Thursday, February 26, 2009

LSU tops Lady Vols 63-61

BATON ROUGE, La. — Katherine Graham made two free throws with 7.9 seconds remaining and LSU slipped past No. 18 Tennessee 63-61 on Thursday night.

LaSondra Barrett led LSU with 18 points while Allison Hightower had 14. Tennessee's Angie Bjorklund led all scorers with 21 points.

LSU, trying to build its NCAA tournament resume, improved to 16-9 and 9-4 in the Southeastern Conference with its fourth straight win.

Tennessee (19-9, 8-5) lost for the third time in its past four games.

LSU went up by 18 points late in the first half and led 35-20 at halftime, but Tennessee rallied with a 12-0 run. The Lady Volunteers tied the game three times in the second half but never led.

Tennessee had a chance to tie in the closing seconds, but LSU's Kristen Morris tied up Tennessee's Glory Johnson with 0.3 seconds remaining.

Morris inbounded to Barrett on the alternating possession to end the game.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

No. 13 Tennessee beats Mississippi State 82-68

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Kelley Cain scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help No. 13 Tennessee beat Mississippi State on Sunday and avoid its first three-game losing skid since 1986.

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt refused to let her players use their locker room before the game after dropping three of their last four, including their first two-game skid since 2006.

For more than 26 minutes, it looked like the Lady Volunteers (19-8, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) might not earn their locker room privileges back.

The teams were tied at 64 when Alex Fuller’s layup launched a 15-1 run. Mississippi State (19-8, 6-6) hit only one more field goal, a 3-pointer by Mary Kathryn Govero with 31 seconds left.

Tennessee, which has won all 30 games in the series, shot a season-high 52 percent.

Alexis Rack led Mississippi State with 24 points.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kentucky stuns No. 13 Tennessee, 66-56

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Eleia Roddy couldn’t have picked a worse time to head to the bench in foul trouble, though it did provide her a great perch to watch a ferocious and ultimately historic run by her Kentucky teammates.

With their leading scorer watching during a critical 15-2 second half run, the Wildcats cruised to a 66-56 victory Thursday night over No. 13 Tennessee, handing the struggling defending champion Lady Vols their first defeat at Memorial Coliseum in 23 years.

Trailing 32-31 when Roddy picked up her third foul, Kentucky got a quick 3-pointer from Carly Morrow and two layups by Amber Smith to jumpstart the surge. Roddy said the Wildcats’ supporting cast made her proud.

“It was disappointing I had to go sit on the bench, but they took care of it,” said Roddy, who joined Amani Franklin as Kentucky’s leading scorer with 18 points. “That’s what every player wants. Making it happen, that’s what they did. I had a lot of confidence for that bench they were going to get it done.”

Morrow had 13 and Smith added 10 as the Wildcats (14-12, 4-7 Southeastern Conference) beat the Lady Vols for just the second time in 30 meetings to preserve their faint hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament. Kentucky, which came in having lost six of seven, also beat a ranked opponent for the first time this season.

Afterward, women’s basketball all-time winningest coach Pat Summitt blasted her young team for lack of effort.

“In 35 years coaching, this probably has been the least energy of any team I’ve coached,” Summitt said. “I’m not good at coaching effort. It was a total lack of passion. I don’t know that you can teach that to a player.”

Tennessee’s lone senior, Alex Fuller, said she thought the team’s young players were being “young minded,” relying on their youth as a crutch.

“You have to work at Tennessee,” Fuller said. “It’s not just a label. It’s not just a sticker you put on your chest. It’s going to be there for good.”

Kelley Cain scored 16 points and Alex Fuller had 13 for Tennessee (18-8, 7-4), which has now lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Tennessee cut a 17-point deficit down to eight but could get no closer as the Wildcats milked time off the clock and made their free throws to seal the upset.

“We got that big lead, and all our coach was saying was, ‘Don’t let down. Don’t let down,”’ Smith said.

Matthew Mitchell, who secured the highest profile win of his Kentucky tenure, said he didn’t feel confident until the end.

“Nothing they do surprises me,” Mitchell said. “They’re Tennessee.”

While a nearly full Memorial Coliseum enthusiastically cheered on the Wildcats, the upset didn’t have quite the same intensity as Kentucky’s last win in the series three years ago. That was a last-second victory over a then-No. 1 Lady Vols team at Rupp Arena.

That game and this one marked Kentucky’s only two victories in the series against its SEC rival since pulling one out at Memorial on Jan. 24, 1986. The other 28 meetings since all went to the Lady Vols.

The Wildcats were a completely different team early. They were shut out for the first 5 minutes, missing seven straight shots from the floor and two free throws by Victoria Dunlap.

Kentucky certainly had its chances, even during the drought, such as when Franklin caught a pass beneath the basket but stepped on the baseline before she could set up for the easy layup.

Tennessee used the Wildcats’ mistakes to build a 10-0 lead, holding the Wildcats scoreless until back-to-back layups by Roddy seemed to recharge the Kentucky offense.

Those baskets started a 10-2 Kentucky run that also included a fastbreak layup from Smith off a crisp upcourt pass from Carly Ormerod.

Ormerod, the senior point guard and one of the team leaders, was one of the only Wildcats do contribute little offensively. She finished with just three points but did lead the team with six assists.

With Tennessee at risk of entering the tournament with its lowest seed in years, Cain said it was time to step up.

“It’s been past time to grow up,” Cain said.

Monday, February 16, 2009

No. 7 Duke beats No. 13 Tennessee 62-54

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jasmine Thomas scored 19 points and No. 7 Duke beat No. 13 Tennessee 62-54, the Blue Devils’ third straight win in Knoxville.

Duke (21-3) joins only Texas and Louisiana Tech as teams that have won three straight games on the Lady Volunteers’ home court. The Blue Devils also won in 2004 and 2007.

The Longhorns did it between 1983 and 1988, and the Lady Techsters managed the feat between 1981 and 1986.

The game marked the end of the six-game series between the two perennial powerhouses, a series in which the home team has only one once. The Blue Devils now lead the series 6-5, including games at neutral sites.

Duke led 28-26 at halftime, but Tennessee’s Alicia Manning hit 3-pointer and Alex Fuller sank a jumper to tie the game at 28.

The Blue Devils responded with a 16-0 run through an 8-minute drought by the Lady Vols (18-7). Free throws by Bridgette Mitchell with 8:51 left gave Duke a 44-28 lead—its largest of the game.

Tennessee used free throws to slowly chip away at the margin, and Angie Bjorklund’s 3-pointer with 48 seconds left trimmed Duke’s lead to 58-54.

The Lady Vols began fouling the Blue Devils but couldn’t manage to pull in defensive rebounds on the missed shots.

Chante Black added 18 points for Duke, which shot 41.8 percent and outrebounded the Lady Vols 49-36.

Briana Bass led Tennessee, which shot a season-low 32.1 percent with 14 points, and Kelley Cain added 10.

Duke scored the first four points of the first half and knocked in 50 percent of their shots in the first 10 minutes of the game.

The Blue Devils took a 20-10 lead on a jumper by Thomas with 6:34 before halftime.

But the Lady Vols, who shot only 30.8 percent in the first half, went on an 8-1 run from there. Briana Bass hit a 3-point shot with 2:08 in the first half to tie the game at 23 points.

Thomas and Abby Waner hit back-to-back baskets to give Duke a 28-23 lead at halftime.

Duke had 12 points off 13 Tennessee turnovers at the break. The Blue Devils had committed 14 turnovers by then, but the Lady Vols capitalized for only five points.

Duke moves to 5-2 over ranked opponents for the season while Tennessee drops to 2-7.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No. 15 Tennessee beats Alabama 80-61

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Alex Fuller scored 18 points, leading No. 15 Tennessee to an 80-61 win over Alabama on Thursday night.

Tennessee now holds a 41-2 lead in the series and grabbed its 34th straight win over the Crimson Tide. Alabama hasn’t beaten the Lady Vols since a victory in the first round of the 1984 Southeastern Conference tournament.

Tennessee (18-6, 7-3) led by 11 at halftime and then used a 14-0 run to pull away. The Lady Vols finished with a 51-30 rebounding advantage and had 20 second-chance points.

Dedrea Magee scored 21 points to lead Alabama (12-13, 0-10), and Varisia Raffington added 19.

Tennessee’s Shekinna Stricklen landed hard on her right knee with 10:39 before halftime and had to be helped off the floor. Stricklen, who leads the team with an average 13.6 points per game, returned to the sideline in the second half on crutches and was to be evaluated after the game.

Angie Bjorklund added 13 points for Tennessee, Sydney Smallbone had 11 and Alicia Manning scored 10.

The Lady Vols scored the first seven points of the game before Alabama found its shot and went on an 8-2 run. Ericka Russell scored six points in the run that pulled the Crimson Tide to 9-8.

Alabama, which averages 38 percent shooting from the field, made 50 percent in the first half.

Tennessee also shot better than its 41-percent average, slowly building on its lead with 45 percent shooting and entering halftime with a 41-30 lead.

Alabama’s shooting cooled off after halftime, and the Tide couldn’t keep up with Tennessee. Smallbone hit a 3-pointer to cap the Lady Vols’ 14-0 run for a 62-37 lead—their biggest of the game.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lady Vols 'Live Pink,' Bleed Orange

Thompson-Boling Arena will be a sea of pink when the Lady Vols host the Duke Blue Devils on Monday, Feb. 16th. The game, part of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's 2009 Pink Zone campaign, is aimed at raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.

"This is one of the most exciting games of the year. Not only are we playing a great team, but we will be promoting an important cause," said Pat Summitt, head coach for the Lady Vol basketball program. "This game is set for a national stage on ESPN2 and our fans will have the opportunity to show the country their commitment to breast cancer awareness."

As part of the LIVE PINK campaign, a mobile mammography unit will be on site providing mammograms from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"This is such a great opportunity for us to partner with community organizations that work year-round to promote breast cancer awareness and support those who have been diagnosed with the disease," said Joan Cronan, women's athletics director.

"We are working with the Knoxville Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen foundation to host two breast cancer survivors that night as guest coaches," Cronan continued. "Anyone can submit their story to and the committee will pick two to participate that night."

Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with breast cancer; and every 13 minutes a woman will die from breast cancer in the United States. This year approximately 2,030 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer; and of those more than 450 will die. Together the WBCA, UT Lady Vols and the Knoxville Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is doing their part to make the community aware and contribute to breast cancer research to bring scientists one step closer to finding a cure.

Join the cause and be part of the largest women's basketball crowd to show support for breast cancer awareness. Tickets for the game are still available at the Thompson-Boling Arena ticket office, by phone at (800) 332-VOLS or (865) 656-1200 or online at

Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt "lives pink"

Knoxville - Be part of the largest women’s basketball crowd to show their support for breast cancer awareness.

The “LIVE PINK” Bleed Orange event is part of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association 2009 Pink Zone Campaign.

Fifteen other universities around the NCAA will be doing similar events throughout the week to raise money for breast cancer research.

Other schools participating include Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, LSU, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.

We’re encouraging all fans – Lady Vols or Duke Blue Devils – to show their support and wear pink to the game on Monday, February 16th

This game gives us an opportunity to recognize those women who have overcome the devastation of breast cancer and to provide support and encouragement to those who are currently undergoing treatment.

We are working with the Knoxville Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen foundation to host two breast cancer survivors that night as guest coaches.

The Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center will have a mobile mammography unit on site providing mammograms from 5 to 7 p.m.

We are trying to raise awareness about breast cancer but to also raise funds for local Knoxville cancer treatment centers and facilities.

The challenge is a friendly fundraising competition

All 15 participating schools will try to collect the most money through the Pink Zone initiative, all schools must report their money raised to the WBCA.

The top four teams will be announced and the winning team will receive a trophy at the 2009 Women’s Final Four.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Brooks scores 29 as Florida beats Tennessee

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sha Brooks scored 29 points to lead No. 11 Florida to a 66-57 victory over No. 12 Tennessee on Sunday night.

It was the Gators (22-2, 8-1 SEC) first victory over the Lady Vols at the O’Connell Center since Jan. 21, 1997. Florida is 3-37 against Tennessee and first win since topping the Lady Vols 95-93 in overtime in Knoxville on Feb. 26, 2006. Florida had lost the next three meetings by at least 22 points.

Brooks single-handedly erased Tennessee’s seven-point lead late in the second half by scoring 12 consecutive points. The Lady Vols led 50-43 before Brooks’ run, which began with a 3-pointer with 7:06 to play. She followed with another 3-pointer, two free throws, another 3-pointer and one more free throw to put the Gators ahead 55-52 with 3:19 to play.

Brooks also hit a free throw with 52.5 seconds to play to give the Gators a 61-57 lead and added one more with 27.8 to play to put UF ahead 62-57.

Angie Bjorklund led Tennessee with 16 points. Kelley Cain had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Friday, February 06, 2009

1000 Wins for Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt


Tennessee coach Pat Summitt's fastest 100-win total occurred between victories No. 500 and 600, which she amassed in just three years, two days. From her first victory on Jan. 10, 1974, to win No. 1,000 on Feb. 5, 2009, 12,445 days passed. A look at how long it took Summitt to reach each plateau:

Wins Length
1-100 4 years, 4 days
100-200 3 years, 324 days
200-300 4 years, 32 days
300-400 3 years, 21 days
400-500 3 years, 300 days
500-600 3 years, 2 days
600-700 3 years, 12 days
700-800 3 years, 39 days
800-900 3 years, 5 days
900-1,000 3 years, 17 days


•Through her first 34 seasons, Summitt averaged 28.9 victories and just 5.4 losses per season.

• Summitt has been fond of saying, “Surround yourself with great people.” During her 35-year coaching tenure at the University of Tennessee she has worked with 153 Lady Vol basketball student-athletes and been assisted throughout the years by a total of 39 coaching staffers (assistant coaches, graduate assistants and operations directors), 53 student managers, 3 head athletic trainers, 2 women’s athletics directors, 1 media relations director and 1 secretary.

• Over 35 years, Summitt has brought 153 women into the program (including this year’s team). Of that total group, 111 have graduated (including current starting post Alex Fuller), two discontinued playing due to medical reasons (knees), 23 transferred, and six quit.

• Summitt has always said, “You win with players.” Summitt’s all-time Lady Vols represent 30 states led by 64 players from the state of Tennessee... 20 from Georgia... six each from Indiana and Ohio... five from Michigan... four each from California, Florida, Kentucky, Texas and Virginia... three from Alabama, New York, South Carolina and West Virginia... two from Illinois, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and one each from the states of Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

• Over 47 percent of ALL games coached by Summitt have come against Associated Press ranked opponents with the Lady Vols producing a 400-155 record and a 72 percent winning percentage. Imagine facing a ranked opponent in practically every other game in your career. Summitt has faced this challenge for 35 years, night-in and night-out. Summitt’s teams have also emerged victorious over unranked teams as well, winning 600 games (including tonight’s victory over Georgia) and losing just 32 contests. That’s 95 percent winning record over unranked opponents.

• Never had a losing season

• 32 consecutive seasons with at least 20 wins

• 18 seasons with more than 30 wins


To celebrate the 1,000 win milestone Coach Pat Summitt was presented with the following:

This coming Spring, the Women’s Athletics Department will have a toast and roast evening of “A Night of 1,000 Stories.” It will be an event to celebrate all of the Lady Vol basketball players and coaches who have helped make the 1,000 victories possible. Proceeds from this extravaganza will go to the Summitt Legends scholarship fund. Please direct your attention as UT-Knoxville Chancellor, Dr. Jimmy Cheek is now unveiling the event poster.

As is her custom, Coach Summitt will set yet another first. The new Knoxville River Walk will have her “star” as the first one. Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam is presenting a rendition of the Pat Head Summitt star.

The SEC has always been “Some Exciting Conference!!” On hand tonight to present Coach Summitt with a commemorative plaque celebrating her 1,000 win milestone is Southeastern Conference Commissioner, Mike Slive.

Securing your milestone game balls has often been a challenge – especially number 100 at N.C. State and number 900 at Vanderbilt… UT Men’s Athletics Director Mike Hamilton would like to present you with the game ball from tonight’s win.

And finally, Director of Women’s Athletics, Joan Cronan and famed artist Robert Tino and Terri Holder are unveiling an original Tino painting celebrating the 1,000 win accomplishment. In addition, Joan is also presenting Coach Summitt with a little BLING -- a one-of-a-kind bracelet and necklace commemorating her 1000th victory.



To celebrate this remarkable accomplishment, the University of Tennessee Women’s Athletic Department will host “Pat Summitt’s Night of 1,000 Stories” at the Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville this spring. The date will be announced in coming weeks.

“Pat has meant so much to so many,” said Joan Cronan, UT women’s athletic director. “This is a great opportunity for us to pay tribute to her for everything she has accomplished for the University of Tennessee and collegiate basketball.”

The event will feature appearances by former players and colleagues of Summitt’s and include a sneak peak of the Vol Network’s documentary on Pat Summitt.


University of Tennessee President Dr. John Petersen and Women’s Athletics Director Joan Cronan announced tonight that Lady Vol Head Basketball Coach Pat Summitt signed a contract extension earlier this week that will run through 2014. Summitt will earn $1.4 million for 2008-09 and receive a $200,000 bonus for her 1,000 wins at Tennessee.

“For the past 35 years, Pat has been a tremendous ambassador for our state, our University, college basketball and women’s athletics,” said Women’s Athletics Director Joan Cronan. “We’re excited that her new contract will take her through her 40th season with the Lady Vols.”

The contract also includes two lifetime achievement bonuses – $500,000 in 2009-10 and a $1 million longevity bonus in 2013-2014 to reward her for her 40 years as head coach of the Lady Vols.

All funding for the athletics department, including coaches’ salaries, is from monies generated by athletics’ resources and not from appropriated funding by the state of Tennessee or other university-related revenues.


Game Notes: Georgia, February 5, 2009 (Game #22 – 17-5, 6-2 SEC)


•Today’s starters: Angie Bjorklund, Alex Fuller, Glory Johnson, Alicia Manning and Shekinna Stricklen.

•Redshirt-sophomore Cait McMahan has decided to not play the rest of the season, accepting a role as a student assistant coach and will remain on the sidelines.

•With McMahan having decided to not play the rest of the season, Fuller has chosen to honor her teammate by wearing No. 2.

•Four Lady Vols scored in double figures: Johnson (20), Fuller (13), Cain (12) and Bjorklund (11).

•Two Lady Vols recorded double-doubles: Johnson (20 pts, 10 rebs) and Fuller (13 pts, 10 rebs).

•UT held the Lady Bulldogs without a point for 6:36 midway through the first half, going on a 13-0 run to build a 20-12 lead.

•Tennessee led at the half for the 16th time this season. In those games the Lady Vols own a 15-1 record.

•The Lady Vols’ largest lead of the first half was eight at the 10:54 mark; their largest deficit was five at 16:53.

•Tennessee went on a 9-0 run over the first 2:47 of the second half to grab a 41-24 lead.

•Tonight’s crowd of 16,058 is the second largest of the season.

•The Lady Vols made a three-pointer for the 362nd consecutive game.

•The Lady Vols have shot an average of 24.3 free throws per game, making 68.0 percent. Tonight they shot 11, making 6.

•Summitt owns a 12-5 record when going for a milestone win.

The win tonight…

•Makes Pat Summitt the first coach in NCAA basketball history – men’s or women’s – to win 1,000 career games.

•Extends UT’s winning streak to eight against the Lady Bulldogs.

•Improves Tennessee’s record to 40-14 against Georgia, including a 16-4 mark in Knoxville.

•Gives UT an 11-5 record in TV games this season.

•Improves the Lady Vols record to 404-61 against SEC opponents and a 276-36 mark in league play.

•Moves UT to 10-1 at home this season.

•Head Coach Pat Summitt’s career record now stands at 1,000-187 (.843) all time.

Up next…

•The Lady Vols are back on the road for a Sunday evening match-up at the No. 11/13-ranked Florida Gators. Game time has been moved to 5 p.m. and will be seen by a national audience on ESPN2.

Freshman Glory Johnson:
Scored a career-high 20 points
Recorded her fifth career double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds

Freshman Kelley Cain:
Tied a career-high with 12 points
Grabbed a career-high eight rebounds

Sophomore Angie Bjorklund:
Tied a career-high with seven assists
Needs just two three-pointers to move into a tie for No. 10 on Tennessee’s career three-pointers made list. Tasha Butts and Jody Adams are currently number 10 with 103 three-pointers.

Senior Alex Fuller:
Made the first Lady Vol basket of the game – a 3-pointer at the 19:00 mark
Had UT’s first seven points and 11 of the first 13
Notched her second career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds
Will wear No. 2 for the rest of the season in honor of teammate Cait McMahan, who has decided to take on a student assistant role for the rest of the season



(Opening statement):
“Obviously, I had no idea how we were going to play tonight. With this team it’s been the unknown. You have to wait and see how we play. I thought that our defensive intensity early in the game set the tone and I’m excited to see us play quality basketball. I think this was the closest we’ve been to playing a 40-minute game. I’m proud of how we played. I thought that we may have felt pressure tonight, but I just told them that we really needed an SEC victory, especially a big one over Georgia. I feel much better about where we are as a team if we can just build on this.”

(On if her team felt pressure to win tonight):
“I think if they did, it was probably because it was very important to me that we get this win in front of our fans. I knew our challenge at Oklahoma would be really tough, but I didn’t want us to come back and not play the type of game that would give us a chance to win over a quality opponent. We just have incredible fans, and I never want to do anything but compliment them. It was a huge crowd and it made a difference.”

(On what it means to her to have 1,000 career victories):
“It has a ‘wow’ factor from the standpoint of never, ever did I think that I would coach for this long, nor did I ever envision this program winning 1,000 games. It certainly is a time for me to reflect about all of the players that scored all of those points. We’ve had more Olympians, more All-Americans than anybody else. People have told me that this is a record that will never be broken. I don’t know if I believe that because records are made to be broken. The fact that this program was the first to do it is a great source of pride for all of us.”

(On what Alex Fuller’s hot start meant to her team):
“When Alex opened up shooting the ball so well, it took pressure off of her teammates. It also gives her a little more confidence as a senior, showing our young players how we need to play. I thought we played with more freedom on offense—the ball was moving a lot quicker. We had a lot of good interior passing, which is an indication that we’re growing on the offensive end. I was really pleased with how we defended.”

(On what it meant to her when former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight told her the amount of victories it would take for another coach to reach 1,000):
“I thought ‘wow’. I didn’t think those would be the numbers. I think that’s why a lot of people say no one’s going reach it, but I think there are some people out there that will stay in it even longer. Coach Knight is looking to get back into coaching, so I know he’s after my record. You’ve got to watch out for Coach Knight.”

(On why she had the team create its own scouting report for this game):
“After our loss at Oklahoma, I was very upset and disappointed with our team. We were picking and choosing when we play hard, and we didn’t know who we could depend on. When Vicki Baugh went down, I thought that we were going to be in trouble if we didn’t start to turn things around. I even started looking at our schedule, and I shouldn’t have. I’ve never had to do that before, but I did it because it was on my mind. I told our team that that we gave them a great scouting report at Oklahoma, and their best three-point shooter went off on us. That told me that they were not using our scouting report, so I told them to make their own scouting report for this game. It’s not something that I’m going to do from now on, but I thought it did help us, when you know what someone’s going to do and you know how you want to disrupt it. They misspelled some things on it, so I told them that they might have to be in school for six years instead of four. When they finished it, they really understood what UGA liked to do and what they had to take away from them, and I think that helped us tonight.”

(On how she feels about her team after this game):
“I’m encouraged that we played this well, but we’ll just have to wait and see how we come off a big win. Do we think that we’ve arrived or do we understand that we’re still fighting to get a good placement in the SEC tournament?”

(On which number excited her more: 1,000 wins or the 40-minute game her team played):
“I’m excited about both tonight. If we lost, I didn’t want them to have the pressure at Florida and then they may have felt pressure from both situations. I was adamant that I wanted this to be in front of our fans. Now, I would never throw a loss, you don’t have to worry about that. But I have said from the get-go that I wanted this record to be in Thompson-Boling Arena.”

(On why she established to the fans that her team’s goal is to be in the Final Four):
“I think you have to say it and you have to believe it. I want our players to understand the expectations. With some of the losses they’ve had, I think that they’ve doubted where we are and where they have to go. I’ve told them that it doesn’t matter if we’re struggling right now, we’ve got a lot of games left and you’ve got to believe that you can do it.”

(On her team’s effort tonight):
“Hopefully they understand what they did, and I think that the results speak loudly for all of us. They all made a commitment to their goals, and when you’ve got a team that’s willing to do that, they don’t have any excuses. I’m really proud of them and I appreciate everybody being here tonight.”

(On the game as a whole):
“It was a good win for us. We’re mostly excited about playing a 40-minute game, and we finally played together for a whole game instead of for a half or for 30 minutes.”

(On what the game meant to her):
“I grew up watching the Lady Vol program play. I’ve always wanted to play here. I was a part of her 900th win, and that was a big deal for me. I guess all that means is that I’ve been here a long time.”

(On the team’s focus on getting Coach Summitt her 1,000th win):
“I don’t think that was our main focus. We knew we were going to get it tonight. Our main focus was playing as a team and playing together. We had a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting yesterday, and I think that helped us as a team.”

(On yesterday’s team meeting):
“It was just players and coaches, just laying everything out on the line and saying what everyone needed to do for us to win.”

(On the team-created scouting report):
“We worked really hard on the scouting report, and I thought the freshmen really stepped up and took over. Who knows? Maybe Pat might let us take over the scouting reports.”

(On if the game had a big-game feel to it):
“It had a big-game feel to it, but it also had the feel of a game where our young players were finally realizing how they have to play for us to win.”

(On the importance of this win moving forward):
“It kind of builds everybody’s confidence. It’s huge for us to move on and carry over to Florida.”

(On what it means to be part of Coach Summit’s 1,000th victory):
“Personally, I would never have thought that I would be here experiencing this. It’s a great experience for me, and it’s an honor.”

(On the team’s performance tonight):
“This is about us playing hard and coming to play every day, no matter if it’s a game or practice. We’re a great team. We just have to play hard all the time.”

(On whether or not the absence of Vicki Baugh gives her a sense of urgency):
“Definitely. It leaves us with four posts, so we have to play hard every day in practice.”

(On what it meant to face her home state school):
“That was (Etowah, Ga. native) Alicia Manning’s and my goal—to show out in front of Georgia and also to help Coach get 1,000 wins. We had to prove ourselves as a team.”

(On what it means to be a part of Coach Summitt’s 1,000th victory):
“We’ve realized that all season. She’s Pat Summitt—success comes with her name.”

Georgia Head Coach Andy Landers (opening statement):
“The 1,000 wins is a wonderful thing for Coach Summitt and the University of Tennessee. I said just now on our radio program: the thing that is impressive to me is the consistency with which they’ve done the things they’ve done. You just don’t see the bar go that high and stay that high very often in anything. Think about it a minute. They’ve been able to do that for 35 years. Holy cow. When you compete at the highest level and you compete for championships on every level over a 35-year period of time, it is a remarkable accomplishment and that’s the thing that impresses me the most.

(On what Tennessee women’s basketball’s trademark has been during the Summitt era):
“The trademark has changed since the early years. A long time ago it was the commitment to half court basketball and the stifling man-to-man defense that they played on the 20- to 25-foot level. I think their defense changed when they went to full-court man and started pressing. The half-court (defense) is different than what it was then. As that changed, they became a dominant rebounding team on the offensive end, and they’ve remained that way for a long time. I think most people that have played them would say that defense and rebounding have been their staple.”

(On the text message he sent Summitt last Sunday night):
It was my way of saying to her that she was on the cusp of something great. I think I was the first to congratulate her tonight and that means something.”

Georgia guard Christy Marshall (On being held to two points in the second half):
“That was kind of my fault. They did a box-and-one (defense) on me. I slacked down, and didn’t get myself open as well as I did in the first half. It wasn’t just their doing; it was my doing too.”

(On if the team talked about Summitt’s attempt at her 1,000th win before the game):
“Coming into the game, we weren’t focused on any stats. She’s one heck of a coach. Congratulations to her.”

Georgia guard Ashley Houts (On if the team talked about attempt at her 1,000th win before the game):
“We weren’t focused on that heading into the game, but it happened and we’re just going to have to take this and learn from it. “

(On being held to just 43 points as a team):
“I think everybody on our team has the ability to score, and I think Christy showed that tonight. Porsha Phillips has showed you that before. It’s not anything anyone does in particular; it’s just about us trying to find what works. It’s just us trying to execute. This is obvious not what we wanted. We will learn from it and grow.”



“First of all—this may be hard for me—because we’ve got the greatest fans in women’s basketball here tonight. I want to thank the administration for making the commitment to women’s basketball here before it was popular. From the president through Joan Cronan to Mike Hamilton—it’s been incredible.”

“I’ve been extremely blessed. I thank God for the opportunity to be able to coach and work with these ladies. I thank every person who has been part of our staff. Several of you here are in business, and you know how important it is to hire great people.”

“To all of the student-athletes who wore the orange—there have been so many dedicated student-athletes. I’m proud of our 100 percent graduation rate.”

“Obviously, I want to thank our current staff. We’ve had a few challenges this year. Have you noticed? I want to personally say thanks to them.”

“We may be young and inexperienced, but our goal is to be in St. Louis. That is something that we talk about. We talk about that vision.”

“My brother, Tommy, and Delores (his wife) are here tonight. I want to say thanks to them. Obviously, Coach (Billie) Moore came in from California. LaTina Mayes, my right-hand assistant and her family are here.”

“I miss my mom being here. She’s had a tough last few weeks, but she’ll be fine. I know she’s so excited tonight.”

“All of you have made a big difference, and I love you for it. You’re so invested.”

“Before I go—I’ll remember this as a special night and all who made it possible and who still love the Lady Vols with all their heart.”

“One last thing—can you believe it? Webb School had a game tonight, and my son was not here. He said, ‘Mom, I want to be there.’ I said, ‘Son, you never miss a practice, and you never miss a game.’ I hope they won. Tyler Summitt has taught me more than I have ever taught anyone. I love him to the bottom of my heart. Here’s to Tyler.”

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Summitt reaches new heights: 1,000 wins

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pat Summitt didn’t bother to brush from her hair the glittering specks left behind by the confetti shower. Her voice wavered as she thanked players, coaches, administrators and fans for their support over the decades she’s spent at Tennessee.

The coach known for her searing glare could only smile. She had reached 1,000 victories, an unprecedented height even she finds dizzying.

“Wow,” she said. “This may be a little hard for me.”

Summitt became the first Division I basketball coach—men’s or women’s—to win 1,000 career games Thursday night as her 12th-ranked Lady Vols beat Georgia 73-43. It was their second chance in four days at giving their coach her latest and one of her greatest milestones.

And she’s got a new contract to go along with it.

These baby Lady Vols (17-5, 6-2 Southeastern Conference), with seven freshmen on the roster, are nothing like the squads that brought Summitt her seventh and eighth national championships in the previous two seasons. This is an inexperienced group that had Summitt joking about whether they would even be up to the task of winning the 17 games she needed to reach 1,000 this season.

“It’s a time to reflect on a number of things, the administration saying yes to women’s basketball and giving us an opportunity to play on the biggest stage in the women’s game. I appreciate that,” she said.

The landmark win came on the court named for Summitt, 56, who just keeps racking up achievements for others to chase. All the fans in the arena began standing with about a minute left, and they clapped to “Rocky Top” as orange and white streamers fell from the ceiling.

Summitt gave Georgia coach Andy Landers a hug on the sideline. Landers said it meant something to be the first to congratulate her on a remarkable accomplishment.

“You just don’t see the bar go that high and stay that high very often in anything. Think about it a minute. They’ve been able to do that for 35 years. Holy cow,” Landers said.

The Lady Vols were given T-shirts with “1000” on the front in orange, which they pulled on before a celebration on the court. School officials gave her a bracelet, necklace and painting to commemorate this historic win. They also announced Summitt had signed a contract extension through 2014 earlier this week and earned a $200,000 bonus with this win.

Summitt became emotional as she talked.

“I feel like I’ve been extremely blessed, and I thank God for the many opportunities I’ve had to be your coach and work with these young ladies, and so I want to thank all of you. I want to thank every person who’s been a part of my staff. … They gave their absolute best,” Summitt said.

She wanted to win 1,000 on this court, especially with a road trip to No. 11 Florida on Sunday.

She didn’t get to celebrate on Tennessee’s homecourt Jan. 29, 2006, when Summitt won her 900th game in Nashville. She won her first game at home, and Nos. 300, 800 and 880—the one that pushed her past North Carolina’s Dean Smith for most wins by a Division I coach—came in Knoxville. The night she passed Smith, Tennessee renamed the court for Summitt.

“I grew up watching the Lady Vol program play,” said Tennessee senior Alex Fuller of Shelbyville, Tenn. “I’ve always wanted to play here. I was a part of her 900th win, and that was a big deal for me.”

One fan confident of the win flashed 1,000 on a sign behind the bench as photos of Summitt over her 35 seasons flashed on the videoboards during timeouts.

Summitt had former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer cheering her from a luxury suite with men’s basketball coach and close friend Bruce Pearl also on hand. Billie Moore, who coached Summitt in the 1976 Olympics, and Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive also were in the stands.

Neither Summitt’s mother, who has been ill recently, nor the coach’s son, who had his own high school basketball game to play, were in the arena to celebrate with her.

Tennessee lost 80-70 to No. 2 Oklahoma on Monday night in Summitt’s first try at 1,000.

Summitt is not only the first to 1,000 Division I victories, but she might be on the only one for a long time. The only coaches with at least 900 are Bob Knight (902), the former men’s coach at Indiana and Texas Tech currently working in TV, and retired Texas women’s coach Jody Conradt (900).

“Everyone who has been involved in athletics knows every once in a while it may take a couple of generations you get to see something very unique and very special,” Moore said. “It’s probably not ever going to happen again, at least not in your lifetime. This is one of those moments.”

Summitt joked that her reaching 1,000 might be why Knight may be thinking about coaching again.

No coach has beaten Summitt more than Landers, whose hometown is a short drive away from Knoxville and who used to scrimmage the Lady Vols when he was at a nearby community college. His Lady Bulldogs came in having won four straight in a streak that included wins over Vanderbilt and Auburn after those teams had beaten Tennessee.

The Lady Vols erased any doubt that this would be the night to celebrate by grabbing the lead in the first half of a sloppy game and pushing the lead to double digits on the first bucket of the second half, a layup by Glory Johnson.

Johnson finished with a career-high 20 points to lead the Lady Vols. Alex Fuller had 13, Kelley Cain added 12 and Angie Bjorklund 11.

Georgia (15-8, 5-3) went cold for nearly seven minutes in the first half and couldn’t recover. Christy Marshall led Georgia with 16, Ashley Houts had 11 and Porsha Phillips 10.

“She’s one heck of a coach,” Marshall said.

Summitt won her 40th overall against Georgia and improved to 16-4 in this series in Knoxville even in a game the banged-up Lady Vols took a few more lumps.

Vicki Baugh, who tore her left ACL against Oklahoma, is out for the rest of the season. Then Shekinna Stricklen pulled a groin muscle and had to leave briefly with Alicia Manning bruising her left quadriceps muscle.

This team has been a challenge for Summitt, not like the dominant ones she’s used to coaching. That doesn’t mean the ultimate goal isn’t the same.

“We may be young and we may be inexperienced, but our goal is to be in St. Louis at the Final Four. And that is something that we talk about,” she said. “I think you’ve got a vision, you have to talk about that vision. We have a vision, and that’s where we want to be.”

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tennessee’s Baugh out for season with knee injury

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee sophomore forward Vicki Baugh has a torn left knee ligament and will be out for the rest of the season for the No. 12 Lady Vols.

Trainer Jenny Moshak said Tuesday that tests confirmed that Baugh tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during the second half of Monday’s 80-70 loss at No. 2 Oklahoma.

Baugh tore that same ACL during the Lady Vols’ NCAA championship victory over Stanford in April.

The 6-foot-4 Sacramento, Calif., native has played a limited number of minutes since spraining the knee in practice on Jan. 1. She’s played in 14 games this season, started 10 and was averaging 6.5 points per game and more than seven rebounds.

Moshak said Baugh will begin rehabilitation immediately.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Growing Up Summitt

Alone at the Summitt

Summitt denied 1,000th win in loss to Sooners

OKLAHOMA CITY — Pat Summitt's 1,000th win will have to wait at least another game.

Courtney Paris' record 112-game double-double streak came to an end, but Whitney Hand matched her career high with 20 points in No. 2 Oklahoma's 80-70 victory over 12th-ranked Tennessee on Monday night.

Summitt was denied in her first attempt at reaching the coaching milestone. She'll get another chance on Thursday when the Lady Vols host Georgia.

Paris had nine points and 12 rebounds and got a standing ovation when she fouled out with 38.2 seconds left. She waved to the crowd as she walked to the sideline.

Shekinna Stricklen scored 19 to lead the Lady Vols (16-5). Glory Johnson added 12 and Vicki Baugh 11.

Q&A: Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt

Legendary University of Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt, who has already won more games than any other basketball coach — men's or women's — in NCAA history, is on the verge of reaching a milestone that was simply unthinkable before the days of Title IX: 1,000 career victories.

Summitt could reach that feat on Feb. 2, when the Lady Vols play Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. Before win number 999 against the University of Mississippi on Jan. 29, Summitt, who has won eight national titles over her 35-year career with the Lady Vols, including the '07 and '08 championships, spoke to TIME's Sean Gregory about the challenges of coaching today's player, how she thinks she'd do in the NBA, and her cheerleading skills.

What's going through your head right now, as you get closer to this monumental milestone?

Well, I think a lot of people are constantly reminding me that this is a historic moment for our program, and for the game. Quite honestly, I've been so focused on my team. The first thing on my mind is trying to get these freshman to understand how you have to play the game. How you just have to have a different level of intensity, and commitment. When I think about it, I obviously think about all the teams and players that wore the orange. I think about how much we managed to win, not just at home, but on the road. And the fact that we have more Olympians and All-Americans than any program in the history of women's basketball.

You mentioned you're trying to get your freshman to play harder: you're known as one of the most intense coaches around. Have you mellowed at all over the past 35 years?

I think I've mellowed a lot from when I started coaching. But I still demand a lot. I really think that kids are more fragile now. I don't know why. But they don't seem to have as much toughness. If you call them out, you can just break their spirit. You have one-on-one meetings, go over and just talk to them during practice. It's just that they're sensitive. They're more fragile.

You started coaching at Tennessee in 1974, two years after the passage of Title IX, the landmark legislation that created more athletic opportunities for women. What was it like for a women's basketball team then?

I had to drive the van when I first started coaching. One time, for a road game, we actually slept in the other team's gym the night before. We had mats, we had our little sleeping bags. When I was a player at the University of Tennessee-Martin, we played at Tennessee Tech for three straight games, and we didn't wash our uniforms. We only had one set. We played because we loved the game. We didn't think anything about it.

We've had great fan support here — people are passionate about Lady Vols basketball. You see more and more universities now drawing big crowds. It's great at night, when we're not playing, to be able to come home and turn the TV on and watch Big 12, Big East, ACC and SEC women's games. It's amazing how far we've come.

Where have women's sports not made enough progress?

There are a number of institutions that have struggled to make a commitment to marketing their women's programs. You have to spend money to make money. You have to get out in the community you've got to get involved in charity events. That's not happening as much as it should. Coaches have to understand that that's very, very important.

Most women's sports advocates agree that not enough women are coaching women's teams. Do you agree?

I don't really think about that. I think athletic directors should hire people that can take over their program, recruit and be competitive in the women's game. It doesn't bother me. Obviously, if a man and a woman have equal experience and abilities, I'm going to hire a woman. Because we don't have as many opportunities.

Candace Parker, who played on your '07 and '08 national title teams, is pregnant. She's due in May, just before the WNBA season kicks off. She was the WNBA MVP as a rookie, and is the chief marketing face of the league. Her pregnancy will obviously sideline her for at least part of the season. Some people aren't thrilled: on message boards fans have reportedly called her "selfish." Are you surprised by this reaction?

Family has always been important to Candace. I remember when we were flying out to California to go to the ESPYs in '07, and even on that plane ride, she was saying, "You know, I love the game, I want to keep playing, but family is really really important to me." So when she called and told me she was pregnant, I was excited for her. It doesn't mean her basketball career is over. And I think Candace is very dedicated to working out. I don't think she'll have a problem working herself back into great shape, and playing in the league. And to criticize that — it's her personal choice.

Have you ever been offered a men's coaching job?

No I have not.

Have you ever pursued one?

No [Laughs]. The only time I ever coached boys was when I coached my son's AAU team. People have asked me "Why wouldn't you do this?" My attorney, he's like "You've got to coach in the pros. You need to be the first woman to do this." And I said, "You know, my passion is coaching women's basketball." I do believe that's the place I can make the most difference.

If you did coach in the NBA, do you think you'd get through those guys and win?

[Laughs] I don't know. Watching some of these guys, I wouldn't even want to deal with them. They play when they want to play, they make all this money. Though there's a lot of teams and a lot of guys that leave it all on the court. And that's true with women too. So no, I don't really aspire to ever go in that direction.

What's the state of your famously rocky relationship with University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, your chief rival.

I have tremendous respect for Geno. He's a great coach. He's had tremendous success, and I think right now he has the best team in the country. And the fact that we're not playing each other, I know bothers a lot of people. They play a great schedule. We play a great schedule.

Do you guys talk at all?

No. He doesn't have me on speed dial. I don't have him on speed dial. But I do respect him as a coach.

Two seasons ago, Tennessee men's coach Bruce Pearl showed up at one of your games shirtless, with a painted chest, in order to support your team. So to return the favor, you wore a cheerleading outfit to a men's game and sang the school's fight song. After you win 1,000, any chance of putting on the outfit and belting out the song?

No, I don't think I will. It's funny, I was at my son's game the other day [Summitt's son Tyler, 18, is a high school senior]. He had a chance to seal the deal on a game, and he missed his free throws. It went into overtime. So I went over to the student body and made them all get up and start yelling every time the opposing team had the ball. And then I yelled at all the parents to stand up. So somebody said, "All you need is your cheerleading outfit."

We came back and won. I said, "Tyler, did you know what I did?" He said, "Not until I started looking at my text messages." He called me the next day and said "You were the talk of the school."

Do you have any celebration plans for the 1,000th win?

[Laughs] I have none.

Really, no plans?

No. I don't even know when we're going to get it. I've told folks, "I hope we get it this year." They're like "come on coach." After that Auburn butt kicking, who knows?

Is there a chance you'll kick back and have a cold one?

I would say there will be champagne.

A Conversation with Candace Parker

Earlier this month, Los Angeles Sparks superstar Candace Parker announced that she and her husband, Shelden Williams of the Sacramento Kings, are expecting their first child in the spring of 2009.

On Friday while staying with family in Chicago, the reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year spoke publicly for the first time since announcing the pregnancy.’s Brian Martin spoke with Parker to discuss her pregnancy, the balancing act of being a professional athlete and a mother, her road back to the basketball court once the baby is born and having a child in the Obama era of America. First of all, how are you feeling? How is everything progressing with the pregnancy?

Parker: Everything is going well. I’m still active and I’m feeling great. I’ve had it very easy from what I hear (laughs). I’m feeling great and everything is going smoothly. In the statement released a few weeks ago, you said that you would continue to work out in preparation to play in 2009. What have you been able to do? What is your workout regimen like?

Parker: Fortunately, I have a doctor that is play it by ear. He knew coming in that I was an athlete and that I was going to want to do things and continue to be active. I think where the problem is where people aren’t active and then try to be active when they’re pregnant. My body has responded very well to the pregnancy and I’ve been able to continue to do the elliptical. I do the elliptical two to three times a week for 30 minutes. I do light lifting. I can’t do anything heavy, so I do (laughs) like aerobic-style lifting. As well as I still shoot on the gun. I’m still touching a basketball, feeling a basketball. I don’t know how long I can continue to jump for, but as long as my doctor allows me, that’s as long as I’ll do it. Are you following doctor’s orders the whole way or are you going to try to push the limits?

Parker: I am. I’m going to follow doctor’s orders. First and foremost I definitely want my baby to be healthy, so I’m going to do that, despite my stubbornness (laughs). What is that like for you? This has to change all of your priorities. How difficult is that to go through, where last year and probably your whole life it was all about basketball and now it's not. How difficult is that transition?

Parker: I think it's going to be a transition that is going to be made on its own. Obviously where I am right now, I never thought I would be. I’ve always eaten whatever I wanted to eat and kept it moving, but now there’s another life that is benefitting from what I’m eating so I’ve changed the way I’m eating. I think it's going to be when the baby is born, that’s how it’s going to be. I still think it’s important for me to concentrate on my career and things like that, but I have another responsibility and I’m going to need help. But it’s about that and I’m really excited about that opportunity, about being a great role model and things like that. You mentioned eating whatever you want before, have there been any crazy food cravings since the pregnancy?

Parker: I’m a huge Cold Stone (Creamery) eater. That is my guilty pleasure I should say. My husband and I only do like two or three desserts per week. We try to stay within ourselves. One of them is definitely Cold Stone and the other one (laughs) I like yellow cake with white icing store-bought cake. Is this a new one or have you always had this one?

Parker: No. It’s always been; ever since I was in college. (laughs) I used to send Shel to the store to get store-bought cake and they used to ask ‘okay whose birthday is it?’ and he would say ‘no, she just wants the cake.’ But I’m at cold stone like at least once a week. They know my order by now. I walk in and they just say the normal? And I say yep. You mentioned needing help, how difficult is it having Shelden on the road with the Kings during the pregnancy?

Parker: He’s been very supportive and he’s helped me out a lot. I have a lot of family and friends, whenever he’s on a long road trip, one of my friends came in and stayed with me and I have one of my best friends coming in next week. So I have a lot of people that are there for me and my family as well, by no means am I going through this by myself. Everybody is very excited and willing to help. I wanted to get your thoughts on the events of the past week and the inauguration of President Obama. What was your reaction to that? What are your thoughts about having a child in a time where there is an African-American president in this country? When you speak to adults and they say they didn’t think it would happen in their lifetime and now you’re about to have a child that will know nothing different than that.

Parker: I think two things come to mind. First, I remember talking to my grandmother and she was in tears. She never thought that there would ever be an African-American president during her lifetime. Then my initial thought as soon as he was elected, after speaking with my grandmother, was that my child – like you said – will know nothing different and that’s how they’ll be raised, that you can do anything, you can achieve anything.

And I think that now instead of role models being everything other than politicians, I think now that more people are stepping forward and realizing that it’s possible to be president, and I think that that’s great for our nation. I’m happy and I’ve very proud of Barack Obama and very excited in the years to come. Now we have motivation to win a championship so I can see him again. I had the pleasure of meeting him in high school before any of this and he was very striking then with the presence that he had. I can only imagine now. (laughs) So I’m excited to win a championship and get to the white house and meet President Barack Obama. So you can play a little one-on-one with him at his court at the White House?

Parker: Yeah. I hear the scouting report is to take away his left hand so we’ll see. (laughs) Candace, just don’t dunk on the president. Did you seek out advice from other players in the WNBA that have had children?

Parker: I’ve gotten advice from different players. With Lisa being on my team I’ve seen it with my own two eyes and how you need help, but you are able to do it. You look at her daughter and she’s smart as can be and happy as can be. So I don’t think you have to put your career on the back burner to raise children by any means. You don’t have to put your career aside and just concentrate on the kids. I think there can be a balance.

As well as Tina Thompson, her child has been everywhere. He’s been more places than most adults. If you look at the places he’s been and the experiences that he’s had and if you look at the things that he eats and things like that and how mature he is. He’s truly benefited from her career. And I think I look at it like that, that my kids are going to benefit from my career. They are going to learn more things; they are going to be more well rounded. I’m excited. I didn’t get a chance to know my dad when he played basketball or remember that, so I think it’s going to be fun to have my kid kind of grow up and remember me when I was young and kind of question whether they want to play me one-on-one when they get older. (laughs) What are your personal goals for this season? Is it just a matter of getting back and being able to contribute or do you feel that you need to come back and still be able to dominate?

Parker: In my head I'm very stubborn. When I was in high school, I suffered a knee injury in July of 2003 and I told myself I was going to come back for Christmas of 2003 in my senior year; that was five months. The doctor was like ‘there’s no way, there’s no way.’ Then somehow, they were like ‘your knee is strong enough, we’ll let you play.’ So I’m very, very stubborn. So in my head, in a perfect world, I’m playing this season and obviously who doesn’t want to come back and be the same that they were the year previous or better in my eyes. That’s a goal of mine. I really feel like with my body and what I’m doing now, to continue to not gain too much excess weight, but just a healthy weight. I feel like I’m prepared to come back this season. When? I don’t know. It depends on how smoothly things go with the birth and everything like that. I’m excited and I feel like I’m going to come back this year. Did you feel you needed an extra challenge? Was winning Rookie of the Year and MVP last season not enough? Now you have to follow it up with returning from having a baby.

Parker: (laughs) That’s so funny. My brother Marcus, he actually said that. I told him about the news and he was like you just can’t start a season, just starting a season. You always have to have something that goes on (laughs). Your knee, or your shoulder, or you’re coming back for your fifth year, now it’s the baby (laughs).

That’s how I work. I love setting goals and I love having obstacles and I love having people doubt me and say that things aren’t going to work out and stuff like that. Do you have an idea of what is the earliest you could possibly come back?

Parker: I’m due in the spring. I really don’t know. Like I said I’m stubborn, in my head, in a perfect world, it would be June. But we’ll see; I don’t know exactly what will go on. It depends on everything. Just being as competitive and as stubborn as I am, I will be back as soon as I possibly can. What are you looking forward to most about becoming a mother?

Parker: I’m looking forward to just the fun of it all, of shaping somebody and them being a part of you, the joking and teasing with them. I’ve had experience being an aunt and I can only imagine being a mother. Just teaching them things and giving them every opportunity in the world to succeed. And being there to hear their dreams and hope that they come true. I’m very excited about it. I look forward to it.