Wants no payback vs. No. 1 Duke
KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee women's basketball team wouldn't mind seeing the environment at Thompson-Boling Arena more closely resemble Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.
At least in some ways.
The Lady Vols still are fuming after their last meeting with the Blue Devils on Jan. 23, when Duke's "Cameron Crazies" hounded UT guard Alexis Hornbuckle for her 2004 arrest on a charge of shoplifting at a Wal-Mart in West Virginia.
Students waved shopping bags and chanted "Wal-Mart" throughout the night, even during pregame warm-ups. Hornbuckle responded by committing six turnovers, and Duke ran away with a 75-53 win.
A year later, the sting of the loss has worn off slightly for the No. 4 Lady Vols (17-1). But that game appears to be in the back of their minds as they prepare for their rematch with the top-ranked Blue Devils (19-0) on Monday.
"I just want to get them back," UT junior center Nicky Anosike said. "That was really mean, especially for Alexis, who is one of my closest friends on the team. I think we owe them a little something."
Hornbuckle said the heckling served its purpose during the game but "was inappropriate to a point." Coach Pat Summitt admitted it might have bothered her more than any of her players.
"I thought it was really unfortunate that any player was put in that position," Summitt said. "I was very upset after that game. To me, there's no place for it. …
"I was probably more upset than anyone in the gym."
Seeking student support
Summitt admits that part of her would like to see a similar environment at UT's home games.
She said players have lobbied recently for better student attendance. Summitt visited four campus cafeterias this past week to drum up support for what should be one of this year's most anticipated regular-season games.
On each of Summitt's stops, students suggested that she remove the end-zone seats provided for students, following in the footsteps of men's Coach Bruce Pearl, who took out the seats before last season.
Summitt listened to the suggestions and has ordered for the seats to be taken out for Monday's game. She's hoping for a raucous environment, but with one caveat.
Said Summitt: "We're not going to be into dirt digging."