Lady Vol Basketball – Lady Vol Hoops Report (11/10/19)

Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Head Coach Kellie Harper met with the media on Sunday afternoon in advance of her team’s trip to Notre Dame.

The Lady Vols, who are receiving votes in both the AP and USA Today Coaches’ Polls, will face the No. 16/14 Fighting Irish in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center at 7 p.m. ET on Monday. The game will be televised by ESPN2 and broadcast on Lady Vol Network radio stations and via a live stream on UTSports.com.

Tennessee and Notre Dame both enter the game with 2-0 records. The Lady Vols defeated East Tennessee State in Johnson City last Monday night, 72-68, and handled Central Arkansas in Knoxville on Thursday evening, 63-36. The Irish, meanwhile, opened with a 60-55 victory at Fordham last Tuesday and defeated Loyola Maryland at home on Friday night, 84-60.

Tennessee Head Coach Kellie Harper

On her expectations for the game against Notre Dame:
“I hope our team comes out and plays with poise and plays with confidence and plays with great passion and great intensity, but I’m excited to be able to see where we are. Going up and playing against a tough team in a tough environment, I think it will really challenge our players, and hopefully we’re ready to compete.”

On the players’ mindset the past few days knowing they’re facing a top-20 opponent:
“I think they’ve been excited about the opportunity. I think that’s how they look at things. And I think they were excited about our progress from game one to game two; I think that was a real positive for us. But I think mindset-wise, they’ve been ok. They’ve come to practice in a good state mentally, and they’re just looking forward to tackling their next opponent.”

On the challenge of playing three games in seven days:
“As a coach, I sure wish I had three more practice days in there, but coaches, we never get enough practice days. It’s come quickly. They’ve had to bounce back quickly. They’ve had to learn quickly. They’ve had to take film sessions that maybe would’ve been a little bit longer, but we had to shorten them to be able to get through what we needed to get through to prepare for another team. These scouting reports have really come quickly.”

On the value of having already played a road game:
“Honestly, for us, our first road trip was a lot about logistics, management, seeing where we need to clean some things up. We want to make sure we’re efficient, we’re effective, how we get in and out of the locker room. There were a lot of things that I needed under their belts logistically before we go up to Notre Dame, so that was a good positive that we got that done. When you have that confidence that you know what’s about to happen – you know what pregame is going to look like, you know what riding on the bus to the game is going to look like. And that can give you confidence in many other areas.”

On the differences between playing home and away:
“There are differences, even how you handle yourself at the hotel. Just having that (game at ETSU), and knowing our expectations and having done it, I think, is important. Also, at ETSU we played in a pretty loud and a pretty tough environment, and I think that’s going to be beneficial.”

On the challenges Notre Dame will present:
“I think Notre Dame is really good in transition. They are great passers, and they are great cutters. And I think those three things – you’ve got to slow them down in the transition game, but you’ve got to be able to defend the cuts. They’re great passers in the half-court game as well. Obviously, they’re not deep, but the players they do have can make plays.”

On if she wants to push the tempo:
“I think our pace is important to us, and when we’ve played fast, we’ve been better. So yes, we want to have a good tempo, especially offensively. And we’ve got to be able to slow their tempo down on the other end.”

On how this year’s Notre Dame team is different from last season:
“They’re different in their personnel, but they’re doing a lot of the same things. They’re just tough. Notre Dame players are just coached very tough. They’re going to be physical, and they’re going to do what they need to do defensively. They’re going to change up their defenses and really pound you on the boards, but I think one of the things they were known for last year was their transition offense. That hasn’t changed. The personnel has changed, but they’re looking for the same things.”

On what she looks for in a sixth man:
“High energy. A player that’s going to come in and make plays. I have had some terrific players come off the bench for me in the past. I’ve had all conference players come off the bench in the past. I think you’ve got to have someone who is going to come in the game and give you a boost of energy when they enter the game and be a playmaker for you.”

On if games like this will help when they get into SEC play:
“Oh, absolutely. I want to play a tough schedule. I want to play teams that are going to challenge us. You may walk out of the non-conference schedule with a loss or two more than you would’ve otherwise, but the ultimate goal is to be the best at the end of the season, and we have to be ready for SEC play, so we have to be playing teams that are big, strong, athletic and can execute.”

On if she talked to the guards about being more aggressive after Central Arkansas:
“We have talked to all of our guards about being a little more aggressive when they get the ball to the paint. We showed them the film. There were a few times where we passed up some opportunities, and I think that’s going to be a work in progress for us. We’ve worked on it in practice, but we’ve got to make that a habit. Our guards have to be a little more aggressive and play a little more downhill when they’re going to the basket.”

 

UT Athletics

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