and her team have done a fabulous job with the amount of injuries.
THE MODERATOR:Â Questions for the student‑athletes.
Q.Â Kamiko, you kind of set the tone for the game when you got that first steal.Â Can you go over that play.
KAMIKO WILLIAMS:Â I mean, she smiled at me, so I knew I had to get low.Â She swings the ball in front of her, I happened to stick my hand in there.Â I just kind of reacted to the ball.
Q.Â Kamiko, generally being able to slow her down for the game, take her out of their offense, can you talk about the impact that had.
KAMIKO WILLIAMS:Â I think it had a great impact.Â I think it started in the locker room.Â Coach Elzy challenged me to guard her, bring my best defense.Â My teammates helped me out.Â So it wasn't just me.
Most of the time I was on her and I just tried to live up to that challenge from Elzy, because if not, I was going to hear about it later.Â Didn't want that to happen (laughter).
Q.Â Taber, talk about how the tone is set with your team on the defensive end?
TABER SPANI:Â Well, I think obviously everyone knows Tennessee is defense and rebounding.Â We've stressed that from day one.Â I think Holly's style is she really wanted full court pressure or get into the ball and pressure them.
I think that just plays right into the personnel that we have, with the athleticism we have, especially at the top with Kamiko or with Jasmine or Meighan up there on the ball.
We wanted to come in, set the tempo early, dictate to them that we were going to be the ones pressuring.Â We were trying to get them out of their offense because they're a great offensive team when they're able to run their sets.
I think that helped us on the offensive end because we got steals, kind of got into a little bit of a rhythm.Â I thought we did one of our best jobs all year of really passing the ball, being unselfish, making the extra pass.Â We got into a really nice rhythm in the first half.
Q.Â Isabelle, talk about the rotation of the guard, the post situation.Â Certainly McFarland, she's going to get her rebounds.Â Talk about the rotation that you have in the post position.
ISABELLE HARRISON:Â I think for this game it definitely brought a challenge for our posts to actually have to step out of the paint and guard on the perimeter.Â That's something we're not used to.
Coach Elzy and Holly talked about that today and yesterday, that we have to go out and get out of our comfort zone and guard the perimeter.Â I think we did a pretty good job on that.
Q.Â Taber, can you talk about how your young posts have developed.
TABER SPANI:Â It's been tremendous for us.Â I think as a player, you see them in the off‑season, you see the talent, the potential.Â We've seen that ever since they stepped foot on our campus.
The maturity, Izzy has done a great job of taking the post under her wing, she really kind of owns that group.Â She wants them to get better collectively and it will help us as a whole.
Cierra came in and made really big shots.Â Both of them have done a tremendous job of rehabbing in order for them to get back to this point.
I think Bashaara is just mature beyond her years, the big baskets, the big boards she provides for us.
Q.Â Can all three of you players talk about, again, the next game is going to be played, but certainly you played Baylor, there's no guarantee they're going to win, but talk about going into that game, just preparing and how you have to get ready for that team.
KAMIKO WILLIAMS:Â I personally think, I mean, Brittney Griner, she looks like she's going to get hers, but we have to shut down their guards, shut down Odyssey, shut down Hayden, she killed us when we were at Baylor.Â Get after Madden and Destiny Williams, the other post player.
We can't focus so much on Brittney.Â She's going to get her rebounds, her points.Â I think if we can shut down the perimeter, we should be in business.
TABER SPANI:Â I think it's a mindset, us included, so many times we've played them, you go in and you feel like you have to change your entire game plan because of Brittney.Â Granted, she's one of the greatest players ever to play our game.Â I think it's our mindset going in, we're not going to be scared.Â The power of belief is really big for us.Â We believe in each other, what we can do, who we can be.Â I think that confidence level is going to help us.
Especially having the experience of going down and playing at their place with this team this year, we didn't have Izzy because she hurt her ankle that game.Â So our mindset is going to be go in and attack, and whatever happens, happens.Â But we're not going to go in and let down by any stretch of the imagination.
ISABELLE HARRISON:Â I think, especially being y'all's last season, we're going to play with a chip on our shoulder.Â I'm having a lot of flashbacks from last year that may be the case.Â If anything, I want to prevent that feeling, because I don't want it to come back.
I'm going to give it my all, play hard for these guys, Holly, the rest of the team, Pat, of course.Â I'm just going to go at it.
Q.Â Isabelle, it looked as though you were moving better today and seemed more comfortable on the floor since you had your injury.Â Was that the case?Â How good did you feel out there today?
ISABELLE HARRISON:Â I felt really good.Â I was doing a lot of rehab on this trip.Â Me and (indiscernible) have been basically roommates.Â I'm glad I can get out there and do the best I can.Â I need to talk to her when I'm hurting.Â I'm feeling really good.
THE MODERATOR:Â Okay, ladies, congratulations on your win.Â We'll continue with questions for coach now.
Q.Â Holly, when your backcourt struggles shooting the way they did, yet you still controlled this whole game, talk about how many other things you did right.
COACH WARLICK:Â Meighan Simmons, 1 for 15, that's obviously unusual for her.Â What I loved about Meighan and what she did, she didn't let her offense affect her defense.Â I don't think any of the players did.Â We've stressed so much on the defensive side and the rebounding side, I just don't think they had time to think about what they were doing offensively.
That's a different mindset than we've had.Â It's a different mindset that Meighan has had.Â I know she wanted to play, and play so hard.Â But I love that she was still in the game and still defending.
We had some players step up.Â Meighan didn't play well, then we had Jasmine Jones, who I thought had a great game.Â So we had people step up, Cierra Burdick.Â That's the sign of a solid team.Â Massengale didn't shoot the ball well.Â We moved the ball.Â 14 assists was good for us.Â We found a way to win.
Q.Â Against the predictions of many people, you've earned your way back to the same position where the season ended last year, going into the Elite 8, probably to face Baylor.Â Assuming that's the matchup that you get, you have a younger squad this year than last.Â What do you have to do to have a different outcome?
COACH WARLICK:Â Well, we should be familiar with them because we've seen them three out of the last four years in the NCAA tournament.Â I think we have some familiarity with them.
You know, you have to make shots at the outside.Â You've got to make shots.Â You've got to take care of the basketball.Â As Kamiko said, Griner, she's in a league of her own, so you can't get caught up in what she does.Â I think you've got to take care of everybody else.Â You got to make shots.
I think when we played them down there, we played a better second half because we settled down.Â Hopefully playing them, especially on their home court, has given us the opportunity to see her and play against them.Â It's not our first time, which hopefully will help us.
Q.Â The deeper you go into the season, it seems Kamiko keeps raising her game.Â Couldn't you almost make a case that she's the most valuable player on the team at this point?
COACH WARLICK:Â Absolutely.Â I totally agree with you.Â We're asking her to lock down the opponents' best offensive player, then we want her to make plays on the offensive end as well.
She has stepped up.Â She has a maturity about her.Â She's just taken this team.Â She's wrapped her arms around this team and said, Let's go.
I will tell you, at the beginning of the year, if I had to say Kamiko was going to be our leader, I would say no.Â But our players love her.Â She's done a heck of a job on and off the floor being a leader for them.
So my hat is off to her.Â She has exceeded my expectations.Â I knew what Kamiko could do.Â It was just a matter if she was going to commit to do it, and I think she has.Â She and Izzy both have stepped up and played big for us.Â She's done a heck of a job.
Q.Â In this game in particular, it seemed like she not only limited Ellenberg, but she was responsible for entry passes.
COACH WARLICK:Â I think Kamiko Williams is an extremely talented young lady.Â When she puts it all together, she gets a great mindset, she can do just about anything.
I think Kyra spent a lot of time with her preparing her for this game and she had a mindset of what she needed to do and she did it.
When she gets zoned in, she understands that our success relies on how she plays, how hard she plays, what she does on the defensive end.Â I think she has now stepped up and taken a lot of responsibility.
Four years ago, she would not have been mature enough to step up and do the things she has now.Â She's a senior.Â It's her team.Â It's her and Taber's team.Â She's leading by example.Â I can't tell you, I'm really, really proud of her.Â I knew she had it in her.Â We're just right now getting it out of her.Â Very proud of her.
Q.Â Can you talk about your bench and your rotations, substitutions.
COACH WARLICK:Â Yeah, I think to bring Izzy off the bench is huge for us.Â Cierra Burdick, too.Â Both those young ladies started, then they both went out with injury.Â I think they give us a punch, especially Izzy on the defensive end, Cierra is very consistent offensively.
So the thing about this team is they have not complained or had a hard time about starting, who is playing.Â We've got a good thing going, a good rotation, and they know they're all going to play.
So actually I've wanted to get Izzy back in the lineup, but I didn't know where I could put her because everybody else is playing so well.Â And Jasmine Jones, I thought she had a great game for us.Â She's a freshman athlete that doesn't know how good she can be.
I just think we stepped up and did some really good things when we needed to.
Q.Â Can you talk about the baton that you gave to the girls, the significance of it, where it came from.
COACH WARLICK:Â We have a new coach, a new staff, so we talked about passing the baton on from Pat's regime and what she has built, the legacy she built, the tradition she built.Â There are differences, we understand that.Â But we have the same heart and the same drive, the same commitment.
We just wanted Pat to pass the baton on to our players and understand that we represent the University of Tennessee, and what Pat built.Â We want to make sure we carry on that tradition.Â There is a new group, a new staff, but we still have the same belief that we're Tennessee, and we're going to represent Tennessee and Pat Summitt to the best of our ability.
Q.Â How big a deal is it that Isabelle will be back for Baylor?Â She couldn't play the last time.
COACH WARLICK:Â I think it's huge for us in any game.Â Any big game we have played, we really didn't have Isabelle.Â She played maybe about five minutes in the Notre Dame game and was not very effective coming off one of her knee injuries.
She brings this team a lot of confidence.Â I think she's huge to our success.Â I've said it all year.Â I think when we get her healthy, we have her availability, everybody else, we're a different team.Â We're a different team with her, we just are.
When you have somebody back there, she makes up for defensive miss‑assignments or getting beat on the drive, she makes up for her presence inside with being able to block shots.Â She's a huge difference for us, huge game changer for us.
Q.Â So did Pat actually give the baton to them?
COACH WARLICK:Â No, we came up with the baton.Â Actually our staff came up with it.Â We just wanted something to represent what was and what's going to be.Â Everybody that touched our program, academic advisors, our president, our athletic director, our associate athletic director, everybody that is part of our program got a baton, our administrative assistants, because they're just as much a part of our program as our team and staff.
We just thought it was important that everybody get aboard.Â We're not going to be able to survive unless we have this big huge family.Â So we gave everybody a baton.Â We've just been passing it around.Â It's been huge for us.
So it's something that we identify with.Â Like I said, it brings back our tradition.Â But we know we got to move forward and pass the baton and get our own identity.Â But we're never going to lose the identity that the Lady Vols have.
THE MODERATOR:Â Coach, thank you.
COACH WARLICK:Â Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports