Monday, December 31, 2012

Lady Vols' Graves named SEC Freshman of the Week

Lady Vols' forward Bashaara Graves has been named the SEC Women's Basketball Freshman of the Week.

The a 6'2" forward/center from Clarksville also picked up the honor on Nov. 12 and Dec. 3. She is the first player this season to earn either SEC Player or Freshman of the Week distinction on three occasions.

Graves posted a pair of double-doubles in wins over Davidson and Rutgers. She extended her streak of double-doubles to three-straight games and now is tied for the SEC lead this season with six. For the week, she averaged 13.5 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist. She shot 50% from the floor and 90% from the free throw line. Graves has now scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tennessee 66, Rutgers 47

No. 13 Tennessee used a strong defensive performance and balanced scoring to defeat Rutgers 66-47 Sunday.

The victory was the 1,200th in Tennessee's program history, an NCAA best. It was also the ninth consecutive win over Rutgers for the Lady Volunteers (9-3).

Tennessee led by as many as 28 points in the second half after leading 33-13 at halftime.

The Scarlet Knights (8-4) shot 34.6 percent (18 of 52) from the field and just 22.2 percent (6 of 27) in the first half.

Rutgers' 13 first-half points were the fewest Tennessee has allowed in a first half this season. Rutgers missed its first seven shots as the Lady Vols jumped out to an early 8-0 lead.

Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison recorded a double-double with a game-high 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Kahleah Copper led the Scarlet Knights with 13 points.

Rutgers cut Tennessee's lead to 33-16 to start the second half but never got any closer after the Lady Vols went on a 7-0 run to take a 40-16 lead.

A jumper by Meighan Simmons with 13:06 left gave Tennessee a 48-20 lead, its largest of the day.

Simmons scored 11 of her 15 points in the first half. Tennessee's Bashaara Graves had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

The Lady Vols shot 44.1 percent (26 of 59) from the field, and outscored the Scarlet Knights 30-22 in the paint and 19-12 in fast-break points.

Tennessee scored 24 points off 24 Rutgers turnovers, while the Scarlet Knights managed just eight points off 18 Lady Vols turnovers.

Rutgers' leading scorer and rebounder, Monique Oliver, injured her left ankle midway through the first half and didn't return. She played just nine minutes and had no points or rebounds.

Erica Wheeler, with 11 points, was the only Scarlet Knights player besides Copper in double figures.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tennessee 75, Davidson 40

Bashaara Graves and Cierra Burdick recorded double-doubles Friday as No. 13 Tennessee trounced Davidson 75-40 to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 1986.

Graves scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the fifth double-double of her freshman season despite resting for the game's final 10 minutes, 47 seconds. Burdick added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Isabelle Harrison played only 19 minutes, but she nearly gave the Lady Vols a third double-double before finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Tennessee (8-3) had fallen 76-53 at No. 3 Baylor and 73-60 to No. 1 Stanford in its last two games. The Lady Vols haven't dropped three straight games since losing 68-54 to No. 8 Mississippi, 66-60 to No. 11 Auburn and 59-56 to No. 3 Louisiana Tech on Feb. 5-10, 1986.

Sophia Aleksandravicius had 12 points and seven rebounds to lead Davidson (4-7) in both categories. Laura Murray added 11 points, but she shot just 4 of 15.

Graves and Harrison helped the Lady Vols dominate under the basket all night. Tennessee outrebounded Davidson 48-26 and outscored the Wildcats 22-0 in second-chance points. The Lady Vols also had a 26-5 edge in points off turnovers.

The victory over Davidson also allowed the Lady Vols to gain some revenge against the Southern Conference. Tennessee had opened the season with a stunning 80-71 road loss to Southern Conference member Chattanooga.

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick had criticized her team's effort after the Stanford game and responded Friday by overhauling her starting lineup. Graves and junior guard Meighan Simmons were the only starters from the Stanford game who remained in the starting lineup Friday.

Tennessee's new-look lineup featured three freshmen: Graves and forwards Jasmine Jones and Nia Moore. Jones and Moore were making their first career starts. The lineup also included senior guard/forward Taber Spani, making her third start of the season.

That combination wouldn't stay on the floor very long. Warlick returned to her usual starting five of Graves, Simmons, Burdick, Harrison and Ariel Massengale less than three minutes into the game with Davidson leading 7-5.

Tennessee took control of the game by going on a 12-0 run while holding Davidson scoreless for a stretch of nearly six minutes midway through the first half. That spurt turned an 11-11 tie into a 23-11 Tennessee lead, and the Lady Vols maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the night.

After leading 41-21 at the intermission, Tennessee opened the second half on a 9-0 run and remained in front by at least 25 points the remainder of the game.

Davidson has never beaten a Southeastern Conference team in 11 attempts.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stanford 73, Tennessee 60

Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike has at least one career achievement that eluded her older sister.

Ogwumike had 21 points and a career-high 19 rebounds Saturday and Stanford remained undefeated with a 73-60 victory at No. 10 Tennessee, giving the top-ranked Cardinal only their second win at Knoxville in 13 attempts.

Stanford won at Tennessee for the first time since an 82-65 victory on Dec. 15, 1996.

Ogwumike's older sister, Nneka Ogwumike of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, scored 42 points in Stanford's 97-80 win over Tennessee last year.

But the No. 1 pick in the most recent WNBA draft never won at Tennessee during her college career.

''One thing Nneka didn't do was get a win here at Tennessee, so I wanted to one-up her,'' Ogwumike said. ''It was a great game.''

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick questioned her team's effort after the game and was more disappointed in this performance than she was after a 76-53 loss at No. 3 Baylor on Tuesday.

''This will change,'' Warlick said. ''As coaches, we'll make some changes too. It's time to grow up.''

Bashaara Graves had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Tennessee (7-3). Meighan Simmons added 12 points, while Ariel Massengale and Cierra Burdick had 11 points each.

Stanford's Amber Orrange scored 14 points. Toni Kokenis and Bonnie Samuelson each added 11 points and Joslyn Tinkle had 10 points for the Cardinal, who host No. 2 Connecticut in their next game Dec. 29.

''The most important thing now is that we keep improving and stay healthy,'' Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. ''We've got great leadership and great chemistry. I'm hoping that we'll be playing better in March and April.''

Tennessee was seeking its first home win over a top-ranked opponent since a 77-72 victory over Louisiana Tech on Jan. 22, 1996. The Lady Vols are 14-32 against top-ranked opponents, and they're 2-11 when facing No. 1 teams at home.

Stanford (11-0) was coming off a 53-49 squeaker at No. 21 South Carolina on Wednesday, but the Cardinal never trailed Tennessee and owned a double-digit lead most of the way.

Facing a national title contender for the second straight game, the Lady Vols again struggled to make shots.

Tennessee missed its first 11 shots against Baylor to fall behind 17-0 and went on to trail 41-16 at the intermission, its largest halftime deficit in school history.

The Lady Vols shot 31.9 percent against Stanford and missed their first 12 attempts from 3-point range.

Stanford grabbed a 33-21 halftime lead by relying on Ogwumike and capitalizing on Tennessee's cold shooting.

Ogwumike, who entered the game averaging 21.9 points and 12.2 rebounds, had 13 points and 12 rebounds by halftime.

The 6-foot-4 junior finished the game with a career-high five assists to go along with her eighth consecutive double-double.

''The most important thing was that she didn't get in foul trouble,'' VanDerveer said. ''It was disciplined basketball. She does everything for us. She's a leader. She puts the team on her back. She made her big sister Nneka proud today.''

After a Burdick jumper tied the score 8-8 with 14:44 left in the first half, Stanford went on a 13-2 run. Tennessee missed 12 consecutive shots at one point during that Stanford run.

''We let our offense dictate our defense,'' Burdick said. ''I feel like I'm a broken record because I said the same exact thing against Baylor. You would think we would have gone back to the drawing board and fixed that, but apparently we haven't. That's what hurts so bad. We had a great opportunity in front of us to beat the No. 1 team in our house and we just couldn't get the job done.''

Tennessee cut the lead to 10 early in the second half, but Stanford answered with an 11-2 run.

The Lady Vols chipped away at the 19-point deficit and got the lead down to nine when Burdick made one of two free throws with 8:43 left. Ogwumike answered with a putback on Stanford's next possession, and the margin didn't drop below 10 points again.

Even though Tennessee's offense improved in the second half, the Lady Vols couldn't make enough stops to have a realistic shot at pulling the upset.

''We would make a stop, then give up an offensive rebound,'' Warlick said. ''If you can't do those things, then you had better hope you're going to shoot in the 50s or 60s (or) you're not going to win the basketball game. This program was built on defense and rebounding, and that is not a typical Tennessee team right there. That's not going to get it done. That's not acceptable, and I'll take responsibility for that. They will be ready.''

While Tennessee searches for answers, Stanford continues playing with the sense of purpose that accompanies a No. 1 ranking. Stanford's 71-69 victory over defending national champion Baylor on Nov. 16 has helped the Cardinal believe they're capable of anything.

''It gave us a lot of confidence,'' Ogwumike said. ''This year, we lost my sister Nneka. The people outside and inside the team doubted how well we'd do this year.''

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baylor 76, Lady Vols 53

Third-ranked Baylor raced out to a 17-0 lead as the Bears ended Tennessee’s seven-game win streak, handing the No. 10 Lady Vols a 76-53 defeat on Tuesday night.

Baylor moved to 9-1 overall as Brittney Griner tallied 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Kimetria Hayden netted 16 points. Brooklyn Pope corralled a game-best 16 rebounds to go along with 11 points.

Tennessee (7-2) was led by Meighan Simmons, who scored 16 points. Kamiko Williams had a season-high 15 points, two off her career-high of 17. Williams posted her first-career double-double with a career-high 10 rebounds.

Tennessee played without 6-3 center Isabelle Harrison, who was sidelined with a sprained ankle.

The loss of 23 points equalled the eight-largest in school history.

Baylor outrebounded the Lady Vols, 54-47.

The Lady Vols missed their first 11 shots of the game before scoring for the first time, with 13:05 left in the first half, on a Cierra Burdick jumper to make it 17-2.

Tennessee tried to climb out of the early hole, but it proved to be too tall of a mountain.

UT cut the deficit to 12 at 21-9 and 23-11, but Baylor continued its sharp shooting in the first half and regained a 20-plus point lead at 32-11 on a 3-pointer by Hayden with 6:49 left in the first half. The run expanded to 13-0 to gave Baylor a 36-11 lead with five minutes left in the half. Taber Spani ended the drought with a 3-pointer at the four-minute mark.

Tennessee trailed 41-16 at halftime. The 25-point deficit was the largest at halftime in school history. The previous largest margin was 20 against Rutgers in 2009 as the Lady Vols rallied from down 33-13 to win 55-51 on the road.

Both Griner and Hayden had 11 points at halftime.

The Lady Vols began the second half scoring eight of the first 12 points as Simmons canned a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 45-24.

Tennessee continued to battle and chip away, but the margin never got below 19 points in the second half. A Williams’ jumper made the score 70-50 with three minutes left. Nia Moore’s layup with 93 seconds left, cut the score to 72-53.

The Lady Vols return home to host No. 1 Stanford on Saturday at 4:00 PM.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No. 13 Tennessee women defeat No. 18 Texas 94-75

Meighan Simmons poured in 18 points to lead six Tennessee players in double figures as the 13th-ranked Lady Vols roared past No. 18 Texas 94-75 on Sunday in Austin.

Tennessee (7-1) shot 46.8 percent from the floor and held the Longhorns to 34.3 shooting in winning for the fourth straight year against Texas.

Ariel Massengale and Taber Spani had 15 points apiece for Tennessee and Cierra Burdick and Bashaara Graves scored 14 each. Graves also had 10 rebounds. Jasmine Jones added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Vols.

Chassidy Fussell led the Longhorns (6-2) with 31 points.

Texas shot 25 percent and trailed 45-27 at halftime. The Longhorns cut the Tennessee lead to 78-68 on Fussell's 3-pointer with 6:57 to play before the Lady Vols finished the game with a 16-7 run.

Lady Vols ready for tough stretch

Now that Tennessee has made a case that it won’t go backward in the post-Pat Summitt era, the 13th-ranked Lady Vols have a chance to deliver an even bigger statement.

Tennessee (6-1) carries a six-game winning streak into the toughest portion of its schedule. The Lady Vols play at No. 18 Texas on Sunday, visit No. 3 Baylor on Tuesday and return home to face top-ranked Stanford on Dec. 22.

“We’ve been saying how it can get us back in the national championship talk again, which we haven’t been in for a while,” sophomore guard Ariel Massengale said. “It’s good for the program.”

Tennessee hasn’t reached the Final Four since its 2008 national championship season, which represents this storied program’s longest drought since the NCAA began running the tournament in 1982.

Skepticism surrounded this team before the season as Tennessee replaced Summitt, who led the Lady Vols to eight national titles before stepping down in April with early-onset dementia. Tennessee was 20th in the preseason Top 25 — its lowest ranking since 1985 — and raised more doubts with a season-opening 80-71 loss at Chattanooga in Holly Warlick’s head coaching debut.

The Lady Vols haven’t lost since. Their winning streak includes double-digit victories over Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina, who all were ranked at the time.

They’re ready to test themselves against the nation’s best.

“I think beating three Top 25 teams has somewhat given us a head start at proving our point, but at Tennessee, we always have a point to prove because we’re Tennessee and there are a lot of expectations for us,” junior guard Meighan Simmons said.

Tennessee also must worry about showing signs of rust. The Lady Vols haven’t played since a 102-57 blowout of North Carolina on Dec. 2. That 13-day layoff represents the Lady Vols’ longest break during a season since 2008-09, when they had 14 days off between the Southeastern Conference tournament and the NCAA tournament.

“The way we played against Carolina, I would have wanted to start (playing again) a couple of days afterward, but we don’t have that benefit,” Warlick said. “We’ve tried to shorten practice and focus on certain things each day.”

Tennessee’s players say the practices have remained grueling enough to prepare them for what they’ll face over the next week.

“That’s what our coaches try to do, they try to prepare us and make us so physically exhausted and mentally fatigued in practice that the games seem a little bit easier,” senior guard/forward Taber Spani said.

Tennessee has focused primarily on improving its rebounding and transition defense. The Lady Vols have been at their best this season when they’ve forced a flurry of turnovers that lead to easy baskets.

The Lady Vols are entering this difficult stretch shorthanded. Freshman guard Andraya Carter underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in her right shoulder Thursday after averaging 5.3 points and 20.6 minutes in the Lady Vols’ first seven games.

“It’s going to hurt us as far as our depth,” Warlick said.

Carter’s injury presents one more obstacle to a team beginning the biggest test of its season thus far.

The Lady Vols look forward to the challenge.

“We all come to Tennessee to play against the best,” Massengale said. “This is a great opportunity for us.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pat Summitt honored at Toledo-Marquette game

Pat Summitt was honored on Saturday night during a "We Back Pat'' ceremony at halftime of the Toledo-Marquette women's basketball game.

The ex-Tennessee coach and her son, Tyler, a Marquette assistant coach, spoke briefly at the Al McGuire Center.

"It's a special night to have my son here and to have everybody backin' Pat,'' Summitt said before receiving a standing ovation.

Many of the fans were wearing "We Back Pat'' T-shirts bought to honor Summitt, who had 1,098 victories - more than any college coach, male or female - and won eight national championships.

Proceeds from sale of the shirts go to the Pat Summitt Foundation to fight Alzheimer's disease, which forced Summitt to end her 38-year career after last season.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lady Vols lose Carter for rest of season

Tennessee freshman guard Andraya Carter will undergo season-ending surgery on her right shoulder Thursday, limiting the 13th-ranked Lady Vols’ backcourt depth as they enter the toughest portion of their schedule.

Carter hurt her shoulder initially Nov. 18 in a 79-67 victory at Miami. She hurt her shoulder again and was helped off the court Nov 28 in an 88-81 overtime victory over Middle Tennessee. When she returned to action Dec. 2 in a 102-57 triumph over North Carolina, Carter aggravated the injury.

The 5-foot-9 guard had injured the same shoulder late in her senior season at Buford (Ga.) High School.

“She hurt it in high school, and it just kept popping out,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said.

Warlick said Carter was given the option of continuing to play and hoping the injury didn’t get worse. Carter and her family chose to have surgery.

“I think it’s the best decision,” Warlick said. “I didn’t tell her one way or another. I wanted them to make the best decision, but I totally understand it.”

Carter had been averaging 5.3 points and 20.6 minutes per game. She started each of Tennessee’s first five games before coming off the bench in the last two contests.

Warlick said the Lady Vols plan to seek a medical redshirt for Carter.

Her injury comes as Tennessee (6-1) begins a demanding stretch of games against No. 18 Texas, No. 3 Baylor and No. 1 Stanford. The stretch starts Sunday at Texas.

“She’s a great leader,” Warlick said. “It’s going to hurt us as far as our depth. We may not be able to run as much as we have been because we could sub people in and out.”

Carter’s injury creates some uncertainty behind starting point guard Ariel Massengale.

This could create an expanded role for senior Kamiko Williams, who has averaged 5.1 points and 15 minutes per game this season. Junior Meighan Simmons, the Vols’ leading scorer and first-team shooting guard, also can help out at point guard.

“We’re going to have to do it by committee,” Warlick said. “I hate it for Ariel. I think Andraya helped Ariel kind of relax and think, ‘You know, I don’t have to do this by myself.’ It’s going to be great for Andraya to stick around and be around Ariel and make sure she gives support watching the games and when (Massengale) comes off the court. Guards are going to have to step up.”

Pat Summitt receives Naismith contributor award

Pat Summitt is the recipient of the 2013 Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women's College Basketball Award, an honor given annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

The award goes each year to an individual who made contributions of outstanding significance and created a long-lasting positive impact on women's college basketball. Anyone eligible for consideration must have been involved with the sport in a capacity related to coaching, broadcasting, college administration or the media.

Summitt stepped down as Tennessee's coach in April after announcing last year that she had early onset dementia, though she remains on staff as head coach emeritus.

Summitt led Tennessee to eight national titles in her 38-year tenure. Her 1,098-208 career record makes her the winningest Division I men's or women's college basketball coach in history.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tyler Summitt takes family legacy to Marquette

When Marquette coach Terri Mitchell picked up the phone to talk with Tyler Summitt about the opening on her staff, it figured to be little more than a courtesy call.

Mitchell knew his pedigree -- who didn't? The son of Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt, who won eight national titles and more games than anyone else in NCAA college basketball in 38 years at Tennessee, Tyler Summitt has been around the game longer than some veteran coaches. But he was just finishing his senior year at Tennessee and, now 22, was barely older than many of the Marquette players.

Forty-five minutes later, Mitchell had asked Summitt to come to Marquette for an interview. By the end of the interview, he had the job.

"From the second I started asking him questions, he was on it. Just his philosophy, his passion," Mitchell said. "Coming from Tennessee, watching his mom, all the national championships -- he's embraced all that knowledge and said, `How can I translate that into Marquette being a championship program? I will bring a championship environment every day because that's all I know.'

"He's going to be a star in our profession."

Tyler Summitt was hired at Marquette in April, the very day his mother stepped down at Tennessee. She had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, in May 2011, a month shy of her 59th birthday.

Marquette is hosting a "We Back Pat" night to raise Alzheimer's awareness Saturday, when it hosts Toledo. Pat Summitt plans to be there.

Because Tyler Summitt is so close to his mom, leaving Knoxville wasn't easy. But Pat Summitt remains in good health -- whenever Tyler Summitt calls, she's usually just finishing a workout or doing one of the many memory quizzes or puzzles she has on her iPad -- and she encouraged him to go.

"She's prepared me for this and she knows I'm prepared and she believes in me and she's taught me so much," Tyler Summitt said. "So it's fun to go and be doing kind of what she's taught me to do and doing things the right way and mentoring young athletes while she's right there watching.

"I think a part of her philosophy is living on in me, so I hope that I can continue to make her proud."

Basketball has been part of Tyler Summitt's life for, well, forever. While other kids were playing video games after school, he was hanging out at Tennessee practices. Instead of going to sleepovers or parties on weekends, he was taking road trips with the Lady Vols.

Some kids might rebel, seeking as different a career path as possible. But Summitt was captivated, never once considering doing anything else with his life.

"Basketball," he said, "is just part of me."

He was coaching basketball camps when he was in high school, and served as a student-assistant for the Lady Vols as a freshman. A walk-on at Tennessee his last two years, he coached AAU teams in his free time. When his mom watched game film, he'd pull up a seat and watch with her.

"Eventually, he saw everything I was seeing," Pat Summitt said in an email. "I knew he had a gift to coach."

Tyler Summitt was like a sponge with anyone he came in contact with -- his mother; Billie Moore, the Hall of Famer who was Pat Summitt's Olympic coach; John Wooden; Bruce Pearl and Cuonzo Martin, both of whom Tyler Summitt played for at Tennessee. He made notes of everything he learned, and has them stored on his computer.

Not just Xs and Os, either, but tips on leadership and building chemistry, ideas for dealing with discipline issues and on and on.

"You name a topic, bam! He can go in and start looking at ideas," Mitchell said.

Though technically Summitt is responsible for Marquette's guards, the position he played, Mitchell has always encouraged her assistants to jump in wherever they feel they can contribute and Summitt is no different. He's an active voice at practice, and doesn't hesitate to suggest plays or drills. If he's got thoughts on offense, defense, transition, she wants to hear them.

"She has that trust and that's something so great about her, she puts people in their strengths and lets them spread their wings," Summitt said. "I don't think my assistant's role is like 99 percent of other assistants in the nation because she's given me so much freedom."

But Summitt has earned that, Mitchell said.

"Some coaches, as they come up through the ranks, think things are owed to them. You have to work at it. You've got to work for the corner office," she said. "But he's the complete opposite. He's worked his tail off. So much so that I need to get him to relax."

Summitt is well aware of the impact his mother had on the women's game -- on all of women's sports, really. Pat Summitt's Lady Vols were the first women's team to go mainstream, and others -- in basketball and beyond -- soon followed. There's not a day that goes by without someone emailing or calling Tyler Summitt to tell him about meeting his mom, getting her autograph or just seeing her at a game.

"I realize the impact she's had. But I don't think I'll ever fully grasp the multitude of what she's done," he said.

He does, though, have greater admiration for the way she did it.

Yes, Pat Summitt won more games than any other coach, male or female, finishing with a 1,098-208 record at Tennessee. But it was the relationships she built with her players, the time she made for her family, the lessons she taught that could be carried from the court into every other corner of life, that stuck most with her son.

"There are countless opportunities for a coach to be power-hungry and get a `win-at-all-costs' attitude, and she never did that," Tyler Summitt said. "As competitive as she was, she resisted that. She always did things the right way. She always treated people the right way. She always put the relationships of her players first. And she always put discipline above winning.

"Focus on what you can control, do things the right way, be honest and open and communicate -- there's been those principles that aren't written down, but they're a part of me and a part of her," he added.

And they're helped sustain both mother and son since May 2011, when Pat Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, a month shy of her 59th birthday.

Pat Summitt has always been brutally honest -- her glare is legendary -- so going public with her diagnosis was never a question, Tyler Summitt said. She established the Pat Summitt Foundation to raise awareness and funding of Alzheimer's research, and became the public face of what, until now, has been a disease suffered mostly in private.

More than 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association, 200,000 of whom are under 65.

"It's not something people talk about as easily as cancer, AIDS, heart disease," said Angela Geiger, the chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer's Association. "Having a public figure like Pat come forward and say, `I noticed the signs, I sought out a diagnosis,' really helps change the conversation."

The "We Back Pat" campaign has spread across the country -- and across sports. Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams made Summitt the "12th Titan" for the season opener, and Trevor Bayne had "We Back Pat" painted on his car for a Nationwide race at Bristol in August.

"It's just more awareness. There can't be enough," Tyler Summitt said. "People seeing, `Hey, this isn't stopping her, it doesn't have to stop me or my loved one.'

"(This disease) will have as much power as you give it," he added. "You can take its power away by, one, being open like mom was. And then, two, living your life."

Thursday, December 06, 2012

AARP Presents Pat Summitt with the 2012 Andrus Award

AARP today announced that Pat Summitt has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 AARP Andrus Award. The Andrus Award, named after AARP founder Ethel Percy Andrus, is given in recognition of those who embody the organization's goal of bringing lifetimes of experience and leadership to serve all generations.

Ms. Summitt, who in her 38-year coaching career led the University of Tennessee Lady Vols to more than 1,000 wins, retired at the end of the 2012 season after courageously announcing her diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease. She currently serves as Head Coach Emeritus of the Lady Vols.

AARP selected Ms. Summitt as this year's Andrus Award recipient for the incredible work she has done through the Pat Summitt Foundation. The Foundation, which was formed in 2011, gives grants to nonprofits that perform cutting-edge research into the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease and provide support services to patients, their families, and their caregivers.

"The Andrus Award is presented only to those remarkable individuals whose efforts and achievements have effected enormous positive social change," said AARP CEO A. Barry Rand. "AARP is proud to pay tribute to Pat Summitt and her accomplishments. We commend Ms. Summitt and her Foundation for their commitment to raising awareness of Alzheimer's disease and providing caregiving support for families. Ms. Summitt embodies the very spirit of service that is at the core of AARP's mission."

Past recipients of the Andrus Award include Maya Angelou, Tom Brokaw, Norman Lear and General Colin L. Powell. AARP will present the award to Ms. Summitt at a dinner held in her honor on Thursday, December 6 th at The Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

No. 16 Lady Vols rip No. 22 North Carolina 102-57

Meighan Simmons scored a career-high 33 points and exceeded the 1,000-point mark for her career Sunday as No. 16 Tennessee trounced No. 22 North Carolina 102-57 for its sixth consecutive victory.

Simmons shot 12-of-22, including 9-of-11 in the first half. The junior guard scored her 1,000th career point by sinking a pair of free throws with 11:44 left in the first half, becoming the 37th Lady Vol to reach that plateau.

Isabelle Harrison added a career-high 18 points to go along with 11 rebounds for the Lady Vols (6-1). Cierra Burdick scored 15 points, Bashaara Graves had 11 points and Taber Spani added 10 points.

Xylina McDaniel scored 19 points and Waltiea Rolle added 13 points for North Carolina (7-1). The Tar Heels had been allowing only 54.3 points per game and hadn't given up more than 64 points in any of their seven wins.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Freshman Graves emerges as force for Lady Vols

As Tennessee begins a new era in women's basketball, perhaps it's only fitting that a freshman is leading the way.

The emergence of freshman forward Bashaara Graves has helped the 16th-ranked Lady Vols win five consecutive games in Holly Warlick's debut season as coach. Graves headed into the weekend as the Southeastern Conference's third-leading scorer (15.8) and sixth-leading rebounder (7.8). No other freshman ranked among the conference's top 18 scorers or top 14 rebounders.

Graves' rapid rise hasn't surprised anyone at Tennessee.

Her coaches and teammates knew all along she'd be a major factor. Even Graves herself believed she could contribute right away. She remembered what Warlick told each of the freshmen before the season.

''She basically told us that we don't have time to be freshmen, which is understandable because we're a younger team,'' Graves said. ''Being freshmen, we don't have that option. We had to come in and make an impact immediately.''

Tennessee (5-1) needs Graves to continue making an impact as it enters the toughest portion of its schedule. The Lady Vols host No. 22 North Carolina (7-0) on Sunday in the first of four consecutive games against currently ranked teams. After taking two weeks off, Tennessee travels to No. 13 Texas on Dec. 16 and No. 3 Baylor on Dec. 18 before hosting top-ranked Stanford on Dec. 22.

The 6-foot-2 freshman seems ready for the challenge.

Graves had just finished the second game of her career - an 18-point, 12-rebound performance in a 71-54 victory at Georgia Tech - when sophomore forward Cierra Burdick referred to her as a ''beast.'' Junior guard Meighan Simmons calls Graves a ''silent assassin'' because the freshman doesn't talk much but delivers big performances. Simmons also says Graves is ''like another Glory,'' which may be the greatest compliment of all.

Glory Johnson closed her Tennessee career last season with 1,218 career rebounds, the second-highest total in school history. She averaged 14.2 points and 9.9 rebounds as the SEC defensive player of the year in her senior year. Johnson went to the Tulsa Shock with the fourth overall pick in the most recent WNBA draft. By comparing Graves to Johnson, Simmons is letting the freshman understand her extraordinary potential.

''It just reminds (her), 'You can be an All-American just like Glory Johnson was,' '' Simmons said.

That's quite a responsibility to place on a newcomer, but the Lady Vols believe Graves has the personality and the game to handle it.

Graves certainly has backed up her teammates' faith in her so far. She recorded her second double-double Wednesday by collecting 15 points and 12 rebounds in an 88-81 overtime triumph over Middle Tennessee.

 ''Bashaara is a workhorse,'' Warlick said. ''She's old-school. She works hard she works on every possession. She competes. She's not the tallest. She's not the fastest. She just gets it done.''

That's apparent from Graves' consistency.

Graves isn't the typical newcomer who offers glimpses of potential while also making freshman mistakes. Graves instead has the steady approach of a senior. She has scored in double figures in every game and hasn't wilted under pressure.

''She's just one of those girls who doesn't speak as much, but she does put her best foot forward and gives 100 percent every day, whether it be a workout with (associate strength coach) Heather (Mason), in the classroom, on the floor or off the floor,'' Simmons said.

Graves adopted that work ethic long before she arrived in Knoxville.

The former Clarksville (Tenn.) High star developed into one of the nation's top five recruits in her class by constantly working to get better. She adopted a well-rounded game by focusing on rebounding and passing as much as scoring. Early in her high school career, Graves even began eating and opening doors with her left hand in an attempt to feel equally comfortable with both hands each time she stepped on the court.

''She's just one of those kids who's always looking for ways to better herself,'' Clarksville coach Brian Rush said. ''She has such a competitive nature on the court. She always wants to win in the worst way.''

She also wants to represent her home-state team in the best way possible. During the Lady Vols' 2008 national championship season, Graves watched just about every game that was televised. She remained committed to Tennessee even after former coach Pat Summitt announced last year she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

''I always wanted to be a Lady Vol,'' Graves said. ''Even if Pat wasn't here, you're still a Lady Vol. You still carry on her tradition. It makes it even better because I committed under her, so I continue the tradition with her. Holly's a great coach and I (am playing for) Holly, but I'm still carrying on the tradition.

''I'm still part of the legacy.''

Friday, November 30, 2012

Marquette to Host `We Back Pat' Night on Dec. 15

Join the Marquette women's basketball team and legendary coach Pat Summitt on Saturday, Dec. 15 when the Golden Eagles host Toledo at 7 p.m. for `We Back Pat' night in support of the Pat Summitt Foundation.

Marquette will begin selling `We Back Pat' t-shirts at the Fordham game on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. The price of a t-shirt is $15, which includes a general admission ticket to `We Back Pat' night on Dec. 15.

The Golden Eagles will be selling wristbands and giving out information about Alzheimer's and early onset dementia at the Toledo game. All proceeds will go to the Pat Summitt Foundation.

MU's assistant coach, Tyler Summitt, will be speaking at halftime and be joined by his mother, Pat Summitt, who will be in attendance.

For more information on the Pat Summitt foundation visit

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No. 16 Tennessee outlasts Middle Tenn. 88-81 in OT

Bashaara Graves recorded a double-double and reserve guard Kamiko Williams made several huge plays down the stretch Wednesday night as No. 16 Tennessee erased an 11-point, second-half deficit in an 88-81 overtime victory over Middle Tennessee.

Middle Tennessee (4-2) had forced overtime on Icelyn Elie's 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left in regulation. Elie led all scorers with 21 points.

The Blue Raiders were seeking their first victory over the Lady Vols in 20 attempts and had lost 82-43 to Tennessee last year, but their poor history in this rivalry certainly didn't bother them for most of the game.

After trailing all night, Tennessee finally took its first lead at 64-63 when Williams got a steal and made a 10-footer with 4:26 left. Williams added a 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation and made a steal and drew a charge in overtime.

Once the Blue Raiders tied the game at the end of regulation, Tennessee used its depth to wear down a Middle Tennessee team that barely substituted all night and was playing its third overtime game of the season. Middle Tennessee's Elie, Ebony Rowe and Korni Jones each played all 45 minutes. Starting point guard Shanice Cason also had played the entire game before fouling out in overtime.

Meghan Simmons scored 19 points for Tennessee (5-1). Graves collected 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Ariel Massengale also scored 15 points.

Rowe recorded 19 points and 12 rebounds for Middle Tennessee. Laken Leonard added 17 points while shooting 5-of-8 from 3-point range, and Cason tallied 13 points.

The contest was Middle Tennessee's fourth in a five-game road trip that will require the Blue Raiders to travel 5,000 miles. Middle Tennessee had lost 69-63 at Iowa in overtime and had beaten Tennessee Tech 65-59 in overtime and Louisiana-Lafayette 72-45 in the three games leading up to this one. The Blue Raiders next play Saturday at South Dakota State.

Tennessee will carry a five-game winning streak into the toughest portion of its schedule. The Lady Vols host No. 22 North Carolina on Sunday, then take two weeks off before playing at No. 13 Texas on Dec. 16 and at No. 3 Baylor on Dec. 18. Tennessee returns home to face No. 1 Stanford on Dec. 22.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

No. 20 Tennessee trounces Alcorn State 90-37

Meighan Simmons scored 12 points and five of her teammates also reached double figures Sunday as No. 20 Tennessee defeated Alcorn State 90-37 in Lady Braves coach Tonya Edwards' return to her alma mater.

Edwards played on Tennessee's first two national championship teams in 1987 and 1989. She was named the most outstanding player of the 1987 Final Four. The Alcorn State coach received a loud ovation from the Thompson-Boling Arena crowd during pregame introductions.

Tennessee has won four straight games since opening the season with an 80-71 loss at Chattanooga in Warlick's head coaching debut.

Bashaara Graves, Isabelle Harrison, Jasmine Jones, Nia Moore and Taber Spani scored 10 points each for Tennessee (4-1). Tierro Frost scored a team-high nine points for Alcorn State (0-4).

Tennessee never trailed and put the game out of reach by going on a 17-0 run that started in the final minute of the first half and lasted through the first four minutes of the second half.

The Lady Volunteers showed they still have plenty of room for improvement as they get ready to host Middle Tennessee on Wednesday and No. 25 North Carolina next Sunday.

Tennessee committed 19 turnovers and only outrebounded the winless Lady Braves 38-35 after heading into the game with a plus-9 rebound margin.

But the Lady Volunteers also shot 55.7 percent, including 61.8 percent in the second half. The performances of Spani and Jones provide particular reason for optimism.

Spani, one of two seniors on the Lady Volunteers' roster, entered the season with 57 career starts to rank second on the team. But she fell out of the starting lineup after struggling against Chattanooga and had averaged just 4.8 points and 19.5 minutes through the Lady Volunteers' first four games.

She showed signs of turning the corner last week by shooting 3-of-5 and scoring nine points in a 79-67 victory at Miami. Spani continued her progress Sunday by shooting 4-of-5 and scoring 10 points, even though she didn't take a single shot in the second half. She reached double figures for the first time since a 14-point performance in an 85-64 rout of UCLA on Dec. 17.

Spani made 15 starts for the Lady Vols last season and averaged 12.2 points through her first nine games that year before a knee injury limited her effectiveness the rest of the way.

Jones, a promising 6-foot-2 freshman forward, bounced back in a big way Sunday after picking up four fouls in only three scoreless minutes against Miami. Jones reached double figures for the first time in her young career and also pulled down seven rebounds.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

No. 24 Tennessee 79, No. 23 Miami 67

One basket into the second half, Tennessee had a stunning 27-point lead over Miami.

The Lady Vols nearly wasted it all before snapping the Hurricanes' 41-game home winning streak.

Bashaara Graves scored 20 points, Andraya Carter added 16 and No. 24 Tennessee held on to top No. 23 Miami 79-67 on Sunday, becoming the first road team to win on the Hurricanes' home floor since Feb. 21, 2010.

''We didn't want to lose the lead the way we did, but we finished with a 'W,''' said Tennessee's Cierra Burdick, who had 10 rebounds. ''And that's what matters. This was a big-time win against a big-time opponent, on the road, so I'm nothing but proud of my team.''

Ariel Massengale added 14 points and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line for the Lady Vols (3-1).

Tennessee shot 42 percent, compared with only 32 percent by the Hurricanes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

All About Holly Warlick's first signing class

Holly Warlick's first signing class as the Lady Vols Head Coach has a very Pat Summitt-like feel to it.

Warlick's three players are rated the second best signing class in the nation for 2013, and the best in the SEC.

6-6 Mercedes Russell was a major acquisition for Warlick. Russell is the top ranked high school player in the country according to many recruiting services.

Here is more on the Lady Vols recruiting class from the University of Tennessee:

With Pat Summitt stepping away from the head coaching position last spring and her long-time assistant Holly Warlick taking the reins, the Lady Volunteer coaching staff has insisted that the standard and pursuit of excellence has not changed. Their reminder that the torch has carefully been passed can be seen repeatedly in the Twitter hash tag #StillTennessee.

Warlick and company have proven on the recruiting front that things are very much operating on the same level in Knoxville, as the Big Orange women pulled in their typically-impressive haul during the early signing period. The first-year skipper and her staff received National Letters of Intent from the No. 1, No. 8 and No. 42 players on the 2013 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings - ESPNU 100. Blue Star Basketball has the same players rated No. 2, No. 4 and No. 53, while Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report tabs them No. 1, No. 5 and No. 16 for the highest cumulative scores yet.

Olson has Tennessee ranked with the No. 2 recruiting class in the land with that trio of signees, coming in behind only North Carolina with four top-20 signees. Kentucky, at No. 8, is the only other SEC school in Olson's top 10. Blue Star Basketball regards UT's class as the sixth-best for 2013.

Signing with the Lady Vols on Wednesday, as expected, was versatile 6-foot-6 post Mercedes Russell of Springfield, Ore. (Springfield H.S.). Russell is rated No. 1 by HoopGurlz/ESPNU and No. 2 by Blue Star Basketball, making her the highest-ranked signee by Tennessee since Candace Parker inked in 2004. She averaged 26 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks a game last season and is a two-time Oregon Class 5A Player of the Year.

"We had three signees," Warlick said. "Mercedes Russell, 6-6, a young lady from Springfield, Ore. Number one player in the country. She is just so versatile, plays inside, can handle the ball and is a huge sign for us."

The Lady Vols also picked up the No. 8 player by HoopGurlz/ESPNU, No. 4 by Blue Star and No. 5 by Olson in Jannah Tucker on Wednesday. A 6-0 guard from Randallstown, Md., and New Town High School, Tucker averaged 30 points per game as a junior and 26.2 as a sophomore. The class of 2013's fifth-ranked guard was the first player in this signing period to commit to UT in the Holly Warlick era.

"Jannah Tucker is out of Maryland," Warlick said. "Athletic combo guard, great knowledge, great skills and is a huge sign for us."

Tennessee's third signee is 5-11 guard Jordan Reynolds of Portland Ore./Central Catholic High School. Reynolds, whose paperwork was certified on Friday, is rated No. 42 by HoopGurlz/ESPNU, No. 53 by Blue Star and No. 16 by Olson. She was the Oregon Class 6A Player of the Year last season, averaging 18.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, five assists and 4.9 steals per contest. She is rated the No. 10 guard in the country by ESPNU and a four-star recruit by that organization.

"Jordan Reynolds - point guard out of Oregon," Warlick continued. "Quick, tall, fast. Sees the whole floor, knows the game. Another huge sign for us."

This class, which hasn't been assigned a final rank by HoopGurlz/ESPNU, comes on the heels of the No. 5 class in 2012 (No. 5 Bashaara Graves, No. 21 Andraya Carter, No. 39 Jasmine Jones, NR Jasmine Phillips, NR Nia Moore) and the No. 3 group in 2011 (No. 3 Cierra Burdick, No. 4 Ariel Massengale, No. 29 Isabelle Harrison).

"We had three big, big signees, and I'm excited about all of them," Warlick said. "They all bring so much to our program. We signed a post player, point guard and a 2-3 player. All three are athletic. All three can play the game, know the game and we're all thrilled about it."

6-6 * Post
Springfield, Ore./Springfield H.S.

• Ranked No. 1 on 2013 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings - ESPNU 100
• Rated as a five-star recruit on that list
• Rated No. 1 by Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report
• Rated No. 2 by Blue Star Basketball
• Oregon Class 5A Player of the Year (2011, 2012)
• Averaged 26 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks and five assists per game as a junior
• Produced 24.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and five blocks per contest as a sophomore
• Led Springfield H.S. to back-to-back 5A state titles (2011, 2012)
• Won gold medal with USA Basketball in August at the 2012 FIBA Women's U17 World Championships, with former Lady Vol Jill Rankin Schneider as her head coach
• Also helped U16 squad to 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, teaming with fellow Tennessee signee Jannah Tucker under the tutelage of coach Rankin Schneider
• Played AAU basketball with Jordan Reynolds on Team Concept
• Russell's heroine is former Lady Vol and current Los Angeles Sparks WNBA player Candace Parker
• Russell's size, skill and ball-handling ability have been compared to that of Parker
• She is the top-rated player to sign with Tennessee since Parker in 2004
• Committed to Tennessee on Oct. 30

6-0 * Guard
Randallstown, Md./New Town H.S.

• Ranked No. 8 on 2013 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings - ESPNU 100
• Rated as a five-star recruit on that list
• Fifth ranked guard in the nation's 2013 class
• Rated No. 4 by Blue Star Basketball
• Rated No. 5 by Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report
• Baltimore Sun All-State First Team (2011) and All-Metro (2011).
• Averaged 30 points per game as a junior at New Town High School
• Set school single-game record with 39 points vs. Southside Academy (2010-11)
• Sophomore year numbers included 26.2 ppg., 12.0 rpg., 8.0 spg. and 6.1 apg.
• Played freshman season at Western High School, where she averaged 11.3 ppg., 4.7 rpg., and 2.5 apg. in helping her team to the 3A state title game
• Was first high school player to commit to UT during the Holly Warlick era
• Noted as a pure scorer and consistent shooter from three-point range
• Played up a year on 2012 U18 FIBA Americas U18 Championship Team, teaming with current Lady Vol Bashaara Graves to win a gold medal
• Also won a gold medal with Team USA at the FIBA Americas U16 Championships, teaming with fellow Lady Vol signee Mercedes Russell under USA head coach and former Lady Vol Jill Rankin Schneider
• Comes from a basketball family, including father Robert, who played collegiately at Richmond and Loyola College and sister Amirah, who played at Maryland-Baltimore County.
• Committed to Tennessee on June 18, 2012

5-11 * Guard
Portland, Ore./Central Catholic H.S.

• Ranked No. 42 on 2013 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings - ESPNU 100
• Rated as a four-star recruit on that list
• 10th-ranked guard in the nation's 2013 class
• Rated No. 16 by Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report
• Rated No. 53 by Blue Star Basketball
• Oregon Class 6A Player of the Year as a junior (2012)
• Averaged 18.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, five assists and 4.9 steals per contest as a junior at Portland Central Catholic
• Reynolds averaged 21.5 points in the last 13 games for the Rams, leading them to the Class 6A semifinals last season
• Transferred to CCHS after playing previously at Jefferson High School
• Reynolds was an Oregon Class 5A All-State Second Team selection as a sophomore (2010)
• Played AAU basketball with Mercedes Russell on Team Concept
• Committed to Tennessee on Nov. 2, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chamique Holdsclaw Arrested

Former WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw has turned herself into police after an alleged domestic incident.

Holdsclaw, who played in the WNBA for 12 seasons after four years playing for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols, got into a fight with ex-girlfriend Jennifer Lacy, who is also a WNBA player.

According to the incident report, Holdsclaw found Lacy working out at her Atlanta church around noon Tuesday. She asked Lacy for her keys so she could put something in the car.

When Lacy left the church, she reported smelling gasoline in her 2010 Range Rover. She said she noticed Holdsclaw following her and called a friend because she was scared.

When Lacy arrived at her friend’s house, she said Holdsclaw smashed her driver’s side and rear passenger windows with a baseball bat. She then stuck a pistol into the rear driver’s side window, shooting across the SUV at the other door, before speeding away.

Lacy was still in the driver’s seat when Holdsclaw fired the gun, but was not injured. Police recovered a spent 9 mm shell casing from the vehicle.

Holdsclaw is being charged with aggravated assault, reckless conduct and second-degree criminal damage to property. She was jailed in Fulton County, Georgia, on $10,000 bond.

Twenty-nine-year-old Jennifer Lacy, who currently plays for the Tulsa Shock, played for the Atlanta Dream with Holdsclaw in 2009.

The 35-year-old Holdsclaw helped the University of Tennessee win three consecutive national championships from 1996 to 1998. She is a six-time WNBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist. She initially retired in 2007 before returning to play for the Dream in 2009.

In her biography, Breaking Through: Beating The Odds Shot after Shot, Holdsclaw revealed her battle with depression while she was playing in the WNBA. She wrote that she attempted suicide while playing for the Los Angeles Sparks in 2006.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No. 24 Lady Vols 101, Rice 48

Meighan Simmons scored 22 points to lead four Lady Vols in double figures Thursday night as No. 24 Tennessee trounced Rice 101-48 in the first home game of the post-Pat Summitt era.

Bashaara Graves added 18 points for Tennessee. Isabelle Harrison scored 16 points with 12 rebounds, and Kamiko Williams added 12 points.

Summitt, who led the Lady Vols to eight national titles in 38 seasons, stepped down in April after announcing last year she has early-onset dementia. She watched Thursday's game from a midcourt seat as the Lady Vols delivered the type of dominant performance they produced so often during her tenure.

Since getting stunned 80-71 at Chattanooga in Holly Warlick's head coaching debut, the Lady Vols (2-1) have had two straight one-sided victories. Tennessee followed up the Chattanooga game Sunday by winning 71-54 at Georgia Tech, which was ranked 22nd at the time.

Tennessee led 45-27 at halftime and ran away from Rice in the final 20 minutes. The Vols went on an 11-0 run early in the second half and reeled off 16 consecutive points later in the game. Simmons scored 15 points in the first eight minutes of the second half, and the Lady Vols shot 65.7 percent (23 of 35) after the intermission.

After shooting 9-of-14 to start the game, Rice went 9-of-43 the rest of the way. Rice was helpless once Tennessee turned up its defensive intensity.

Tennessee outscored Rice 32-0 on points off turnovers and 20-0 on fast-break points. The Lady Vols dished out 24 assists and committed only seven turnovers, while Rice had 22 turnovers and only four assists.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fans Petition NCAA for the Pat Summitt Championship Trophy

Megan Netland, a Lady Vols fan in Minneapolis, is petitioning the NCAA to name the Women's College Basketball Championship Trophy after Pat Summitt.

More than 1,000 people have already signed the petition, but a few thousand more signatures are needed. Please consider signing the petition today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lady Vol basketball signees will fit on defense

Tyler Summitt making his mark at Marquette

Tyler Summitt grew up with a basketball, celebrating championships, and meeting presidents.

As the son of the legendary Pat Summitt, Tyler grew up in front of thousands and thousands of orange-crazed fans.

If you could see the younger Summitt today, you'd see that he's all grown up.

"That's not loud enough! There's 4,000 people in those stands," Summitt barked out to his players during a practice, reinforcing the need for his team to communicate better.

Now 22 years old, Summitt is in his first college coaching job. He accepted a position at Marquette University in April.

It's a completely new life for Summitt, one he's still adjusting too.

"It's different not to have orange on," Summitt said.

The toughest part?

Summitt says, it's being so far away from the two women most important to him: his legendary mom and his fiance, whom he proposed to in September.

What's not so tough, Summitt says, is worrying about those who feel he landed a division one position because of the famous last name.

"It doesn't matter what I do in my career. I could be 70 years old and still coaching and people will say, 'Oh, he's just being successful because of his last name.' There's gonna be critics. My mom always told me to just have a thick skin. And if I'm confident it doesn't matter what the critics say."

Terri Mitchell is the head coach at Marquette. Tyler believes she had no intentions of hiring of him, that she simply called him as a courtesy to Pat Summitt.

But once Tyler was on the phone, landing the job was a slam dunk.

"He has said many things to me, but this one thing has stood out," Mitchell said.

"He said, 'there's only one environment I know. It's a championship environment and I will bring that to practice and to work and to games every single day.' He has absolutely delivered on that promise."

Mitchell has been the head coach at Marquette for 17 years. She knows the importance of surrounding herself with capable assistants. With Summitt, she recognized a unique quality.

"He may be young in years, but he is not young in his thought process," she continued. "He is not young in being a coach. His mom is the greatest living basketball coach ever, and he embraced that."

Leaving home is never easy. Now, imagine you're 21 years old and offered a job 640 miles away from home. A job ten hours from your mom. A mom that's battling a horrible disease. This was the decision facing Summitt. As it turns out, the young coach says it wasn't a difficult one to make.

"If my mom was struggling in her health and going downhill, I wouldn't have left. But she's not," Summitt said with a smile.

"Anybody that's seen her lately knows that she's fine. Nothing is getting worse. She has a great support circle in Knoxville. I felt comfortable going away."

And now at Marquette, Summitt is making his presence felt, and doing so with a coaching style that resembles his famous mom's. One filled with passion, intensity, and in constant pursuit of perfection.

"He's very demanding," Marquette freshman guard Brooklyn Pumroy said.

"He knows what it takes. He focuses on the little things."

And if you don't focus on the little things, then don't expect to find yourself on his court. Summitt will routinely snap "get off!" when a player doesn't show effort or focus during a drill.

"If you don't hold them accountable, nothing else matters," Summitt said.

"I'm not here to be their friend. I told them that. I said, 'there's 11,000 students at Marquette that can be your friend. I'm not your friend. I'm your coach.' I'm here to make them better."

And he's here making his first step.

Another women's basketball season has tipped off, and for a 39th straight year, a Summitt takes to the court.

Graves Named SEC Freshman of the Week

Freshman of the Week
Bashaara Graves • Tennessee
Forward/Center • Clarksville, Tenn.

• Through two games, Graves leads Tennessee in scoring (16.0) and rebounding (10.0), averaging a double-double.
• Getting her first career start on the road at Georgia Tech on Sunday, Graves helped UT topple the #22/20 Yellow Jackets, 71-54, as GT played its first-ever game in McCamish Pavilion.
• Became the 20th freshman in Lady Vol history to record a double-double, producing team-leading and career-high totals of 18 points and 12 rebounds (seven of them offensive) in 27 minutes as Tennessee improved to 1-1 on the season.
• Her early play was key to UT getting off to a good start, as she had totaled 14 points and eight boards in 16 first-half minutes, hitting seven of 12 shots from the field.
• Graves also added four steals and helped the Big Orange employ an effective 2-3 zone that led to a 45-30 halftime lead and 24-point second-half advantage over a program that went to the Sweet 16 last season.
• In her college debut, Graves came off the bench to finish with 14 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of play in the loss to Chattanooga on Friday night.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No. 20 Lady Vols defeat No. 22 Georgia Tech 71-54

Bashaara Graves scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Sunday, and fellow Tennessee forward Cierra Burdick added 16 points as the No. 20 Lady Volunteers beat No. 22 Georgia Tech 71-54 to spoil the Yellow Jackets' debut in McCamish Pavilion.

The Yellow Jackets (0-1) trailed 45-30 at halftime before starting the second half with a 13-0 run. The Lady Vols (1-1) bettered that with an 18-0 knockout streak to even their record in their second game since legendary coach Pat Summitt stepped down.

Junior Tyaunna Marshall scored 18 and Dawnn Maye added 12 for Georgia Tech in its new on-campus arena.

The second game of the post-Summitt era went a lot better for Tennessee than the first.

Tennessee lost 80-71 Friday at Chattanooga after the Mocs broke a halftime tie with a 52-point second half in which they shot 56.3 percent. The Lady Vols had 26 turnovers and just six assists in that game.

Sunday, the Lady Vols had 17 of each, and it was the Yellow Jackets who were loose with the ball in their first game. Tech had 20 turnovers and just eight assists.

Summitt, who announced last year that she has early-onset dementia before stepping down in April, sat five rows behind the Tennessee bench at the game with Chattanooga, but was not at Georgia Tech.

Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick, who played for Summitt and then was an assistant for her for 27 seasons, said after the Chattanooga game that her inexperienced team did not yet appreciate the importance of playing earnest defense.

Without a starter back from the team that lost an NCAA regional final to eventual national champion Baylor last spring, Tennessee defended more passionately at Georgia Tech.

The Lady Vols also dominated the paint in the first half. They led 45-30 at intermission on the strength of 15 points by Burdick and 14 points and eight rebounds from Graves.

Georgia Tech starting power forward Danielle Hamilton-Carter and starting center Nariah Taylor, meanwhile, were each scoreless in the first half without attempting a shot.

The Yellow Jackets, however, rallied furiously at the start of the second half. Marshall got to the rim for seven points during their 13-0 run, and Maye's layup with 15:25 remaining pulled Georgia Tech within 45-43.

Then, the Lady Vols snapped back to life.

A jumper by Jasmine Jones ended Tennessee's scoreless streak a minute later and started an 18-0 run for the visitors.

When Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph called for a timeout with 9 minutes left, the Lady Vols led 60-43 after Ariel Massengale's layup off of Tennessee's ninth steal of the game.

The Yellow Jackets to that point had seen Marshall, Maye and Wallace - two returning starters and a sophomore who become a starter late last season and then made 19 3-point shots in Tech's three NCAA tournament games - take 40 of their team's first 51 shots and score 38 of the first 43 points.

When Hamilton-Carter scored from point-blank range with 6:46 left in the game, that ended a scoreless streak of 8:38, but the Jackets trailed 63-45.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Chattanooga 80, No. 20 Lady Vols 71

Tennessee's first game of the post-Pat Summitt era revealed in stunning fashion just how much has changed for one of the signature programs in women's college basketball.

Taylor Hall scored 24 points Friday as Chattanooga stunned No. 20 Tennessee 80-71 in the Lady Vols' first game under new coach Holly Warlick, who spent the last 27 seasons as an assistant on Summitt's staff. Chattanooga never trailed in the second half and beat a ranked opponent for the first time ever.

By the end of the game, a McKenzie Arena crowd of 8,468 that had seemed equally divided at the start of the night was gleefully chanting "UTC!" Several dozen fans stormed the court afterward to celebrate with the Lady Mocs.

Summitt, who announced last year she had early-onset dementia, stepped down in April after collecting 1,098 wins, eight national titles and 18 Final Four appearances in 38 seasons. She was succeeded by Warlick, a former three-time All-America guard for Tennessee who was the first athlete at the school to have her number retired.

Summitt remains on staff as head coach emeritus and attends most of Tennessee's practices. She watched Friday's game from the fifth row in a narrow section behind and to the right of Tennessee's bench. Summitt was approached for dozens of photographs and autographs by fans of both teams before the opening tip.

Warlick stood in front of the bench throughout the night with her arms folded or her hands on her hips.

The head coaching switch isn't the only change surrounding Tennessee this season. The Lady Vols don't return a single player who started an NCAA tournament game during their run to a regional final last season. Tennessee's roster includes four freshmen, four sophomores and only one junior and two seniors. Tennessee's No. 20 preseason ranking is its lowest position in the Top 25 since February 1985.

All those Tennessee underclassmen had plenty of jitters Friday.

Tennessee needed Ariel Massengale to sink a 25-footer at the buzzer just to force a 28-28 halftime tie with Chattanooga, a team that lost 90-47 to the Lady Vols last season. Chattanooga pulled ahead by making six of its first seven shots - including a trio of 3-pointers - in the second half. Chattanooga built on that lead by outhustling the Lady Vols.

In one sequence, Taylor Hall got a putback and drew a foul to give Chattanooga a 45-39 lead. Hall missed the ensuing free throw, but 5-foot-9 guard Kayla Christopher got the rebound and made a 3-pointer to extend the Lady Mocs' advantage to 48-39.

The Lady Vols turned the ball over five times in the first three minutes. They missed seven of their first eight shots. Tennessee settled down and went on a 16-2 run to take a nine-point lead late in the first half, but Chattanooga answered by reeling off 13 straight points to regain the lead. The Lady Mocs never let up in the second half.

Hall was the best player on the floor all night long. At one point in the first half, Hall was 4-of-4 from the floor while her teammates were a combined 1-of-15. Once Hall started getting more help from her teammates, Chattanooga took the lead and never looked back.

This wasn't the first time the Lady Vols struggled to leave Chattanooga with a victory. When the Lady Vols last played Chattanooga at McKenzie Arena four years ago, they also had a freshman-laden team and trailed late in the second half before squeaking out a 66-63 victory.

This time, Chattanooga closed the deal.

Lady Vols off to a humbling start

Chattanooga shocks Lady Vols, 80-71

Warlick wants Lady Vols to maintain fast-paced game

After watching her team get dismantled by Tennessee in an exhibition game last Sunday, Coker women’s basketball coach Jenny Finora was asked to compare the Lady Vols under legendary Pat Summitt to their latest incarnation led by long-time Summitt assistant Holly Warlick.

Finora had to laugh.

“Just like Tennessee,” she said. “They're always good. They're long. They're athletic, quick, aggressive. That's Tennessee basketball. It's always been that way, and it's never going to waver at all from that."

Chattanooga coach Wes Moore would concur. His team plays host to the Lady Vols on Friday night in a game that, because it will be the first without Summit on the bench in nearly 40 years, has taken on historic proportions.

Summit’s absence notwithstanding, Moore says, it will be business as usual for Tennessee.

"There’s no doubt they’re going to miss a Pat Summitt, but Holly played for her, she’s been an assistant for 20-something (27) years,” Moore said. “They’re still going to have the same Tennessee tradition, and the way they play and the style they play isn’t going to change."

“I think Holly is very deserving, and I think the way they handled the whole deal — keeping Pat involved in the program (as head coach emeritus) — I think they handled it very well.”

The way Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart saw it, there was no other way to handle replacing Summitt, who was forced from coaching by early onset Alzheimer’s disease. That stunning news was revealed before last season began. Warlick, always a vital cog in Summitt’s program, became even more indispensable to her old friend and mentor as she began making the adjustments required to confront her condition and get through the season.

“Pat and I talked regularly as the season went along about a lot of things,” Hart said last April, when Warlick officially took over the program. “There was a time late in the season when she said to me, ‘Dave, if I made the decision, and I haven't made the decision yet, but if I made the decision not to coach next year, have you given any thought to who will follow?' And I said, ‘I have, Pat. I am giving very serious consideration to Holly.’ And she said, ‘that would excite me.’ ”

Suffice it to say Warlick was excited, too.

“I love the opportunity to follow Pat Summit,” Warlick said at the Southeastern Conference media day last month. “I’ve been associated with her, I’ve played for her and I’ve worked for her. It’s a great opportunity for me. It’s a challenge, absolutely. I’m blessed to have this opportunity. I still have Pat Summit by my side. Don’t forget that. I think it’s a perfect situation for me. It’s all I know, and it’s all that I am going to continue to do.”

Though the Lady Vols’ two exhibition games were against overmatched opponents, they did offer a glimpse of things to come. Against Carson-Newman and Coker, the Lady Vols averaged 111 points, 58 percent shooting from the field and an off-the-charts 19.5 steals. Tennessee made only seven 3-pointers combined, making those point totals (104, 118) all the more impressive.

Obviously, the Lady Vols are going to try and dictate tempo by getting in passing lanes, harassing opponents with their length and turning games into track meets.

“I think there was only one other time that I have played a game that fast—it was with USA basketball my 17 and under year against Japan,” said sophomore forward Cierra Burdick after the Coker game. “All we did was run. It got to the point that I was so tired that I looked over and said to (point guard) Ariel (Massengale) can we please slow down, let me get to half court before we shoot another layup because it was that fast.

“This game was extremely high tempo, but that is what Holly wants. She wants us to get skills and just run. Everything needs to be in transition."

"That's our goal,” Warlick said. “We want to try to score in transition. Now, we've got to continue to get in shape and stay in shape. I don't think we're quite there yet, but we're getting there. But I think this group loves to play up-tempo. I want to try to take advantage of that."

If that sounds like a certain head coach emeritus, well, that’s no surprise. Summitt was always a student of the game, first and foremost. Nearly 20 years ago, Summitt realized she was able to recruit a different caliber of player, with more athleticism, more length, more stamina. And she turned the Lady Vols loose. Four of her eight national championships followed.

Warlick was at Summit’s side the entire way, earning an advanced degree in the art of coaching from the best in the history of the women’s game. It’s little wonder Warlick didn’t want to leave to take over her own program. Her place was at Tennessee, just as it was for Summitt.

"People have asked me, ‘why have you not left?” Warlick said last April. “And I said, ‘why would I?' Why would I leave a place that is rich in tradition, has an unbelievable administration that has always supported women's basketball and women's sports, and has the most incredibly supportive fans in the country? It didn't take me being a genius to stay here and love what I do. I do love this program, and I'm proud of this team.”

Monday, November 05, 2012

West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation Honors Pat Summitt with Tigrett Award

Collegiate Sports Legend and Head Coach Emeritus of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers Pat Head Summitt is being honored with the Tigrett Award at the 23rd Annual West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation’s Charity Gala on Saturday, November 10, 2012.

The Tigrett Award, first given in 2006, was established to honor Jackson native, John Burton Tigrett. Tigrett was well known for his world renowned entrepreneurship and philanthropy. The Tigrett Award was endowed by Fred Smith of FedEx and serves to recognize a Tennessean who has greatly contributed to society through his/her talents and leadership locally, nationally, and abroad.

A consummate taskmaster, she has kept her elite program in the winner’s circle for almost four decades, producing a mind-boggling record of 1,098-208 (.840). During her tenure, the Lady Vols have won eight NCAA titles, as well as an amazing 32 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships. Tennessee has made an unprecedented 31 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament and produced 12 Olympians, 20 Kodak All-Americans named to 34 teams, and 77 All-SEC performers. Along with the success on the court, Summitt’s student-athletes have tremendous productivity in the classroom. Coach Summitt has a 100 percent graduation rate for all Lady Vols who have completed their eligibility at Tennessee.

Her honors and achievements over the years number in the hundreds. The Sporting News named the 50 Greatest Coaches of All-Time. Summitt was voted the 11th best of all-time and was the only woman on the list. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June of 1999, into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in October of 2000, and was the third member of the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame in June of 2011.

More recently, the United States Sports Academy awarded Summitt its 2011 Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award. Also in October of last year, The Huffington Post named Summitt a 2011 Game Changer–an innovator, leader, and role model who is changing the way we look at the world and the way we live in it. The Tennessee Communication Association selected Summitt for its most prestigious award, Communicator of the Year.

A consummate taskmaster, she has kept her elite program in the winner’s circle for almost four decades, producing a mind-boggling record of 1,098-208 (.840). During her tenure, the Lady Vols have won eight NCAA titles, as well as an amazing 32 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships. Tennessee has made an unprecedented 31 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament and produced 12 Olympians, 20 Kodak All-Americans named to 34 teams, and 77 All-SEC performers. Along with the success on the court, Summitt’s student-athletes have tremendous productivity in the classroom. Coach Summitt has a 100 percent graduation rate for all Lady Vols who have completed their eligibility at Tennessee.

Her honors and achievements over the years number in the hundreds. The Sporting News named the 50 Greatest Coaches of All-Time. Summitt was voted the 11th best of all-time and was the only woman on the list. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June of 1999, into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in October of 2000, and was the third member of the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame in June of 2011.

More recently, the United States Sports Academy awarded Summitt its 2011 Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award. Also in October of last year, The Huffington Post named Summitt a 2011 Game Changer–an innovator, leader, and role model who is changing the way we look at the world and the way we live in it. The Tennessee Communication Association selected Summitt for its most prestigious award, Communicator of the Year.

Past Tigrett Award recipients include: fashion designer and philanthropist Pat Kerr Tigrett, United States Senator and Ambassador Howard Baker, actress Dixie Carter, television personality Wink Martindale, legendary singer Brenda Lee, and United States Senator Lamar Alexander.

Gala proceeds will benefit Ayers Children’s Medical Center and the Kirkland Cancer Center at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. For reservations, contact Chris Ramey at 731-984-2142 or

Lady Vols 118, Coker 44

A 23-0 run early in the first half sealed the deal as No. 20 Tennessee routed Division II Coker, 118-44 on Sunday afternoon before 10,137 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Lady Vols finished their preseason exhibitions with two wins by a combined score of 222-88. The Holly Warlick era officially gets underway on Friday night as Tennessee travels to Chattanooga for the opener of the 2012-13 season.

Freshman Bashaara Graves led six Lady Vols in double-figures with 22 points. Junior Meighan Simmons tallied 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds along with seven assists.

Sophomore Isabelle Harrison netted 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and snagged nine boards. Sophomore Cierra Burdick (16), senior Kamiko Williams (14) and senior Taber Spani (10) also scored in double-figures.

The defense was sensational on Sunday as Tennessee forced Coker into 31 turnovers and limited them to 26.7 shooting from the floor.

The most telling statistic was points off turnovers: Tennessee 51, Coker 5.

The taller Lady Vols also outscored Coker on points in the paint, 84-4.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Lady Vol Hall of Fame Induction

Pat Summitt and Michelle Marciniak were among a class of four inducted into the Lady Vol Hall of Fame.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Lady Vols 104, Carson-Newman 44

The No. 20 Lady Vols opened the 2012-13 season with a dominating 104-44 victory over Carson-Newman on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game marked the debut for longtime Tennessee assistant Holly Warlick as head coach of her alma mater before 10,647.

Junior Meighan Simmons led the Lady Vols with 24 as five players scored in double-figures.

Sophomore Isabelle Harrison scored 19 and grabbed seven rebounds.

Freshman Bashaara Graves had a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds in her first game as a Lady Vol. Fellow newcomer Jasmine Jones tallied 16 in her debut, as she made the first six of her field goal attempts.

Senior Taber Spani netted 11 points.

Sophomore Cierra Burdick had a well-rounded game with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Tennessee was superior in all areas of the game. UT captured the rebounding battle, 55-32 while the Lady Vols shot 55.2% from the floor and limited Carson-Newman to just 20% from the floor. Tennessee forced the Division II Eagles into 25 turnovers and recorded 16 steals.

The Lady Vols return to action on Sunday as they play the second of two exhibition games as Coker College of South Carolina comes to Thompson-Boling Arena for a 2 pm tip-off. Tennessee officially opens the 2012-13 regular-season Nov. 9 as the Lady Vols travel to Chattanooga to take on the Mocs at 7 pm.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Same heart, same pride, same fight

HOLLY WARLICK stands behind a large mahogany desk, her gray-blue eyes scanning the office in front of her. Autographed photos and lifetime achievement awards dot the walls around her; every imaginable kind of orange Tennessee memorabilia, from Lady Vols Russian nesting dolls to a Pat Summitt bobblehead, fill the massive bookcase at her back. "What am I supposed to do with all this?" Warlick asks to no one in particular. "It's too big; it's too empty. It's just -- it's Pat's."

After 27 years as an assistant coach for the Lady Vols, Warlick always envisioned herself as the heir apparent to the legendary Summitt. Only it wasn't supposed to happen this way. "I'd often joke I would be pushing her out of here to games in her wheelchair," recalls the 54-year-old, her voice perma-hoarse from years of coaching. "Pat and I discussed it in this very room, and I was really, genuinely happy with that." Instead, Summitt's diagnosis of early-onset dementia in 2011 and subsequent retirement at the end of last season destroyed any dreams of a celebratory passing of the torch. Now, premature or not, the future of Tennessee women's basketball rests squarely on Warlick's shoulders.

It's an intimidating legacy, to put it lightly: eight national championships, 16 SEC titles and 1,098 wins under Summitt. Her teams routinely sold out home games -- a rarity in women's hoops -- and the Lady Vols' facilities and expenses ($5.89 million in 2010-11) rival those of most men's programs. Such accolades were a boon for Summitt on the recruiting trail. But now, without the program's No. 1 recruiting tool, without Coach Pat, Warlick faces an uphill battle to ensure that the University of Tennessee remains a powerhouse going forward. And as the 2012-13 season tips off, the pressure is palpable. The college hoops world will be watching -- every triumph, every stumble -- and asking: Is Warlick coach enough to fill the shoes of the winningest coach in college basketball history?

Read the rest of the story by Sarah Turcotte.

Lady Vols Land Nation's Top Recruit

The Lady Vols basketball team landed the nation's top recruit on Tuesday.

Mercedes Russell of Springfield, Oregon, picked Tennessee over Louisville. She's listed as the top high school basketball player in the country by ESPN. The 6-5 Russell recently led her high school team to their second consecutive state title. She averages 26-points, 15 rebounds, and six blocks a game.

Said Russell,"Well Tennessee has always been my dream school since I was a little kid. After visiting several times, I just felt like it was the best fit for me. When I called Tennessee, everyone was jumping and screaming. Yelling in the phone. They were all excited." Russell plans to sign her national letter of intent in November.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

An evening with Pat Summitt

Clarksville, TN – Friends and family gathered at the Charles Hand farm to welcome home one of their own last night. Pat Summitt, the winningest basketball coach in the history of the game, came home.

This time, it wasn’t to generate support for her basketball team, or her university, it was to support “Sis.” You see, Pat Summitt is in the fight of her life, and where better to draw strength and encouragement than from friends and family.

Read the rest of the story by Hank Bonecutter.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pat Summitt heads list of 2012 Lady Vol Hall of Fame inductees

The 12th group of inductees for inclusion in the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame has been announced by University of Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Dave Hart.

“We are pleased and excited to announce the 2012 class of the Lady Vol Hall of Fame,” Hart said. “This distinguished group includes a legendary coach and three former student-athletes whose participation in athletics runs the gamut from the early days of varsity women’s athletics competition at Tennessee to an inductee who is being enshrined in her first year of eligibility. It is our pleasure to welcome them into an elite circle of people who have represented the University of Tennessee at the highest level.”

The four inductees in the Class of 2012 represent three different teams. The honorees include: Jane Haist (track & field), Michelle Marciniak (basketball), Pat Summitt (basketball-coach) and Young-A Yang (golf). Athletes are eligible for inclusion 10 years after they have graduated from the University, while administrators may be admitted to the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame five years following their last service to UT.

The Lady Vol Hall of Fame selection committee made a recommendation to waive the five-year “last service requirement” for coach Summitt, making her eligible immediately for consideration. That recommendation was approved.

Enshrinement activities are scheduled for Friday evening, Nov. 2, at the Downtown Hilton, where a private induction ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Nov. 3, the inductees will be introduced during an on-field presentation at the Tennessee versus Troy football game at Neyland Stadium.

Throughout the 36-year history of Lady Vol student-athletes, 1,881 women have donned the Orange and White Tennessee uniform. With the addition of the four individuals in the 2012 class of the Lady Vol Hall of Fame, membership now has reached 71 in this very elite Hall.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tamika Pix

Two Nice Tamika Stories

Tamika Catchings wins elusive title
Three-time Olympic gold medalist and former NCAA champ finally nabs WNBA crown

Just how much does Tamika Catchings appreciate finally winning her first WNBA title at age 33? To understand, you must go back to the little girl shooting baskets alone on the playground, the place she felt she had the most refuge from bullying.

You must go back to the college senior missing her last NCAA tournament at Tennessee because of a knee injury.

You must go back to the player screaming out in pain when her Achilles' tendon ruptured as the Indiana Fever's 2007 season came to an end.

You must go back to the devastated veteran having lost her closest brush to a WNBA championship, as it slipped away to Phoenix in 2009.

And you must go back to the disappointed regular-season MVP who was hobbled by a foot injury as Indiana fell to Atlanta in the 2011 Eastern Conference finals.

Read the rest of the story by Mechelle Voepel.

A true team effort and unlikely contributors bring Indiana Fever a title

This one's for Tamika Catchings, who finally filled out her trophy case with her first WNBA title to go along with all those Olympic gold medals and overseas championships. Did you catch that snapshot of Catchings standing on the victory podium, holding up the championship and MVP hardware? What a sight.

Read the rest of the story by Bob Kravitz.

Tamika Catchings - First WNBA Championship

Catch and Pat Summitt with Lin Dunn in background

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tamika Catchings and Fever win first WNBA title

Tamika Catchings finally won her long-awaited WNBA championship.

She scored 25 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, and 3 blocked shots to help the Indiana Fever win their first title with an 87-78 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday night.

Catchings, who was the MVP of the Finals, averaged 24.8 points in the series, which the Fever won 3-1 over the defending WNBA champions.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” said Catchings tearing up. “We’ve had ups and downs, ins and outs.”

Erin Phillips added 18 points and eight rebounds while Shavonte Zellous and Briann January each had 15 points.

The Fever won even though No. 2 scorer Katie Douglas missed most of the series with a severely sprained left knee. Douglas checked in with 3.2 seconds left to a loud ovation.

“We sure didn’t make it easy,” Douglas said. “We went three games with Atlanta, three games with Connecticut. This team played amazing in these Finals.”

Catchings had won three Olympic gold medals and an NCAA championships at Tennessee in 1998, but never a WNBA one. She had been in a position to clinch at home before. The Fever led Phoenix 2-1 in the best-of-five WNBA Finals in 2009, but the Mercury beat the Fever 90-77, took the series back to Phoenix and won the title at home in Game 5.

This time, Catchings took it home with college coach Pat Summitt looking on in the crowd.

Indiana led 63-58 at the end of the third quarter. Minnesota cut Indiana’s lead to 70-67 on a jumper by Maya Moore, but Phillips scored on a drive past Moore, got a defensive rebound, then found Shavonte Zellous for a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Fever a 75-67 lead with 4:58 remaining.

Indiana led by at least five points the rest of the way. A 3-pointer by January gave Indiana an 80-72 lead with 1:18 to play. Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve was called for a technical with 57.6 seconds remaining, Catchings made the free throw and the Fever took an 81-74 lead. Zellous made two more free throws with 27.2 seconds to play, and Fever fans began celebrating.

Seimone Augustus, Minnesota’s leading scorer in the playoffs, was held to eight points on 3-for-21 shooting. Lindsay Whalen scored 22 points and Moore added 16 points for the Lynx, who were vying to become the first team to win consecutive titles since Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002.

Moore picked up her third foul with 6:13 left in the second quarter. Reeve, who was fined for her jacket-tossing tantrum in Game 2, became animated again while disagreeing with the call. As the crowd erupted, Reeve waved hello and made the motion for a technical foul.

This time, Reeve’s antics didn’t help much as in Game 2, when her team pulled away from a tight contest after her technical foul for a convincing win. Minnesota tied the game three times in the second quarter, but the Fever closed with a 7-2 run, including a 3-pointer by Phillips, to take a 47-42 lead at halftime. Whalen scored 14 points in the first half to keep the Lynx in the game, often scoring on uncontested drives. Minnesota hung tough, despite Augustus shooting 2-for-13 in the first half.

Indiana started the second half on a 9-4 run, including two buckets by Catchings, to take a 56-46 lead.

Minnesota came right back. A driving layup by Moore cut Indiana’s lead to 56-54 and forced the Fever to call timeout.

Minnesota tied the game on another drive by Moore, but the Fever responded with a 3-pointer by Catchings and a basket by Jessica Davenport to push the lead back to five by the end of the quarter.