Lady Vols field questions at first press conference in Louisville

Holly Warlick

Diamond DeShields, Mercedes Russell

Tennessee Lady Volunteers

Q. I realize you're all emerged in the tournament right now, but you don't have much time

before this draft, this WNBA draft and declaring. Have you had any time in the season to

weigh the pros and cons of turning pro early?

MERCEDES RUSSELL: That's not something I'm worried about at the moment. I'm just worried

about the tournament at the time. That's something I'll think about after the season.

DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: It's definitely a decision that's looming over both of our heads. But

like Mercedes said, it's something we try not to put too much thought into. We're committed to

being in Knoxville with Coach Warlick, and the rest of our teammates and currently where we

are in Louisville right now, and focused on Dayton. That's all I'm thinking about.

Q. You talk about Dayton. Do you want to go into preparation for that?

MERCEDES RUSSELL: From watching film, they're definitely a solid team. They've won their

conference championship. They've got some pretty good shooters on their team. They have good

posts that can score around the basket, and step out and shoot the threes. So just all around,

they've got good scorers. Then on the defensive end, they really get after you.

DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: Yeah, I mean, most important thing for us is just to respect all of our

opponents here. Being in this tournament, there's no team here that can't be beat. So that's the

first thing for us. The year we've had has been full of lots of ups and downs. We don't want to

repeat that cycle. We want to stay on top of our game and get to a good place so that we can

compete deep in the tournament. But, Dayton, they're a great team, just like Mercedes said, and

we understand that and respect that. We've prepared for that.

Q. Mercedes, do you like playing against taller post players, or would you prefer to be

shooting over somebody that's five or six inches shorter than you are?

MERCEDES RUSSELL: Yeah, I would say I enjoy playing against shot blockers. I know

Dayton has a couple of posts, 6'5", 6'3" that like to block shots, and I think that's always a fun,

challenging game.

Q. Diamond, you talk about competing and playing this time of the year. The whole season

culminates with this, right? So all that hard work, I mean, is this the fun part? Is it all fun?

Are there times when it's not fun?

DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: I mean, when you lose, you know, it's not fun when you lose. But,

yeah, this is why you come to college. This is why you play. This is why we're all here - for

March, to compete for that trophy. So, yeah, it's a lot of fun just being here with you guys and

with each other, and all the fans that come on the road with us and support us. This is definitely a

fun time for us.

Q. Mercedes, your take on it?

MERCEDES RUSSELL: Yeah, same what she said.

Q. Diamond, you've been playing in the SEC regular season and tournament, you're really

familiar with those teams. They're familiar with you. Do you kind of like going into playing

a team that doesn't know that much about you and how you play?

DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: Well, I mean, you hope that they don't know a lot about you, but I

mean, they wouldn't be here if they came into games that unprepared. I'm sure they've scouted us

and know our personnel very well. Like we said, it's all about respect moving forward. We

respect their players. We respect their coaching staff. They may not have seen us before, but they

know what we're capable of and they know what we've got and likewise. We know what they're

capable of, we know what they've got. Not overlooking anything or anybody.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Dayton had a kind of an unusual start to the season with a coaching change right before

the season. As a coach, can you relate to the challenge that presented where you would

come in with the season just very close at hand and not much time for preparation? Can

you relate to that?

COACH WARLICK: Well, absolutely. I know Jim Jabir real well, and it is a challenge. It's a

challenge, but it's something that I think that anybody would look forward to, to run their own

program. So as you feel a little nervous about taking over, you're also excited. I think that's the

same situation that I went through. And I know Coach Green has done a great job and got an

opportunity, and has really stepped up and taken advantage of it.

Q. Looking not at the coach but at their players now, who stands out to you? Who could

give you fits?

COACH WARLICK: Well, they're very well-coached. Their guards can shoot the three and also

penetrate so that, as a team, poses a difficult assignment for anyone defensively. They're a great

rebounding team, so I just think they've covered all aspects of a winning team.

They're smart, they're intelligent. They run a system, and they do it very well. So it will be a

challenge for us to limit their threes. Keep them in front of us. Keep them off the boards. Just all

those things that make a competitive basketball team, and I think that's what Dayton is.

Q. Is there any team you played during the regular season or in the SEC Tournament that

reminds you of Dayton, similarities in size or style of play?

COACH WARLICK: Maybe Missouri. A little bit of Missouri. Except maybe not take their bigs

out so far away from the basket. But I think they're patient. I think they shoot the three ball like

Missouri. Probably that would be the team that comes to mind right now.

Q. Do teams now -- I realize similarities in size, style of play, but when you're playing a

team now, do you pretty much know how they're going to play you defensively? That

they've looked at the film and they see what your strengths and weaknesses are?

COACH WARLICK: I think so. I think coaches do their homework. I think we watch a lot of

tape, lot of film, and see how they've guarded certain teams a certain way. I think there can be a

tendency that you put in something new or do something different because it's postseason. But it

boils down to players making plays and understanding what you want, what your coach wants.

So I don't expect them to do a lot of things different. We're not going to do a lot of things


We've tweaked a couple things on our offense, on our defense. We're going to go with what's

successful for us, and I'm sure Dayton would concur as well. There is a reason why they're here

and we're here. But your players have to make plays. We can tell them to do certain things in the

game but the ball's in their court by the time the game starts.

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