Division I Women's Basketball notes and
Division I Women's Basketball notes and quotesMarch 18, 2006
Pat Summitt, Tennessee Head Coach
General outlook on the tournament:
"First of all we're really excited, it's a great time of year for student athletes, coaches, and fans. For the media it's about to begin. I'm really proud of our basketball team in terms of this past season and what they've managed to do and the way they've handled adversity, tough losses and obviously losing Alexis (Hornbuckle) to an injury and being tough-minded and pulling together and finishing strong and winning the SEC Tournament. We are excited to play and obviously Army is a good opponent for us and quite honestly, as long as I've been in this game, it's always exciting to play a new opponent. It seems like so many times we're seeing the same names and faces in the postseason. So we're really excited about this opportunity and certainly happy to be here."
On Alexis Hornbuckle:
"The return is one of excitement. Alexis is high energy and certainly can help us from that standpoint, I think it's took early. I want to see her again in practice. We just had a light workout at Tennessee before we left and really haven't had a chance to see how well she can handle with her right hand. We'll go through some things today. The important thing is that she can be on the court and dress out with us and if needed, play.
"While Shanna (Zolman) has been very efficient at the point, has been able to really calm down and get good looks offensively, because all great shooters need to have the ball in their hand, so that's been a help for her, but at the same time, the one thing that Alexis (Hornbuckle) has done this year, she's expanded her game, she has created for other players. In the past she created more for her own scoring opportunities, but she really has set up great 3-point shooing opportunities for Shanna (Zolman) and Sidney (Spencer), has really got the ball inside and I think that will be very beneficial for this basketball team, because of her ability to make others on this basketball team better. You've got to guard her."
On Candace Parker's development:
"I think Candace has really matured in a lot of ways. Looking at her as a basketball player now and just seeing the growth from the beginning to the NCAA Tournament, I think that she has stepped up her game and tried to take on more responsibility. She's helping Shanna (Zolman) in terms of bringing the ball up the floor and running the point position. We're playing (Candace) at the three a lot and she's playing in the post, so not only her willingness and versatility, but her composure at those positions. She's one of the most unselfish big-time players that I've coached, and for her to be a freshman. She wants so much to do whatever she can to help this team, and if you look at the number of assists she has that speaks volumes to her game."
Shanna Zolman, Senior, Guard
On expectations for the tournament: "I think for myself in particular, this is the most exciting time of the season for us. We had a great regular season and an exciting finish to the SEC Tournament. This is always the time of year that you look forward to and this is what you work so hard for, is the first and second rounds and hopefully the Final Four. This year is no different. We are looking extremely forward to getting started. Most importantly just to get playing again. Seems like it's been forever since we played a game.
Tye' sha Fluker, Senior, Center
On expectations for the tournament: "It's always fun to get back on the court and the NCAA Tournament it's the time where everybody brings their 'A' game and are looking for the same goals, to get to the Final Four. For our team, we're just motivated to get back on the court and show everyone what we can do."
Maggie Dixon, Army Head Coach:
"Our team is very happy to be here. We've been through so much as a team the last couple of weeks. Being here and being able to play on a national stage is just a credit to our players and everything we accomplished throughout the year. We are really excited to be representing the Academy and the United States Army in the NCAA Tournament."
On why she chose to accept the coaching position at Army:
"Obviously I was a little hesitant at first because I was at DePaul and it was a top-15 program. The biggest thing that convinced me to come here were the players. These are very special players, and I had the chance to meet with all of them during the interview process and they were the ones who really won me over."
On relationship with Tennessee star Candace Parker:
"I've known Candace since she was about 13 or 14, and she came to a couple of our camps. When she came in, we knew she was going to be something special. She was about 6'2 then, and could do a lot of things then that she does now. Candace could handle the ball as well as shoot. I went to every one of her AAU games, and recruited her very hard. I've watched her grow as a person and as a player, and I'm very proud of what she has accomplished."
On who will guard Candice Parker:
"A lot of people have asked that question, but we have Stefanie Stone who has done a great job in the last couple of games. I can't tell you all of our secrets, but I think she will be a great matchup."
On what she felt was attainable when she accepted this job:
" When I got there I didn't get to see them play very much, but I watched them during their workouts and they worked so hard, which really impressed me. I thought that if I could get them to compete the way they practiced, this could be a very special group."
On why they feel they can compete with Tennessee:
"The big joke in the locker room is if you have to switch screens, go on ahead and do it because we are going to be outsized no matter who we are guarding. We just need to work with what we have."
On being outsized against Tennessee:
"We have played a lot of teams this year that have outsized us, so we are actually used to it now. We need to use our quickness to try to keep better space on the floor, and not try to pound opportunities if they are not there. I've talked to my team the past couple of games about being patient, waiting for good opportunities, and attacking when the time presents itself. We have the advantage of being at the Academy, so we have more players on the bench than most teams. We want to use that to our advantage. This is the way we have played all year, and we won't be changing anything."
Megan Vrabel, Senior, Forward:
On what this week has been like:
"Personally, it's been a whirlwind and absolutely amazing to be getting so much support, and we are thankful for that. We are just very excited to be here."
On how Army is different since their last meeting with Tennessee:
"My freshman year here we finished 6th in league play and finished in the championship game anyway, and each year we have gotten better and picked up stronger recruits and with Coach Dixon coming in this year, she has brought in a new energy, new ideas, and a new way of coaching."
On last meeting with Tennessee:
"We came out strong but could only really hang with them for less than a half, so once the game hit a twenty point margin our coach let everyone play. As a freshman I wasn't getting many minutes, I got in and scored a basket and it was like the highlight of my year. So I think we ran out of gas way too early last time, and our program has gradually gotten stronger since then."
"We are so excited to be here in the NCAA Tournament, and we are down here for one thing and that is to play basketball. We're not just satisfied with being here at the tournament, we're here to win."
Jen Hansen, Junior, Guard:
"Our team is a very close unit who just goes out there and plays our hardest every time out, and I think we will be able to compete with them."