Saturday, March 22, 2008

Summitt likes setup for spectator scouting

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The women's basketball being played here is all-Midwest Regional all the time.

All eight NCAA tournament teams competing in the opening two rounds at Mackey Arena are vying for the two spots in a regional semifinal game next Sunday in Oklahoma City.

Opposite Tennessee's four-team bracket is No. 4 seed Oklahoma versus No. 13 Illinois State and No. 5 Notre Dame playing No. 12 SMU. Those winners also meet Tuesday night

In the three seasons of this tournament format, the Lady Vols have never shared a venue with eight teams from their regional. Should they advance, they plan to fully utilize the in-person scouting opportunities.

"I like the fact we can watch in-person,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said. "You get a better feel than if you're watching on tape or on TV."

Summitt valued spectator scouting enough last season to have her players watch Ole Miss play Oklahoma in a Dayton Regional semifinal game played after UT's game. Seeing the Lady Rebels' 90-82 victory over Oklahoma gave the Lady Vols a greater appreciation for how much better Ole Miss was playing since their regular-season meeting. The Lady Vols responded with a 98-62 victory two days later in the regional final.

"I think it's significant when you're looking at (a team's) speed and their quickness defensively, how physical they are; it's hard to tell on TV,'' Summitt said. "How they use their physicality to their advantage."

Summitt also noted that possible opponents "get some benefit from watching us."

The Lady Vols also will peruse the postseason literature available about all the teams. It includes everything from statistics to newspaper articles.

"I think you become more familiar,'' Summitt said. "You can read about them and find out what other people are saying about them."

Study Time: UT hopes to play two games here. No matter who the Lady Vols play, the opponent will be unfamiliar. Therefore, the scouting report in hand will be most important.

"The fact that there's different faces just means we have to prepare more," senior center Nicky Anosike said.

Summitt said this UT team has been "exceptional" in terms of digesting scouting reports.

"I think they have a high basketball IQ,'' Summitt said. "... I think they're really into learning the game."

Region Honors: Summitt was named Russell/WBCA coach of the year for Region 3. The honor makes her one of eight finalists for the national award, which will announced April 7 at the Women's Final Four in Tampa. Candace Parker and Alexis Hornbuckle are regional finalists for the State Farm coaches' All-America team.

Notebook: Tennessee is 40-0 in NCAA first- and second-round games. ... UT has never played a team from Oral Roberts' Summit Conference, formerly known as the Mid-Continent Conference. ... Oral Roberts has returned to the site of its first NCAA game. In 1999, the Golden Eagles also were a No. 16 seed and lost to host Purdue, 68-48. ... Tennessee has faced 15 NCAA teams and is 16-2 against this season's field. ... The Lady Vols are 1-3 in NCAA games played in the state of Indiana. ... Tennessee signee Briana Bass, who's from Indianapolis watched the Lady Vols open practice Saturday … In the personal information portion of Oral Roberts' media guide, guard Rachel Watman said her dream job is "Trophy wife."

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