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.