Sunday, January 29, 2012

No. 18 Georgia women fall to No. 7 Lady Vols

ATHENS, Ga. — A strong finish to the first half seemed to leave momentum with Georgia against Tennessee.

That momentum quickly vanished after halftime.

Shekinna Stricklen had 24 points, including six in Tennessee’s 11-0 run to open the second half, and the No. 7 Lady Vols beat No. 17 Georgia 67-50 on Sunday for their second win over the Lady Bulldogs this month.

Georgia scored the final four points of the first half to cut Tennessee’s lead to 29-28 at halftime. A sellout crowd cheered as the Lady Bulldogs pumped their fists on the way off the court.

The upbeat mood quickly soured as Georgia missed its first five shots from the field in the half.

“It seemed like we went back out all of a sudden with no energy,” said Georgia coach Andy Landers.

“Defensively, I thought we stood around for the first two minutes of the second half. I didn’t see the intensity that I would have liked to have seen. We broke down and they got some driving, wide-open layups.”

Meighan Simmons opened the second half with a 3-pointer to spark the Lady Vols’ 11-0 run. Stricklen followed the 3-pointer by scoring on a drive and had a steal and basket later in the 11-0 run.

“They came out and hit some easy buckets which allowed them to get going,” said Georgia’s Meredith Mitchell. “We had some good shots. We just couldn’t knock them down.

“They built the lead a little bit and that got their confidence going and it swung the momentum to their side because at the end of the half we definitely had the momentum.”

The Lady Vols kept the lead in double figures the remainder of the game.

Mitchell had 13 points and Jasmine Hassell had 11 for Georgia, which has lost consecutive games and three of its last four.

Georgia (16-6, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) made only 5 of 25 shots (20 percent) from the field in the second half and made a season-low 28.8 percent of its shots (17 of 59) for the game.

“The readiness was missing,” Landers said, adding his players were “mentally not in it.”

Jasmine James, a preseason All-SEC pick and Georgia’s point guard, missed her fourth straight game with a sprained right knee.

Landers said James is “very close” to returning.

“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to get her well,” Landers said. “We need her. She’s important.”

Stricklen had seven rebounds, two steals and two assists for Tennessee (16-5, 7-1).

Ariel Massengale had 16 points, including 13 in the second half, for the Lady Vols.

Following a lopsided 72-44 loss at No. 2 Notre Dame on Monday, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt juggled her lineup in Thursday’s 86-56 win at Alabama. Stricklen, who had a streak of 121 consecutive starts, the longest in the nation, end earlier this month due to an injury, didn’t start against Alabama even though she was available.

Stricklen said she understood the message from Summitt and her staff.

“It was a challenge,” said Stricklen, a senior who started against Georgia. “I think it was a good decision by the coaches. I haven’t been playing to my ability and if I’m not playing to my ability I shouldn’t start. That’s what they did and I agreed with them.

“I wasn’t mad. I stayed positive and I was cheering on my team. This is not about me. It’s whatever best for the team.”

Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said the Lady Vols recovered from the loss at Notre Dame.

“We had a tough week,” Warlick said. “We played three games in seven days. They responded. We pushed them in practice and I’m proud of the way they responded.”

Forward Glory Johnson, who 22 points and 13 rebounds in Tennessee’s 80-51 home win over Georgia on Jan. 5, had five points and a team-leading eight rebounds as the Lady Vols completed the sweep of the regular-season series.

Tennessee, which committed a season-low eight turnovers against Alabama, had 19 turnovers, including 12 in the first half.

The Lady Vols led 53-37 before Georgia pulled to within 10 at 53-43. Massengale answered with a 3-pointer.

Georgia battled foul problems late in the game. Mitchell was called for her fifth with 1:19 remaining.

Attendance was 10,523, Georgia’s fifth sellout in school history and first since Jan. 14, 2007 against Tennessee.

Friday, January 27, 2012

No. 7 Tennessee women bounce back to beat Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama came into Thursday night's game against Tennessee riding a six-game losing streak. The fact Tennessee was fired up after the second-worst loss in program history only made matters worse.

Shekinna Stricklen scored 14 points and Glory Johnson added 13 to lead the No. 7 Lady Vols to an 86-56 win over the Crimson Tide.

"I'm really proud of our team for the effort that they gave," said Alabama head coach Wendell Hudson. "I thought we competed and played awfully hard. We played a very good basketball team. ... I didn't see anything drastic."

Kamiko Williams and Isabelle Harrison chipped in 10 points apiece for the Lady Vols (15-5, 6-1 Southeastern Conference), who rebounded from a 72-44 setback at No. 2 Notre Dame on Monday.
"We were happy with the pace we played," said Tennessee assistant coach Holly Warlick.

"Obviously, we wanted to score. We wanted an up-tempo game. I thought the first half, Alabama hung tough with us."

Kyra Crosby had 15 points and five rebounds for the Crimson Tide (10-11, 0-7 SEC).

Tennessee jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the game's first 2 minutes and was comfortably ahead for most of the opening half. The Vols led by 15 points at the break.

"To have a good start, I think that helps our team a lot, gives us a lot of confidence and warns people for next time," said Johnson.

The Vols had only four turnovers compared to Alabama's eight. Tennessee also won the rebounding battle 24-17.

"What I thought happened in the first half is if we'd made some free throws, maybe kept the score a little bit closer, it might've been a different type basketball game," said Hudson. "But from the effort standpoint, Tennessee is a very good basketball team, and I thought we competed."

Tennessee scored 25 points off 22 turnovers, including 11 steals.

The Vols shot 45 percent from the field (32 of 71) but just 21 percent of its 3-point attempts (4 for 19). Alabama's performance from long range was much worse; the Tide went 1-for 14.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Diggins leads Irish women to rout of Tennessee

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Skylar Diggins matched a season high with 27 points Monday night and No. 2 Notre Dame routed No. 7 Tennessee 72-44, holding the Vols to their lowest scoring output in school history.

Devereaux Peters had 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Irish (20-1), who have won 17 straight. Tennessee (14-5) got 13 points from Meighan Simmons, but shot just 27.9 percent in the lopsided loss.

Notre Dame was 0-20 all-time against the Vols before a 73-59 victory in the NCAA regional finals last March in Dayton, Ohio. The Irish haven't lost since Nov. 20 to top-ranked Baylor and have now beaten both UConn and Tennessee on their home floor this season after toppling both in last year's NCAA tournament.

Leading at the half, the Irish jumped out early in the second as Diggins sank a 3-pointer and Peters had three inside baskets in an 11-3 run that opened up a 39-21 lead three minutes in. Tennessee continued to miss on everything, from both the field and the free-throw line.

Diggins made a nice strip of an inside pass, dribbled the length of the court, passed to Peters and then got it back for a layup to make it 44-26 with just over 14 minutes left. Then after picking up her third foul, Diggins hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game to make it a 21-point lead. Diggins was 10 of 17 from the field and 5 for 7 on 3-pointers.

After Tennessee closed to within 16 with about seven minutes to go, the Irish went on one final run to put it away. Kayla McBride added 17 points for the Irish.

The Vols made just 17 of 61 field-goal attempts and were only 7 for 16 from the free-throw line.

Rebounding, including eight early offensive caroms, kept the Vols close in the early stages of the game because they could not make a shot. They missed 14 of their first 17 attempts from the floor and finished the first half 7 for 35 (20 percent). And the poor shooting extended to the line, where the Vols were only 4 for 10. The field-goal percentage and total points were first-half lows for the Vols this season.

McBride, showing an ability to break for the basket, had nine straight Notre Dame points at one juncture and scored 11 in the first half. Diggins ended up with 10 at the half, hitting two free throws with 2 seconds left to put the Irish up 28-18.

Tennessee's leading scorer, Shekinna Stricklen, who missed the previous game against LSU with a sprained knee, returned to the lineup and managed five points — five points under her average. And Vols guard Taber Spani, who has been sidelined with a bone bruise in her left knee since Dec. 26, was also able to play.

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, received a nice ovation when she came on the floor before the game and waved to the crowd, most of which was dressed in lime green.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

9th-ranked Lady Vols prove it can withstand LSU's force

Physical game goes UT's way as Simmons, Burdick lead way

Meighan Simmons and Cierra Burdick's games have been one-sided enough in the past that Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick was concerned about relying on them to fill in for a couple of top players.

Simmons scored 19 and Burdick added 15 for No. 9 Tennessee. More importantly, both pleased Warlick with their sound defense as the Lady Vols got a 65-56 win in an especially physical game against LSU on Thursday night.

"We didn't need (Simmons) or Cierra to be a liability on the defensive end," Warlick said. "Those two young ladies have stepped up. They've put in extra time, and I think it showed tonight."

The Lady Vols (14-4, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) won without leading scorer Shekinna Stricklen, whose streak of 121 consecutive starts ended because of a sprain to her right knee suffered Sunday against Vanderbilt. They've also been without guard Taber Spani, who has been sidelined with a bone bruise in her left knee since Dec. 26.

Simmons has stepped up her offense in Spani's absence, and Tennessee turned to Burdick to help fill in for Stricklen, who was averaging 15.5 points. Before facing LSU, Burdick was playing just under 12 minutes per game but stayed on the floor for 31 minutes against the Lady Tigers.

"With Strick and Taber being out, I knew more minutes were going to be played by the bench, and I just tried to come into this game prepared," Burdick said. "I'm learning a lot from some great players ahead of me, so I'm just trying to use it and take it as positive and just really learn from this experience."

The score was tied 11 times and the teams traded the lead six times before Burdick hit a tiebreaking jumper with 6:22 left that put the Lady Volunteers ahead for good, 51-49.

Vicki Baugh rebounded a missed 3-pointer by LSU's Bianca Lutley on the next possession, and Simmons hit a layup on the break. Tennessee got two more transition baskets in the final three minutes and padded its lead with free throws, despite an uncharacteristic 18-of-31 performance from the line.

Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers only hit one more shot from the floor during the final stretch, a jumper by Adrienne Webb that made it 62-56 with 1:27 left.

Courtney Jones led LSU (13-5, 4-2) with 16 points, and Webb scored 12.

Baugh grabbed 14 rebounds and Glory Johnson added 10 points for Tennessee, which shot 42.9 percent in the second half compared to 34.5 percent by LSU.

The game pit first-year LSU coach Nikki Caldwell against her mentor and former coach, Pat Summitt. Caldwell won three combined national titles as a player and assistant at Tennessee and has mimicked Summitt's defensive focus at both UCLA and LSU.

"Coming in to play against Tennessee, you're always really hyped up and ready to play," LSU forward Theresa Plaisance said. "You just need to be mentally ready and physically ready to come in"

The Lady Tigers had entered the game leading the SEC and ranking second nationally in field goal percentage defense (30.3 percent) and ranked second in the SEC and third nationally in scoring defense (47.5 points per game).

The defenses took over for both teams in the first half, resulting in a physical and injury-filled game.

"Obviously it was a knock-down drag out type fight, but it was a very competitive fight," Caldwell said. "You saw two teams playing every possession like it was their last."

LSU starting point guard Jeanne Kenney left just two minutes into the game with a probably concussion.

Starting guard Destini Hughes took over at the point for Kenney, scoring eight points before she severely injured her right knee trying to catch and shoot off a long pass 3 seconds before halftime. Hughes was tended to by trainers from both teams and taken off the floor in a wheelchair.

Tennessee briefly lost Glory Johnson, who hurt her left shoulder after colliding with another player on a rebound a few minutes before halftime. Johnson headed to the locker room immediately but returned early in the second half, playing with a compression sleeve on the shoulder.

The cumulative effect of the Lady Vols' injuries could prove problematic. Tennessee heads to No. 2 Notre Dame on Monday night, and Warlick was unsure if Stricklen or Spani would be available for the game.

"I'll be fine on Monday," Johnson said. "I'll make sure."

Monday, January 16, 2012

No. 25 Vandy women lose 87-64 at No. 6 Tennessee

Perhaps Vanderbilt could learn a thing or two from Tennessee about how to come out of halftime.

The 25th-ranked Commodores committed fouls and turnovers early in the second half as the No. 6 Lady Volunteers pulled away for an 87-64 victory on Sunday.

“They came out more inspired and intense on defense and took away passes and shot the gap and got offense and got us to turn it over,” Vandy coach Melanie Balcomb said.

“We’ve been struggling all year; we have not come out inspired after halftime the first 4 minutes, and I thought we helped feed into that. We didn’t come out the way we should have.”

The Lady Vols were coming off a 61-60 loss at No. 9 Kentucky, their first Southeastern Conference loss in nearly two years and seemed to carry their disappointment into a back-and-forth first half against Vanderbilt.

With Tennessee up 39-36, coach Pat Summitt, who before the season announced she had early onset Alzheimer’s, reminded the Lady Vols about the pride of wearing their orange jerseys—especially when playing the in-state rival Commodores, whom they face at least twice every season.

Tennessee (13-4, 4-1) responded by turning it up on the court.

“If you question that Pat Summitt does not have an influence on this team, at halftime she had a major influence,” associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “She challenged them the way Pat Summitt challenges them. They were inspired when they left the locker room.”

On the offensive end, they fought to get the ball inside to Shekinna Stricklen, Glory Johnson and Vicki Baugh.

Vanderbilt struggled to guard the pair in the post, with Tiffany Clarke picking up her third and fourth fouls within the first 1:17 of the second half and Stephanie Holzer fouling out with 8:07 left.

Stricklen scored 16 of her team-leading 20 points in the second half. Johnson finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds and Baugh added 16 points.

Tennessee held a 45-43 lead when Stricklen hit a layup with 15:17 to go, launching a 16-2 run that put the game out of reach for the Commodores (14-3, 2-2). Stricklen’s basket came off an assist by Ariel Massengale, one of her 12 in the game.

Isabelle Harrison stole the ball from Vandy’s Christina Foggie, and Massengale hit a layup on the break to make it 61-45 with 10:26 to play.

Balcomb called a timeout to give the Commodores a chance to regroup, but all they could do was keep pace as the Lady Vols hit 55.6 percent of their second-half shots.

Foggie and Holzer were the only Commodores who didn’t seem bothered much by the Lady Vols’ smothering defense. Vandy hit just 40 percent of its shots after halftime.

Foggie, whose 17.3 points per game ranks second in the SEC, tied her career high of 27 points for a third time this season, and Holzer scored 14 points before fouling out.

“In the first half I hit a few 3s, and after halftime they were more up in my space. That’s when I became aggressive and attacked the basket and got fouled a few times,” Foggie said. “It was just an adjustment of how to score after halftime.”

Tennessee finished with a 39-30 rebounding advantage, 18 more points in the paint and 21 points off 24 Vanderbilt turnovers in what turned into a physical, scrappy game.

Stricklen, a preseason all-American who leads Tennessee in scoring, gave her team a scare when she hit the floor clutching her right knee and screaming after going for a rebound with 3 minutes left.

Warlick said it appeared Stricklen had a knee strain, but would be fully evaluated on Monday.

“All I remember is going up for the ball, and I don’t know,” Stricklen said. I hit my knee, and I came down wrong. I probably hyperextended it, but I really don’t know.”

Johnson left the game with 1:50 before halftime after Vandy’s Elan Brown landed on top of her while the two went for a loose ball. She held ice on top of her right eye, but returned to start the second half.

“I’ll spend the majority of tomorrow since we have an off day in the training room getting treatments,” Johnson said. “I’m hurting today, and I know I’m going to wake up feeling worse.”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

All 12 SEC schools will help raise awareness for Alzheimer's Disease and The Pat Summitt Foundation

COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina women's basketball's participation in the SEC-sponsored "We Back Pat" Week will be an extension of a fundraising effort the Gamecocks began in October when they took part in the Walk to End Alzheimer's at Finlay Park. In Sunday's game against Kentucky, South Carolina will bring even more awareness to the disease and the Pat Summitt Foundation.

The Gamecocks will wear special shooting shirts for the game, and special in-game PSAs and other information will help fans learn more about the disease, for which there is currently no cure, and the many Americans affected by it.

South Carolina women's basketball already raised over $8,000 dollars from its October Walk, and fans can still contribute to that effort. The Gamecocks' team, which was named "4 Coach Summitt," worked with the Alzheimer's Association to keep its team page active for contributions through the end of January. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley hopes to present Pat Summitt with a $20,000 check for her foundation when the Gamecocks take on the Lady Vols on Thu., Feb. 2

Fans can contribute to the Gamecocks' fundraising efforts by going to the "4 Coach Summitt" team page at

During the week of January 15-22, all SEC member institutions will support the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund during their home basketball games. During the 17 women's and 12 men's games slated for the week, various efforts will be made to increase awareness of the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund. Twenty of these games will be televised.

The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund launched November 27, 2011 by Pat Summitt after her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type at the age of 59.

The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund will make grants to nonprofits that provide:
• Education and awareness of Alzheimer's, its onset and treatment
• Support services to patients, their families and caregivers
• Research to treat, prevent, cure, and ultimately eradicate this disease

About The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund
Pat Summitt and her supporters have entrusted The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to facilitate the charitable work of The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund. The Fund was established to support Pat Summitt's dream of finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease. For more information or to make a donation, please visit

About The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee oversees more than 800 charitable funds. In the past twenty years, The Community Foundation has distributed $530 million to community programs and institutions. It is located at 3833 Cleghorn Avenue, #400, Nashville, Tennessee 37215. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit

Thursday, January 12, 2012

No. 6 Tennessee women’s 36-game SEC streak ends

Glory Johnson will not focus on the last play when A’dia Mathies abruptly ended sixth-ranked Tennessee’s 36-game Southeastern Conference winning streak. Instead, she’ll dwell on all the little things the Lady Volunteers did wrong in a 61-60 loss to No. 9 Kentucky on Thursday night.

Mathies drove the lane and scored in traffic with 4.2 seconds left to finish with a career-high 34 points.

“Mathies did a great job of getting to the basket,” said Johnson, who had 17 points. “We’re not going to look at that one play, we’re going to look at missed layups and missed free throws and turnovers and everything that happened that shouldn’t have.”

With Kentucky trailing 60-57, Mathies followed her own shot to cut it to one with 46 seconds left.

After Tennessee (12-4, 3-1) was called for a charge and Kentucky (15-2, 4-0) used a timeout, Mathies took the ball at halfcourt, dribbled into the lane and hit a 7-foot floater.

“We didn’t have an answer for her tonight, it didn’t start with the last shot,” Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “She was outstanding. My hat’s off to her. She was outstanding.”

Tennessee’s Kamiko Williams drove the length of the floor, but missed an off-balance 16-footer as time expired. Tennessee rallied from 12 points down with 7:46 left to take a lead, but lost for the first time in the SEC since falling 53-50 at Georgia on Jan. 21, 2010.

“Our defense got us back in the game,” Warlick said. “We made a couple of runs.”

Vicki Baugh scored 16 points and Shekinna Stricklen 11 for Tennessee, but it wasn’t enough to keep Kentucky from winning its first four games in conference play for the first time in history to go with 15 straight at home.

Kentucky led 50-38 off two free throws by Mathies with 7:46 left when Tennessee used a 16-4 rally to tie it. Meighan Simmons and Stricklen hit 3s, while Ariel Massengale’s three-point play made it 54-all.

Then, after Mathies made two more free throws, Stricklen hit a layup, Kentucky’s Amber Smith threw a pass away that led to a free throw by Johnson and Mathies fell and lost the ball that started Tennessee’s 3-on-0 break that ended with a layup by Baugh to give the Lady Vols a 59-56 with 2:06 left.

At the timeout, the Kentucky pep band played “Don’t Stop Believin”’ with the game seemingly getting out of control.

Bria Goss made one of two free throws for the Wildcats and Johnson hit the second of two attempts to put Tennessee back ahead 60-57.

Goss then missed a 3 that would’ve tied it, but grabbed her own rebound and Kentucky got another possession. Mathies scored on a putback to cut it to 60-59 and Stricklen was whistled for a charge with 28 seconds to play, setting up the final possession.

“Credit Kentucky defensively, they made us play fast at times, they made us rush, so the combination of that and the tempo that the game was being played,” Warlick said. “We were playing too fast and we didn’t make plays.”

The last time these two teams played in the SEC Tournament, the Lady Vols routed the Wildcats by 25. This one looked to be different from the start between the two schools that have many ties on the coaching staff on both sides.

Tennessee used a 10-2 run midway through the first half to take a 20-18 lead before both teams went cold for the next five minutes, combining to miss 25 consecutive shots and commit 12 turnovers before Mathies grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a putback to end the cold snap.

The Lady Vols’ struggles continued. Alicia Manning hit the second of two free throws, but a bucket by Keyla Snowden gave Kentucky a 25-21 halftime lead as Tennessee finished the half with 16 straight misses and eight turnovers.

Johnson’s 8-footer in the lane on the team’s first shot of the second half ended the span of nearly 11 minutes without a field goal, but Kentucky would still build a 50-38 lead behind Mathies and Snowden before Tennessee’s furious rally.

“We dug ourselves in a hole, we battled back and you can’t do that; you can’t do that against good teams,” Warlick said.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt learns to deal with devastating disease

LEXINGTON, KY. - There is a lot of uncertainty around Tennessee these days.

The coaches and players would be lying if they said otherwise.

"We are in uncharted waters here," assistant coach Mickie DeMoss said on Tuesday night, two nights before the sixth-ranked Lady Vols face No. 9 Kentucky in Memorial Coliseum.

There is no tattered parchment map to point out how one works with a head coach battling the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, as Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt is.

There is no Google map to chart exactly how a team wins a ninth national championship while relying heavily on its assistant coaches to do much of the day-to-day work.

"I don't know that in the history of sports a head coach has ever gone public with early stages of dementia," DeMoss said. "We are really learning as we're going."

But DeMoss, who was the head coach at Kentucky from 2003 until she stepped down in 2007, has charted some of these rough waters before.

She watched her own mother battle this same disease that now threatens to slowly chip away at one of college basketball's greatest minds.

"I think about it all the time," DeMoss said. "I think about her as my friend, much more than as a coach. I went through this with my mom. ... It certainly has prepared me to deal with it with a lot more patience and compassion."

DeMoss doesn't believe in coincidences.

She believes everything happens for a reason.

So that day when Summitt called her to come back to Tennessee and be an assistant coach there again (she was there for 20-plus years before leaving for the UK job), it was meant to be.

"I knew Pat needed me," DeMoss said.

Then she paused.

"I knew there was a need for me to come back here," said DeMoss, who was then an assistant at Texas. "I couldn't quite put my finger on it at the time, but I knew I needed to come back."

Public battle

There were signs of Summitt's failing memory last season, DeMoss said.

Her assistants kept attributing her memory lapses to a bad mix of medication for the coach's silent struggle with rheumatoid arthritis.

But Summitt started to worry that it was something more. She received her early- onset dementia diagnosis last summer while being tested at the Mayo Clinic.

The 59-year-old coach told the world about her diagnosis in late August. She wanted to be open and honest. She wasn't scared to become the face of the disease.

"I feel better just knowing what I'm dealing with," Summitt told the Knoxville News Sentinel at the time. "And as far as I'm concerned it's not going to keep me from living my life, not going to keep me from coaching."

Since then, DeMoss and her fellow assistant coaches Holly Warlick and Dean Lockwood have gone about the business of keeping Tennessee a national power.

Tennessee's assistants - with nearly 90 years of coaching experience among them - have divvied up much of the day-to-day coaching responsibility.

"We did not want our players to be confused," DeMoss said. "We did not want me calling out an offense and Holly calling out a different one. Or Dean calls a defense and I'm calling out a press."

So they split things up like a football staff, DeMoss explained, with Lockwood and Warlick taking over the defensive side of the ball and Summitt and DeMoss responsible for offensive play calling.

Summitt, who is exercising her mind and body religiously to fight off the dementia, isn't as hands-on at practices and in games as she used to be.

But the coach is still effective at getting her point across, in ways that only Summitt can.

"She can come in and pick and choose what she wants to tweak," DeMoss said. "When she gets on the kids now, it speaks volumes because she doesn't rant and rave for 40 minutes like she used to. ... When she really wants to make a point with someone now, it has more meaning."

Like everyone battling this disease, Summitt has good days and bad days, her friend said.

When the head coach has traveled and gotten in late or done long fund-raising or booster events the day before, she might not be "quite as sharp," DeMoss said, before adding.

"But again, she's handling this as well as anyone in her position could ever imagine."

'Not a pity party for Pat'

Summitt is a strong and sturdy tree trunk with branches reaching far and wide across the country.

Her fingerprints will be on women's basketball via her former players and assistant coaches long after she has left the game.

Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell is one of those coaches as are UK assistants and former Tennessee players Kyra Elzy and Shalon Pillow.

Mitchell, a former Vols graduate assistant, admitted that things will be different when Summitt comes to Memorial Coliseum for a battle of top 10 teams on Thursday night.

"I don't know how this is going to go," Mitchell said when asked about taking on Summitt. "I really don't."

"I think about her often and we try to stay in touch and try not to hound her because I know a lot of people are after her," he said.

Mitchell said UK will try to do what Summitt has asked and not make this season about her disease.

"She wants it to be about the players on the floor," he said. "So we're going to try to honor that and try to get prepared and beat them."

Tennessee and UK are in a battle for supremacy in the Southeastern Conference, so in some ways Summitt's condition will fade into the shadows, which is how the head coach wants it, DeMoss said.

"Pat wouldn't want anybody to not want to kick her butt like they always have," DeMoss said. "She'd be insulted. She doesn't want anybody's sympathy. She has said it's not a 'pity party for Pat.'"

Sunday, January 08, 2012

No. 6 Tennessee women beat Arkansas 69-38

Shekinna Stricklen made sure she went out in style in her last performance in her home state.

Stricklen scored 19 points, and Glory Johnson recorded her fifth straight double-double, as No. 6 Tennessee routed Arkansas 69-38 on Sunday.

The win was the 36th straight in Southeastern Conference play for the Lady Volunteers (12-3, 3-0), who opened the game with a 25-3 run and never looked back.

Tennessee hasn’t lost an SEC game since a 53-50 loss at Georgia on Jan. 21, 2010, and it was in no jeopardy of doing so while holding the Razorbacks to a season-low point total.

“Our defense was just outstanding,” Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “We were swarming, and that’s the type of defense that a Tennessee team should always play.”

Arkansas, meanwhile, remained winless in SEC play. The Razorbacks (11-4, 0-3) hit only 3 of 30 shots in the first half, and their 10-of-55 shooting for the game (18.1 percent) was the worst in school history.

“I haven’t sat at the podium many times after playing a game where I felt like we were totally outplayed from beginning to end,” Arkansas coach Tom Collen said. “I promise you, it wasn’t much prettier from the seat that I had on the floor, and I’m sure it wasn’t real pretty from the stands.”

Stricklen, who starred in high school in Morrilton, Ark., scored what was a career-high 26 points in a win at Arkansas last season, and the Lady Volunteers’ leading scorer was equally impressive this time around. The senior scored six points early as Tennessee opened with a 14-0 run, including one of her two 3-pointers for the game.

“Shekinna, I know there’s a lot of pressure on her to come home and play,” Warlick said. “But she seems to thrive on playing in this gym. If we could take this gym back home for Shekinna, we would.”

She finished 8 of 12 from the field and had eight rebounds in front on a sizeable and vocal cheering section behind the Tennessee bench. The strong effort came after Stricklen had shot just 32 percent over her last four games.

“It felt great coming back home and playing in front of my family and friends and people from my community,” Stricklen said. “It’s just great to come back.

“… It felt good to come home and kind of get out of a slump.”

Stricklen’s performance was hardly the only dominant one.

Johnson, who entered the game only four rebounds short of 1,000 for her career, didn’t need long to reach that mark against the Razorbacks (11-4, 0-3). She grabbed her fourth rebound and scored on a putback late in the first half to put Tennessee up 31-8—finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

The game was well out of hand at that point.

Arkansas didn’t score until Lyndsey Harris’ 3-pointer 6:24 into the game, and it opened 1 of 19 from the field. Harris, who finished with 14 points, hit two first-half 3-pointers, and the Razorbacks’ only other basket was a putback by Quistelle Wiliams.

Arkansas’ previous worst shooting half was a 3-of-26 performance against Wichita State in 1981. Its previous worst game was 8 of 41 against Louisiana Tech in 1978.

The Razorbacks entered the game shooting just 38 percent as a team for the season. The previous worst performance this season was a 17-of-53 effort against Florida State in November, but they managed to win that game 55-52.

They had no such chance against the suffocating defense of Tennessee, which held Arkansas’ leading scorer C’eira Ricketts to two points on 1-of-11 shooting. Harris didn’t fare much better at 4 of 14.

“I think eventually we did kind of get down on ourselves as the game went on and the shots weren’t falling,” Harris said. “I think we put a lot of pressure on each of us individually to kind of score.”

Friday, January 06, 2012

No. 6 Tennessee women beat No. 16 Georgia 80-51

For Tennessee coaches, the evidence of Glory Johnson’s heart is in the senior’s rebounding totals. Her scoring is a bonus.

Johnson, who has 1,331 total points and needs four rebounds to reach 1,000 for her career, had season highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds to help the sixth-ranked Lady Vols beat No. 16 Georgia 80-51 Thursday night.

“You look at Glory and you see her points, but she plays with a lot of heart,” Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “How you determine that, to me, is how many rebounds she gets, how many hustle plays she got. She was all over the floor tonight. She was an All-American tonight.”

The Lady Vols (11-3, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) used 52 percent shooting in the first half keep in front of the Lady Bulldogs, who hit just 36 percent of their shots from the field. Tennessee has now won 16 of its last 18 against its top SEC rival.

Johnson hit the first basket of the second half to give Tennessee a 38-27 lead. Jasmine Hassell answered with a short jumper, Jasmine James sank a free throw and Anne Marie Armstrong hit a layup on the break to cut the margin to six points.

“I just knew it was going to be a quick game, and we all know that Georgia loves to run in transition every time we play them,” Johnson said. “We just wanted to let them know that we’re a team that can run in transition too, and so it’s going to be a game.”

It didn’t take long for it to stop being much of a game. Shekinna Stricklen was fouled on a layup and hit her free throw to launch a 14-4 run that helped the Lady Vols pull away. Johnson scored six points during the stretch.

Cierra Burdick put back a shot with 3:57 to play to make it 76-45, Tennessee’s largest lead of the game, and the reserves ran the show the rest of the way.

“They did what they do, and we didn’t affect it very well,” said Georgia coach Andy Landers, whose 15 career wins against Tennessee is more than any other head coach. “I’m not real pleased with that. Not pleased at all. They did what they do. That sums it up. They played the way they played. Georgia didn’t do one thing to change it.”

Ariel Massengale scored 19 points for a second game to tie her career high at Tennessee. Stricklen added 12 points, Meighan Simmons had 10 and Vicki Baugh grabbed 10 rebounds.

Though the Lady Bulldogs (12-3, 1-1) have had four players put up double-digit scoring in the past three games, Meredith Mitchell was the only one to do it against Tennessee with 14 points. Hassell, who had averaged 16.1 points in Georgia’s 10 previous games, had just eight.

The Lady Vols finished with a 52-32 rebounding advantage, outscored the Lady Bulldogs 42-12 in the paint and hit 20 of 28 at the free-throw line.

“We just didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t get back. We didn’t rebound. We didn’t fight, and that’s where the game turned for us for the worse.”

Massengale took control for the Lady Vols early. When she wasn’t driving to through the lane for a layup or shooting 3s she was dishing the ball to her teammates for layups of their own. Massengale scored at the hoop with 13:36 in the first half to give Tennessee a 17-6 lead.

Armstrong answered with a 3-pointer and a jumper for Georgia, and James hit a shot a few minutes later to cut the margin to 20-16.

Massengale responded, pulling up at the free-throw lane to hit a shot, and Simmons sank a 3 in front of the Georgia bench to push Tennssee’s lead back to eight points, where it would hover for most of the rest of the half.

Tennessee hasn’t dropped an SEC game since a 53-50 loss at Georgia on Jan. 21, 2010. Since then the Lady Vols have won 35 conference games, sweeping last year’s league schedule, and have earned two SEC regular season and tournament titles.

“I didn’t realize we’d won 35 games in a row,” Warlick said. “This team, we put a lot of value on going to the Final Four and competing for a national championship. Sometimes what we do in the SEC gets kind of put aside, but it’s amazing to me that this group has done what they’ve done.”

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

No. 6 Tennessee women rout Chattanooga 90-47

Tennessee athletic trainer Jenny Moshak told Kamiko Williams over the summer that if she wanted to return from ACL surgery before the 2011-12 season ended, she would have to keep a positive attitude and push through a tough rehabilitation process.

Fortunately, Williams has no problem keeping her spirits up.

“I’m happy-go-lucky anyways,” Williams said. “With J-Mo just kicking my butt every day and (conditioning coach) Heather Mason doing her thing, I just got it done. I had no choice. If I wanted to come back, I had to do it.”

The junior guard surprised everyone by making her first appearance for the season in No. 6 Tennessee’s 90-47 rout of Chattanooga on Tuesday night, just five months after the July 22 surgery on her left knee.

Williams finished with two points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals in 16 minutes. Primarily, the Lady Volunteers are thrilled for what her return means as they enter a tough month that includes games against No. 16 Georgia, No. 11 Kentucky, No. 24 Vanderbilt and No. 3 Notre Dame.

“You see what we missed,” associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “We were concerned. Kamiko had never been injured. An ACL injury is obviously a very serious injury, and we were concerned about how she would rehab, but she’s been unbelievable. She hasn’t missed a day with Jenny, and her knee is so much stronger.”

Tennessee (10-3) just needed for her to get comfortable being back on the floor against Chattanooga (8-4). Her teammates took care of the rest.

Ariel Massengale made all six of her shots from the floor, including four 3s, to finish with 19 points—a new career high. Glory Johnson added 10 points and 13 rebounds, Isabelle Harrison scored 13, Meighan Simmons added 10 points.

Every Lady Vol that played sank a bucket.

Whitney Hood hit the first basket of the game for Chattanooga, and the Lady Mocs kept it close for the first 3 1/2 minutes of the game.

Faith Dupree, who signed with Tennessee but transferred after sitting out her freshman season with back problems, hit a jumper to cut Tennessee’s lead to 10-8 with 16:34 to play. Dupree finished with a team-leading 17 points, and Hood had 10.

“Coming back to this atmosphere I knew that I should step up,” said Dupree, a Knoxville native. “I was anxious at the beginning, definitely.”

Chattanooga wouldn’t score again for 12 minutes, and Tennessee scored the next 30 points. The Lady Vols sank four 3s, scored 12 points off nine Chattanooga turnovers and hit 56.3 percent of their shots during the first half. They held a 50-16 lead at halftime.

Williams entered the game during the run and immediately went to work, grabbing the rebound on a missed 3-point attempt by Cierra Burdick and putting it back up for a layup to make it 38-8. She dished the ball on the next possession to Burdick, who hit a jumper.

The Lady Mocs finished the half having hit only 6 of 29 shots from the field and missing all eight of their 3-point attempts while being outrebounded 28-12 by Tennessee.

By the end of the game, the Lady Vols held a 55-28 rebounding margin, which they turned into 30 second-chance points. They had 19 points off 17 Chattanooga turnovers and blocked nine shots.

The Lady Vols have outscored the Lady Mocs by an average 28.5 points during coach Pat Summitt’s 38-year tenure, and Tennessee won last season’s meeting 103-43. The Lady Vols had a 19-0 run in that game to take control and finished with a school-record 15 3-pointers.

“I told our team at halftime that we have to get back to competing in games like this,” Chattanooga coach Wes Moore said. “There was a time, even when Tennessee was winning national championships, we could compete with them. We are going to try our best to get back to that point.”

SEC Launches "We Back Pat" Week

The Southeastern Conference in cooperation with its 12-member institutions announces “We Back Pat” Week, a week-long initiative focused on bringing awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and its fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

During the week of January 15-22, SEC member institutions will support the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund during their home basketball games. During the 17 women’s and 12 men’s games slated for the week, various efforts will be made to increase awareness of the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund. Twenty of these games will be televised.

“Pat Summitt is a leader both on and off the court. The establishment of the Pat Summitt Foundation only reiterates this point.” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. “We are pleased that the Southeastern Conference can play a small part in helping Pat reach her goals for The Foundation today and in the future.”

The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund launched November 27, 2011 by Pat Summitt after her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type at the age of 59. In a videotaped statement shown during the announcement of the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, Pat Summitt said, "Tyler and I have decided to join this battle, not just for us, but also for the millions of families affected by this disease. I have always told our players, our greatest opportunities are disguised as our greatest obstacles. It is time to treat this obstacle as an opportunity and a stepping stone to a cure."

The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund will make grants to nonprofits which provide:
• Education and awareness of Alzheimer's, its onset and treatment
• Support services to patients, their families and caregivers
• Research to treat, prevent, cure, and ultimately eradicate this disease

About The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund
Pat Summitt and her supporters have entrusted The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to facilitate the charitable work of The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund. The Fund was established to support Pat Summitt’s dream of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. For more information or to make a donation, please visit

About The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee oversees more than 800 charitable funds. In the past twenty years, The Community Foundation has distributed $530 million to community programs and institutions. It is located at 3833 Cleghorn Avenue, #400, Nashville, Tennessee 37215. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit


Women’s Games
15 (Sunday)

*Ole Miss at Alabama, 2:00 p.m.
*Auburn at Arkansas (FSN), 1:30 p.m.
*LSU at Florida (CSS), 1:00 p.m. ET
*Georgia at Mississippi State, 2:00 p.m.
*Kentucky at South Carolina, 3:00 p.m. ET
*Vanderbilt at Tennessee (SECN), 2:00 p.m. ET

19 (Thursday)
*Alabama at Florida, 7:00 p.m. ET
*Vanderbilt at Arkansas, 7:00 p.m.
*South Carolina at Auburn, 6:00 p.m.
*Kentucky at Georgia, 7:00 p.m. ET
*LSU at Tennessee (CSS), 7:00 p.m. ET
*Mississippi State at Ole Miss, 7:00 p.m.

22 (Sunday)
*Arkansas at LSU (FSN), 2:00 p.m.
*Auburn at Mississippi State, 2:00 p.m.
*Florida at Kentucky (SECN), 2:00 p.m. ET
*Georgia at Ole Miss (CSS), 2:00 p.m.
*South Carolina at Vanderbilt (ESPNU), 12:30 p.m.

Men’s Games
17 (Tuesday)

*Auburn at LSU (ESPNU), 6:00 p.m.
*Arkansas at Kentucky (ESPN), 9:00 p.m. ET

18 (Wednesday)
*Tennessee at Georgia (SECN), 8:00 p.m. ET
*Mississippi State at Ole Miss (CSS), 8:00 p.m.

19 (Thursday)
*Vanderbilt at Alabama (ESPN/2), 6:00 p.m.

21 (Saturday)
*Alabama at Kentucky (CBS), Noon ET
*South Carolina at Auburn (SECN), 12:30 p.m.
Michigan at Arkansas (CBS), 1:00 p.m.
*Ole Miss at Georgia (SECN), 4:00 p.m. ET
UConn at Tennessee (CBS), 4:00 p.m. ET
*LSU at Florida (FSN), 6:00 p.m. ET
*Mississippi State at Vanderbilt (ESPN2), 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

No. 7 Tennessee tops Auburn 73-52 in SEC opener

The Tennessee Lady Vols won going away in a game when their shots weren’t falling. Hounding Auburn into mistakes helped.

Meighan Simmons scored 20 points and the seventh-ranked Lady Vols closed on a big run in opening Southeastern Conference play Sunday with a 73-52 victory over the Tigers.

Tennessee (9-3, 1-0 SEC) came into the game last in the league in scoring defense, giving up 63.5 points a game, but forced 25 turnovers and had 12 steals.

It was more than enough to earn the Lady Vols a 34th-consecutive SEC win— and a ride back to Knoxville.

“In the first half, our offense affected our defense,” associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “We missed a lot of easy layups, and that in turn affected our defense. (Coach Pat Summitt) had a pretty stern talk with them at halftime and basically said they need to get their act together or they’re walking home, in those condensed words.

“The second half we played hard on defense, got easy layups off of our turnovers, and that’s what we need,” she said. “We need to score off of our defense.”

The Lady Vols closed the game on a 19-6 run to turn a tight contest into a blowout and win for the 27th time in the last 30 meetings with the Tigers (8-6, 0-1).

Shekinna Stricklen added 17 points for Tennessee but was disgusted with her 5-of-18 shooting performance.

“I was so frustrated,” Stricklen said. “It was like I was so wide-open, but they kept hitting the front of the rim. It was something I adjusted to in the second half. I feel like I should have attacked the ball a lot more.”

Glory Johnson had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Alicia Manning scored 10 points.

Simmons had 13 in the second half.

Camille Glymph led Auburn with 21 points, making 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

“Once I hit the first one I just tried to keep shooting,” Glymph said. “They kept falling for me.”

The Lady Vols struggled from the field, shooting just 32 percent (21 of 65) after coming in as the SEC’s second-best shooting team. However, they gave Auburn troubles on the boards and with a trapping defense that often forced the Tigers into hurried shots with the shot clock ticking down.

“That gave us fits the entire second half,” Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. “I thought their pressure was very good. It slowed us down. By the time we got it broken and tried to run something, there’s 14 seconds left on the shot clock.

“Now, you’re really out of whack,” Fortner said.

Tennessee also dominated in rebounding 49-31. The Lady Vols turned a 31-29 halftime lead into a 14-point cushion midway through the second half.

Johnson also boiled down the essence of Summitt’s halftime message.

“Basically, if we don’t get it together, we’re walking home,” she said. “And it’s a long walk. I figured this isn’t the way Tennessee plays. We know how to play and we’re not playing to our standards. When we’re not rebounding and settling for good shots instead of great shots, that’s what happens.”

Auburn managed to cut the 14-point deficit in half with Glymph hitting back-to-back 3s to make it 53-46 with 8 minutes to play.

Then, Tennessee hit 7 of 8 free throws over the next 3 minutes to spark a 9-0 run and all but put the game away.

The Lady Vols went 28 of 31 from the line to help overcome the poor shooting night.

They were coming off a 90-37 win over Old Dominion to rebound from a 17-point loss to No. 4 Stanford. It’s the first time Tennessee has entered January with three losses since the 2004-05 season.

Auburn was playing its third game in four days after going 1-1 at the Sun and Fun Classic in Miami. The Tigers have lost all three games against ranked teams and are 2-6 in SEC openers under coach Nell Fornter.

“They went into halftime feeling good about themselves and we were not really happy,” Warlick said.