Quotes from Coaches and Players following the Lady Vols loss to Notre Dame 77-67
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Holly Warlick
(Opening statement) "Obviously, I'm disappointed in the outcome. We went up against a great team and a great player in Skylar Diggins. You know, we battled. When we learn to maintain our level of play for us, we're going to be very good. We just get in some lulls and some valleys and that's just part of us continuing to practice and demanding their focus. So I'm proud of their effort at times, but disappointed in the outcome."
(On defense early in the second half) "It's just not consistent. At times, I thought we played really well, and then we'd give somebody a backdoor cut about six times with different players. We're just not consistent and we're not there. We can't use the excuse that we're young. We are young but it's just being disciplined and sticking to the game plan. We're young, and that's the way it is. We're going to play young. We're down. We have injuries and that's part of the game. We don't have an excuse for it. We've got to get a little tougher and get some more consistency on the defensive end."
(On Isabelle Harrison's condition) "Her knee was sore for the Vanderbilt game, so she hasn't practiced the last two days. I thought that hurt us when Izzy went out. I thought she was playing well on the defensive end, rebounding, but it's part of the game. I don't know. I hope she's going to be back because we need her. She's a vital part of this program."
(On missed shots in the paint) "I don't know. We missed some shots. We missed layups. I'm sure it was rushing. It was a physical game and we just missed shots. We shot 28 percent in the first half. We just missed shots and I don't have an explanation for it. I think Notre Dame obviously affected us and we rushed our shots. I'm sure it was a combination of a lot of things."
(On comeback midway through the second half) "The score didn't matter and it was about playing with a lot of heart. We cut it to four. We just couldn't get the game timed. Absolutely. We were on the verge of getting blown out. We could have laid down and died, but we fought back. That's what I mean by we're here but then we check out. Then we're here and we check out. To be a great basketball team, you can't have lulls. You can't have valleys. You just can't. You can't get too high and you can't get too low. We just played in spurts tonight. And against a great team, you can't play in spurts. You just can't."
(On Skylar Diggins in the second half) "I see her scoring and she can do that, but I think she's a great leader and she runs that team. It's a sign of a great point guard and that's why she's an All-American and one of the best players in the country. She's good and she knows when to get the ball, where to get the ball and she knows when she needs to score. She's just a great player."
(On Meighan Simmons) "I don't think Meighan had one of her best games and we tried and settle her down. I think Meighan's defense has been better, but she brings some energy, so we wanted to just sit her down and calm her down a little bit. Meighan has been a key to our success this year, I'm not going to deny her that. She had a tough game today, but our 16 games on the winning side, we wouldn't have gotten a lot of those had Meighan not had the impact she's had on this team. She'll bounce back, she's a tough competitor, she'll bounce back."
(On former UT players sitting in the crowd) "I wanted to put them in real quick. It was great to see our former players come back with the support for Pat. After the game, I didn't even talk to the team, Tamika (Catchings) talked to them and had some pretty solid advice. We're just on the edge, we've got to get over that hump, and it starts with our consistency. I'm proud that those guys came back, it's a tribute to Pat and this program. Candace (Parker) flew from Russia to be here today, Tamika surprised us, a ton of players were here, Marciniak, Holdsclaw."
(On rebounding for Mississippi State on Thursday) "Basketball, you just can't get too high or too low. You've got to step up, you've got another game. We'll go back and study this and learn from it, but we've got to refocus. The SEC is the most important thing for us right now. We were excited about Vanderbilt and we had to come back and get focused on Notre Dame, now we have to get focused on Mississippi State. That's what basketball is about, you do something great, you've got to turn around and do something great again."
TENNESSEE GUARD/FORWARD Taber Spani
(On ND's Diggins) "She played great. She played fantastic and hit key shots for them. She was their leader emotionally and she willed their team to victory."
(On the team falling behind early in the second half) "Our defense, which is what we pride ourselves on, we just did not have it at all until about ten minutes left in the second half. They were able to do whatever they wanted and they executed their Princeton offense very well and they were crashing offensive rebounds so our defense let us down."
(On ND's ability to run backdoor cuts) "They were just running their offense. We watched it all week on film and we knew what they were going to do and I think they are one of the best teams in the country at executing. We played Vanderbilt and they were very good but Notre Dame was exceptional. We did not make the adjustments and move quick enough to jump to the ball and to get back on the high side of that cut. They just had lay-ups."
(On the second half turnaround) "It is just the heart of this team. This team is probably one of the most competitive teams I have been on since I have been here. Everyone is invested into wanting to win and wanting to play not just for yourself but to play for each other and this program. We had an amazing turnout and the fans were loud and crazy, and you have Pat Summitt and her amazing ceremony and you have all of these former Lady Vols and so we want to play for them. I think that the heart of this team and the competitiveness got us back into the game."
(On the first half misses) "We can look back on multiple occasions in the first and second half were we missed bunny shots that we usually do not miss. In the end it was allowing them to really get easy lay-ups and it hurt us. In the long run you are playing number two in the country and they are a great team and you have to make the plays that come easy in order to win. You have to execute very well offensively and defensively."
TENNESSEE FORWARD Bashaara Graves
(On her increased playing time after Isabella Harrison went down) "It was tough but I was more worried about Izzy at first but then I started playing for her and my breath started coming back to me."
(On being a freshman playing a lot of minutes) "I just need to keep staying in condition and going hard in practice and try my best to still play 40 minutes straight."
TENNESSEE GUARD Meighan Simmons
(On the emotion surrounding the game with Pat Summitt's banner presentation) "I do not think it was a distraction for us. Today was about Pat Summitt and about the University of Tennessee in general and yes it was an emotional day because Pat was our coach but we just have to go out there and play."
(On ND's ability to defend her) "They ran their offenses very well. They are the number two team in the country so their defense is going to be really good. Their plan, I realized after a while, was to trap me off of every ball screen so I had to make an adjustment. I rushed a lot of my shots and really could not hit a shot tonight."
NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH MUFFET McGRAW
(Opening comments) "I think a great win in a hostile environment in front of a great crowd made for a great game. It was electric. They came out with a lot of emotion and got up early. I thought we maintained our composure. I was a little disappointed we couldn't manage our lead a little better. We're the best free throw shooting team in America, so it was a little unusual for us to miss so many free throws down the stretch. They did a good job on Simmons. Graves is a heck of a player. She was a really tough match up for us. She's going to be a phenomenal player. I thought their defense in the first half made us shoot quickly and poorly. Our shot selection was bad, and that's all credit to their defense in the first half."
(On coming back after a 20-0 program record against Tennessee) "I don't think in those terms. These guys are 3-0 against Tennessee. It's such a great program. It's the program that people measured themselves against for years. I think there's not many teams that have won three in a row against them, so we're proud of that."
(On Skylar's scoring run in the second half) "She really [took control]. She had a phenomenal game. One three she made when the game was still very much in the balance was just phenomenal. She's shooting the ball very well. She's 50% from the field against great defense. She managed the game and ran the team. It's our fourth game in nine days. I thought we looked a little tired in stretches down the end, and I really did want to take her out to give her a quick breath. She really gutted it out for 40 minutes with intense pressure."
(On anything particularly effective against Simmons) "I think the ball screen. We kept her away from the ball screen a little bit and that was our plan. We were fairly successful with that."
(On Natalie Achonwa) "We really missed her. She's our great rebounder, and we really needed to rebound better today. Kayla did a great job with ten boards, but I thought overall we really missed her. We missed her composure on the offensive side and we missed her overall action. She's a huge part of our team and to have her on the bench for so long was hard for us to figure out what to do. That's when we went to our other offense. I thought we had some success there."
(On a free throw game like this) "We haven't had a game like this. Like I said, we're the nation's best in free throws. We've not missed more than five or six in a game all season."
NOTRE DAME GUARD SKYLAR DIGGINS
(On losing their edge with the big lead) "I thought we just took some quick shots. They got us in transition. There were a couple bad shots, my shots, but they got steals. They have good defense."
(On taking over in the second half) "We all talked about getting off to a good start in the first minutes of the second half. I thought our team did pick it up defensively. We made it work early in the second half."
(On the stretch in which she got 9 of ND's 13 points) "We were just trying to get it going on offense. I was trying to get us into something instead of just dribbling around. We started moving and moving the ball. My teammates found me and I just finished it."
(On shooting after halftime) "It was our selection. I thought we had poor shot selection. Like Coach said, you have to credit their defense. It's the most pressure we've seen this year. Their pressure started to get to us, and we just started to try to dribble and score with some movement. I thought in the first half we were just going through the motions. It was almost like we were trusting our offense in the second half."
(On playing in Thompson-Boling Arena) "Thompson-Boling is one of the toughest places to play. All the fans and a great moment for Coach Summitt, with players like Candace Parker on the sideline. They did a good job handling it; they had a lot to play for. It was hard to play in front of all those people. It was great to see them out there. When you go to college, you dream of playing in games like this. I thought we did a great job managing it. We took our punches and kept it rolling. It was good for our team."
(On getting a career-high in front of former All-Americans) "It's more special for our program to get this win in such a tough environment. It's good for our team going into tough Big East play. We've just got a stretch left before the Big East Conference. It helps our team's confidence winning in a place like this."
NOTRE DAME GUARD KAYLA McBRIDE
(On winning against Tennessee at TBA and UConn) "Like Skylar said, it just gives us momentum going into the next Big East game. We have Louisville coming up and another matchup with UConn. We can use that confidence, but we have a lot to work on. I was really proud how we kept our composure down the stretch."