Coach Summitt Talks About The Week Ahead In Lady Vols Basketball

Opening Statement…

“Our trip to Vanderbilt was one where I thought we’d learn a lot about our basketball team. They responded by coming out on the defensive end, and played with great intensity. For the most part, we really moved the ball well offensively. Vandy made a run, and in the past we haven’t been able to stop the runs and extend the lead, but I thought we did that. We responded well as a team. That is a good sign for us. That is one game. We have to go back to working and challenging them daily to be a 40-minute basketball team. The team has really pulled together to try and collectively be a better basketball team, so that is a good sign.”

On Alabama and Mississippi State…

“Alabama has had some struggles, but we always know that when we play people, we get their best shot. I would expect no less when we go to Alabama, but this is more about us and how we take to the road. We want to try to continue to get better. We are still a work in progress. Consistency from players is very important. We haven’t always had that this season in some key positions. We’ll return home to play Mississippi State. They gave us all we wanted and more at Starkville. We’ve got to be ready for the next two games. It is incredible that this regular season is almost over. We need to be focused on how we can become a team that understands possession play and understands that we can’t have some of the lapses we’ve had in the past when we get into our SEC and post-season tournaments.”

On Nicky Anosike and Alexis Hornbuckle on the verge of breaking records…

Anosike needs one point to get 1,000 for her career, Hornbuckle needs four steals to break UT steals record (333)

“Both players have done a great job in our program. Both have been very committed to doing things that don’t always show up in the newspaper. Both are hard workers and very committed to defense and rebounding. I’m proud of both of these young women. They give a lot to our team. They’ve had a lot to do with our team’s success, particularly on the defensive end. They have made good contributions offensively as well.”

On any advice you’d have for the Tennessee men’s team playing in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up on Saturday night at Memphis …

“Bruce (Pearl) has done a terrific job. They’ve had a lot of wins. They’ve been able to go on the road and win. Some would call it upsets, but I would say that is the toughness of our team. I think Bruce will have his team ready. It is an opportunity. It’s not like a post-season game where you win and advance and if you don’t, you’re out. It is a valuable learning experience. Anytime we’ve been in that situation, it has a post-season feel and it is great preparation for the tournament. As far as advice, Bruce has already proven that he knows how to go in and prepare a team. He’s done a terrific job, and I admire what Bruce and his staff has been able to do, winning on the road in some tough environments. Hopefully there will be a lot of Tennessee fans in Memphis.”

On importance of handling hoopla of this type of game (men’s game vs. Memphis)…

“It is important to not make it bigger or more important than it is. It is a game. Yes, there are bragging rights involved, and there is a chance to be ranked No.1. It helps for the post-season seeding. Keep it as a 40-minute game. Play one possession at a time and not make it bigger than it is. It is important, it is in-state and there is a lot that goes with that. Trying to keep your routine is important, whether it is in the regular season or post season. You have to go about the next game in a fashion that is consistent with the same routine for each and every game. We don’t change for post season, just like we don’t change for big road games.”

On what you want for the final four games of the regular season…

“I’m looking for consistency and a commitment across the board to our offensive execution and our defensive play and to rebounding at both ends of the floor. Taking care of the basketball, particularly from the guard position, and trying to make sure that our guard play is more consistent. That is where I feel we’ve had some shortcomings; we haven’t had as much consistency. Alexis (Hornbuckle) and Shannon (Bobbitt) know what we want to do in the backcourt. Alberta (Auguste) needs to come in and be efficient with her minutes. We are constantly challenging them to be a 40-minute team.”

On the game at Mississippi State being so physical…

“That is what happens when we play teams. There are very few teams that come out and feel they are just going to go play Tennessee. With our size, because we are long, rangy and athletic, I think what happens is that schools feel like in order to compete with us, they must match the physical play and up-and-down style. Mississippi State did that, there is no question. They came out and really took it at us, played off the dribble and attacked the rim. I was very impressed with their play.”

On five of the incoming Tennessee recruits (Amber Gray, Alyssia Brewer, Glory Johnson, Shekinna Stricklen, Alicia Manning) being named to the McDonald’s All-America Team…

“I am very pleased with the success they are having with their senior seasons. They are playing well. There is a lot of talent there individually. Hopefully when they come together, collectively, they will commit to playing together and bringing their strengths and skills to the court. I thought when we closed out that class it was going to be a special group. Right now they are getting the recognition, and next year they’ll have to step up and play a lot of minutes for us, but I am proud for all of them.”

On Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer closing in on 800 wins…

“Vivian has done great things in this game. I’m proud of her. The consistency, it doesn’t matter where she is coaching. She is a winner and has won at every place she has coached and will continue to do so. This will be a special moment for her, and I know she’ll keep winning.”

Story Courtesy: Lady Vols Sports Information


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