By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
NASHVILLE – The Auburn women’s basketball team (13-16, 5-11 Southeastern Conference) opens SEC Tournament play on Thursday when it takes on Florida (18-11, 8-8 SEC) at 1 p.m. ET. The winner will advance to play top-seeded Kentucky at 1 p.m. ET on Friday in the tournament’s second round.
Auburn head coach Nell Fortner sat down with the SEC Digital Network on Wednesday to preview the upcoming tournament.
SEC Digital Network: How is your team looking heading into Thursday’s first-round matchup with Florida and what are your thoughts about facing the Gators again?
“We played them just a few weeks ago and I think Florida is really good. I think this is one of (Amanda Butler’s) best teams since she has been at Florida. It’s going to be a tough, tough matchup; they’re senior-laden and I’m sure they’re very hungry to win some games to up their chances of getting in the NCAA Tournament, so they’re going to be tough. They’re going to come in tough, but so are we. We’re coming off of two wins and looking forward to trying to extend that.”
SEC Digital Network: Has there been any difference for you since you made your announcement that you will be retiring at the end of the season?
“No, there really hasn’t. I’m just trying to help them win a ballgame and do all I can to do that. There really has been no difference.”
SEC Digital Network: The SEC announced today that Blanche Alverson was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. What does that honor mean to you, and what has Blanche meant to your program?
“I’m so proud of her. She is just such a great kid and she’s so smart and bright. To be able to combine that with being a really good basketball player is special. I’m just really proud of her because she works hard in the classroom and on the basketball court, so it’s great to see her have that success.”
SEC Digital Network: What are going to be the keys for your team in order to be successful in this tournament?
“We’ve got to be able to shoot the ball than we have been and we’ve got to be able to break presses and limit our turnovers. I think that’s going to be really key for us.”
SEC Digital Network: What makes the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament a special event for you?
“I love the SEC Tournament. I love it all – the practices this week, just the excitement in the air and the kids get excited about it. On the plane ride up, they’re just full of energy and it’s just this time of the season. You work hard all season long to get to this point, so everybody’s excited to be here.”