Coach Summitt Speaks Ahead Of The Lady Vols First Regular Season Basketball Game, Sunday

On the two exhibition games against the USA National Team and Carson-Newman:

“The two exhibition games really served a purpose of what we had in mind. First of all, the USA team really challenged us right out of the gate. Overall, we grew in that game, and because of it we got tougher from the first to second half. We identified some areas where we could get much better, in particular with our defensive transition game. We had to make sure we could get five people on the same page in order for our defense to really be as strong as it needed to be. Overall, with offensive execution I thought we did a good job, but we had too many turnovers and not enough good screening action. That game pointed out a lot of things that we know and knew as a staff going into the game that we would have to get better at. Now we can go back and work on those things. In the game last night vs. Carson-Newman, I thought that was really a great way to get our four freshmen some quality playing time and challenge them to play extended minutes and see how they would fight through a little adversity. Overall, I thought they did a nice job. I wanted them to have to learn to play and play together, to get up and down the court, defend and talk. After watching the tape I was pleased overall with the effort they gave.”

On the upcoming game against Chattanooga:

“I haven’t had much time to focus on them at this point. We are trying to get better ourselves. I know they do a great job, and we are familiar with their style of play. Coach Wes Moore does a great job of preparing his teams and having them get up and down the floor, and they really have great spacing offensively and a toughness to them. We are going to need to be very focused and go into that game understanding that we have to defend. We certainly will have to defend the three-ball, the inside game and dribble penetration. That is what we need, and I think that is exactly what we will face”

On the loss of three-point shooting in 2007 seniors Sidney Spencer and Dominique Redding:

“I am encouraged by this team. I think going into this year we had potential to really improve our spacing, because I thought we had more players who could stretch the defense, Angie and Sydney in particular. Alex, depending on how much time she spends at the four versus the three, she will stretch you if she is playing the four. Because, at the top of the floor, she has solid consistency and three-point range. From that standpoint, I do feel like we have been able to fill the void, so to speak. It is hard to replace the experience of our two seniors last year, but certainly with the skill coming in, I think we have a chance to be successful and to help our offensive spacing overall.”

How do you handle teams of yours that have had to defend NCAA titles?

“First, we really look at what level of intensity we bring to the court. Because of the way we play, if we’re going to play an up-tempo game, it is difficult to be successful in that if you don’t have five people committed to running the floor and really attacking on the offensive end. Defensively, because we like to pressure, if you have a player or players who are not committed, it is very difficult to run that type of defense. We all have to be on the same page and commit to the system that we put in place. We did not do that in the first half of the game against the USA. In the second half there was a different intensity and a different commitment on both ends of the floor. That gave us a chance to be much more competitive. As a coaching staff, we have to get people to understand and be accountable for their play and the intensity of their play. We have to have consistency at that level of intensity and the commitment to our system.”

On freshman Vicki Baugh:

“She reminds me a lot of Carla McGhee. It is like she has no fear. She is going to rebound and just bring the ball up. She’s plays a lot instinctively right now, which is not a bad thing. I like to have a player like a Vicki that has that size, athleticism and skill. She will get so much better and tighten her skills up as she goes along. The energy in her style of play is an aggressive style. You don’t always see that out of an incoming freshman. She has played with no fear.

On Baugh possibly defending away from the basket:

“I think she could come away from the rim some. That has not been an area where we have gotten her a lot of reps or made that a priority. First things first with her, we wanted to make sure she understood how we defended the post game, and for that reason she hasn’t really been on the perimeter much, but certainly in the future that will be a priority.”

On starting out with tough opponents in Oklahoma and Texas so early in the season:

“Hopefully this will have a positive impact on this team. This team will go into these games with respect for their opponents. We didn’t play Oklahoma last year in the NCAA Tournament, when we thought we may, and we were looking forward to that. A lot of people wanted to see Courtney Paris and Candace Parker go up against each other. We didn’t have the opportunity to see that head-to-head last year. I think that will be appealing to both teams and spectators of women’s basketball to see how they will match-up and play.”

On Candace Parker’s excitement for playing Oklahoma:

“I think our team is excited about playing Oklahoma. Candace has not indicated that specifically, but as a team they have talked about the fact that they are excited about having the chance to play Oklahoma.”

On three-point defense – limited opponents to six treys in two exhibitions:

“We’ve done a better job of extending on the perimeter. One thing that will allow us to continue to grow in that area is our size in the paint. That gives us a sense of comfort at times to be able to over-extend defensively and also the aggressiveness of our defensive philosophy. Try to deny and limit touches, that has perhaps been a factor, but we’ll see as we progress and take on a very challenging schedule.”

On Shannon Bobbitt defensively during the exhibition games:

“She has probably been the target of a lot of challenges from me. I have stayed on her. I felt like early on there was a lack of intensity and commitment on the defensive end. I know she can push tempo and create shots for others and herself, but where I saw a drop-off from last year to this year in practice was her commitment to getting after people on the ball and in the passing lanes from a defensive standpoint. I really placed a pretty significant daily challenge on Shannon and she has responded very well. I told her last night I was really pleased with what I’d seen and how she’s responded.”

On the importance of defensive intensity as a team:

“Defense is a place in my opinion and philosophy where you can be consistent night-in and night-out. You don’t always know if you’ll be on and make shots so you have to be able to rely on second-chance opportunities and creating easy scoring opportunities. I think we have a very rangy group that can get out into passing lanes. They are tall, have great length and can extend in passing lanes. Understanding the benefits of committing to the defensive system and up-tempo basketball is what we try to emphasize to them and re-emphasize all the time what they have to do.”

On extended minutes by freshmen last night:

“I was very pleased that they were able to play that much. They pushed themselves through it. Kelley Cain was the one who was challenged the most because she hasn’t been on the floor as much or had the up-and-down, as far as overall time and conditioning and reps in scrimmage situations that the rest of her teammates have. I was pleased to see her fight through that.”

On turnovers (13 by freshmen 22 by upperclassmen in two exhibitions):

“We have to do a better job in our decision making. Some of that comes in the full-court but probably more has occurred in the half-court. We need to do a better job of reading our post defense. We have turned the ball over trying to force it, particularly the young players not really opening up and securing the passing lanes to the post. The tempo for them is a little different, we have played pretty fast even for our upperclassmen. With that you will have turnovers, but we do plan to cut those down significantly.”

Story Courtesy: UT Lady Vols Sports Information


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