Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No. 7 Tennessee routs Old Dominion 90-37

With an ugly loss behind them and an overmatched opponent in front of them, the seventh-ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers turned their attention back to the basics.

The Lady Vols spent their practices since last week’s 17-point loss at No. 4 Stanford focused on regaining the defensive excellence that coach Pat Summitt expects of them. The result was a near perfect effort in a 90-37 win over Old Dominion on Wednesday night.

“Tonight, it was about Tennessee,” associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “It was about what was across our chest. We focused on getting better. I think what we did today was indicative of how hard we’ve practiced on the defensive end.”

Warlick estimated the team had spent all of two minutes total working on offense during practices on Monday and Tuesday. The coaches and players used the rest of the time to work on rebounding, pass deflections and preventing transition baskets—all things that haunted them in the 97-80 loss to the Cardinal on Dec. 20.

The Lady Vols (8-3) outrebounded the Lady Monarchs 54-32, limited them to 25 percent shooting, forced 23 turnovers and gave up just one basket on the fastbreak.

Tennessee now has won 16 straight and 31 of the last 32 against the Lady Monarchs, whose 37 points was the lowest total scored by either team in the 45-game annual series.

“We’ve put a lot of time in in the last two days,” Warlick said. “They responded, we got after it, we were aggressive. We were not aggressive in the Stanford game on the ball. I thought we did a total 180 as far as what we can do as far as pressuring the ball and taking people out of how they play.

“That’s the type of defense and that’s the type of Tennessee team we have to be to win, regardless of our opponent.”

Tennessee appeared a bit rusty on the offensive end early against Old Dominion (3-10), which scored the first two baskets of the game.

The Lady Monarchs were leading 8-7 when Alicia Manning hit a jumper with 16:14 in the first half that launched a 14-2 run to give the Lady Vols control of the game. Ariel Massengale, who hadn’t started a game since dislocating her left middle finger in practice Dec. 8, hit back-to-back 3s in the span of 28 seconds during the stretch.

“I was really happy with our play at the very beginning because Tennessee is such a big place to play and it’s really big-time,” Old Dominion guard Jackie Cook said. “I was really proud of how we stepped up and played from the very start. We just couldn’t finish.”

Tennessee took a commanding 50-20 halftime lead against Old Dominion by shooting 50 percent from the field and hitting 6 of 12 from 3. The Lady Vols turned the ball over just twice and posted 15 assists before the break.

Their improved defense led to balanced offense, with Glory Johnson logging 16 points and 11 rebounds. Vicki Baugh, who lost her starting job after poor play at Stanford, had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Meighan Simmons added 12 points, Massengale scored 11, Isabelle Harrison had 10 and Alicia Manning grabbed 15 rebounds.

“I like a game like this because we’re working on ourselves,” Johnson said. `We’re working on ourselves as a team and we’re trying to get better and work on our defense. We have so many things that we have to work on outside of the big games. We only have so much time.”

Cook led Old Dominion with 13 points, as the Lady Vols managed to frustrate Old Dominion’s top player, Tia Lewis. Lewis entered the game averaging 18.1 points and 9.7 rebounds but finished with eight points, eight rebounds and four fouls.

By the end of the game, Tennessee had scored 46 and had 26 points off turnovers. Old Dominion only scored eight points inside and had just a single point off the Lady Vols’ 11 giveaways.

“Right now we have a lot of young players, but we’re very confident,” first-year Old Dominion coach Karen Barefoot said. “ODU has a great tradition, and I really have a lot of respect for Pat Summitt. I’m really excited about getting this program built to the top, and we as a staff are going to continue to work hard. I thought it was a great experience for a lot of our younger kids tonight.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No. 4 Stanford women top sixth-ranked Tennessee

Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored a career-high 42 points and dazzled in what might have been the most meaningful home game of her senior season, and No. 4 Stanford beat sixth-ranked Tennessee 97-80 on Tuesday night in one of women's basketballs best rivalries.

The Cardinal extended their school-record home winning streak to 68 games at Maples Pavilion, where a sellout crowd of 7,329 waved red "We Back Pat" rally towels in support of Hall of Fame Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who revealed in August she has early onset Alzheimer's.

Toni Kokenis scored a career-high 26 points with five 3-pointers and Ogwumike dominated for Stanford (8-1) in another physical, back-and-forth game like those that have defined the storied series with Tennessee (7-3).

Shekinna Stricklen scored 27 points to lead the Lady Vols, who had their five-game winning streak snapped.

Glory Johnson added 18 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals and Meighan Simmons scored 13 for Tennessee on a night Ogwumike put on a show for national television.

With her father, Peter, in the stands fresh off a business trip to his native Africa, Ogwumike hit from long range and aggressively drove to the basket for layins. She jumped for joy after powering in for one score and drawing a foul. She jumped for 17 rebounds, too.

After coach Tara VanDerveer called for her other players to do more after a Saturday win against Princeton, it was all Ogwumike yet again. She scored six straight points for the Cardinal to open the second half.

VanDerveer hugged Ogwumike after her spectacular night.

The performance marked Stanford's first 40-point scorer since Jayne Appel went off for a school-record 46 in a win against Iowa State in the NCAA tournament regional finals at Berkeley on March 30, 2009. Candice Wiggins had a 44-point game.

Ogwumike's basket that hit the rim and bounced in with 10:59 left gave the Cardinal their first double-digit lead of the game at 65-55 — and they only built on that the rest of the way. Ogwumike's two free throws with 3:49 left topped her previous best outing of 38 points on April 4, 2010, against Oklahoma.

Her sophomore sister, Chiney, added 14 points as the Cardinal shot 53.6 percent.

Tennessee shot a sizzling 61.5 percent in the first half to stay within 48-41 at the break before going a cool 37 percent in the second half to finish at 49.1 percent.

The Cardinal, riding a streak of four straight Final Fours without a championship, haven't lost on their home floor at raucous Maples Pavilion since falling to Florida State in the second round of the NCAA tournament on March 19, 2007.

Stanford has beaten Tennessee three times during that span — also a 73-69 win on Dec. 22, 2007, and a 67-52 victory on Dec. 19, 2009. There also was that monumental 71-59 victory last Dec. 30 that snapped top-ranked Connecticut's record 90-game winning streak.

Summitt walked onto the court a few minutes before tipoff to a rousing standing ovation from the sellout crowd.

Fellow Hall of Famer VanDerveer was shown on the main elevated center-court scoreboard offering her support to Summitt while acknowleding how much Stanford cherishes the rivalry and regular non-conference meetings with the Lady Vols.

VanDerveer said Stanford's program "is behind her 100 percent." Summitt was not yet on the court with her team to see the presentation.

"Pat, we love you, we care about you and we wish you the very best in your battle with Alzheimer's," said the video with VanDerveer, who walked to the opposite bench to greet Summitt. They posed for a few photos together.

Stanford freshman starter Jasmine Camp missed the game with a left foot injury sustained in Sunday's practice. Kokenis played in her place and made back-to-back baskets midway through the opening half to get her team back within 16-13.

Stanford scored 40 or more in the opening 20 minutes against the Lady Vols for the first time since getting 41 on Nov. 27, 1999.

The Cardinal began the game 3 for 13 to 6 of 8 for Tennessee, which jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the opening 2:50.

The Lady Vols were whistled for a technical foul at the 11:18 mark of the first half for having six players on the court. Stanford converted both free throws to cut Tennessee's lead to 16-15.

Tennessee freshman guard Ariel Massengale, who had missed last three games nursing a dislocated middle finger on her left hand that required minor surgery, entered the game for the first time with 10:45 left. The Lady Vols beat DePaul and won at both Rutgers and UCLA without her. Massengale practiced Monday in the Bay Area.

Stanford football coach David Shaw and some of his players atteneded the game and men's basketball coach Johnny Dawkins sat courtside. Four-time Olympic luger Brian Martin participated in a halftime hoop shoot.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pat Summitt faces down Alzheimer’s by fighting and laughing

By Sally Jenkins

Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Lady Vols travel with an uninvited guest. Alzheimer’s crouches in a corner of the locker room, and sits at the end of the bench. Everyone wants to know, How is she doing with it? I’ll tell you: She refuses to be a good hostess. She’s ignoring the guest.

Pat is still Pat. She gets tired more easily than she used to, but frankly, as a friend who talks with her almost daily, I can report that what really wears her out is all the premature sympathy. She’s still here, and still coaching, and when you ask her why she doesn’t take a day off from work, here’s what she says: “I don’t want to be a sissy.”

On the court, she’s enjoying one of her fightingest teams in some time. Last week, the No.6 Lady Vols beat two ranked opponents away from home in the space of four days: No. 20 DePaul at Madison Square Garden by double digits, followed by a bruising comeback victory at No.11 Rutgers. In the same exhausting week she also power-shopped at Macy’s, ran up a couple of impressive tabs at Manhattan restaurants, and accepted Sports Illustrated’s Sportswoman of the Year award.

The last was a lovely honor, but it was not the most solemn occasion of her life. Her staff begged her to give the following acceptance speech: “When I got the call that Sports Illustrated wanted to photograph me, I was so excited and so honored to think that I finally made the swimsuit issue.”

Pat giggled at the idea, but was too well-mannered to say it. So Tennessee’s director of basketball operations, Kathy Harston, doctored a copy of the magazine by superimposing a swimsuit model reclining in a thong, and pasted Pat’s head on it. She showed it to the entire squad on the team plane. There was a momentary shocked silence: Harston’s artwork was so good they thought it was real. Then came the shrieks and squeals and stamping feet. “We busted out,” guard Shekinna Stricklen says. Summitt threw back her head and laughed helplessly as a schoolgirl.

Assistant Holly Warlick said, “You need to get that framed, Summitt.”

Pat replied: “I think I will. I never looked so good in a bathing suit.”

Not every day is a comedy, of course. There are undeniable difficulties, and obvious changes, times when their hearts feel like anvils. Back in August when Pat first accepted the diagnosis, she realized she needed to redistribute her in-game coaching duties. She struggles to follow rapid shifts in schemes, and her perceptions are a beat slower.

“She doesn’t multitask like she used to,” Warlick says.

In practices, Warlick handles the defense, while Pat and her assistant of 28 years, Mickie DeMoss, handle the offense, and third assistant Dean Lockwood manages the post players. During games they consult in timeouts, and Warlick delivers the instructions to players with the clipboard. It’s an experiment that could work only on a staff made up of the closest friends, and it’s not without problems and glitches. But for the most part, it’s operating well enough.

“The only thing that’s different is the messenger,” Warlick says. “The message hasn’t changed.”

Just because Pat doesn’t hold the clipboard, it would be a mistake to suppose that she is not an acute presence. “She still has a huge imprint on this team,” junior forward Taber Spani says. But it’s in a different way. In certain respects, she is as perceptive on the floor as ever. In the pressured final minutes against Rutgers she was intensely aware, not without amusement, that Warlick was sweating so hard it soaked her blond hair dark. Pat watched the droplets trickle down her neck.

Pat, by contrast, was uncharacteristically cool. When sophomore guard Meighan Simmons nailed consecutive three-pointers to finally put the Lady Vols ahead, Pat merely leaned over and said with a sardonic mildness to her staff, “That helps.”

The demeanor, partly a result of the need to manage stress for her health, is a startling role reversal. It used to be that Pat was the most intense member of the bench and her assistants softened her blows. Now it’s Pat who is the softer presence. “More motherly,” Spani says. “Obviously she still gives us the stare when we need it, but she’s had a very calming effect.”

It was Pat, the Lady Vols say, who restored the confidence of Simmons, a frenetic young guard who was in the grip of a bad slump. In the days before the Rutgers game, Pat corrected her shooting motion in individual teaching sessions and kept a consistently comforting arm around her — while refusing to tolerate any pouting. The result was a timely, explosive performance.

“Pat had a lot to do with those shots,” Spani says. The light went on for Simmons just in time. “Hallelujah,” Pat says.

Yet, these Lady Vols are one of Pat’s most characteristic teams in the way they battle, too. After they overcame a five-point deficit in the final minutes in front of a roaringly hostile crowd, Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer remarked ruefully, “They’re playing in her image.”

It was a gratifying comment. Pat has worked for four years to instill her brand of fight in the senior class, a group led by Stricklen that has failed to reach a Final Four, and in the past exhibited a lazybones quality, but no more. Pat used to tease Stricken about her lack of intensity and complained she would rather sit by a pond with a fishing pole back in Arkansas. But against Rutgers, Stricklen went 40 minutes without a blow, led the team in scoring, provided lockdown defense grabbing three steals, and played so hard her calves cramped in the final minute.

“I love who they’ve become,” Pat says. “We were on our toes instead of our heels. Aggressive. I haven’t always seen that from them.”

The uninvited guest that is Pat’s diagnosis isn’t going away, and the Lady Vols know that.

“It’s become a part of our lives,” sports information director Debby Jennings says. But they can try to chase the intruder into a corner with winning, and laughter. Spani says, “She’s not making light of it. But she’s making it something positive.”

Pat’s way of going about this will disconcert some. It’s not comfortable. There are those who wish she was frozen in time, 20 years younger, her eyes flashing bright as her diamond championship rings, her high heels clattering on the hard wood like machine guns, her mouth open and shouting fire. But Pat is 59, and she’s been doing this for 38 years, and with or without Alzheimer’s, she was going to experience some diminishment. We all do. It’s our fate.

“She’s fighting, and she stands strong,” Stricklen says. “And the best thing we can do for her is go out there and play hard like that, play the way she wants us to.”

Pat is always tearing down with one hand and building up with another. She has always torn down conventions, ideas of appropriate conduct for women, and built up a different version with her other hand.

Now she’s tearing down the stereotype of what it is to have Alzheimer’s and building up a new version and the new version is that you don’t crawl into a hole. You don’t disappear from public view. You don’t be afraid of somehow looking less than totally in command. You don’t retire and go to bed and act sick. You live and you work and you fight. And you laugh.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hot-shooting Tennessee women beat UCLA 85-64


Tennessee set a new standard in the first 16 minutes Saturday when it comes to hot shooting.

The No. 6 Lady Vols stunned the UCLA women by making 18 of their first 20 shots—many from long range—in rolling to an 85-64 triumph over the dazed Bruins before a sellout crowd of 2,025 at the John Wooden Center.

As might be expected, Tennessee cooled off a bit, shooting just under 70 percent (36 of 52) behind a balanced attack in which all five starters scored in double figures.

“Obviously we shot the ball really, really well,” coach Pat Summitt said after the Lady Vols threatened to break the school record of 72.1 percent shooting against Old Dominion on Jan. 4, 1989 before cooling off. “When you shoot like that, you feel good. I think that gave them a lot more energy and a lot more confidence.”

Meighan Simmons scored 18 points; Glory Johnson added 17; Vicki Baugh had 14 points and 12 rebounds; Taber Spani scored all 14 of her points in the first half; and Shekinna Stricklen added 11 despite dealing with an illness for Tennessee.

“It was awesome, it was exciting to see,” associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “It was a special day for everybody. We got stops when we needed to, we played well together, we distributed the basketball.

“They took great shots. I really don’t recall as a coach them taking a bad shot. We took good shots. I can’t say enough about that.”

Rebekah Gardner scored 15 of her career-high 24 points in the first half for UCLA (5-4). Markel Walker had 11 points and eight rebounds and Thea Lemberger added 11 points and six assists for the Bruins, who outrebounded Tennessee 31-28 and had 19 offensive rebounds to only four for the Lady Vols.

Of course, when a team shoots like the Lady Vols did, there aren’t many offensive rebounds to be had.

“When we’re on, it brings the team together,” Simmons said. “Today, it got our momentum going. When it mattered, we really hit some good shots.”

The win was the fourth straight for the Lady Vols (7-2) and their 18th in 19 meetings all-time against UCLA. It also raised Summitt’s career record to 1,078-201.

The 59-year-old Hall of Famer, in her 38th season at Tennessee, is the only coach in NCAA men’s and women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 wins. She remains on the job despite having been diagnosed last May with early onset Alzheimer’s.

First-year UCLA coach Cori Close was upbeat afterward despite the one-sided loss.

“We’re going to learn a lot from this,” she said. “Our goal as a defensive team is to force them to take one hard shot. They made them. I give them all the credit in the world for the hard shots.

“We didn’t get rewarded by the win today, but it’s a step in our process.”

The Lady Vols never trailed, making their first eight shots, including three 3-pointers, for a 19-8 lead. The Bruins went on a 10-3 run to draw within four points before Tennessee had a 21-9 burst to make it 43-27. The Lady Vols then missed five of six shots, leaving them shooting 19 of 25 (76 percent) and with a 45-34 lead at halftime.

Tennessee outscored the Bruins 9-2 to begin the second half for a 54-36 lead. UCLA wasn’t closer than 13 points after that. A layup by Baugh with 7:29 remaining made it 74-52, with Tennessee shooting 32 of 43 (74.4 percent) from the field at that stage.

There were only four fouls called and just one free throw in the first half, and 17 fouls and 18 free throws in the game.

“It was like a college men’s game. It’s crazy,” Gardner said of Tennessee’s hot shooting. “If we take what we learned from this game, we’ll do good things in the Pac-12.”

The Lady Vols conclude a two-game trip through California on Tuesday night against No. 4 Stanford (7-1), an 85-66 winner over Princeton earlier Saturday.

Tennessee played its third straight game without starting point guard Ariel Massengale, who dislocated her left middle finger during practice earlier this month. Warlick said she believes Massengale will return to action soon.

The game was supposed to pit former Tennessee star Nikki Caldwell against her former team and mentor, but that changed when Caldwell quit as UCLA coach last summer to take the LSU job. The Bruins lost to Caldwell and the Tigers 58-41 last Tuesday night in Baton Rouge.

UCLA, ranked 22nd in the preseason AP poll, is playing without senior forward Jasmine Dixon, its second-leading scorer and top rebounder last year. Dixon tore her Achilles tendon before the season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Johnson leads No. 7 Tennessee women over DePaul

Glory Johnson scored 16 points and Cierra Burdick added 15 to help No. 7 Tennessee beat No. 20 DePaul 84-61 on Sunday in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Shekinna Stricklen added 12 points while Alicia Manning had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Lady Vols (5-2), who saw their 12-point halftime lead cut to 41-37 before using an 15-4 run to take control. Stricklen had six points during the burst.

Her layup made it 56-43 with 11:19 left and DePaul (8-2) couldn't get within single digits the rest of the way.

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt was honored during No. 1 Baylor's 73-59 victory over St. John's with the Maggie Dixon Courage award. Summitt announced in August that she had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. Both the Lady Bears and Red Storm came out of their timeouts to applaud the winningest coach in college basketball.

Jasmine Penny scored 16 points and Keisha Hampton added 14 for DePaul.

It was the second time Tennessee played in the Classic named for the former Army women's coach. The Lady Vols beat Rutgers two years ago. The Scarlet Knights had played in all four of the previous Garden events. Army hosted Ohio State at West Point the first year.

The 28-year-old Dixon died April 6, 2006, of arrhythmia, probably caused by an enlarged heart. Her death came three weeks after she finished her first season as Army coach. She won the admiration of the academy and all of college basketball for leading Army to its first NCAA berth, where the Cadets lost in the first round to Summitt's Lady Vols.

While this was DePaul's first appearance in the Classic, the school has played in the Maggie Dixon Surf'N Slam Classic in San Diego. The Blue Demons have also hosted a tournament in honor of the coach the past few seasons. She got her start as an assistant coach at DePaul under Doug Bruno before she went to Army.

Both Tennessee and DePaul will stay in the Tri-State area after the game. On Tuesday night, the Lady Vols play at No. 11 Rutgers while DePaul visits Princeton.

It will be the Blue Demons' fourth game in seven days. The roster has been depleted by injuries and DePaul had nine players available against the Lady Vols.

Deanna Ortiz was sidelined with a right ankle sprain suffered in Friday's win over SIU-Edwardsville. Taylor Pikes is still recovering from an ACL injury last season. Freshman Shenise Johnson has an injured left foot and classmate Alexa Gallagher hasn't played this season because of knee issues.

Tennessee was playing its first game without freshman point guard Ariel Massengale. She had started every game averaging 7.2 points and 5.8 assists.

She injured a finger on her left hand while diving for a loose ball at the end of practice on Thursday and will be sidelined for a few weeks.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pat Summitt to receive 2012 NCAA Gerald Ford Award

The NCAA will honor Tennessee coach Pat Summitt with the 2012 Gerald R. Ford Award.

The award recognizes a person who has been an advocate for college athletics over the course of his or her career. Summitt has won eight NCAA titles in her 37 seasons as Lady Volunteers coach, and her 1,075 victories is the most by any college basketball coach.

Summitt announced in August that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. She pledged to continue coaching and show others they can live their lives with the disease.

NCAA President Mark Emmert says the award honors Summitt for "the positive example she continues to set.''

Summitt will be recognized during a Jan. 12 session at the 2012 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Pat Summitt - 2011 SI Sportswoman of the Year

‎2011 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year -- Pat Summitt! She shares the honor with Coach K of Duke. On the cover this week...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

3s & Rebounding Lift #8 Lady Vols Past Texas, 73-57

KNOXVILLE - Clutch 3-point shooting and powerful rebounding lifted #8 Tennessee to a 73-57 victory over #21/22 Texas on Sunday afternoon.

From 3-point range, Tennessee shot 52.4 percent, making 11-of-21 led by Shekinna Stricklen (20 points) and Meighan Simmons (10 points), who combined to make 8-of-16 from behind the arc. Stricklen made a career-high 5-of-9 from 3-point land. The Lady Vols (4-2) outrebounded the Longhorns (5-2), 49-38 led by Vicki Baugh's 11 boards.

Baugh (17 points) and Glory Johnson (11 points and 10 rebounds) both posted double-doubles. Ariel Massengale also scored in double-figures with 10 points while handling out five assists.

The Longhorns were led by Ashleigh Fontenette, who tallied 22 and Chassidy Fussell, who had 14 points.

Stricklen's fifth 3-pointer of the game was the final dagger as it put Tennessee up 64-53 with 6:15 with a trey as the shot clock was winding down.

The Lady Vols held Texas scoreless for 6:20 late in the game as the Lady Vols went on a 10-0 run while forcing the Longhorns into five turnovers during the spurt. Texas ended the draught on Fontenette's jumper with 2:40 left in the game, as the Longhorns had fallen behind by 16.

Down by as many as 14 early in the second, the Longhorns cut the deficit to six at 59-53 on a 3-pointer by Chelsea Bass with 8:50 left in the second half. That would be Texas' final points for more than six minutes. The Lady Vols answered as Johnson scored on a lay-up to start a run of 10 consecutive points.

Tennessee forced Texas into a 30-second shot clock violation with 6:41 left in regulation with furious defensive pressure.

The Lady Vols picked up their shooting early in the second half and began to pull away, taking a 52-38 lead on a Baugh lay-up with 15:31 left in the game.

Tennessee led 41-32 at halftime thanks to some strong shooting from 3-point range as UT knocked down 7-of-13 (54 percent) from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes led by Simmons, who was 3-of-5 with 10 first-half points. Baugh added 11 points in the first half along with five rebounds as the Lady Vols held a 29-18 rebounding edge at intermission.

UT expanded a 27-26 lead with 5:19 left to as big as 11 (38-27) with 1:28 left in the first half. Texas had drawn within one on a 3-pointer by Fontenette before the Lady Vols went on an 11-1 spurt.

The Lady Vols return to action next Sunday as Tennessee takes on #22/21 DePaul in the Maggie Dixon Classic played at Madison Square Garden in New York. Tip-off is set for 1:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Summitt receives Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award

University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt has received the Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award this year, according to ESPN.com.

U.S. Sports Academy director of communications Duwayne Escobedo presented Summitt with the award before the third-ranked Lady Volunteers' 89-57 victory over Pepperdine Nov. 13.

Summitt, 59, revealed in August that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. She said she revealed her diagnosis to hopefully help others understand they could still live their lives after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lady Vols rip Middle Tennessee, 82-43

With two losses behind them and a stretch that includes games against four ranked opponents ahead, the eighth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols needed a bit of a boost.

An 82-43 rout of Middle Tennessee on Tuesday night definitely helped with that.

Cierra Burdick had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Ariel Massengale also scored 14 points and Shekinna Stricklen contributed 12 points for the Lady Vols.

"It's a good thing to break that two-game losing streak," coach Pat Summitt said. "We played with high energy, and it came from the players. They challenged each other to come into the game with lots of high energy, and it's obvious that they did that."

The Lady Vols (3-2) were 2-2 for the first time since 1990 and were determined not to have a "letdown game" two days after losing at home to No. 1 Baylor. They already logged one when they lost in overtime at Virginia on Nov. 20.

Tennessee's December schedule will test just how well all of the Lady Vols have responded from the loss to the Cavaliers. The Lady Vols host No. 21 Texas before facing No. 22 DePaul, No. 11 Rutgers, UCLA and No. 5 Stanford on the road.

"This was a big game for us," Stricklen said. "We really needed to win and get back on a winning streak. Coming out with energy like that creates energy for the whole team for the whole game. It's something we have to do for every game."

Stricklen got the energy going when she took an inbounds pass, spun around and sank a jumper with 17:14 left in the first half, launching a 17-0 run. The Lady Vols stole the ball on four consecutive Middle Tennessee possessions in that stretch and got a basket in transition after each one, three of the shots coming from Massengale.

MTSU (4-3) cut the margin to a single digit just once more on a layup by Ebony Rowe that made it 27-18 with 7:13 in the first half.

Tennessee shot 59.3 percent in the first half, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

The Blue Raiders struggled to get clean looks at the basket against the Lady Vols' defense and hit just 28.6 percent in the first half, and Tennessee pushed the lead to 48-24 just before halftime.

Kortni Jones led MTSU with 16 points, and Rowe added 10.

"They're better than us, bottom line," MTSU coach Rick Insell said. "They're more athletic at every position, and we've got to learn from this and grow from it."

The bench went to work after the break and finished with 37 points. Burdick and Harrison took control of the boards, each grabbing eight rebounds after halftime. Tennessee finished with a 53-30 rebounding margin.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pat Summitt announces foundation to help Alzheimer's disease research

Dottie Lowe said Sunday would be one Lady Vols game she didn't want to miss. No, not because her team was against #1 ranked Baylor.

"Everyone wants to get in on this," she said. Instead, she wanted simply to "Back Pat." In fact, her orange "We Back Pat" shirt proved it.

In fact, those shirts were worn by thousands of UT fans. In turn, those shirts raised thousands of dollars for the newly formed "Pat Summitt Foundation Fund." It made its debut Sunday at the game.

"What's happening today is inspiring," said Angela Geiger with the Alzheimer's Association. "To see this many people coming together for their coach, their cause and her bravery coming out against her diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease."

Lady Vols Head Coach Pat Summitt was diagnosed of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type in August. Her namesake fund gives grants to organizations connected to Alzheimer's Disease and research.

Alzheimer's Tennessee and the UT Medical Center are the first two beneficiaries of the foundation- each receiving $75,000 each Sunday.

The organization has been getting support by many fans. Even, Governor Bill Haslam was on the sidelines to see the foundation's kickoff.

"Who Pat is makes it easy to support her and understand how serious this early Dementia is. If it could happen to Pat, it could happen to anybody," the Governor said.

Organizers feel the fund is off on the right foot with the big check presentation.

"I think there will be lots of big things ahead," Geiger said.

As fans, like Dottie Lowe, continue to "Back Pat."

"It's something we're already dealing with," Lowe said. "But any little thing that we can do to help them find out and cure this is going to be wonderful."

For more information on the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, visit the organization's website.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No. 1 Baylor defeats No. 6 Lady Vols, 76-67

Brittney Griner scored 26 points as No. 1 Baylor beat sixth-ranked Tennessee 76-67 on Sunday for its second win of the young season over a Top 10 opponent.

The preseason All-American had nine first-half points but came alive in the paint after halftime.

The Lady Volunteers took a 39-31 lead on Glory Johnson's free throw with 17:39 left, but Griner had a pair of layups in an 11-2 run for the Lady Bears. The second gave Baylor a 42-41 lead with 15 minutes left.

Another Griner layup with 8:32 to play gave Baylor its ultimate lead, and the Lady Bears (6-0) relied on smothering defense to limit Tennessee to just 29.3 percent shooting.

Another preseason All-American, Shekinna Stricklen, led the Lady Vols with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Vicki Baugh added 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Odyssey Simms added 23 points for the Lady Bears.

Tennessee (2-2) outrebounded Baylor 55-42.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No. 1 Baylor aims for rare 3rd consecutive victory against No. 6 Tennessee

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey phoned Tennessee’s Pat Summitt recently to check on the Hall of Fame coach and to ask if it was still OK for her Lady Bears to try and beat the Lady Vols.

“My last comment to her was, ‘Am I supposed to come up there and try to beat you?’ And she laughed and said, ‘You better,’” Mulkey recalled. “And that’s what Pat expects from all of us. She knows that we’re all competitors, and she’s still Pat Summitt.”

Summitt has been diagnosed with early onset dementia but has said she wants the focus on basketball.

It will be Sunday when the top-ranked Lady Bears (5-0) visit Knoxville looking for a third consecutive victory against No. 6 Tennessee (2-1).

Few teams have managed three wins in a row against Tennessee during Summitt’s 37 seasons at the helm, and that significance isn’t lost on Mulkey.

“They’ve done a heck of a lot more in women’s basketball than we have at Baylor. And we’re trying to do what they’ve done over a long period of time, and we’re just getting started,” Mulkey said.

Baylor is aiming for the national championship that eluded it a season ago as a top-seeded team. A national title would mark the second for the program, a feat achieved by just five other teams, including the eight-time national champ Lady Vols.

The Lady Bears solidified their early grip on the top spot of the AP Top 25 with a win over then-No. 2 Notre Dame and are coming off a 109-59 rout of Yale on Tuesday night.

With the way returning starters Brittney Griner, Destiny Williams, Odyssey Sims and Jordan Madden are playing, the Lady Vols know nothing will come easy for them.

Griner “does not give you anything easy in the paint,” Tennessee assistant coach Mickie DeMoss said. “She can stand over on one block and block a shot on the other block. They’re just very talented. They’ve got some very talented guards. ...

“They don’t really have a weakness.”

The Lady Vols showed some weaknesses of their own in a 69-64 overtime loss at previously unranked Virginia on Nov. 20. They couldn’t get the ball inside to the post and struggled to hit shots.

Tennessee shot 40.7 percent against the Cavaliers and hit just 5 of 24 from 3-point range. The Lady Vols no longer have the kind of height inside to compete with the 6-foot-8 Griner.

“We’re going to have to stretch them a little bit,” Summitt said.

DeMoss added: “There are some games where you say you want to go inside and then outside. This is probably one game that you’re probably going to say you’ve got to hit some outside shots. (Griner) can stand over on one block and block a shot on the other block.”

Tennessee is just as hungry for a national title this season as Baylor. The Lady Vols’ current senior class hasn’t even made it to a Final Four, let alone a national championship game, and the players have said they’re even more determined to “cut down nets” since they learned of Summitt’s dementia diagnosis in August.

The Lady Vols are encouraging fans who attend Sunday’s game to wear “We Back Pat” T-shirts in honor of Summitt. Sales of the shirts have raised more than $150,000 for Alzheimer’s research programs, and the Tennessee athletic department will present checks to Alzheimer’s Tennessee and UT Medical Center before the game.

The Tennessee players know if they want to honor Summitt with her ninth championship, they need to first prove themselves against a tough schedule of opponents. They’ve already claimed over ninth-ranked Miami but have 10 more games against currently ranked opponents after facing Baylor.

“Coming to a program like Tennessee, we play one of the toughest schedules in the game. I’ve always wanted to play against the best, and to play the best you’ve got to beat the best, and that’s our goal,” Tennessee freshman point guard Ariel Massengale said.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cavaliers stun No. 3 Lady Vols, 69-64 in OT

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — There's nothing like a reward to reinforce that hard work is paying off.

Chelsea Shine and Virginia learned that on Sunday afternoon, outlasting No. 3 Tennessee in overtime to give new coach Joanne Boyle a big victory in just her fourth game as coach. Could be that a national ranking is just around the corner, too.

"This goes to show that the hard work and the program that we're buying into is worth it and it's real," Shine said after scoring 18 points, including a basket early in overtime.

"Everyone on this team is totally sold out on what the coaches want us to do."

The Cavaliers (4-0) came into the game allowing just over 42 points a game, and dictated the pace against a Lady Vols team averaging 90.5 points and accustomed to playing at a fast pace.

And in the overtime, it was Virginia that dominated, scoring 11 consecutive points to answer an opening 3-pointer by the Lady Vols' Taber Spani. With each turnovers forced, rebound secured or added points to their tally, the crowd of 6,450 loudly expressed its appreciation.

"I just saw us mature in those last five minues," Boyle said of the overtime, saying seniors Ariana Moorer and Shine took over, with some help from junior point guard China Crosby. "They punched and we punched back. They played a chess match and we played a chess match."

Moorer scored 10 points, but had a driving try at the end oif regulation slapped away. She finished 3 for 16 from the field, but said the rejection did nothing to alter her approach.

"It's all about the next play," she said. "I got my shot blocked. That's fine, but you still have to be in attack mode."

In the extra period, she hit a pair of free throws, then put Virginia ahead to stay with a jumper from the free throw line.

Taber Spani led the Lady Vols (2-1) with 22 points, including a 3-pointer 59 seconds into overtime that gave Tennessee a 61-58 lead, but by the time she hit another one, only seconds remained and the Cavaliers were celebrating their third victory in 16 tries in the series.

Crosby had 13 points, Ataira Franklin 12 and Lexie Gerson 10 for Virginia.

Shekinna Stricklen had 16 and Glory Johnson 15 for the Lady Vols.

In the overtime, after Spani's 3-pointer, Moorer hit a pair of free throws, and then a foul-line jumper. Shine followed a turnover the Tennessee with a short baseline jumper, and Crosby hit 3 of 4 free throws to make it 67-61.

The Lady Vols never had an answer, and each time they failed to score and Virginia came away with the ball, the crowd of 6,450 at John Paul Jones Arena got louder and more excited.

Stricklen had a chance to give the Lady Vols the lead near the end of regulation when she was fouled while scoring, but she missed the free throw, one of 10 misses in 21 tries for Tennessee. The Lady Vols also had 24 turnovers that the Cavaliers turned into 27 points.

Crosby broke a 56-all tie with 36.6 seconds to go in regulation, hitting a desperate shot from the baseline with the shot clock running down. After a timeout, Spani calmly swished a 12-footer from the left baseline with 22.8 seconds to go, pulling Tennessee even again.

The Cavaliers tightened their defense and Tennessee continued to be sloppy early in the second half as Virginia opened the half on a 14-6 run. The Cavaliers led by as many as nine and by 47-40 when the Lady Vols began asserting themselves on the offensive glass and rallied.

Tennessee scored eight straight points, taking its first lead since the first half, but Shine scored inside and Crosby's three-point play boosted the Cavaliers' edge back to 52-48.

The Lady Vols pulled even three times, but only led once thereafter.

It was the first road game for Tennessee since coach Pat Summitt announced in the offseason that she has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. She received a warm welcome when she came out onto the floor just before the game.

Virginia used a 12-2 run to take a 24-20 lead in a sloppy first half. The Lady Vols turned the ball over at least seven times in the drought, and went almost 5 minutes without scoring.

Spani, who hit the floor hard at one point and went back to the locker room, led Tennessee with 12 points in the half, and Gerson led the Cavaliers with eight.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pat Summitt recipient of AARP Inspire Award

Tennessee's Pat Summitt is among a dozen recipients of AARP The Magazine's Inspire Awards in the wake of the coach's announcement that she has dementia.

According to AARP, the awards pay tribute to people who inspire action in others.

Summitt, 59, has said she decided to reveal she'd been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, because she wanted others to understand that they could continue to live their life with the disease.

Coach Summitt has led the Lady Volunteers to eight national championships and says she is determined to continue to coach as long as she is able.

Other Inspire Awards recipients include: conservationist Jane Goodall, late Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and country music singer Toby Keith.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Third-ranked Tennessee holds off No. 7 Miami 92-76

Pat Summitt has fielded plenty of questions about her health lately. Certainly nothing has changed about her ability to grill her players at halftime when she’s disappointed in their performance.

The third-ranked Lady Vols came into halftime tied at 42 with seventh-ranked Miami after being manhandled on the boards. Summitt got onto them hard during her halftime speech, and they responded with a 92-76 victory on Tuesday night in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic.

“If you ever doubt if Pat Summitt is still coaching, look at how our team responds coming out in the second half,” associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “She got on them pretty hard. We all did as a staff about our rebounding effort, our hustle plays that weren’t there. We challenged them for 20 minutes, and I think they responded.”

It was the first big test of the season for two veteran teams, and the matchup lived up to its billing in the first-ever meeting for the programs.

Though the game pitted preseason All-Americans Shekinna Stricklen and Shenise Johnson against one another, the spotlight was stolen by Taber Spani and Meighan Simmons, who together hit 7 of 13 from 3-point range.

The Lady Vols (2-0) came out after intermission and unleashed an 18-4 run to take control. Glory Johnson, who struggled in the first half against Miami’s inside defense, hit a layup that made it 60-46 with 16:19 to go.

The Lady Vols got sloppy, committing three turnovers that helped the Hurricanes charge back with nine unanswered points to cut the margin to seven, and with 7:31 to go, Shenise Johnson hit a jumper to cut the Lady Vols’ lead to 73-68.

Miami (1-1) would get no closer. Two possessions later, Spani took an inbound pass with 10 seconds on the shot clock and launched a 3-pointer that hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded.

“I thought that was the turning point of the game, as we were struggling kind of to get back in it,” Miami coach Katie Meier said.

A couple of minutes later, Spani rebounded a missed 3-point attempt by Shenise Johnson and launched the ball across the court to Simmons, who charged to the basket for a layup to make it 84-68. The basket capped an 11-0 run that began with Spani’s trey and sent the orange-clad crowd into a frenzy.

“I think it’s more mental than anything else,” said Spani, who played 39 minutes. “Obviously all of us have shot millions of shots throughout our careers, so it’s just a mindset going in and knowing that you can knock down shots.”

Simmons scored 18 points, Glory Johnson finished with 16 and nine rebounds, Stricklen added 15 points and Ariel Massengale had 11 points and nine assists.

“I thought across the board, everybody contributed in certain ways,” Summitt said. “It’s just a matter of who’s coming in. At any given moment, we’ve got enough people that somebody’s going to step up.”

The Tennessee coaches expected a strong rebounding effort by the Lady Vols, so they instead asked the players to focus on not turning the ball over. By halftime, Tennessee had just six turnovers but had 13 fewer rebounds than Miami.

By the end of the game, the Lady Vols had put enough an effort on the boards to trail the Hurricanes 45-38 in rebounding, and it was Miami that was struggling to hang onto the ball. The Hurricanes turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 23 points for the Lady Vols—10 more than Miami got off giveaways.

Riquna Williams, who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring a season ago, sank 24 points for Miami. Shenise Johnson added 17 and Morgan Stroman scored 11.

The stingy defensive play by both teams forced the ball to the hands of the outside shooters during the first half, leading four lead changes and two ties.

Miami took an early edge after scoring eight unanswered points. Williams and Stefanie Yderstorm each had a 3, while Stroman hit a pair of free throws to take an 8-2 lead, their largest margin of the first half.

A few minutes later, Tennessee went on an 8-0 run of its own, capped by a 3-pointer by Simmons off a dish by Massengale. The basket gave the Lady Vols an 18-16 lead—their first since the opening basket. They slowly built their margin to 38-31 on a jumper in the paint by Alicia Manning with 4:52 in the first half, but Miami scored the final five points of the half to tie it at the break.

“Our confidence was high,” Shenise Johnson said. “(The score) was zero-zero.”

The teams launched a flurry of long shots during their streaks, and the Lady Vols hit 7 of 13 and Miami 6 of 14 from behind the arc in the first half. Tennessee finished 11 of 22 from long range, while Miami missed all nine of its second-half attempts.

The Lady Vols have now won 38 straight games at home on the court named for Summitt, dating to a 62-54 loss to Duke on Feb. 16, 2009. They travel to Virginia on Sunday before hosting No. 1 Baylor at The Summitt on Nov. 27.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

No. 3 Tennessee beats defensive Pepperdine 89-57

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt has been waiting for the season to start, ready to get the attention off her dementia diagnosis and back on her Lady Volunteers.

The Lady Vols are determined to bring home the program’s ninth national title in honor of their coach. First they’ve got to get through a blistering nonconference schedule, which began with an 89-57 win against a tough Pepperdine team on Sunday in both teams’ season opener.

The focus was still on Summitt briefly before the game as U.S. Sports Academy director of communications Duwayne Escobedo presented Summitt with the Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award.

The award is presented annually in honor of an individual who demonstrates courageous action in overcoming adversity to excel in sport. Summitt disclosed her diagnosis in hopes of helping others understand they could still live their lives after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“It’s a tremendous honor. Obviously, I appreciate it, and I’m humbled by it,” Summitt said.

Summitt didn’t address the media after the game and plans to rely on her longtime assistants to handle postgame news conferences among their other expanded duties this season.

Associate head coach Holly Warlick channeled Summitt easily during her interview, criticizing the Lady Vols’ defensive efforts.

“I thought today we played in spurts,” Warlick said. “We came out in the second half and shot the ball really, really well, but I’m really disappointed in our one-on-one defense. We put a lot of time in on that, and we just weren’t very good.”

Like Summitt and Warlick, Pepperdine coach Julie Rousseau stresses defense to her team, which returned 10 letter-winners and all five starters from last year’s team, which reached the WNIT tournament. The Waves, who finished fourth in the nation last year in turnover margin and fourth in steals per game, smothered the Lady Vols, keeping them uncomfortable on every single shot and forcing 22 turnovers.

“We leave here with a great experience that I think sets the table for us for the rest of the season,” Rousseau said.

It took over two minutes for the first shot to finally fall. Pepperdine never led, but kept within two baskets until an 8-0 run capped by Meighan Simmons’ jumper with 10:32 left in the first half gave Tennessee a 20-9 lead.

The Waves got a pair of free throws followed by a layup from Skye Barnett to get the margin within seven points with 7:23 before halftime, but it was as close as they would get. Tennessee went on another 8-0 run before the break and scored 18 unanswered points early in the second half to put the game out of reach.

“Something we talked about at halftime was having that constant high energy at all times, and we just got committed to that. We came out and fired,” point guard Briana Bass said.

Summitt played her entire bench in the first half, including freshmen Cierra Burdick and Isabelle Harrison, and the Tennessee reserves scored 20 points.

Glory Johnson led the Lady Vols with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Shekinna Stricklen and Simmons each had 13 points, Taber Spani contributed 11 points and Briana Bass had 10.

Pepperdine’s tough defense came at a cost. The Waves had 14 personal fouls in the first half, though the Lady Vols were uncharacteristically sloppy at the charity stripe, making just two of six foul shots before halftime.

Still, it forced Rousseau to go deep into her bench, which was responsible for just four points in the first half and 19 total. Jazmine Jackson had 17 points for the Waves, who shot 28.4 percent to the Lady Vols’ 49.2 percent shooting.

“I feel like we attacked them fairly well, but I also think that we settled for a lot of outside shots,” Jackson said.

Tennessee outrebounded Pepperdine 54-34, but couldn’t turn them into points. The Lady Vols gained control of the game with their 20 fast-break points and by sinking eight of their 10 3-point baskets in the second half.

Summitt gave a starting nod to point guard Ariel Massengale, making her just the 14th Lady Vol to start her very first career game. The coach was so convinced of Massengale’s talent and frustrated by a lack of a bona fide point guard last season that she dubbed Massengale a starter back in March.

Massengale sat for more than 13 minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls and finished with just one field goal, but had five assists to just one turnover and came up with two steals and three rebounds in 20 minutes.

The Lady Vols, who were visited by former standouts Chamique Holdsclaw and Kara Lawson, have a quick turnaround with a Tuesday game scheduled against No. 7 Miami.

“We’ve got to get a whole heck of a lot better before Tuesday,” Warlick said.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Summitt hopes new season will be about hoops

Pat Summitt wants her 38th season at Tennessee to be all about the Lady Vols and not her public battle with dementia.

Considering what the Hall of Fame coach means to so many, it may be difficult for her to fully get her wish.

"That's what I want to talk about, basketball, not dementia," Summitt said. "I don't want a pity party, because it is what it is."

Summitt is sure to get rousing ovations of support when the Lady Vols are on the road, not to mention when they play at home beginning with Sunday's opener against Pepperdine.

The women's basketball season starts Friday for 14 of the preseason Top 25, including No. 1 Baylor and Brittney Griner. It ends in Denver _ the first time the Final Four will be held in the Mountain time zone.

Tennessee is clearly the sentimental choice to make it there and her Lady Vols players seem focused to win a ninth national championship for their coach.

"She's taking care of me as far as making me become a better person, a better athlete," Tennessee sophomore Meighan Simmons said. "I feel like now it's our turn to return a favor to her."

To reach Denver, the Lady Vols will have to end a three-year Final Four drought _ long by Rocky Top standards. This talented group of seniors, led by preseason All-America Shekinna Stricklen, is trying to avoid being the first Tennessee class to not make the Final Four in their careers.

The class of 1995 came the closest, as they didn't reach it until their senior season when they fell to Connecticut _ the first of Geno Auriemma's seven titles.

UConn's group this year is still a major contender despite the graduation of four-time All-America Maya Moore. Auriemma is happy to head into a season and not have to talk about streaks any more after the Huskies' NCAA record 90-game run came to an end last season.

"Could you imagine if they had kept that thing going?" Auriemma said. "It would have been so unfair to this new group to have to worry about that. Now we can just focus on basketball."

Auriemma has a talented freshmen class to complement the four returning starters, and a fifth straight trip to the Final Four isn't out of the question. He feels, for the first time in a few years, there's no obvious favorite to win it all.

"Clearly Baylor, Tennessee, and Notre Dame all have a lot of talent back," Auriemma said. "But everyone has some question marks. It will make the regular season more interesting and exciting."

It's already the first time in five years that neither UConn or Tennessee sits atop the preseason Top 25 poll. That honor falls on Baylor. The Lady Bears are led by junior phenom Griner. The 6-foot-8 star worked hard in the offseason to improve her game, spending 12 days with the U.S. women's national team, which is coached by Auriemma.

"She is definitely a unique talent," he said. "She's so hard to guard in so many ways, and she's just beginning to tap her ability."

Baylor has a tough schedule early with a potential matchup against No. 2 Notre Dame in the Preseason WNIT final in mid-November. The Lady Bears also play the Lady Vols and Huskies before the New Year. With Griner, coach Kim Mulkey feels her squad is ready.

"If you have a team capable of playing them, go play them," Mulkey said. "This schedule's extremely tough _ the toughest since I've been at Baylor."

One team that Mulkey won't play after this season is Texas A&M. The defending national champions are the biggest name in women's basketball to change conferences, with the Aggies heading to the SEC next season.

Mulkey said at the Big 12 media day that she won't play them anymore. That's unfortunate given the two rivals had four riveting games last season, including a NCAA regional final game that drew more than 11,500 fans.

The Pac-10 has undergone a major change this season, growing to the Pac-12 with the addition of Colorado and Utah. The new conference name probably won't effect the standings much as Stanford is the favorite to win its 12th straight league title.

Stanford will be looking to tie Connecticut and LSU with a fifth straight trip to the Final Four. The Cardinal have made it to the title game twice and lost in the semis twice.

While Stanford has been a Final Four mainstain the last few years, the Big Ten has been absent. No team from the conference has made the national semifinals since Michigan State lost to Baylor in the 2005 title game. It's the longest drought of any of the six major conferences.

Notre Dame fell just short of winning its second national championship last season, losing to Texas A&M in the title game. The Irish became the first team to beat both Tennessee and UConn in the same NCAA tournament.

Sensational junior guard Skylar Diggins became a fresh face for the sport during the Irish's tournament run, gaining nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter.

With Diggins return along with stars Devereaux Peters and Natalie Novosel, Notre Dame was picked to win the Big East for the first time in a decade.

The Fighting Irish have bigger goals in mind.

"It definitely still hurts," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I think that when we look at the last game, we decided then that we had to get ready for next year. We've got some unfinished business is the way we're looking at it. It's a different type of chip on our shoulder."

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Spani's 25 leads No. 3 Lady Vols past Union, 93-45

Junior guard Taber Spani scored 22 of her 25 points in the first half and the Tennessee women's basketball team cruised to a 93-45 exhibition win over five-time NAIA champion, Union, Tuesday evening at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Spani set the tone early, draining two of her seven three-pointers to open the game's scoring. Averaging 13 points per game last season, Spani shot 8-of-12, including a 7-of-10 mark from downtown. Her 22 first-half points outscored Union (16), while her seven treys were more than the Lady Bulldogs had combined (5). The Lady Vols never left this one in doubt, heading into halftime with a 51-16 lead. In two exhibition games, UT allowed an average of 15.5 points in the opening 20 minutes.

Tennessee's offense flowed smoothly early and often, as the Lady Vols shot 55.2 percent from the field and had four players in double-figures. Senior preseason All-American Shekinna Stricklen scored 17 points, while freshman Isabelle Harrison had 11 and sophomore Meighan Simmons chipped in 10.

But for as good as the Lady Vols were offensively, it was their defense that led the way.

Tennessee's full-court pressure was disruptive all night as it forced 31 turnovers and took advantage, scoring 37 points off of those opportunities. Four Lady Vols had at least three steals: Alicia Manning, Harrison and Spani all had four, while senior Glory Johnson recorded a trio.

Freshman Ariel Massengale stepped in for her first opening tip as a Lady Vol versus Union. The true point guard, who was announced as Tennessee's starting point guard while she was still in high school in March, dished out a game-high six assists with four points and a steal.

UT pulled down 39 boards, led by Johnson's game-best 11, to the Lady Bulldogs' 23. Lavanda Ross led the Lady Bulldogs in virtually every statistical category with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Union came to Knoxville unbeaten in two regular-season contests this season and ranked second among NAIA schools.

Tennessee will open the regular season Sunday, Nov. 13 when it welcomes Pepperdine to Thompson-Boling Arena. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Pat Summitt: From Tow-Headed Tot to Women's Basketball Powerhouse

Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in college basketball, sat down with Robin Roberts to talk about her toughest opponent yet -- Alzheimer's. Take a look at rarely seen photos of Summitt throughout her childhood and early career. Watch the full story on "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

Lady Vols crush Carson-Newman in exhibition opener

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT) - No. 3-ranked Tennessee women's basketball team used a 27-2 run across the end of the first half and start of the second to pull away from Carson-Newman in a 105-40 exhibition win at Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday evening.

"I thought we did some good things tonight," head coach Pat Summitt said. "It's always good when you get to play everyone. Exhibition games are great to get the kinks out and to get some game footage you can use in teaching. Our players will learn a lot from watching the tape (Wednesday). Across the board, I was pleased with the way we played."

Led by senior Alicia Manning's 23 points, the Lady Vols had six players in double-figures: Cierra Burdick (15), Meighan Simmons (14), Taber Spani (13), Shekinna Stricklen (12) and Vicki Baugh (10).

Leading 31-15 with 6:13 remaining in the opening half, the Lady Vols scored the final 17 points of the first period to take a 48-15 lead into intermission. The scoring spree was bolstered by seven points from Manning, who shot 10-of-14 from the floor.

Tennessee came out of the locker room continuing its run, scoring 10 of the second half's first 12 points, cumulating in an overall 27-2 spurt as UT led 56-17. In her Tennessee debut, Burdick took advantage of her opportunities at the free-throw line to record 15 points as UT's second-leading scorer.

Outrebounding Carson-Newman 65-30, Tennessee was led by Baugh, who pulled down a game-high 14 boards.

Tennessee never allowed the Lady Eagles to get into an offensive flow, forcing 34 turnovers and blocking 10 shots. Manning also led the Lady Vols with five steals, while freshman Isabelle Harrison was disruptive in the paint with half of UT's rejections (five).

Freshman Ariel Massengale also made her UT debut, draining one of Tennessee's four three-pointers to score five points off the bench.

As a whole, UT's freshman class combined for 25 points and 16 rebounds in its debut.

"These three freshmen are so passionate about the game," Summitt said. "They are going to help this team. They listen...they want to improve daily and they are invested in everything we do. At the same time, I have to credit the upperclassmen for taking them under their wing and getting them prepared."

The Lady Vols' scoring started early as they took the lead before the opening tip with a free throw on a Carson-Newman technical foul. The Lady Eagles were late turning in their starting lineup and Spani took advantage, sinking one-of-two free throws for the 1-0 advantage.

The final score, 105-40, was Tennessee's largest lead. The advantage ballooned to 50 (80-30) with 9:28 remaining in the game on a pair of Glory Johnson free throws. Tennessee will play its second exhibition game next Tuesday, Nov. 8, against Union at 7 p.m., before beginning the regular season by hosting Pepperdine on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 4 p.m.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lady Vols No. 3 in preseason AP women's basketball poll

Tennessee hasn't experienced a Women's Final Four since 2008. Still, the Lady Vols have enough experience in their lineup to receive a No. 3 ranking Saturday in the Associated Press' preseason women's basketball poll.

The Lady Vols, who finished 34-3 last season, were ranked behind only No. 1 Baylor and second-ranked Notre Dame, which thumped UT, 73-59, in the Dayton Regional final last March.

"I think it's because of our seniors, our veterans,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said of her team's ranking before adding, "We're not going to focus on (being No. 3)."

Tennessee has five seniors on its roster and three others with at least a season's worth of experience. Sophomore guard Meighan Simmons started 36 games last season.

Baylor, led by 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner, received 33 of 40 first-place votes from a national media panel. The Lady Bears became the first Big 12 school to be ranked No. 1 to start the season since Texas in 1985 and 1986.

Notre Dame drew six first-place votes and was second. After UT, Connecticut and Stanford rounded out the first five. The No. 2 ranking is the Irish's best since the final poll of 2001 when they also were ranked second. The other first-place vote went to defending national champion Texas A&M, which is ranked sixth.

Baylor could meet Notre Dame in the Preseason WNIT final in mid-November. The Lady Bears also play the Lady Vols on Nov. 27 in Knoxville and UConn before the New Year.

Tennessee, meanwhile, plays 11 teams that are in the preseason poll, including every other top five team but Connecticut. UT's gauntlet begins with No. 7 Miami (Fla.) in the State Farm Tipoff Classic on Nov. 15 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Hurricanes' ranking is the best since they were sixth in the final poll of 1992.

Duke, Louisville, and Georgetown round out the first 10. It's the highest ranking ever for the Hoyas.

There are three other SEC teams in the poll: No. 13 Georgia, No. 18 Kentucky and No. 21 LSU. Georgia and LSU were not ranked at the end of last season.

The Big East has seven teams in the Top 25 with the ACC next at five. The Big 12 joins the SEC with four teams. The Pac-12 has three and Big Ten two. It's the first time there was no team outside the BCS conferences in the Top 25.

Friday, October 28, 2011

On battling dementia, Summitt says, 'you've got to have a game plan'

Vols coach stays active in practice

With Associate Coach Holly Warlick sitting protectively by her side, Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt spoke with reporters Thursday about the Lady Vols and, more importantly, her ongoing battle with early-stage dementia.

"You've got to have a game plan in everything you do," Summitt said.

Summitt's plan is to wake up each morning, drink coffee and work 12 puzzles on her I-pad.

"They really attack your brain," Summitt said of the daily puzzles. "But that's the purpose."

Warlick, who took the SEC basketball Media Day microphone whenever Summitt hesitated, said the coaching icon challenged her staff to puzzle competitions. "We won't do it," Warlick said.

Summitt said she has gotten her mother to also work puzzles.

After the puzzles, Summitt goes to her UT basketball office. She no longer answers fans' email nor performs other mundane coaching chores.

"She's vocal in practice," Warlick said. "... She does a great job in recruiting."

Lady Vols player Vicki Baugh said that she took it as a good sign when Summitt chewed her out for a practice mistake.

"It was a relief," Baugh said. "Then again, I need to get my stuff together. She shouldn't be yelling at a fifth-year senior."

The diagnosis of early-stage dementia came earlier this year. Summitt called a team meeting to inform the players.

"She told us like we were having a casual conversation," Baugh said.

A Hall of Fame coach and winner of 1,071 games in 37 seasons, Summitt decided to continue coaching.

"I love it," she said. "... What I want everyone to know is I'm doing great. Every day I want to get up and I want to go to work. That keeps me going."

Another UT assistant, former UK women's head coach Mickie DeMoss, watched from the periphery of the crowd of reporters listening to Summitt. DeMoss acknowledged her concern.

"It wears on her, the fatigue of it all," DeMoss said of the trip to SEC Media Day and the round of interviews. "She's better in short intervals."

Then DeMoss added, "You know she's a fighter."

UK women's coach Matthew Mitchell noted how Summitt hired him as an assistant in 1999.

"She could have hired any of 5,000 high school coaches," he said. "She just gave me the opportunity because she sensed I have passion and some work ethic."

Summitt made the hire to help Mitchell rather than herself or UT basketball.

"That's an indication of what kind of person she is," Mitchell said. "... She's a tremendous giver."

Summitt's SEC peers rooting for iconic coach

HOOVER, Ala. - Pat Summitt still has a powerhouse team at Tennessee, and she's not going anywhere just yet.

That's good news even to the Lady Vols icon's coaching rivals after Summitt revealed in August that she had been diagnosed with dementia.

"Every day I can't wait to get on the court," the 59-year-old Summitt said Thursday at Southeastern Conference media day. "I'm not ready to retire. I may be old as dirt when I'm still trying to win games."

Winning games probably won't be a problem this season. Summitt's Lady Vols are unanimous favorites to defend their SEC championship.

Summitt would much rather talk basketball than about her illness, but she amiably fielded questions about her fight condition, sitting at a podium next to associate head coach Holly Warlick.

If anything, Warlick said, battling dementia has made Summitt even more focused and conscious of time management.

"She is fine, she is at every practice, she is heavily recruiting," Warlick said. "She is still our head coach, and she is doing a heck of a job."

Summitt's SEC coaching peers have rallied around her.

She's still just "Coach" to Nikki Caldwell, a former Lady Vols player and assistant who is now heading LSU's program.

"I see her as coach. I don't see her any different than that," said Caldwell, part of one Tennessee national championship as a player and two as an assistant. "I see her as somebody who is still hungry as a teacher for the game, someone who still loves the game, someone who is still passionate about preparing her team for greatness.

"You're going to literally have to put coach in a wheelchair and get her out of there. ... Only she'll know when it's time."

And that time doesn't seem to be anytime soon.

Summitt is every bit the coach when she talks about her "gameplan" for dealing with dementia.

"It doesn't really feel any different," Summitt said. "You get your gameplan and you go at it every day. You mix up things that you want to do day in and day out and go to practice, doing regular stuff.

"I don't think it's something that's slowing me down," she said. "I think if anything, it's revving me up."

She works brain teasing puzzles on her iPad for an hour or two in the mornings to keep her mind sharp, and Warlick said she even did a couple on the plane ride to Hoover. The daily business of coaching helps, too.

"It's not just doing puzzles, it's yelling at those players when they're not doing things the right way," Summitt said. "It keeps me involved."

Summitt smiled when asked if the experience of facing the microphones and TV cameras is as stressful as coaching, which she's done with the Lady Vols since 1974.

"I expected everybody to ask me about it," she said. "It is what it is. We will move on."

Her coaching peers and proteges would expect nothing less.

Georgia's Andy Landers said he went through shock and sadness when he learned of Summitt's diagnosis, then started the adjustment period. Talking to her, he said, "you realize that she's comfortable."

"She understands what the challenges are," Landers said. "She has excellent guidance and advice on how to meet the challenges. She's determined to do that, so all of the sudden you find yourself being a supporter, a fan if you will, in this fight, in this competition that she has going on with herself.

"But it's something that, it falls under the category of things you thought would never happen to you. I feel really good now about where she is and what's she's done."

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell got his start in college ball as a graduate assistant for Summitt's 2000 Final Four team. He calls that "the opportunity of a lifetime."

"The thing that people probably don't realize because you only see her maybe through the lens of a camera on the sideline when she's in the heat of competition, is she is such a generous person," Mitchell said. "She could've put me in a corner and said don't open your mouth for a year, and I would've been happy doing that, but she didn't do that. She really gave me responsibility and always made me feel included. That's what she's done for anyone that's ever worked for her."

In some ways, it's business as usual for the Lady Vols. They're the unanimous picks to repeat as SEC champions and is still one of the sport's statesmen.

"You think about what's she's done for the game of women's basketball," Mitchell said. "She's carried the banner by herself, singlehandedly for so long, we just all owe her a lot."

One group that shouldn't expect Summitt to ease up: Game officials.

"Don't worry about it," Summitt deadpanned. "I know those referees."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Summitt focuses on hoops while managing dementia

Pat Summitt has handled the talk about her dementia diagnosis the same way she manages Tennessee basketball and her life: with control and determination.

The Hall of Fame coach dictated how news of her condition was revealed in August and has made it clear since that she wants the focus to be on basketball, not her.

She's stuck to that plan, speaking reluctantly at practices about her illness while steering conversations to Tennessee's chances at a ninth national championship this season.

On Thursday, she'll be faced with more questions about dementia and Alzheimer's, as she makes her first major public appearance in Birmingham, Ala., for the annual Southeastern Conference media day.

Her message about dementia is clear. She wants others to know they can manage their life with the condition.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Country star Campbell to perform in Maryville, TN as part of farewell tour

Country music Hall of Famer Glen Campbell will perform 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, at the Clayton Center for the Arts as part of the “Glen Campbell Tennessee Homecoming” tour and in honor of UT Lady Vols Basketball Coach Pat Summitt.

The concert will benefit Alzheimer’s Tennessee Inc., a local nonprofit that was chosen by the UT Athletic Department and Pat Summitt as one of the beneficiaries of the “We Back PAT” campaign featuring T-shirts and billboards.

Campbell is now on the road for the last time. “I still love making music,” the 75-year-old Campbell said. “And I still love performing for my fans. I’d like to thank them for sticking with me through thick and thin.”

Four of Campbell’s children are expected to play backup during his “Tennessee Homecoming concert.”

Campbell and his wife Kim of 29 years have shared about how he finds fulfillment through performing during what he is calling his “Goodbye Tour.”

Campbell also released his final studio album, “Ghost On The Canvas,” at the end of August.

Proceeds from the concert will benefit families and research supported by Alzheimer’s Tennessee Inc.

“I’m really not worried about anything,” Campbell said during a recent interview with The Associated Press. “You know those people who say, ‘Oh, geez, I wonder what’s going to happen tomorrow?’ Tomorrow’s cool. Just don’t mess it up. It’s just wonderful. I think where I am at right now in this universe, I wouldn’t want to be anything else than what I am.”

In the past month, Campbell has performed on “The Tonight Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and appeared on the “Tavis Smiley Show.”

On Thursday he played at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and is set to perform Sunday at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif.

On Tuesday he tapes “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in Los Angeles and, on Nov. 9, he’ll be honored during a five- to six-minute segment on the 45th annual CMA Awards show.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Pat Summitt happy to be back

Pat Summitt is glad to be back at practice with her Tennessee squad after revealing during the offseason that she's been diagnosed with dementia.

"That's what I want to talk about, basketball, not dementia," a fully-engaged Summitt said Wednesday after the Lady Volunteers' first practice of the 2011-12 season.

Summitt revealed to her team and the rest of the world in late August that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, over the summer. The 59-year-old Hall of Fame coach said she wanted to go ahead and deal with the news then so she could focus on basketball when the season arrived.

The timing seemed to have a positive effect for the Lady Vols, who have failed to reach the Final Four for three straight seasons after winning back-to-back national championships in 2007 and 2008.

"I think it motivated this team. Once they heard about it, they were like, 'We're cutting down some nets,'" said Summitt, who was her usual intense self on the sidelines. "When I gave them the diagnosis, I think it really motivated them. I wanted to sit down with my team and tell them what was going on. They've been great.

"I think they really are motivated for a championship."

Sophomore guard Meighan Simmons said she cried when Summitt shared the news but feels she's becoming even closer to her coach now.

"I feel like I will be able to hug her more and tell her I appreciate her because I really feel like she really needs that," Simmons said. "With Pat, she's one of the best coaches in the country, and I think to be playing for her I really feel like it touches me because I'm playing for her and she's taking care of me as far as making me become a better person, a better athlete. I feel like now it's our turn to return a favor to her."

Summitt sought a diagnosis after struggling both mentally and physically during the 2010-11 season, which ended with a 34-3 record for the Lady Vols and a loss in the regional finals.

"Back in August after she told us she was going to make that announcement, she came to us and said, 'OK, now that we've got that out of the way, now everyone knows and now we're back to business,'" freshman point guard Ariel Massengale said.

There's been an outpouring from former players, fans and casual observers ever since she revealed she was struggling with dementia. This week alone, Summitt has been named the recipient of the Maggie Dixon Courage award and the Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage award. Former Lady Vol standout Kara Lawson announced she was working to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association in Summitt's honor.

Summitt struggled for several months with the news that she was facing dementia before her son, Tyler, encouraged her to share her diagnosis with the world. Tyler Summitt helps her keep her days organized by making to-do lists for her.

On the list for Wednesday in addition to practice was a book club meeting with the Lady Vols. At their coach's encouragement, they're reading "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, a book about what makes some companies more successful than others.

"We have two players that present anytime that we go in," she said. "It's really been good because they have to explain it. It doesn't come from the coaches, it comes from the players. I think they're learning a lot. It's a good focus for them."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tamika Catchings is named WNBA's MVP

Finally, Tamika Catchings has a Most Valuable Player award. Tonight, she resumes pursuit of a more compelling quest: winning a WNBA championship with the Indiana Fever.

“I don’t want us to get sidetracked on me winning MVP,” said Catchings, whose award was announced today by the league. "I don’t want me to get sidetracked.

“If anything, it needs to give us more fire.”

The top-seeded Fever will open the best-of-three Eastern Conference finals against the No. 3-seeded Atlanta Dream at 7 at Conseco Fieldhouse.

The East champion will play the Minnesota Lynx or Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Finals, which open Oct. 2.

After a decade of coming close, the 32-year-old Catchings was a decisive winner in voting by a media panel. She received 21 first-place votes, followed by centers Tina Charles of Connecticut and Sylvia Fowles of Chicago with six each.

In total points, Catchings had 292, Charles 209 and Fowles 148.

Catchings finished second in voting in 2003, 2009 and 2010, and was third in two other years.

She was rewarded for all-around impact. She finished 10th in the league in scoring (15.5), ninth in rebounds (7.1), 13th in assists (3.5) and fourth in steals (2.03). She has also been honored as Defensive Player of the Year four times.

No MVP had ever finished lower than fourth in scoring or averaged fewer than 17 points.

Catchings acknowledged that she pushed aside thoughts of becoming MVP because she reasoned that she didn’t score enough. She was not going to amend her approach so she could influence the voting.

“That is probably the biggest thing about it, being able to change that trend and being able to change how people look at the MVP,” Catchings said. “Not necessarily looking at the player that scores the most points being the MVP, but the player who makes the biggest overall impact for the team.

“So hopefully, it does start a trend,” she said. “And not just in professional basketball and this arena, but in all arenas.”

Kelly Krauskopf, chief operating officer of the Fever, said she was moved to tears when she learned Catchings had won. It was the decision of Krauskopf and then-coach Nell Fortner to select Catchings with the No. 3 pick of the 2001 WNBA draft.

Catchings has subsequently become the only player in WNBA history with 5,000 points, 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.

Krauskopf said she never gave up hope that media would someday vote for Catchings as MVP. The Fever executive said she reacted emotionally because of how valuable Catchings has been locally with community service and her foundation.

“I know the kind of person she is and what kind of heart she has, and how much she means to this community and this city,” Krauskopf said. “And she does a lot of it on her own, the way she follows up with e-mails to kids she might meet. Just things like that resonate throughout the community.”

“She epitomizes all the things that we talk about with role models that are great professional athletes.”

Krauskopf said it was also a big moment for Pacers Sports & Entertainment. Catchings is the first Indiana MVP in the NBA or WNBA.

The Pacers collected three MVP awards in the former ABA: Mel Daniels in 1969 and 1971, and George McGinnis in 1975. McGinnis shared the award with Julius Erving of the New York Nets.

Catchings said the first person she called to deliver the news was her sister, Tauja. She also told her parents, Harvey and Wanda, and brother, Kenyon.

Catchings conceded others wanted her to be MVP more than she did herself.

“When it comes out, my phone is going to go off the chain, I know that,” she said. “People are going to be so happy.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Class Act

From the South Carolina Web site: When The Gamecocks women’s basketball team visits Knoxville, TN on Feb. 2, USC coach Dawn Staley plans to bring something to Tennessee coach Pat Summitt — a check.

Staley’s staff and players have formed a team to participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Oct. 15 at Finlay Park. They hope to raise $20,000 in honor of Summitt, who announced last month she is suffering from the onset of the terminal disease that robs sufferers of memory and body function.

“It’s a disease that will touch all of us at some point,” Staley said.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Brewer No Longer on Team

Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee head women's basketball coach, announced this afternoon that Alyssia Brewer was no longer with the Lady Vol basketball team.

"We met with Lyssi yesterday and came to an agreement that she would no longer be a member of the team," said Summitt. "She will finish this semester at UT and we will help her if she'd like to transfer to another school."

Brewer, a 6'3" senior from Sapulpa, Okla., averaged 2.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 10.0 minutes per outing in 20 games as a junior. She earned seven starting assignments after coming back from a torn Achilles tendon suffered before the start of the 2010-11 season.

During her career, she scored 599 points (6.9 ppg) and grabbed 396 rebounds (4.6 rpg) while appearing in 87 games and starting 20 contests.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

2012 SEC Women's Hoops Tournament Information Announced

The SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament makes a return trip to Nashville, Tenn. and the Bridgestone Arena in 2012. This is the fifth time the tournament has been held in Nashville. Previous tournaments held there are 2002, 2004, 2008, and 2011.

The winner of the 11-game tournament will receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The tournament seeds and conference champion will be determined by the 16-game regular-season SEC schedule. The top four seeds earn a first-round bye.

The 2012 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament will once again enjoy live television coverage. FSN continues its dedication to SEC events by televising all first round and all second round games. The semifinals will be aired on ESPNU for the second consecutive year, while the championship game will again be televised on ESPN2.

Public tickets for this year’s event will go on sale October 4 and can be purchased through the SEC website or by calling 1-800-732-4849.

Prices are: reserved tournament book, $90; reserved single-session (six sessions total), $17; and general admission single-session, $12 (can only be purchased day of event at arena box office).

Below is the schedule with game times for the 2012 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament:

FIRST ROUND

Thursday, March 1

Noon Game 1 - Seed #8 vs. Seed #9 FSN

2:30 p.m. Game 2 - Seed #7 vs. Seed #10 FSN

6:30 p.m. Game 3 - Seed #5 vs. Seed #12 FSN

9:00 p.m. Game 4 - Seed #6 vs. Seed #11 FSN

SECOND ROUND

Friday, March 2

Noon Game 5 - Seed #1 vs. Game 1 winner FSN

2:30 p.m. Game 6 - Seed #2 vs. Game 2 winner FSN

6:30 p.m. Game 7 - Seed #4 vs. Game 3 winner FSN

9:00 p.m. Game 8 - Seed #3 vs. Game 4 winner FSN

SEMIFINALS

Saturday, March 3

3:00 p.m. Game 9 - Game 5 winner vs. Game 7 winner ESPNU

5:00 p.m. Game 10 - Game 6 winner vs. Game 8 winner ESPNU

FINALS

Sunday, March 4

5:00 p.m. Game 11 - Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner ESPN2



All times CENTRAL and subject to change. FSN - SportSouth; FS Southwest; Sun Sport

Thursday, September 01, 2011

"We Back Pat" T-shirt

The University of Tennessee Athletic Department is proud to announce the official "WE BACK PAT" t-shirt. All proceeds from the sale of these shirts will benefit Alzheimer's Tennessee as well as UT Medical Center.

At Coach Summitt's request, the funds generated from the sale of these shirts (as well as other official items) will be applied to research and programs related to Alzheimer's disease here in the state of Tennessee.

The UT Bookstore, the Official Team Shop of Tennessee Athletics, will have the shirts available starting Saturday, September 3. Shirts may also be purchased online at shop.utsports.com beginning Friday, Sept. 2.

Future official events and news related to the "WE BACK PAT" campaign will be made by the Tennessee Athletic Department.

Link to purchase the "We Back Pat" T-shirt.

"We Back Pat" campaign launches

ennessee fans are united behind Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt in her fight against early onset Alzheimer's, and now you can sport a new t-shirt to show your support.

The UT Athletics Department has launched a new campaign called "We Back Pat." It will benefit Alzheimer's Tennessee and UT Medical Center.

Lady Vols coach reveals she has early onset Alzheimer's

The shirts are $10 and proceeds from the "We Back Pat" T-shirt and other items that are being developed will go directly to fund cutting-edge Alzheimer's research as well as fund Alzheimer's programs right here in Tennessee.

You can get your shirt right now at the UT Book and Supply store, and starting Monday, you can order them online at the WBIR General Store. Soon, they will be available at other retailers around town.

Also, keep your eye out for other official events for "We Back Pat" throughout the year.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Coach Pat Summitt Says Thanks for the Orange!

A quick video thank you from Coach Pat.

http://www.utladyvols.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/082611aab.html

People don orange to show support for Pat Summitt

Meg Smath is a Vanderbilt Commodores fan who works for the University of Kentucky. She's still wearing some orange to show she's rooting for Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.

"Pat Summitt is probably the one person on the planet I want to beat the most, but for this, I am behind her all the way," Smath said. "I may hate losing to her, but I respect her so much. She has done so much for women's basketball in general and the University of Tennessee in particular."

Thanks to an informal "We've Got Your Back, Pat" campaign publicized on Facebook and Twitter, people around the country — and not necessarily Lady Vols fans — were wearing orange Friday to show support for Summitt, who announced this week that she's been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. The Facebook group had more than 19,000 fans by Friday afternoon.

"It is also just so poignant that this woman who is so strong and capable will ultimately lose everything that makes her who she is," said Smath, 54. "My husband's father died of Alzheimer's, and my grandmother had it, too, but she didn't start to show symptoms until she was in her 90s. It is so unfair that Pat has it at such a young age, still in her prime."

Smath, a geological editor at the Kentucky Geological Survey, was sure to inform her co-worker Steve Martin about the push to wear orange. Martin, a geologist who has degrees from UT-Knoxville and UT-Chattanooga, said he's been a Summitt and Lady Vols fan since the 1980s.

Martin, who wore an orange and white seersucker shirt on Friday, said he was crushed by the news of Summitt's diagnosis.

"You just feel your heart breaking," said Martin, 48. "It's just the way she represents the university and Tennesseans in general with her honesty and how she tries to do the right thing. Like everyone else, it just broke my heart."

It's not unusual to see plenty of orange on any given day on Tennessee's campus, but Kyle Hensley, a 21-year-old agricultural business major from Lenoir City, Tenn., said there seemed to be a bit more on Friday.

"When you walk around, there's a lot of orange," said Hensley, who made sure his usual choice of a button-down shirt was orange. "You don't know if it's out of habit, but I noticed walking around today that there was quite a bit."

Tyler Summitt, the coach's 20-year-old son and a Tennessee student, definitely noticed a difference when he got to campus.

"I got out of my car and I was right by Neyland Stadium and I looked around and I was like, `Is there a football game today?'" he said. "I had forgotten it was wear orange for mom. Things have been so chaotic this week."

Tyler Summitt said his mother, who hasn't said anything publically since a statement about her diagnosis, was trying to figure out how to thank everyone for their support.

"My mom didn't know how things were going to be received. She wasn't so much worried as she was anxious to see the reaction of everybody — the public, the fans, the players, the boosters," he said. "Having seen the response, she is so overwhelmed with joy."

Summitt said in a video-taped statement on Friday afternoon that she has been touched by the support she's received.

"It's been very touching for me to hear from people all over the country. It's just amazing," she said. "I couldn't do this without so many of you. I know you're praying for me, and it makes me have the motivation to do whatever I need to do to beat this, and I thank you and I love all of you."

The support isn't just limited to wearing orange. People have sent letters to Summitt and changed their Facebook profile photos to that of an orange ribbon. Larry Weinberg, a Tennessee-Martin and UT-Memphis alumnus, said he and some fellow fans signed a Lady Vols flag that was to be delivered to Summitt on Friday.

Weinberg, a pharmacist for Kroger in Memphis, also paid a $5 "fine" — a donation to charity — for permission to wear his Tennessee polo shirt to work. It wasn't necessary as his boss was in full support.

"She gave permission for anyone in the store to wear orange," said Weinberg, 65. "She said she was going to have some orange ribbons cut up and available. She's not a UT fan, but she's a Pat Summitt fan."

Jennifer Langston, a communications consultant from Morrisville, N.C., said the orange shirt, Lady Vols pin, orange sandals she was wearing and orange purse she was carrying was a typical outfit for her. Even her Jeep is orange.

"I found out about the diagnosis over Twitter while sitting in the Philadelphia airport on my way back from a business trip. I was instantly brought to tears," said Langston, 39. "When I got back to Raleigh and started reading the coverage, people's reactions, it was clear to me that I wasn't alone. I still can't explain it, exactly, the sense of community and closeness that's she's built with the fan base.

"So I am wearing orange today to try to connect with that community, even though no one in Raleigh will know it," she said.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tamika Catchings Receives WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for July

The WNBA today honored Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings' commitment to the community with its WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for July. The Fever captain plays a leadership role off-the-court in the team's community outreach programs as the spokesperson for Get Fever Fit, the team's WNBA FIT initiative, and supports youth development, education, and health and wellness year-round through her Catch the Stars Foundation. This marks Catchings' seventh Community Assist Award, having previously received awards in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. Catchings was also named the 2007 Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award recipient.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Article on Pat Summitt by Jeff Jacobs

Summitt's Influence On Former Players Goes Far Beyond Basketball Court

Tyler Summitt opens up about how his mother is dealing with disease

Tyler Summitt is opening up about how his mom is dealing with early onset Alzheimer's disease.

Tyler said his mom has high spirits and is ready to face the challenge head-on.

"First of all anybody that ever comes to her and says I'm sorry, she says no need to be sorry, we're getting through this. And she's the one encouraging them. it's a little backwards you know, but she won't have any pity party for her. She's ready to move forward with this," said Tyler.

As Pat Summitt works to move forward, Tyler said he is doing the same and keeps the lessons his mom taught him close to heart. "Her players get four years with her. I've had a lifetime with her. I thought I learned it all because I want to be a college coach someday, and I realize the life lessons never do stop for her. She just taught me how to be open and honest and to have the courage to face the truth," said Tyler.

Tyler said his mom's diagnosis has made her more determined than ever. He said she is doing daily exercises to keep her mind strong and plans to keep coaching the Lady Vols as long as she can.

Pat Summitt's legacy a long way from finished

When she sat on the bench angrily stamping her feet, or locked in on one of those orange Tennessee jerseys like she was trying to melt the player inside, Pat Summitt looked like one of the toughest coaches you ever laid eyes on. The world seemed to be running on her schedule instead of the other way around.

We learned otherwise Tuesday, when the 59-year-old Hall of Fame coach surprised almost everyone by saying she has been diagnosed with early onset dementia — the Alzheimer's type.

What didn't surprise is that Summitt released the news on her terms. She was diagnosed after a series of tests at the Mayo Clinic three months ago, leaving the rest of us to wonder how long she anguished over the decision that she delivered to her team in person, but sounded so matter of fact in a statement released by the university.

"I plan to continue to be your coach," Summitt said. "Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days."

In 1994, some five years after leaving the White House, the late Ronald Reagan disclosed that he was battling the same disease, a neurological disorder that destroys brain cells and for which there is still no cure.

As it progressed, public appearances became increasingly rare. By continuing to work — "Throughout my career, I have always made it a point that my life and my basketball were an open book," Summitt began her statement — she signaled just the opposite.

"It takes great, great courage to fight health issues; it takes even greater courage to fight them in front of the world," Oklahoma women's coach Sherri Coale said. "Pat's willingness to share this private battle speaks volumes about her strength and her character."

Summitt's legacy, after all, hardly needs burnishing. Entering her 38th season at Tennessee, she has won eight national championships and more games than any coach in the college game, men's or women's.

Summitt started coaching when the women's game was an afterthought, but she demanded that her players prepare and play it with the same seriousness the men did.

Her players lifted weights, ran sprints and scrimmaged against men. They heard about it — but good — if they tried to cut corners. The Lady Vols' domination practically dared a handful of programs such as Connecticut and Stanford to come and get them.

Summitt welcomed that challenge, too. It's one more measure of her success that today, we take that competitiveness for granted; before Summitt insisted on it, that wasn't always so.

"It always seemed she had no vulnerability. She's the solid rock everyone looked up to," said former Texas coach Jody Conradt, another one-time rival. "I'm very happy she's not going to walk off the court at this point. When you have made it your life, there needs to be transition."

How long that will be remains anyone's guess. Summitt has three assistants to lean on with nearly nine decades of combined experience.

Medical experts say that depending on the progression of the disease, she could work for a few more seasons. Several added that simply by continuing to show up, Summitt would demonstrate what is possible, changing attitudes about an illness that afflicts more than five million of her countrymen — including 200,000 who, like Summitt, are diagnosed before age 65. Not unlike what she did for women's basketball.

"She's our John Wooden. ... I played for the woman. She's as tough as nails. People think I'm tough," said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics playing for Summitt. "I'm a pussycat compared to Pat Summitt ... Pat Summitt will fight. Pat Summitt will be on a crusade to help people with dementia. Pat said it best," she added. "It won't be a pity party."

It won't be pretty at times, either. Nearly every sports fan remembers how valiantly former North Carolina coach Jim Valvano battled cancer. A speech he gave late in that fight — punctuated by the line, "Don't give up, don't ever give up!" — became a clarion call for cancer research funding. The Jimmy V Foundation continues that mission today.

Those who know Summitt have no doubt she will find a way to make her mark, beyond the milestones she already set down in the women's game.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Pat will take on this challenge as she has all others during her Hall of Fame career — head on," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said, speaking for many of his colleagues." I wish her all the best."