Coach Summitt answers questions about the final two SEC regular season games
Opening statement: Talk a little about your team fighting through two tough back-to-back games with Ole Miss and LSU in the last week.
"Ole Miss gave us a great challenge. I thought we did a good job of containing them in the second half with the switch to our matchup zone. I felt like we managed to make the plays when we had to have them. They are a team that can generate a lot of points off their defense, but for the most part, I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball and got good shot selection overall. Going into the LSU game I thought rebounding was a key for us, and we had to get paint points and establish our inside game. I didn't realize how much we would have to rely on paint points. Candace Parker did a great job, Shannon Bobbitt knocked down some key outside shots for us with Sidney Spencer struggling. Alexis Hornbuckle came up with some big plays for us. I thought our defense was solid. It was a big win for us, and that speaks to our team's ability to answer runs. They never went ahead of us. I felt like we stepped up when we had to. Dominique Redding came in and got us a much needed eight points. A lot of people contributed."
On the next two games at Arkansas and at home versus Vanderbilt...
"With Arkansas, Lauren Irvin has brought a lot to their team. She was a transfer, but she appears to be contributing. Their top three have pretty good balance. The thing with them, they are always a team that plays well at home. We have had some tough battles there, and I don't expect this one to be anything different. They are in an `everything to win, nothing to lose' position. We have to have the leadership and maturity to go in and be ready to play against a team that will fight us hard."
After winning the SEC title on Monday versus LSU, how hard will it be to keep your team focused against Arkansas?
"It's always a concern. With some teams it is more of a concern than others. I have a lot of confidence in this team. In particular, knowing that they have been very focused on winning the league and not only that, but going undefeated. I do know that Arkansas has got the players that can put up numbers. Irvin is one, Donica Cosby, Sarah Pfeiffer and Brittany Vaughn can as well. If we don't go in inspired defensively, it could be a long evening for us. I have a lot of confidence in our team to go take care of business."
Rebounding has been better, but field goal percentage is down. Are you concerned?
"We've been in some defensive battles and I'm not overly concerned. We need to get Spencer on track and get Nikki Anosike scoring more. When you can shoot the ball as poorly as we did and win against a quality opponent in LSU, you're doing something right. Getting on the boards and getting on the offensive glass in particular; we have to continue to do that. The 20 offensive rebounds we had were significant in the outcome of the game."
Have you learned anything new about this team since the loss to Duke, one month ago?
"I learned a lot in the Duke game. I felt like in that game, we showed a tremendous amount of character and fight and togetherness after we got down. It was a situation where we could have said this one is over, and we put ourselves in a position, and had a legitimate chance of winning the game. Duke was a better team than us that night. We don't know how we would stack up against a Duke or a North Carolina later, but I do know that this team has a lot of fight, and will learn from what we got ourselves into against Duke in particular."
How tough will it be to beat Vanderbilt again? What will you have to do to beat them in Knoxville?
"That's a bigger challenge I think. They always play us tough. You look at their shooting percentage and they are one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country. You have to guard them and keep them off the boards. They are a good defensive team and they have balance. Fortunately, this game is at home and we are hoping and expecting a huge crowd. We would love to sell it out because this is the last time our fans will get to see the Lady Vols in Thompson-Boling Arena this year. We have to take them one at a time and be ready to play."
Thoughts about seniors Sidney Spencer, Dominique Redding and Elizabeth Curry going into senior day...
"It's always neat when you have senior day with parents and family members at the game. Spencer and Redding came in together and are great friends and roommates. As seniors this year, I'd credit the two of them for really bringing our team together and putting together a variety of outings to help them get to know each other better. They took that initiative which has had a strong influence on the chemistry and togetherness of our team. I'd like to see both of them go out playing well; certainly with a championship. They have been good players that have worn orange with a lot of pride. They have each had their moments. It was good to see Redding have her moment at LSU on Monday night as we won the regular season title. The team and staff were really proud for Redding. Spencer has had a lot of big nights and hopefully will have more to come. Elizabeth Curry was in a leadership role as a manager and did a great job in that role. I approached her about being a walk-on, having been a high school player herself. She wanted to do whatever she could to help the team and the program. She has handled her role and been super about it. She's been there to do what she said she'd do, and that is to help. It's been good to see her on the bench and see how much she has become a part of this basketball team."