Lady Vols Hoops Report (3/5/19)

Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick and seniors Meme Jackson and Cheridene Green met with members of the media prior to practice on Tuesday in Pratt Pavilion. UT (18-11, 7-9 SEC) is preparing for the SEC Tournament in Greenville, S.C., where it will face ninth-seeded LSU (16-12, 7-9 SEC) in an No. 8 vs. No. 9 match-up at noon on Thursday.

Answering questions from the media, Warlick discussed UT’s performance at Ole Miss and the importance of performing well in the SEC Tournament.

The Tennessee-LSU game will be televised by the SEC Network.

Head Coach Holly Warlick

On what’s at stake and the mood of the team:
“We’ve got to win a basketball game, and they’re intelligent kids, and they know we need to win. We needed to win at Ole Miss too, so they made it a priority. And I think they’re pretty focused and ready to get down there and ready to start playing.”

On getting into the NCAA Tournament: 
“I’m just worried about LSU. I can’t control what the committee is going to decide or not decide. We’ve just got to play as hard as we can and beat LSU right now.”

On the case she’d make for being included in the NCAA Tournament:
“(I’d say) how hard we play, our schedule. We’ve got to earn it though.  There’s not going to be any favors or anything, so we’ve got to play hard. And if our Ole Miss game is any indication and we come out and play like that against LSU, I think we have a legitimate case, but we’ve got to show that we deserve to be there.”

On what was said to the team between the Vanderbilt and Ole Miss games:
“We met, and the team met, which was really positive, and I just talked about a lot of their self-pride and what they stand for and getting back to playing together as a team. You can talk and you can motivate, and it’s not like we didn’t motivate throughout the whole year, but our kids decided it was important to them, and they played hard (at Ole Miss). When you play hard – I’ve said this the whole time – when you play hard and you play with a lot of passion and energy and selflessness, we’re pretty darn good basketball team.”

On how frustrating it is as a coach in the difference of play against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss:
“That’s funny you said that, because you’re extremely happy for them and then get mad at the same time. As a coach you’ve got to keep moving forward and keep building on what you saw. We’re going to build on that. I know it’s in them, and I know what they can do. They set a pretty high level of intensity and performance, and we need to have that exact same performance against LSU.”

On her message to the team before Ole Miss:
“My talk before (the game) didn’t have anything to do with X’s and O’s. They were prepared and ready, and I just wanted them to see the big picture.”

On the key to success in the win over LSU earlier this season:
“I thought, going back and looking at it, we played well together. Our defense was solid. We gave them probably too many offensive rebounds, which kept them in the game. But we got a great performance out of our inside game. We just played really well together, and when you do that with the talent we have… we just need to carry that over to our second game.”

On Mimi Collins’ development:
“I will tell you this, Mimi Collins has always been a pretty solid offensive player. The only thing I kept telling Mimi that was holding her back was her defense and her defensive presence, and she’s really worked at it. She’s playing with a lot of confidence, and I told her, ‘Your time is coming.”  And I’m going to play people who perform and help this basketball team, and I gave Mimi that opportunity and she stepped up. And she stepped up before she was starting, and now she started against Ole Miss and did a great job, so as long she continues to step up and play hard like she has been, I’m going to play her. We need her.”

On Rennia Davis being named to the All-SEC Second Team: 
“Rennia has been someone for us that we’ve had to go to. She’s had a lot of pressure on her. She has had an up and down season, but we’re really proud of her for handling a lot of the adversity, and then continuing to step up. She has worked at her craft; she’s in the gym all the time, and when you do that and put in the time like Rennia has done, great things are going to happen. This award is a reflection of her putting in the time, and I’m really proud of her.”

On sophomores stepping us as leaders: 
“Well, number one: it’s hard for (Rennia) being a sophomore. Number two: that is not her personality. She she’s not a vocal leader, and it’s very hard for her. So, we’re asking her to do a lot of difficult things, but she’s gotten out of her comfort zone and tried to help this basketball team. It’s hard for all of them. Evina Westbrook, too, she’s a sophomore. It has been difficult. We’ve learned throughout the season what we need to do and what we don’t need to do, and it is a growing process. When you don’t have upperclassmen that have been here and have led, it’s extremely difficult.”

On Kasiyahna’s Kushkituah not playing at Ole Miss:
“She had a death in her family, and she was gone Saturday. (Her not playing) had nothing to do with Kasi and her performance. We’re just excited that everybody else stepped up and had a great game.”

On if she’s talked to the team about how important the game against LSU is:
Absolutely. They’re intelligent. Unlike me, they’re on social media 24-7, so they see what’s been said. They know what’s at stake, and it’d be really foolish for me to try to hide that. The Ole Miss game, we talked about that. That was a huge game for us. We had a lot at stake there. We talked a lot about it. Really every game that we’ve played since we’ve been in the SEC, they understand the importance. They’re intelligent young ladies, and they’ve got to take what they know is important and their skill level and their effort and put it to use.”

Senior Meme Jackson

On difference between games against Vandy and Ole Miss:
“We were playing with a lot of energy and effort all over the floor. We were also playing together, and we had great ball movement.”

On NCAA Tournament chances:
“Our plan is to take it game by game. We aren’t looking too far ahead. We are looking at our next game, and our next game is LSU, so that is what we are focusing on.”

On advice to freshmen:
“Right now, in tournament play, everyone starts off 0-0, because it is a new record and new season. We just have to go out there with a mindset that it’s just one game at a time.”

On what was said after Vanderbilt: 
“Holly talked to us about it, and that was not our identity or who were are. We had a team meeting as well, and we decided that is not how we wanted to end our season, so we had to get together, and I think we have gotten it together.”

Redshirt-Senior Cheridene Green

On giving freshman advice:
“We just tell them to stay focused whether you are nervous or not. We told them to just play your game and be yourself. We told them not to think about the tournament or what people are saying, but just be true to yourself and have fun with it too.”

On previous win against LSU: 
“I think our effort was there, and we played defense well. LSU is a great defensive team, and we matched that toward the end of the game. We need to make sure we give great effort and stay focused on the game plan.”

On the team meeting:
“We just needed reassurance on the team, and we asked everybody if their goals are all the same. We hold each other accountable to make sure we want what we want, and we have to show it in our actions too.”

On the difference between games against Vandy and Ole Miss:
“Our defense was the main difference. I think Meme had a great game, too, and that also brought everyone along. Our energy was there, too. We were talking to each other, we were holding each other accountable, and we were listening to what the coach was saying. We were together, and that is how it needs to be from here on out.”


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