Friday, March 25, 2005

Coach Summitt addresses the NCAA Tournament

Lady Vol Head Coach Pat Summitt

"I am really proud of our team. I felt that in both the first and second round games that they were very focused. We did a better job in the second half of our Purdue game. I think our defensive intensity picked up. It is really exciting. We have been watching a lot of (Texas) Tech games and Tech is a team with balance, and looking at the teams from the past, this is one of the most balanced teams that (Texas Tech head) coach (Marsha) Sharp has put on the floor. But we are excited and we had some time to work out yesterday and we will do the same today before we travel tomorrow."

On Arizona State:

"I think they are certainly a team that could sustain (success) over the long term. I say that because I like their style of play and their intensity. They get out there defensively and they are very aggressive offensively. They continue to get players that can play that style and they have been successful. It is all about players. Certainly they have the toughness and the aggressive mind set. I think without question, our success is directly related to our recruiting success, our success during the regular season, as well as our success during the postseason. I think the key, and this is not a secret, everyone knows this, is that the coaching staff brings in players, year in and year out, that can take you to that level and allow you to maintain that level of play."

On Loree Moore and Alexis Hornbuckle:

"First thing, I really think that Loree has done a great job of taking Alexis in, under her wing so to speak. She could have easily been jealous of her and threatened by her, but it has been quite the opposite. I think she has just said that 'I want to help you' and there is a great friendship there, but also a great connection on the court. I think that Loree's leadership in that area has been critical to Alexis' development as a point guard. Obviously, she is a player that can play multiple positions and was forced into that role because of Loree's injuries and setbacks. To me it is very telling of Loree as a leader, as a teammate and as a friend. I think it has been an important part of Alexis' development. She has been great. It could have been a nightmare, but it has been great to watch how much they have bonded and Loree playing mother hen."

"I think she can talk to her and reassure her. I think Loree, when she needs to be direct and tough, she will be. But certainly from that standpoint, Loree has really just tried to talk to her and help her see what she needs to see as a point guard."

On using the 1996-97 NCAA Championship team as motivation:

"I have not used it with our team this year, but we constantly remind players of what they need to do individually. The one thing that we remind them of is to do it 'pot luck style' and that is to bring their best dish. That is what we talked about in the playoffs. That year we didn't have a team that could overpower anyone. But if we collectively did what we do best, we felt that we as a team could be successful. We have talked about that this year with this team. Over the years we have talked about us not all being able to bring the total package to the floor because very few players have the total package. Those that do have it stand above and those that play a particular role have to play to their strengths. As I reflect on that team, they had been through so much adversity, it made (winning) that much sweeter."

On comparing the adversity the 1996-97 team faced to this season's team:

"At the beginning of the season it was rough. I thought of this team more as a team that had some adversity early and pulled together. With that other team, we had adversity all year, with injuries and a lot of losses. I remember thinking in early January that we could have a losing season and maybe not even make the tournament for the first time. I could not believe it. We were in Norfolk, Va, and Debby Jennings (Lady Vol media relation's director) and her staff was saying this could be a disaster. We were just like, it can't be, we have to do something. The team pulled together and it made them so much tougher."

On whether the post position is beginning to dominate more in the women's game:

"I think with the overall improvement in women's basketball, we are seeing teams that go both inside and outside. That is when teams are difficult to defend. Also, when you have a player of that stature, you're talking about a player most teams can't match up against. We don't have anyone 6-7. I do feel that it gives teams an advantage. There are a number of teams, while they do not have (players) 6-7, they do have good outside-inside play. Our success has been much better because we have the balance inside and out."

On Jessica Davenport:

"I watched her out of high school. I went up and watched her play and tried to get in on recruiting Jessica. I thought then as a physical talent and presence that she would make a great college player with her athleticism, ability to run the floor, and ability inside against much smaller players. I thought she was fairly skilled as a high school junior. I thought there was such an upside to her game. When Jim (Foster) went there, along with Jim went Pete Gaudet - and if you know anything about Coach Gaudet, you know that he is one of the very best at developing the post game. I thought, 'look out.' This young lady will really develop her game quickly in this system. I am not at all surprised at her development. In knowing her work ethic and her athletic stature going in, I thought she was going to be a great center in the college game."

On whether she feels like she will need to give any pep talks during the tournament:

"If necessary. I think at this time, players all need to feel they know what to expect, they know what to do. It is more about encouraging players. They need to be confident. Every team that is playing in the tournament and in the Sweet 16 - they are there for a reason. They have earned that right, and they are in an elite group. Certainly, I want our players to understand they are playing their best basketball right now. They have every reason to be confident but also to keep them focused on why they have had the level of success they have had. They have just played so well together. This is an athletic group and a skilled group, but they did not always play well together. They did not always have the focus of finishing shots. If you recall early in the year, we were sporadic at the offensive end and our offense and players struggled to play together. I think they were trying to do it one-on-one. Now, I think they understand and respect what each individual can bring to the success of our team."

On what she remembers about UT's last meeting with Texas Tech:

"It was a tough game, obviously, a battle. I just remember that they played us tough in the paint. We were not as balanced as offensively. I remember struggling against their defense. They are always known as being a strong defensive team. I think this year they have more balance, but when you think of playing Texas Tech you know they are going to play great defense and they have three-point shooters and at least one go-to inside. From the past, it has been a battle."

On potential matchup problems with Texas Tech:

"I think we matchup well with them, as they do with us. I think (Erin) Grant is just an efficient point guard. (Cisti) Greenwalt and (LaToya) Davis bring the size. Certainly, if you look at (Chesley) Dabbs at the two and (Shanna) Zolman, that is pretty evenly matched across the board. I do not see a big advantage for either team. They can obviously go seven to eight deep, and we can go eight to nine deep. Although, I think they are probably playing their top five more minutes. At this time of the year you can do that because you can play, rest, play, as opposed to playing back-to-back."

On whether the TV 2:15 timeouts interfere with the rhythm of the game:

"They interfere with what I do. I am not used to having that much time. As far as the players, I do not think it really affects the players that much as far as breaking rhythm once they get accustomed to it. The way we play, it is a good break, because we are looking at up-temp (play). I thought it helped us in the Purdue game."

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