North Carolina vs. Tennessee
North Carolina vs. TennesseeMarch 27, 2006
North Carolina Press Conference
Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell
*We're excited to still be playing. It's going to be a great game. Tennessee is playing really well now. They've gone through some tough times with the injuries and the situations. I was impressed with what I saw yesterday when they beat Rutgers. They played better than we did yesterday. They'll be a lot of great players on the floor. I thought we would meet them somewhere down the road, this is a little earlier than expected. This could very easily be a national championship game. I'm sure it will be a great game. There will be a lot of talent on the floor. It's going to be great for women's basketball.
*On '98 regional final against Tennessee
- We're not undefeated. Tennessee was undefeated and we were playing in Nashville, so it's a little bit different of a situation. We've been in the same bracket quite a bit the last 8 or 10 years that we've been in the NCAA Tournament. We lost to Maryland in the overtime game where there were a lot of situations in that game. We've had some big games this year. Our players don't think about records or anything, they just look at our opponents and think what we need to do to win the game. I know that Tennessee feels that they should have been a number one seed and I agree, but also we were the number-one seed (overall). I don't know if things have been that fair for North Carolina. Vanderbilt was better than an eight-seed, trust me. Like Camille (Little) said, 'you have to go out there and play.' We just want to play a great game and get to the Final Four. The motivation is that it's a game in the elite eight and everyone that is still playing is a great team. We just have to know what we have to do to win the game and get the job done.
*On Candace Parker -She is a great player. Candace is a great kid. We're going to give her different looks. We may put two or three people on her at one time, whatever we need to do. We've played against some great players this year, Curry at Duke. There has been several excellent players that we've played against. We'll have different players on her at different times and those type of things to give her different looks.
*On her team's style of play -I try to think of ways we can speed it up and do more things. I think you can tell that we didn't play well yesterday. I don't want to take anything away from Purdue they made us play sloppy yesterday. Our chemistry in our program couldn't be any better. I think a lot of it is the style that we play. You say freedom but it's more responsibility and accountability that I give the players just like I do with the coaches. I give them their jobs to do and they do an outstanding job. When they do a good job, I just try to bring those things out and give them words of affirmation. That motivates them to do that much more. We're having a great time. I'm looking at ways to speed up the game even more and making it more exciting. I love that Candace Parker has dunked. We've got a couple of players on our team that can dunk. This late in the season I might try to set something up for one of our kids. I've been doing this for a long time. First of all, I want to win games for North Carolina, but I want to bring attention to the women's game. I want people to embrace women's basketball and talk about how much fun it is. Young kids have to learn the fundamentals to dribble, pass and shoot. I think that is how you develop talent. You do those things in our system or you don't play. I've had a lot of people ask me when the season is over to sit down and talk to them about our philosophy. I'm more than happy to do that. Most of it is just about enjoying the game. Our style is not for everybody, but it's for us and we enjoy it. Down the stretch, the last three minutes, we played well. We didn't have any turnovers and we got the ball inside. We got some big rebounds and took it inside and score when we needed to.
*On her bench behavior
- I try to keep my composure over there, because I know if I don't the players won't. I learned a long time ago, if you're out there ranting and raving the whole time then everybody tunes you out. If you are pretty calm over there and you do get emotional that's something that they usually listen to. I don't say too much unless I really feel like there is a strong point to be made.
*On playing defense on Candace Parker:
- Candace Parker is a great player, but she's not the entire Tennessee team. They have a lot of great players on their team. A lot of what they do goes through her, but they have a lot of talent on their team. I think you just have to have a good game plan and give them some different looks. La'Tangela (Atkinson) and Camille (Little), we have several players that take pride in their defense. I feel that the overall game plan will be for the Tennessee team not just Candace Parker. Anoskie is big and a very good defensive player. I think Ivory (Latta) will except the challenge. We've played teams that have put big players on her. Anytime you put somebody big on her there's going to be a positive. Sometimes you just have to work to find it.
*On the men's tournament and the growth of women's basketball
- I'm pulling for George Mason because they beat our guys. I think the more they win it makes our guys look good. I think there is a reason why the men's game is like that. It's because the scholarships are down to 13. Instead of having two kids sitting on the bench at the power houses are now playing somewhere else. Women still have 15 scholarships and I think that's a big factor, because of Title IX. The women's game has changed over the several years. It used to be the same 4, 6 or eight teams going in the Final Four and winning the championship. Every year you are getting new teams in Sweet 16. I don't think it's going to be the parity that we have in the men's. There are new programs breaking into the top level of women's basketball. That's because there are a lot more good women's players out there, because of the AAU programs and the opportunity for young girls to play.
*On the differences in guarding Ivory Latta compared to guarding Candace Parker -It depends what's going on out on the court. Candace Parker taking the ball inside is tough, especially if you let her go to the right. Ivory (Latta) in the open court is tough to guard, especially if she knocks down a couple of threes then you have to come out on her even more and it opens up the drive. They're two different kinds of players and it just depends on the situation.
*On UNC forward Erlana Larkins
- She's a warrior. She loves the physical contact and loves to compete and win. She always has the back of our players. She's just a great team player. She does whatever we need her to do. On if she recruited Candace Parker
- Just like every team in the country. There's no one in the Sweet 16 that didn't recruit her. We got to know her and her family well. I watched her play several times. Not only is she a great player, she is a super young lady. On if she has seen players like Parker
- When we played in 1998, I thought Chamique Holdsclaw was pretty close. She was on the team that we played in the elite eight. Candace is intelligent and has a lot of good skills. A lot of the time she'll try to carry Tennessee on her back.
*On Tennessee guard Shanna Zolman
- She's a great three-point shooter. When she gets going she can make them from anywhere on the floor. Another great kid that gives Tennessee a dimension, the inside-outside look. She gives Tennessee the balance they need.
*On the two teams' common opponents
- We've watched a lot of film. Match-ups, different teams create different things. You can't really look at that, but you can look at situations and match-ups.
North Carolina Press Conference La'Tangela Atkinson
*On the team having the freedom to make decisions
- With the freedom to make our own decisions, it helps to let us be loose and not think so much on different plays and decisions. With her (Coach Hatchell) letting us make decisions, it kind of helps out the team. We feel like if we make the wrong decision, we let her down and we let our teammates down. I don't think I've let her down as much this year.
*On if she thought her team played "tight" against Purdue
- I think we weren't as focused as we usually are. We opened the game flat yesterday, but I guarantee we won't be like that tomorrow. We're going to come out with intensity and play Carolina Basketball.
*On having seen Tennessee play against Duke earlier this season
- It doesn't make things any easier. At this point in the tournament, seeding doesn't mean anything, everyone's going to come out and play. All the teams are playing well right now. They're bringing their 'A' game tomorrow, and we'll be bringing our 'A' game. It will be a tough game.
*On the importance of getting off to a good start
- We talked about that at halftime yesterday. Every chance we got, we talked about it, about the need to be more focused and start the game off with intensity and play Carolina Basketball, like we have for the last couple of games.
*On the team's strategy against Candace Parker
- I'm going to make her to go her weakness and stop her from doing the things she's done throughout her career.
*On the challenges Tennessee presents
- It's is going to be a great game. They like to run the floor, we like to run, they like to rebound and battle on the boards and we do the same. It is going to be a great game, it is kind of like a national championship game, if you look at it that way.
*Are you prepared for a physical game?
- This is a tough tournament, the NCAA. Everybody brings their 'A' game and everybody will give it all they have because it is one and done and you have to be physical. It is going to be tough out there. Camille Little
*On if the team plays better when loose
- It lets the pressure off of me. We just get to play, we don't have to worry about what else is happening, we just get to play. A lot of coaches put a lot of emphasis on a lot of things, and Coach Hatchell makes it that much easier for us to play.
*On watching Tennessee play Duke earlier this season
- Most of us watched the game when it was on, and it's not a lot different from what we saw on film. We just talk more about what we're going to do during the game when we're watching film.
*On if teammate Ivory Latta goes hard all the time
- We have practice every day, and it's the same thing. For us, practice is harder than our games most of the time. You're not used to it, so it's not as much of a big deal to us.
*On making mistakes during the game
- Everyone knows when you mess up. Everyone's watching the same game. When you make a mistake, we just try to make it up on the other end.
*On North Carolina's team defense
- I think that's one of the main things about us. We work on that every day. Like coach says, that's our bread and butter. It's taken us a long way, and we need to keep that up. We need to make our opponents remember the pressure when they play Carolina. That helps our team a lot.
*On Tennessee still being mad about their seed
- I think right now, every team is in that situation, but you can't change the seedings. Nobody wants to go home. Both teams know what's at stake. It's going to be a big game tomorrow.
*On tomorrow's game and facing Tennessee in the regional championship
- Tennessee is a great team. Every team that's still playing right now is at its best. They're here for a reason. I give a lot of credit to their conference and ours. They're playing great now. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and getting the job done.
*On if she thought she would be guarding Tennessee's Candace Parker
- I think tomorrow will be a great game. I'm just looking forward to playing defense, I don't care who I guard. I hope we all get rest tonight and we're not up thinking about it. It's going to be a great matchup tomorrow.
*On Erlana Larkins
- She's a great all-around player, and she's a great person. There's this great aura about her when she walks into a room. She's the fastest big person I know. She's funny, she likes to have fun
- we all do
- and she's a great athlete, she works hard on and off the floor.
*On the UNC-UT matchup
- The stakes are so high and everyone is trying to get there [the Final Four]. I think the game is great for women's basketball
- two of the top teams in the country playing for a spot in the Final Four. We know what is at stake
- the winner takes all.
- They have great post players, great shooters like Zolman, a hell of a coach in Pat Summitt. They have a great program and we are a great team as well. Ivory Latta
*On the status of her injury
- It's good, I'm taking it day-by-day, but it is not going to be a problem. Absolutely not. I'm going to be about 100 percent.
*On playing against Tennessee's tall lineup
- I'm not too concerned about matchups. They do a great job of guarding. We just need to go out there and play well.
*On the region
- The whole "Cold Cleveland" region was like a final four.
*On what drives her
- The love of the game, being out on the court with a great group of ladies and wearing the Carolina uniform makes you want to play great.
*On her size
- I've been criticized my whole life. My parents always told me how tall you are doesn't matter, the size of your heart is what defines you.
*On if UNC will press tomorrow
- Absolutely. I think we should go out there and get after them. We know we are an aggressive team, we're not going to change who we are. We have pressed every game. Erlana Larkins
*On the matchup
- This could have been the matchup for the [national] championship game because of the caliber of our teams. And that's the way we have to come out and play tomorrow
- like it's the championship game.
*On playing Tennessee
- We wanted to play them as soon as the brackets were announced. We were hyped and excited for the potential matchup.
*On the size of the Tennessee lineup
- We know they are a big team, but we have played against some big players in the ACC Tournament. They have some tough post players and are very physical. They crash the boards, so we have to do a good job of boxing out. Jessica Sell
*On what they need to do tomorrow
- We just have to come out and play Carolina basketball. Yesterday, we didn't do that. We need to bring the mentality of being the aggressor.
*On her reflections of seeing Tennessee before
- It's always been a dream of mine to play UConn and Tennessee. I remember as a kid watching their Cinderella season. I've never played Tennessee yet in my career, so I'm very excited.
*On the matchups
- We're just excited to play. It's a huge game for the program and the school. Originally, we thought we'd meet up with them in the Final Four, but it didn't happen that way. We're just ready to play.
*On what they need to do Tuesday
- We definitely have said we need to come out tomorrow and play a lot better. We need to get the fast break, rebound and play really hard... just pick it up. Yesterday, we didn't play Carolina basketball.
Tennessee Press Conference
Head Coach Pat Summitt
- Well obviously we're really excited to be preparing today for a regional championship game. It has been our goal and with our win over Rutgers, I saw a lot of good things from our basketball team and I thought they followed our scouting reporting and executed very well throughout the game. Tough game, but I thought we showed a lot of toughness and we're obviously going to have to be even tougher as we face an outstanding North Carolina basketball team.
*On your relationship with Sylvia Hatchell
- It goes back 32 years, actually when I started coaching at Tennessee we were in graduate school together. She coached the junior varsity team for me so we started a great friendship and working relationship and I have tremendous respect for Sylvia and value her as a dear friend in the profession, which you don't have a long list of and usually when you've been in it this long you've made a lot of people mad, but we've managed to stay friends.
*On if this game has a national championship feel
- It has a championship feel, but the feel is one of an opportunity to get to the Final Four for both of these teams, so there is a lot at stake. I wish we were playing for a national championship, but we're playing for an opportunity to compete at that level.
*On how do you defend against Latta
- She is a tough player to defend because of her explosiveness, she is constantly on the move, does a great job of pushing tempo and I think we just have to play the best defense we can and certainly we understand we have to take care of the basketballl and control the boards so we aren't on our heels all the time and if we can do that then I like the opportunity for us to set our defense in the halfcourt instead of being in a chase scene all day.
*On priority to control tempo in this game
- It is very critical to our success to number one, take care of the basketball. I'm more concerned with basketball control and taking care of it and taking care of the boards and I think that is the way you can have a better influence on the pace of the game. I'm not opposed to us running the basketball, we've been pushing the tempo, we're not going to change that, but obviously know you can run at people or run with them and I'd much prefer to run at them.
*On the development of Shanna Zolman from her freshman year to now
- When she came to Tennessee she was more of a catch and shoot player and she has expanded her game and every summer from one season to the next in a variety of ways. I think her first commitment was to get in the weight room and get a lot stronger, to work on her footwork. As I've said before, she took boxing lessons, she worked all summer long on her speed, agility and quickness and just with her upper-body strength and the quickness she developed with her footwork, obviously she can get the ball off a lot quicker and then she expanded her range, she has a step-back move, she's just become a much smarter player without the basketball. When I watched her play in high school, seldom did I see her do anything but have the ball in her hands and make plays for her team. Now, I see her coming off the screens and making good reads and good decisions and not forcing. I think her composure and feel now is the best it has been and she is playing the best basketball of her career and that is what you want for all of your seniors to be able to do. Monday Press Conference Quotes
*On the pluses and minuses of having a player of Anosike's size guarding a smaller player.
- The pluses are that players that she has defended on the perimeter have a little bit more difficult time catching, beating her off the dribble and certainly I think it was key for us in our win over Rutgers, I mean certainly Cappie (Pondexter) got her points but I think she really limited some touches and obviously we felt like it at times disrupted what they wanted to do. On the down side, it has hurt our rebounding and that is why I think Tye'sha Fluker has to step up and be a much bigger factor and Parker as well on the boards. You have to control defensive rebounds if you want to win at this stage and certainly we understand that. I'm not suggesting that I'm going to change what we do on the ball because I think with Ivory (Latta) we have to be able to rotate some players and change our defenses so with that said, I still like Nicky out on the top of the floor and I'm willing to give up some rebounding and try to inspire some others to fill-in the gap.
*On what you remember about your last meeting with North Carolina (1998 NCAA Regional Final)
- I remember that, physically, they were imposing. I thought they were the most physical team we played all year long. I though throughout the course of the game that our team had to finally step-up and match the intensity and physical play, because for at least 25-30 minutes they had the upper-hand on us physically and I remember their toughness and I see the toughness they have and that surprised me.
*On who is tougher to defend, Candace Parker or Ivory Latta
- They are both extremely difficult, their games are quite different. I think quickness in the open floor is a big challenge for us, but I also think Candace Parker is a very special and talented offensive player and if we can get the ball in the half-court and execute with her on the floor then obviously that is a tough assignment for them.. In the ideal world is to have both players on your team.
*On if there can ever be a George Mason on the women's side
- I'm not sure I'll ever live to see it, but seriously I think you are talking about more parity than ever before in the women's game yet we are still playing catch-up to the men in the overall talent pool that we have to select from and the numbers. I certainly think that we will get there although I don't know that we'll see an 11-seed win like that but you have to understand as we expand that seeding is so important and even with the men's game with that in place you can have an upset because of the depth of the talent pool and we don't have that yet in the women's game but yet as I look at recruiting and as I look down at these young kids they are a lot better than they were say 2-3 years ago.
*On how close did you come to having both Candace (Parker) and Ivory (Latta) on the same team
- I actually didn't get into that battle, I pretty much knew Sylvia had her latched up. I think she was Carolina through and through. I spend the majority of my time on Candace, I just felt like she could be a difference maker just like Ivory and that is where our staff concentrated.
*On common opponents and what affect in any it has on your preparations
- I don't know that it has a big impact, obviously I was amazed at the number of teams we faced. I didn't want to look at that very long because Duke pretty much annulated us on their court and North Carolina has been able to find a way to beat Duke and so I thought I'm not going to get caught up in this.
*On what it is like to attempt to outfox the same coaches the last 30 years
- There are no secrets, certainly it is important for us to understand that friendships are one thing and competion is something else.
*On the development of North Carolina over the past few years
- It is pretty simple, recruiting, it is all about having players and Sylvia and her staff have done a great job of getting players and great competitors and the type personalities that will inspire the rest of your team to greatness. I think any time you see a team come on the big stage, whether it is North Carolina or Maryland, there are some teams right now that you weren't talking about much five years ago and it all comes back to getting the best players that can impact your program.
*On how much you have to balance the fact that Candace (Parker) is a young kid who is doing a tremendous amount for you that does make some mistakes and how do you balance her psyche
- I think Candace Parker, just her disposition on the floor and her confidence and poise is tremendous. The maturity level of this young lady is far beyond anything I knew when she arrived on campus and I think going through her ACL injury and sitting on the bench and maybe seeing the game from another perspective. It took her time for her to find her play on this team and for our players and everyone to come together and recognize everyone's abilities and because of how she has handled it she is one of the most unselfish players I've ever coached. Her unselfishness to me is what has allowed her to become a great teammate and to gain the respect of her peers. This team is a very close team and they want to win and get the ball into people who can do just that and I think they have the understanding and respect of just what type of teammate they are dealing with.
Tennessee Press Conference Shanna Zolman
*On common opponents and its role in preparation -I think more so than just having the common opponents is how often we've been able to watch them on television. We had never seen them in person up until last night, but we'd seen them on TV against Duke, Maryland, and the like, all those ESPN games. We've gotten pretty familiar with them that way.
*On defending UNC's Ivory Latta
- We are going to contain her any way possible. Nicky Anosike is our best defender and Alexis (Hornbuckle) will get the brunt of the work in trying to do that. It's going to take a team effort to try and contain her off the dribble and keep her from doing the things she wants to do.
*On Latta's role as a defensive player
- She causes a lot of problems, not only on-the-ball pressure, but also help side. I noticed last night that she got a lot of low blocks on the Purdue post players. That is something we are going to have to be consciously aware of, inside. We need to keep the ball high and even as guards, to use fakes and our height to our advantage. She does give up size, but she is very, very quick. She tries to be the little "gnat" out there and be all over you. We need to keep our composure and get the ball where it needs to go.
*On handling UNC's defensive pressure
- It's going to be of the upmost importance. We talked before practice about a couple of the keys for us to be successful (tomorrow) and its at the top of the list along with defensive rebounding. Being able to take care of the ball, whether it be one-on-one or handling their press wether it's full court, half court or 1-3-1, going to be crucial for us to break the press, break the pressure and hopefully use our height to our advantage.
*On defenders guarding her tightly
- I enjoy it when they get up on me. I like putting the ball on the floor, trying to get them up in the air with shot fakes, draw contact and draw a foul. I think that's a part of the evolution of my game over the course of my career.
*On being a senior at Tennessee
- I've heard a lot of talk about the stress that past seniors have placed on themselves at Tennessee. I've been in three Final Fours, and you just get through it. You can't worry about the things that you can't control.
*On her first impressions of freshman Candace Parker
- Candace is a very unique player. I actually never saw her play until the first game of this year. Aside from basketball, she's even more impressive to me as a person. There's a lot of pressure on her because of her ability, and she handles it all with a lot of class
- that's rare for a freshman. I've enjoyed this year more than ever because of how unselfish she is. She has a height advantage over a lot of players, and she has great vision to find the open player when she gets double-teamed. She's always helping out, and she's a very fun player. Tye'sha Fluker
*What the battle in the paint will be and her role would be
- My role for our team is to go out and be the bully. Dominate on the defensive boards and as a team focus on rebounding and keeping them off the boards. I need to throw my body at them and use my physical play and my body to my benefit.
*On her matchup inside with Erlana Larkins
- I think this season has prepared us for all the players we'll face. For Larkins, I'm just going to have to keep boxing her out and keep a body on her all night.
*On the team's focus
- The focus is on defensive rebounding. They get a lot of easy putbacks, and if we take that away from them, then we should be alright.
*On Tueday's game having a championship feel
- Whoever comes out of this region
- it's been so tough
- will be well-prepared for the Final Four. Either team will really be ready for next weekend.
*On helping play defense on Ivory Latta
- We're a team defense type of team. We'll guard her by committee, and if she gets by Nicky [Anosike], then it's my job to try to influence her shots.
*On Tennessee's endurance
- We had one of the toughest preseasons we've ever had. Heather Mason has done a good job of preparing us individually and as a team.
*On Cleveland as a venue
- There was a good turnout and a lot of fans. Both games were tough yesterday. Tomorrow is definitely the equivalent of a Final Four game, and whoever moves forward is ready to win a championship.
*On North Carolina
- They're a great team. They have a good defensive scheme, but also make the transition and get on the boards.
*On Ivory Latta
- I think she runs her team. Everything goes through her. She's an emotional leader.
*On teammate Candace Parker
- We need somebody to break the pressure. She can score in the post and on the perimeter. It's great to have someone on the team like that because it just opens up opportunities for a lot of other players. Candace Parker
*On a national championship feel to the region
- I think that is a fair assessment. There are so many quality teams competing here. Anyone out of this region is definitely ready to compete for a national championship.
*On if she thinks Ivory Latta will play Tuesday
- She's going to play, no doubt. This is a regional final to get to Boston. If you have two arms and two legs, you're going to play.
*On who will guard Ivory Latta
- It will be by committee. Not a single player can guard her one-on-one. We just need to get in her face and contest every shot.
*On if she feels pressured on being labeled as the player who will change the game
- You know, I don't really feel any pressure. As the game of women's basketball is played, we are all changing it. There are a lot of great players across the board, so there isn't pressure on any one of us, we're all contributing.
*On having to sit out last season due to injury
- I learned a lot. Last year, I sat around and got to see what the game was all about. It allowed me to get ready for the college level.
*On Tennessee's offense
- We have so many weapons. When you start to focus on stopping one or two of us, others step up. That's what special about our team, we're all so unselfish.
*On if UNC is intimidating because of only one loss
- The post-season is a season in itself. Everyone playing at this point is undefeated. The regular season is just placement for seedings. Nicky Anosike
*On guarding Ivory Latta
- She has a quickness advantage over me, obviously, she's one of the fastest players in the nation. But I have the height advantage over her. What it's going to come down to is whose advantage is greater? I don't think she'll be guarding me, I think she might have a bit of a problem guarding me. It's definitely a personal challenge guarding her like it was yesterday against Cappie [Pondexter, of Rutgers]. I was a little disappointed yesterday with getting in foul trouble against Cappie.
*On how to avoid foul trouble on Tuesday
- I have to rely on my helpside defense. If she gets past me, I have to rely on the others to help out and avoid fouls.
*On the championship feel of Tuesday's game
- We've said all week that this is a mini-final four for us. We've had two challenging games. Tomorrow's game is going to be as tough as any championship game would be.
*On the rebounding battle on Tuesday
- We just have to hit the boards as hard as we can. It should be easier for me to help out on the defensive glass, since there won't be anyone blocking me out. I should be able to help out a lot.
*On handling UNC's press
- We can't break it as individuals, it's going to be a team effort. We're going to have to play together. Sidney Spencer
*On handling the pressure
- When I'm on the bench, I get real tense because you can't control what's going on on the court. But once I get in the game, I feel calm and relaxed, because I'm confident in my abilities and my teammates' abilities.
*On Tennessee Basketball
- Tennessee basketball is first and foremost board play. I think that, because of our height advantage, we can own the boards. Our confidence under pressure is also a part of our style. Our transition defense is going to be crucial to our success. It could be the difference in the game. I think our endurance and athleticism might be better [than North Carolina] but they have depth, so they could use that to their advantage.
*On teammate Candace Parker
- Her shooting is unbelievable. She looks like a post player but looks like a guard. She's so smart on the court, and she's very hard to defend.