Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tennessee travels to Kentucky Thursday night, hosts Alabama Sunday


Opening comments:

"I think that it is (playing on two day's rest) a quick turnaround for us, and it will be interesting to see. I don't know how we will respond after a tough loss at Duke. We had a good workout last night. You have to get refocused and think about the bigger picture, which is the conference. Kentucky is having its best year since Mickie DeMoss took over the reigns as head coach. I've watched a little bit of their team on tape. They are athletic. They bring intensity on the defense. Sarah Elliot inside gives them an anchor offensively. It is going to be a challenge for us. I am excited that they moved the game into Rupp. It should bring more interest and fans. It should be a great environment and a big challenge for us. It will be a quick turnaround to be ready to play Alabama on Sunday."

On the attitude and morale of the team following the loss at Duke:

"They took ownership of what did or did not happen. There was a glaring lack of leadership during the game, which I thought was a real factor in how we responded with our lack of being able to pull it together when facing adversity. Take nothing away from Duke. That is the best I've seen them play all year. We tend to due that; bring out the best of other teams. (Our players) understand their shortcomings in how they could have been better, in particular our huddles and communication. It caused us to play more as individuals than as a team. We'll learn a lot from it. We will learn volumes from this loss. We understand how much better we have to be to compete at that level."

On what type of practices have been held to improve on the defensive side of the ball:

"We did a lot of work on the defensive end last night in just going back to the basics. Our one on one defending the ball and then built it up to two on two, three on three, four on four and five on five. We started back at the beginning of building a defense. I thought they responded in a very aggressive, determined way. It is not like they are pointing fingers or blaming anyone. They know that, as a team, they have to work at getting better. That is exactly what they did last night. They worked hard, real hard. We've been talking about this as a staff for four games coming into the Duke game, trying to send out a warning signal to this team. You cannot win against great opponents playing the kind of defense that we've been playing. To have the size that we have on the inside, this is one of our weaker rebounding teams. That is something that definitely has to change."

On the status of Tye'sha Fluker:

"Just talking with Jenny Moshak this morning, she feels that Tye'sha will be good to go. She is going to do some rehab with her this morning after she gets out of class. She was optimistic. At practice, she did a bike workout and seemed to be feeling much better at the end of practice."

On if she is still questionable for the Kentucky game:

Until Jenny gives me the green light, I would stay at this point she is still questionable. However, I am very optimistic.

On her relationship with Stephany Smith:

"Stephany did a great job at MTSU. I think getting into the NCAA tournament was an opportunity for people across the country to see what she had done and the impact that she had on the program there. People are respecting her for that. Certainly she is no stranger around the Southeastern Conference because a lot of teams competed against Stephany's teams at MTSU. She did a great job."

On Mickie DeMoss' success at Kentucky so far:

"I think Mickie has done a great job. I am not surprised. I think her strength is her great people skills and her ability to use those in recruiting. Also, she uses them in building great team chemistry in getting players to work together. She has brought in a staff that she is very comfortable with and believes in what Mickie is doing. She has a lot of people working together with common goals What Mickey has done there has been a little faster than people may have anticipated, but I am not surprised. She has the people skills and sales skills to be able to really get it done. Just her communication and commitment to getting out in the community there has generated a tremendous amount of excitement at the University of Kentucky. She has been impressed as to how the community has embraced the women's team there, and I think she is very excited about that."

On if she sees a difference from Mickie DeMoss' style of coaching at Tennessee and at Kentucky:

"Yes, I see a big difference. At Tennessee a lot of times, she had to be the go between for myself and the players. She did a great job of being a listener and remaining calm in those situations. I see her intensity has risen up a whole different level. She is in a different role I have been really pleased with the discipline and demands she has placed and the goals that she has set. She is bringing out the best in those student athletes. A lot of times, she would always tell me that I was too tough. I tease her now, saying 'I think you are tougher than I am.' As a head coach you do have to take charge and make sure that everyone understands the boundaries."

On Alabama and its primary offense, the Triangle:

"In order to run it successfully, you have to have a post player to anchor it. It really helps to have three-point shooters there so you can stretch the defense out. We've had success with it. We've been better when we've felt that we can put someone at that "five" position. Candace (Parker) has done a good job for us there. If you have a good four and five, like back when we had (Chamique) Holdsclaw and (Tamika) Catchings, I think that's when we ran it with a higher level of success. Your offense is only as good as the personnel allows it to be. It can challenge the defense because of the spacing.

On whether Summitt wished she would have played Alex Fuller more against Duke:

"To be honest with you, Alex has had a little bit of a physical setback. She is ok, and I thought that practice last night was one of her best. I just didn't go there. I did not want to push that. We made sure that everything was fine with her, and it is. She just has been having some soreness in her knees. It was probably just the pounding, but she is fine now. Last night was one of her better practices. I think Jenny feels a lot better having our medical people take a look at her. She is good to go."

On helping Shanna Zolman over Duke game:

"Shanna will learn volumes from last game. If you are not shooting the ball well, you have to focus on getting other people open, playing good defense, being a leader, and that's one game that I thought Shanna did not respond as well in those aspects of her game. Even a senior has moments that might be, through adversity, not be an easy situation to handle. She will be better after this. She learned a lot."

On whether this season is tougher for Shanna:

"I do, but sometimes you can create an environment that makes it tough for you. As a great long-range shooter, she has drawn the best defender, usually the most athletic, sometimes players with a lot of size. The schemes have been in man to man and in zone. People chase her out of zones. In essence, with her ability to shoot the ball the way she can, she has become a target for every team we play. Some games, she's handled it well. In the Duke game, she struggled. She will understand that she is not just a shooter. The player we count on to lead, she is one of our best screeners. She understands that she needs to do a better job at the defensive end. Sometimes you have a game where you feel like the wheels come off. She had one of those games, and I think she will learn and be better because of it.

On the rumor you and Mickie DeMoss did the dishes at the Zolman household during the recruiting trip:

"Her mom cooked for us. We were getting ready to do our presentation, and we started taking dishes off the table. We said just let us do the dishes, and she said 'Oh no, you can't do that,' and we said, 'Yes we can. You did the cooking.' So Mickey and I got in the kitchen and did the dishes."

On Alexis' injury and optimism for her playing against Kentucky:

"That's a little more in question. If Jenny Moshak was not our trainer, I'd probably be a little more concerned. Jenny worked a lot with Alexis in practice last night, and Alexis said she felt a lot better. There is a possibility she can play."

On who would step up and play against Kentucky:

"To me, Sybil Dosty has earned the right to get some quality playing time. She has done more in less time. The one thing that she does bring to the court is consistent rebounding. That might be a reason I give her an early look and might even put her in the line-up."

On whether Summitt knows who will start against Kentucky:

"Not yet, but I can tell you that there will be a change."

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