KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Lady Vol head coach Holly Warlick met with the media on Wednesday ahead of Tennessee's (17-8, 6-6 SEC) match up with No. 21/22 Texas A&M (19-6, 8-4 SEC) on Thursday night in College Station, Texas.
UT and the Aggies will meet for the first time this season at 8 p.m. CT (9 ET) tomorrow night at Reed Arena. The game will be televised on the SEC Network and broadcast on the Lady Vol Radio Network.
The Lady Vols enter this contest having won five of their past six games, most recently defeating RV/RV Missouri on the road, 62-60. Texas A&M comes into the game having won eight of its past 10 games, but it also dropped two of its past three. In their last game the Aggies suffered a 92-64 loss to No. 5/5 Mississippi State at home on Sunday.
Head Coach Holly Warlick
On having fewer turnovers in the last couple of games:
"We talked about it, emphasized it and focused on it. We really talked a lot on taking great shots, and I think that has helped us with moving the ball and getting the defense to move. It has been a great thing for us."
On the team's confidence level:
"It's huge right now. We put together two good games back-to-back. I thought we played solid in the third and fourth quarter against Auburn. We were really focused and really aggressive. Then we went to Missouri and did what we did. We were really tuned in. It was a big crowd. We had to be really solid with each other, and we were."
On the defense playing a lot harder:
"I totally agree with you. Our defense has gotten a lot stronger. We have worked a lot on it. When you compare from January to where we are now, it is a night and day difference. It's still not there yet, but we have confidence in it. That has been huge for us."
On what makes Chennedy Carter so difficult to guard:
"She can shoot the three. She can get to the basket. She is really crafty in going side to side and going forward. She is going to get her points. We can't foul her, give her uncontested shots or put her at the free-throw line. We have to make sure that no one else gets over their average. They are a great rebounding team. We can't get caught up with Chennedy, we have to take care of everyone else as well."
On what else they need to watch out for when facing the Aggies:
"Their inside player is really good. She is second in the conference in rebounding. I think Kayla Wells is playing with a lot of confidence. Their point guard is steady in getting everyone the ball. They don't go deep into their bench, but the five that play are really solid. Their four player is a great rebounder as well. You have to be aware of Carter, but you have to take care of everyone else."
On Mimi Collins contributing in recent games:
"Mimi (Collins) is so solid. Her defense has been what has held her back a little bit, but we have worked on it. She has really worked on it. She was so solid against Missouri. Mimi is one of those kids that is always around the ball. We want to play her more and we want to make sure she is efficient on the defensive end. If she plays a solid game like she did at Missouri, she is going to help us so much."
On how important the win at Missouri is:
"For us, (the win at Missouri) was big. It gave us confidence. It reassured us that we were a solid basketball team and when we stick to the game plan and play with each other and help each other, we are solid. When we limit turnovers and take solid shots, we are a very good basketball team."
On the struggle of keeping this team focused every game for the NCAA Tournament:
"It is (a struggle). I don't know if they have really looked that far down the road. We talked in January and explained that these games now will help your seeding in the tournament. They don't really think about that. Instead, we take it one game at a time, and they have done a great job. We had a good film session. They are focused on Texas A&M. If there's a good thing that came from those losses, it's the way we zero-in on our next opponent."
On the importance of controlling the tempo against A&M:
"Well, it's big. Coach Blair likes to control the tempo and play slow. We like to play fast and run when we can, similar to Missouri. If we can't run, we don't want to force something and turn it over. If we have to go deep in the shot clock on offense, then we want to do that. We are going to have to play solid for 30 seconds on the defensive end. They may run a play and we have to make sure they don't keep it alive. A lot of times they run a play, and it breaks down, and Carter will just drive to the basket and make her own play. We have to be solid for the whole 30 seconds."
On when she noticed her team started to turn the corner defensively:
"I think in the Mississippi State game; we were good until we ran out of steam. I think for the first two and a half quarters we were solid. Auburn, we started in a zone for the first two quarters, then we went man and it was some of the best man-to-man defense we have played."
On this young team maturing throughout the season:
"They have had to grow up. They didn't have a choice. It's about a learning process, and what they didn't know they know now. Each game they continue to learn. They are paying more attention. We just have to keep putting them in spots where they can play and not have to think. For that to happen, we have to keep going over things and understand what to do in certain situations. They are getting much better at that."
On Zaay Green's performance's in big situations:
"What I love about Zaay is that she has played almost every position except the five. We have put her at the four and she makes it work. She is difficult to guard because she can shoot the three and she can go inside. She is a strong rebounder. She plays the game. Zaay knows the game. Whatever position you put her in, you will get the most of her. She is going to figure out how to get into spots, score and get rebounds."
On this team and the growing process they have been through:
"There is no question about there being a growing process. Most of these young ladies have always had the ball in their hands, and now they are having to learn how to play without the basketball and play with other great players. It was a learning process for Zaay. She has settled in. We have simplified our package for all of these young ladies. We just want her to play the game. Zaay is a great example of just playing basketball."
On what the team has learned from the losses:
"No coach wants to lose, but if you do lose, you want to learn from it. We did. We understand that we need each other. We have a strong bond right now. It's growing pains. When you lose, you start pointing fingers and start questioning a lot of things that you do. These kids came together and realized that they needed each other. I think that you can see the proof in the Missouri game. Different people scored and we got big stops down the stretch, and that was team defense."
On the youth of the team going forward:
"This team is just continuing to get experience. We are going to continue to grow. I feel good about it. We have passed the point of 'having to get mine,' not that they did, but there is something about learning to play with each other, and I think that we have learned to play with each other."