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Everything Kellie Harper Said After Lady Vols’ Loss to UConn

Everything Kellie Harper Said After Lady Vols' Loss to UConn
Photo by Ryan Schumpert/ RTI

The Tennessee Lady Vols suffered their seventh loss of the season on Thursday, falling 84-67 at home against UConn.

Despite a resurgent second quarter that saw Tennessee limit UConn to seven points after giving up 33 in the first quarter, the Lady Vols could not contain the Huskies offense in the second half, and Geno Auriemma’s group coasted to the win.

After the game, Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper met with the media to discuss the loss. Everything she said is below.

Opening Statement:
“That was a great environment to play basketball in today, loved the fans coming out and being loud. It was fun to be a part of. Obviously, (it was) really tough to slow them down today. They were making about every open shot they had. They had a few too many open shots, but they were making some tough shots as well. We just weren’t able to get enough stops to give ourselves a chance to win the game. Proud of our fight. I thought we had good effort. Hopefully, we can learn from this, grow and be a better basketball team.”

On why the team didn’t come out strong to begin the game…
“Listen, I’m going to give that one to Connecticut. That’s how great they played in that first quarter. They were efficient, their spacing was great and they made shots. They banked in one of the shots at the end of the first quarter, and that’s how that whole quarter felt. We talked to our team about settling in, continuing to fight, continuing to play hard. Although they shot 55 percent for the game, that’s really good. We didn’t think they were going to keep the 71-percent clip going. You just try to tell your team to hang in there and at least make things a little bit more difficult, which is what we were able to do a little bit later.”

On the offense’s performance…
“I think our ball movement wasn’t exactly where we needed it, and our spacing could be better, offensively. We didn’t get a lot in transition; we didn’t get a lot of opportunities there. Part of that is to get stops, to get going in transition. I think there are some things we can do better. I liked our aggressiveness. I liked that, but I think we definitely need to execute a little bit better offensively.”

On how the team can rebound from this with another matchup on Monday…
“I think for us, we aren’t looking at it as that. We just need to see how we can be a better basketball team. That’s a really good team, that’s another level. How can we take that next step? We have improved. Anyone who has seen us play knows that we are very capable, and we can play. What we want to do is take it another step. For us, that’s going to be in the details. It’s going to be in the consistency, not from game to game, but from minute to minute, not having lulls, not being two steps behind the offense to start the game. For us, the details is where we’ll improve.”

On details for team to master moving forward and attention around the game during We Back Pat initiative…
“To me, the details would be taking care of the basketball, understanding our defensive execution and defensive gameplan, us sprinting the floor every single time, making hard cuts, finishing layups, making free throws. It’s the little things. It’s not anything complicated. It’s not that we have to learn a new offense or a new defense, it is the details for what we’re already doing. That’s all the time, it’s every single possession over and over. In terms of the day and the atmosphere and everything going on, it was awesome. It was fun. I hope that our fans enjoyed the excitement. Obviously, wish it would have been a better outcome for us, but we appreciate our fans being there and being loud. When it got really loud in the second quarter, when we were making a lot of tough, gritty plays. At one point, I was so excited for our team that they were really experiencing that environment, because that was a lot of fun. That’s what you come to Tennessee for.”

On how the Tennessee-UConn rivalry has changed from her playing years to now and the future of the rivalry…
“I think it’s changed. Obviously, we’re in different spaces right now as teams, but I think you can still see there’s a lot of competitiveness in that game. I think it’s a great challenge. I think that the matchup, at least on our part, is a great challenge to see where you’re at and where you need to go to improve.”

On team’s excitement about this game…
“I think our players were really looking forward to it. They like these games, they’re competitors. They like the opportunity they have. That’s what we look at it as, an opportunity to come in here and play this game. I know that there weren’t a whole lot of people that thought we were going to do what we did, our team did. We felt confident going in, and they were just looking forward to it. Again, it was, it was an opportunity.”

On if there was discussion of limiting Jordan Horston’s minutes or her availability after illness…
“We just worked her back in. Once we got her in full-go yesterday, we were in good shape. We’re just going to watch and see how she did. Obviously, she went in and played a lot of minutes. Really proud of her and excited for how competitive she was and how focused I thought she was during the game.”

On having another big opportunity at LSU on Monday…
“Yeah, honestly, we didn’t discuss our next game yet. They know what is next. You know, you are playing an undefeated team that is really rolling. They are playing great. We know it is huge, especially going down there. It is going to be a huge challenge for us. We get that. We will start discussing LSU tomorrow.”

On getting more distribution on the offensive end…
“Like I said earlier, I didn’t think our ball movement was where it needed to be so, you get that ball movement up and you increase those assists. Obviously, you have to credit Connecticut’s defense. They do a really good job, defensively. I think that gets hidden sometimes with their offensive performance. I mean their offensive performances are typically stellar. They are shooting a high percentage, they are efficient, but defensively, they are also really good. We saw a little bit of that today, but I think our team can do a little bit better job in that area to get the assists up and the turnovers down in this game.”

On how close she feels the team is to having all the pieces come together…
“Obviously, we are not there. We know that. We are getting there, and I think we can continue to go in a positive direction. I really think we can. It might be smaller increments in terms of the details, but we can still do that. That doesn’t mean just because you are doing (those things) you are going to win every game. It may or may not, but we have to find a way to be the best basketball team we can possibly be. That is what we are going to be working towards.”

Transcription via UT Athletics

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