Sunday, December 29, 2013

#5 Lady Vols 110, Lipscomb 42

A week after suffering their first loss of the season, the #5 Lady Vols returned to their winning ways with a dominating 110-42 victory over Lipscomb on Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee improved to 11-1, with the one blemish coming last Saturday at #4 Stanford.

The point total of 110 was the most since UT posted a 110-45 win over Alabama on Jan. 6, 2011. The margin of victory of +68 was also the largest a 68-point win over Princeton (107-39) on Dec. 20, 2005.

Junior Isabelle Harrison had her fifth double-double of the season with a career-high 26 points and 15 rebounds. She also had four steals and three blocks. Harrison did that all in just 18 minutes.

Six Lady Vols scored in double-figures. In addition to Harrison, Meighan Simmons (15), Cierra Burdick (13), Mercedes Russell (12), Bashaara Graves (11), Nia Moore (11) all scored 10-plus. Burdick grabbed 10 rebounds for her eighth-career double-double. Jordan Reynolds had a career-high eight assists.

Tennessee shot a season-high 57.9 percent from the floor and held Lipscomb to 22.4 percent. The Lady Vols outrebounded the Lady Bisons, 61-31, a 30-rebound margin.

The Lady Vols opened a 62-29 lead at halftime, scoring their most points in a first half since netting 62 vs. Western Carolina in the 2005 NCAA Tournament First-Round (3/20/2005). The 62 first-half points tied for the fourth-most in a first half in UT history.

Harrison had a double-double in the first half alone with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Simmons led all scorers with 14 points in the first half.

Tennessee raced out to a 25-4 lead less than eight minutes into the game including 15 consecutive points. The Lady Vols' defense held the Lady Bisons scoreless for more than six minutes.

UT was blazing hot from the floor making 15-of-19 to begin the half including a streak of six made baskets in a row as UT took a 39-14 lead with eight minutes left in the half.

Lipscomb started 1-of-16 and missed 12 shots in a row for one span.

Tennessee took a 31-point lead at 51-20 on a 3-pointer by Simmons with 5:12 left in the half.

The Lady Vols shooting was sensational in the first half, making 23-of-36 for 64 percent. Their field goal defense was equally impressive. Lipscomb was held to just 10-of-35 from the floor in the first half for 28.6 percent.

All 10 active Tennessee players had scored less than 21 minutes into the game after Ariel Massengale's layup went through the net less than a minute into the second half.

The lead ballooned to 50-plus at 87-36 on a Russell layup with 10:40 left in the game.

A 20-2 run by the Lady Vols expanded the lead to 95-38 on a layup by Harrison with 6:34 left in the game.

Tennessee went ahead by 70 points on a bucket by Burdick in the final minute.

Harrison's 14 second-half point were more than all of the Lady Bisons in the final 20 minutes (13).

Lipscomb (3-8) with led by Danay Fothergill with 13 points.

The Lady Vols are back in action on Thursday, Jan. 2 as they open SEC play vs. LSU. That special night will feature the jersey retirement of Candace Parker's #3 will take place prior to the 7 p.m., tip-off at 6:45 pm. The game will air on CSS and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Jannah Tucker Arrives and Hoops Report

An 11th Lady Vol joined the 2013-14 roster on Friday and began workouts with the team on Saturday morning, as No. 5/5 Tennessee (10-1) continued preparations to host Lipscomb (3-7) on Sunday at 2:05 p.m.

Freshman guard Jannah Tucker, a Randallstown, Md., native, was welcomed with open arms as the team's newest member and was on the court displaying the skills that made her the No. 8-ranked player in the high school class of 2013.

11-STRONG LADY VOLS

Tucker had planned to enroll in the fall, but due to personal reasons delayed her arrival. Now that she's in Knoxville, though, Warlick says everyone is excited about the addition of Tucker. "I'm excited for Jannah," Warlick said. "She's had a long road, and I'm thrilled and our team is, too, to have her here and present and a part of our team. She's a great kid and we're excited for her to be here."

Tucker had surgery on her ACL in September 2012 and missed her senior basketball season at New Town High School. Time has passed since that procedure and her last stint playing, so it may take a while to shake off the rust while gearing back up for a highly-competitive level of play. The plan is for Tucker to practice, watch and learn from the bench and be ready to go next season.

"Our plan is to redshirt her," Warlick said. "But I'm just happy she's here, and we'll just see how things go. I don't think she's physically ready, and I think her knee needs a little bit of work (to see how it responds to daily workouts). She just hasn't played, so just getting her to practice and some game prep (will be the focus)."

Not just the coach, but Tucker's new teammates are also glowing with excitement to have another teammate on the court with them.

"It's great having her," Massengale said. "Just to have her here, we can go five-on-five now, and if someone goes down, we have a sub. She's a great kid with a great personality and we're glad to have her here and excited for her to start her career with us."

Not just Tucker's arrival has sparked the team's interest. Her work ethic and potential has let everyone know they can count on her.

"It's very uplifting," Massengale continued." It shows that when we get on the court, we know we can count on her and we know that she's going to fight through. She's not going to give up on us and she's going to give everything that she has."

Lady Vol fans will get their first look at the 6-foot guard Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"She's just an excited young kid," Warlick said. "For her, it's like every day is Christmas. I just want her to get back and get used to college and the flow and just enjoy getting back into basketball."

GETTING BETTER AFTER THE LOSS TO STANFORD

The Lady Vols are back in action after a seven-day winter break, as they take on Lipscomb Sunday. The hiatus came following a trip to Stanford on Dec. 21, and Holly Warlick says that her team "got better" following a loss to the (then) No. 6/5 team in the country.

"Our defense for the most part looked solid, we just had a couple of breakdowns," Warlick said. "We put ourselves in great positions, but you have to finish what you do. It was a great environment and a great learning experience for us. Stanford is a great team. We'll get better as a result of that game."

With just the Lipscomb game remaining before SEC play begins Thursday, the players know what they have to focus on first. Not even the pregame retirement of Candace Parker's jersey or showdown with No. 16/16 LSU at 7 p.m. Thursday have stolen the players' attention.

"We haven't even started talking about LSU yet," said junior guard Ariel Massengale."We're aware that the SEC is starting up very soon, but first and foremost, we play Lipscomb tomorrow, and that's what we have to prepare for."

Echoing her player, Warlick continued on their preparation for the Lady Bisons.

"We haven't even addressed LSU or Candace's jersey," Warlick said. "We watched 30 minutes of Lipscomb on tape earlier. This team is really good about focusing on the present and making sure we take care of business. That's our job as coaches - to not look ahead, and we keep them in the moment."

Both Warlick and Massengale used the Stanford game as a positive learning experience heading into the second half of the season.

"I think we just have to be consistent," Massengale said. "We have to put together a 40-minute game. We had a lot of good possessions and then some where (Stanford) just out-worked us. We had to work through fatigue, and we have to get better with that.

"This team is filled with great shooters, and we have to work our way through it and stay in the gym and stay confident and keep shooting," Massengale said. "We're still very confident. (Stanford) was a great test for us, and now we know where we stand. We see where we are, and we know what we have to do to be successful in SEC play."

GAME PLAN

After what Warlick said was the Lady Vols' first true test of the season, it was back to the drawing boards when the team arrived back in Knoxville. Massengale said she noticed the relationship between guards and posts when it comes to shooting; Warlick said she saw it in the difference in offense and defense.

"We did see in film that it's a two-way street when it comes to getting the ball inside," Massengale said. "The posts have to post hard on the inside and want the ball. The guards have to get it to them when they're open, and we both have to do better about that.

"Posts have to want the ball and work for it and the guards have to look at them and give them the opportunity. If we don't look at them when they're inside, then they're going to stop posting."

And ball-handling was on Warlick's radar over the Christmas holiday as well.

"In the Stanford game, we needed to get the ball inside a little bit more," she said. "We talked about that and looked at it today. We did get open and moved the ball. We're an inside team - we're going to get the ball inside. We didn't get the ball inside, but we got some eight-foot jumpers, and we just didn't make them.

"We're going to be in the gym a little bit more and putting up more shots, and we just have to work on it. We'll incorporate it in practice and get them in the gym on their own," Warlick said.

When asked about a potential last-second shot, Massengale says that they're prepared for everything, but performing when the time comes is key, as she saw against Stanford.

"We do different situational things in practice and in the case of (a last-second shot), you just have to look for the best shot or try to get it inside. If not, we're filled with great shooters and if we get the chance, we just have to knock it down."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

#6 Stanford 76, # 3 Tennessee 70

STANFORD, CA -- Bashaara Graves tried to keep Chiney Ogwumike off the boards on both ends of the court any way she could to no avail.

For a Tennessee team so well accustomed to owning the rebounding advantage against opponents, Ogwumike's dominance on the glass made all the difference in the third-ranked Lady Vols' 76-70 loss to sixth-ranked Stanford on Saturday for Tennessee's first defeat.

Ogwumike had 32 points, a season-best 20 rebounds -- 11 on the offensive end -- and three blocks as Stanford held off a late Tennessee rally.

"Everything I tried to do, I tried to box her out, it just didn't work," Graves said. "There's no way she should have had that many offensive rebounds."

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer had one simple message for her players before tipoff that rung true: "If we rebound, we win."

Amber Orrange scored on a left-handed layin and was fouled with 25.8 seconds left and converted the free throw, helping seal the win.

Andraya Carter's baseline 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining cut the Cardinal's lead to 70-68 but Stanford kept possession with 36 seconds to go on a jump ball in a big break, and Orrange came through.

Stanford (10-1) has its first three-game winning streak in the rivalry between perennial national powers.

"It's going to be a great teaching tape for us when we get back from break," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said.

Ariel Massengale scored 17 points and Meighan Simmons 15 to lead the Lady Vols (10-1), who were hurt 35.8 percent shooting.

Tennessee has lost its last four matchups at Maples Pavilion since its last win on Stanford's home floor on Dec. 4, 2005. The Lady Vols have lost 13 straight road games against Top 10 teams dating back to 2008.

The Cardinal held a 24-19 rebounding advantage in the first half and wound up with a 43-40 edge on the boards -- the first time all season Tennessee has lost in rebounding. The Lady Vols had a 52.1 to 36.3 mismatch on the boards entering the game.

"We're a very strong rebounding team but we can't allow somebody to dominate on the boards like we did Chiney," Warlick said.

While Ogwumike did her part with a fourth 30-point game of the season, she had plenty of support on both ends with teammates crashing the boards and hustling for loose balls -- just the kind of balance and energy VanDerveer has been calling for from her young team.

"We didn't bring that Tennessee pressure we know we're capable of playing," Massengale said. "We knew we would have to disrupt them on the offensive end for us to win this game. We did that in spurts but not for 40 minutes."

Ogwumike had 18 points and 11 rebounds by halftime and shot 15 for 25 overall for outsized Stanford, which needed a big second half to hold on for its ninth straight victory.

"I have a great support system," she said. "It's just being aggressive. It's those little things."

After Graves scored to cut the Cardinal's lead to 38-33 with 18:10 remaining, Orrange and Thompson hit consecutive 3-pointers for Stanford.

But Massengale then scored five straight points to keep Tennessee close.

Ogwumike drove the lane for easy layins, converted athletic putbacks or plain out-jumped Tennessee to catch high lob passes into the paint before pivoting around to score.

"This game really boiled down to we had Chiney," VanDerveer said. "Chiney had a monster game."

The Cardinal, who haven't lost since a 76-57 defeat at No. 1 Connecticut on Nov. 11, have won five of the last eighth meetings and four of five.

Tennessee, facing just its second ranked team of the season, missed a chance for its first win over a top-10 opponent since beating No. 10 Georgia in the Lady Vols' SEC home opener last Jan. 6.

Stanford snapped Tennessee's five-game winning streak here last Nov. 20, 2012, 97-80 loss for the fifth-most points allowed in program history.

Tennessee began the game 6 for 23 and never recovered despite making things interesting down the stretch with Simmons taking charge.

"I thought we got good looks," Warlick said. "You've got to make free throws, layups and free throws. If you don't make those you're not going to win games. At crucial times we didn't make free throws, and at crucial times we gave up the 3-point shot. Little things for us got magnified today."

After Tennessee jumped to a quick 4-0 lead, Stanford then scored 13 unanswered points for a 13-4 lead that forced a Lady Vols timeout at the 14:54 mark of the opening half. Tennessee missed seven straight shots over a nearly 3 1/2-minute stretch.

"We don't give up," Warlick said. "We could have really folded when we got down by 12. For that I'm extremely proud of them."

CHS Wins "We Back Pat" Game

CLARKSVILLE, TN — “We Back Pat” shirts filled William Workman Gym for a special girls’ basketball game on Friday between La Vergne and Clarksville.

The Lady Wildcats defeated the Lady Wolverines 68-34, but more importantly, all proceeds from the game, T-shirts, and raffle – which allowed one lucky fan to win a basketball signed by the current Tennessee Lady Vols coaching staff – will be donated to the Pat Summitt Foundation to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s. Summitt was diagnosed with the disease in 2011, and while the coaching legend that totaled 1,098 wins in her career was unable to attend, her family sat courtside throughout the contest.

“I do think what they’re trying to do will help in the long run,” Hazel Head, the mother of Summitt, said about finding a cure. “She’s not bad now, and we’re thankful, but she’s young. Most that have it are when they get older. But we just have to hope and pray that she’s going to wait a long time before she gets a lot worse.”

Kenneth Head, who graduated from Clarksville High School, said Summitt is doing “pretty good, but not great.” Head said they appreciate the support from everyone, and Pat does as well.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

#3 Lady Vols, 94, Tennessee St. 43

Tennessee hasn't started a season this well since its last national championship.

Bashaara Graves scored 17 points to lead five Tennessee players in double figures and the third-ranked Lady Vols remained unbeaten with a 94-43 victory over Tennessee State on Tuesday night.

The Lady Vols (10-0) have won each of their games by at least nine points. Tennessee also started 10-0 in 2007-08 before losing 73-69 in overtime to Stanford, which happens to be the Lady Vols' next opponent.

"We knew we were 9-0, and we knew we wanted to take another step to get to the national championship level," Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons said.

Tennessee will put its perfect record to the test Saturday when it heads west to face the sixth-ranked Cardinal. The Lady Vols' only previous game against a Top 25 foe was an 81-65 victory Nov. 11 at No. 14 North Carolina, which was ranked 12th at the time. They've outscored their 10 opponents by an average of 24.8 points.

"For the most part, we've played hard," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "The opponent shouldn't matter. You're working on yourself and how you get better, and get better as a team."

Tennessee benefited Tuesday from a balanced attack.

Graves made all six of her shots from the floor and was 5 of 6 from the free-throw line. Simmons added 13 points. Cierra Burdick, Isabelle Harrison and Mercedes Russell had 12 points apiece. Rachel Allen also scored 12 points to lead Tennessee State (3-8).

All nine of Tennessee's healthy players scored at least six points. A facial injury prevented Jasmine Jones from playing against Tennessee State, though Warlick expects the sophomore forward back for the Stanford game.

"We definitely wanted to come out and play Lady Vol basketball," Burdick said. "That's something we've been struggling with in past games, playing down to our competition. We can't do that. We've got to come out and play to our potential every single night. That's the sign of a great team."

Tennessee sprinted to a 14-1 lead in the first four minutes and never looked back. The Lady Tigers missed 23 of their first 26 shots and trailed 42-9 with 6½ minutes left in the first half.

Tennessee State shot just 1 of 22 from 3-point range and was 14 of 74 overall.

The Lady Vols seemingly could do whatever they wanted Tuesday. At one point, Simmons tossed an inbounds pass off the backside of a Tennessee State player and retrieved the ball for an easy layup.

"I think we were just having fun," Burdick said. "Lately we've been so uptight, worrying about not doing the wrong things. It takes away from our play and takes away from what we can do as players. We just tried to go out, have fun, enjoy the game. We keep being reminded this is a gift. It's a gift to lace up these sneakers. It's a gift to put on this jersey. We don't take that for granted."

Tennessee State had won its last two games by double digits, over North Florida and NAIA program Martin Methodist, but the Lady Tigers were facing an entirely different level of competition Tuesday.

A look at the rosters underscored the challenge facing Tennessee State.

Tennessee State didn't have a single starter taller than 6 feet. Six of Tennessee's 10 players are 6-2 or taller. The Lady Vols were coming off a 103-64 victory over Troy in which they had pulled down 74 rebounds, the second-highest total in school history. Tennessee entered the night with a plus-15 rebound margin, while Tennessee State was at minus-6.7.

The Lady Vols outrebounded Tennessee State 58-35 and outscored the Lady Tigers 54-24 in the paint. Tennessee's block total (11) nearly matched Tennessee State's basket total (11). Russell, the Lady Vols' 6-foot-6 freshman center, had six blocks.

"Of course, their size, I thought that was the big difference in the game," Tennessee State coach Larry Joe Inman said. "I thought like it affected what we did. I thought their transition game hurt us. I thought they exploited a lot of our weaknesses."

In the teams' two previous games, the Lady Vols also breezed to easy victories: 114-63 in 1985-86 and 104-51 in 1987-88.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

#3 Tennessee 103, Troy 64

The Lady Vols put up a season-high 103 points behind six double-digit scoring efforts in a 103-64 thrashing of Troy Saturday afternoon in front of 11,358 people at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The 103 points were the most since a 110-45 victory over Alabama on January 6, 2011 while the six players with 10+ points marked the first time since March 8, 2013 vs. Florida in the SEC Tournament.

With the win, the Lady Vols improve to 9-0, the first time the UT has begun the season winning the first nine games since 2009-10. Tennessee has now won 12-straight home games.

The Lady Vols are now 1-0 all-time vs. Troy winning the inaugural meeting between the two teams.

Meighan Simmons and Bashaara Graves led the way with 16 points each, while Cierra Burdick, after tallying just two points in the first half, finished with 15, Isabelle Harrison had 13 and Nia Moore and Mercedes Russell each had 10.

Moore, Harrison, Burdick and Jasmine Jones each finished with double-digit rebound efforts tallying 13, 12, 10, and 10 each as Tennessee recorded the second-most rebounds in school history with 74, the most since 1988.

Harrison recorded her second double-double of the season, eighth career, Burdick notched her first double-double on the year and seventh career and Moore had her first career double-double on the night.

The three double-doubles by Lady Vols marked the sixth time in history that Tennessee has achieved the feat, the last coming vs. Florida on Feb. 26, 2006 when Candace Parker (34 pts, 15 rebs), Tye'sha Fluker (22 pts, 16 rebs) and Shanna Zolman (22 pts, 10 assts) did so.

Tennessee finished the game with a season-high 28 turnovers, the most since recording 31 vs. Kentucky last season.

The Lady Vols started the game off hitting a free throw off of an administrative technical foul as Troy did not get their line up in time and never looked back.

UT began the game on a 15-2 run fueled by five points by Isabelle Harrison and finished out the half on a 12-3 run thanks to four points each by Nia Moore and Meighan Simmons

Tennessee took a 49-28 lead into the locker room at half time scoring a season-high 49 points at the half, besting their 44 scored against Georgia Tech. The Lady Vols also took down a season-high 40 boards before halftime (33 vs. GT).

The 49 points were the most since the Lady Vols put up 49 vs. Alabama on Jan. 20, 2013.

However, Tennessee also turned the ball over 18 times, a first half high on the year.

Both Simmons and Graves tallied 10 points before the half while Harrison netted nine. Simmons notched her sixth double-digit effort of the season and 85th of her career while Graves tallied her fourth of the year, 34th career.

Harrison hit the double-digit mark on the first basket of the second half and less than three minutes into the second she completed the double-double, pulling down a defensive rebound.

Troy came out fighting in the second half, but the Lady Vols matched them point for point, eventually pulling away with less than 10 minutes remaining using a 16-0 run holding Troy scoreless for over five and a half minutes from 9:46- 4:01.

After scoring 16 today, Meighan Simmons now needs 12 points to move into 14th place all-time among UT scorers.

Tennessee has still not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 38% from the field this season as Troy finished with a 33.3 % shooting percentage.

The Lady Vols will continue their run of three games in eight days when they return home vs. Tennessee State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. followed by a trip across the country to face #6/4 Stanford on Dec. 21 at 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Lady Vols 75, Texas 61

Tennessee has played only one ranked team so far, but the third-ranked Lady Vols still believe they've been tested plenty of times this season.

It happened again Sunday.

Isabelle Harrison had 18 points and eight rebounds Sunday as Tennessee rallied from its customary slow start for a 75-61 victory over Texas. Although the Lady Vols (8-0) never trailed, they only led 28-27 at intermission.

Tennessee has been tied or behind at halftime in three games this season, yet won them all by at least nine points.

"I think in all the games we've played up to this point, there have been times when our backs have been against the wall," Tennessee guard Ariel Massengale said.

Tennessee switched its lineup, giving 6-foot-6 freshman center Mercedes Russell her first start and sophomore forward Jasmine Jones her second career start.

Sophomore forward Bashaara Graves, who entered Sunday's game averaging 11.1 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds, was held out of the starting lineup for only the second time in 42 career games. Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said she made the changes because Jones had a great week of practice and Graves didn't perform as well.

"I said, 'Bashaara, I can't start you,' and she said she understood," Warlick said. "It's not a disciplinary thing."

Graves finished with seven points and six rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. Massengale had 15 points and seven assists, Meighan Simmons scored 13 points and Cierra Burdick had 10 for the Lady Vols.

Tennessee improved to 8-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 season. The Lady Vols beat then-No. 12 North Carolina 81-65 on Nov. 11, but struggled in the first half before pulling away.

"They're legit, there's no question about it," Texas coach Karen Aston said. "Watching a lot of film, they're a legitimate top-five team."

Nneka Enemkpali led Texas (6-3) with 12 points and 11 rebounds. All but two of her points came in the first half. Chassidy Fussell added 12 points, despite shooting 1 of 10 from 3-point range.

Krystle Henderson had 11 points and Empress Davenport added 10.

This game was a contrast in styles between a Tennessee team that likes to run and a Texas squad that prefers low scores. Tennessee entered the day averaging 80.3 points, while Texas was allowing 49.5 points.

In the first half, Texas controlled the tempo.

After taking an 11-2 lead in the first 5½ minutes of the game, Tennessee struggled the rest of the first half. The Lady Vols had a one-point lead at intermission mostly because Texas missed open 3-point attempts. Texas was 1 of 7 on 3-pointers in the first half and finished 4 of 20 from beyond the arc.

"I think we came into this game with nobody expecting us to win," Henderson said. "We kind of had that chip on our shoulder from the beginning."

But once again, Tennessee came up big in the second half. Massengale said Tennessee's season-long penchant for playing better in the second half helped players believe they could do it again Sunday.

"It gives us a lot of confidence," Massengale said. "We need to get off to better starts. We're still trying to figure out what's going to make us go in the first half, but it's a long season and hopefully we figure that out soon."

Texas trailed 35-34 with 15:20 remaining when Fussell missed a 3-pointer that would have given the Longhorns their first lead of the game. But Tennessee went on a 9-0 run to build a double-digit advantage. Massengale started the momentum shift with a driving layup and assisted on baskets by Graves and Burdick in Tennessee's 9-0 spurt.

Texas regrouped and cut Tennessee's lead to 54-50 on Davenport's 3-pointer with 8:32 remaining, but the Lady Vols scored the next 11 points to put the game away.

The game's dominant player in the first half, Enemkpali scored just two points in the second before fouling out with 2:58 left. After fouling out, Enemkpali picked up a technical foul when she tossed the ball in frustration and it landed on Burdick, who had fallen to the floor on the play.

"It wasn't (done) purposely," Enemkpali said. "It was the wrong move on my part. It wasn't a reflection on who I am as a person or my program. It was just the wrong call."

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Pat Summitt and Son Taking Poignant Journey Together

There was a Summitt meeting in Las Vegas on Friday as day turned into night. It happened behind the big black curtain at the South Point Arena, after the Marquette women beat Tennessee Tech in the Las Vegas Shootout.

Pat Summitt was there. So was her son, Tyler. Hall of Famer Billie Moore. And Adam Waller, director of community relations for the Pat Summitt Foundation, which is trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Among Pat Summitt and Tyler Summitt and Billie Moore there were 1,534 victories and 10 national championships behind that big black curtain.

Pat Summitt won eight national titles at Tennessee and 1,098 games, more than any other college basketball coach, male or female, who ever lived. More than Bob Knight. More than Coach K.

Billie Moore, Pat Summitt's coach on the first U.S. Women's Olympic basketball team in 1976, won 436 games and two national championships, one at Cal State Fullerton and one at UCLA.

Tyler Summitt hasn't won any games or national titles, but he's working on it. Pat Summitt's only child is in his second season as an assistant coach for the Marquette women.

The way many see it, 23-year-old Tyler Summitt, who appears even younger than that — he still has rosy red cheeks, for cryin' out loud — has something more enduring than wins and national titles, as nice as those are for a coach, and for a personable young man who aspires to be a head coach some day soon.

He has a special bond with his mother.

It began before he knew it, from the day he was born — from long before the day he was born, actually, because Pat Summitt had suffered seven miscarriages before she gave birth to Tyler. During our conversation, Tyler Summitt must have mentioned his faith and God's plan a half-dozen times. It's understandable.

So Tyler Summitt always felt a closeness to his mother. He had a great relationship with his father, too, though his mom and R.B. Summitt divorced in 2007, when Tyler still was playing ball in high school.

"It was different," he says about his childhood. "Instead of going to sleepovers, I was in locker rooms and at the end of the bench. Instead of going on field trips, I would be going on away games. People say I've been an assistant coach since I was 5 years old."

But two years ago, when he was 21, he became more than that.

He was with his mom at the Mayo Clinic when the doctors told her the grim news. As she described it in her book, Pat Summitt had "a ticking time bomb" in her head. She knew it. She knew for as long as five years before that something was wrong.

When the doctors told her she had early-onset Alzheimer's disease, she told Tyler at least it wasn't cancer.

Then they didn't talk about it for a long time.

That bothered Tyler until late one night, the story goes, when he walked into his mother's room in tears, and he told her she didn't have to go through this alone.

And from that night, she didn't.

Tyler was with his mom every step of the way after that, was with her when she made the difficult decision to step down at Tennessee; was with her every step of the way, even when he took the job at Marquette, because now he calls his mom every day, sometimes even twice a day, just to hear her voice. And to know she's OK.

He was with her last week in Knoxville, too, when they unveiled a larger-than-life statue of his mom on the Tennessee campus. The two of them struggled to lift the shroud from the 8-foot-7-inch bronze likeness, and so one of the current Tennessee players, one of the really tall ones, had to help.

And when his mom was asked to say a few words, she did, and the first person she mentioned was Tyler, because Tyler is always there for her. Every step of the way.

Pat Summitt mostly talks in short sentences and smiles these days. When we spoke after the game behind the black curtain, she mostly replied to my questions with one-word answers. At 61, she still looks great. I kept expecting her to get after Chamique Holdsclaw or Tamika Catchings for not blocking out or not getting back on defense or something, that's how good she looks.

At halftime, people kept coming up to her, to say hello, to shake her hand. Some were Tennessee Tech people. Pat Summitt may have forgotten some of the scores because of this terrible disease, but people back in Tennessee sure do remember them.

She watched her son coach basketball while sitting in a wheelchair under one of the baskets, because she recently had minor surgery on her ankle. By the end of the game, she had ditched the wheelchair. The determination still is there.

"The way that we look at it is that God has a plan," Tyler Summitt said before introducing me to his mother. "We're just gonna take one step at a time."

There were so many things I wanted to ask his mom. But sometimes, as Pat Summitt knows, adjustments are called for. So Billie Moore mostly answered for her former player, except when I asked about Tyler's budding career. And whether he might go on to be as successful as his mother, which, no offense to Tyler, ain't gonna be easy.

Before Billie Moore could answer, Pat Summitt interrupted and said "Yes!"

You could hear the exclamation point at the end. And then it wasn't about the 1,098 wins, or the eight national titles, or even about living with this terrible disease. It was only about a mother being proud of her son.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Junkanoo Jam: Lady Vols 87, SMU 47

Ariel Massengale paced No. 3/4 Tennessee with 16 points and the Lady Vols used a big second half to crush SMU, 87-47, on Friday and win the Lucaya Division championship of the 11th-annual Junkanoo Jam.

The win marked UT's first holiday tournament title since winning the 2005 Paradise Jam during Thanksgiving break in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Lady Vols (7-0) advanced to Friday's title game after defeating Virginia, 76-67, on Thursday afternoon. The Mustangs (7-1) topped Kansas State, 68-57, on Thursday.

Bashaara Graves posted her second double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 assists. Isabelle Harrison had 10 points, most coming off a big surge early in the second half, and played just seven minutes because of foul trouble.Jasmine Jones was strong off the bench, scoring 13 points off 5-of-8 shooting and corralling four rebounds.

Tennessee shot 46.6 percent for the game, including 55.9 percent in the second half (19-of-34). UT outscored the Mustangs, 48-20, after halftime. The Lady Vols enjoyed a 54-31 rebounding advantage for the game.

With under seven minutes remaining, Cierra Burdick stole the ball and pushed it ahead to set up a Nia Moore tip-in. Jones split a pair of defenders on UT's next possession to push the Lady Vols' lead to 35 points at 76-41 with 6:06 remaining. A 3-pointer by Jones at the top of the arc with 4:30 left extended the UT lead to 40 points (81-41).

Sophomore center Moore entered the game after a big UT run early in the second half and helped maintain UT's dominance in the post with a pair of blocks down low. With under 12 minutes left in the game, Burdick hit a mid-range jumper from her right elbow to stretch Tennessee's lead to 30 points at 63-33.

Tennessee opened the second half with an 8-2 burst to create some separation. Storming out of the game, UT surged with a quick score by Harrison, a drive and a bucket by Massengale and another layup by Harrison. Harrison would score again on an assist by Andraya Carter before a third foul returned her to the UT bench. The Lady Vol surge continued with a Massengale 3-ball and a nice dish by Mercedes Russell inside to Graves, giving Tennessee a 21-point edge at 52-31 with 17:11 remaining.

UT led 39-27 at the half. Massengale paced the team with 11 points and four assists heading in to the break and Graves had a team-best nine boards at that point.

SMU pulled to within 24-17 midway through the first half, but Meighan Simmons nailed back-to-back treys to re-claim momentum for Tennessee. With four minutes left before the break, Mustangs guard Keena Mays scored quickly off a UT miss to bring SMU to within nine points at 32-23. Big free throws and hard drives into the lane by Massengale helped re-establish a double-digit Tennessee lead and neutralize SMU runs.

Burdick hit a long jumper with 11:20 left in first half to stretch UT's lead to 21-5 but picked up her second foul shortly after, sending her to the bench. Even with two of its starting post players on the bench, the Lady Vols continued to dominate the boards. SMU re-focused its offense to the inside game as Akil Simpson hit a two-point jumper and drove the paint for a layup to pull to Mustangs to within 23-15 with 7:15 remaining before the half.

Harrison picked up her second foul before the first media timeout and Tennessee subbed in Russell. Russell scored on an entry pass from Jordan Reynolds and Carter had a reverse layup to push UT's lead to 19-5 heading into the second media timeout. Through the first eight minutes of the game, SMU shot just 10 percent from the floor.

The Lady Vols jumped out to a 10-3 lead when Carter tipped in a missed shot just over three minutes into the game. After a pair of SMU free throws, Harrison responded with a quick score at the opposite end of the court and Massengale hit a 3-pointer to give UT a double-digit lead at 15-5.

Tennessee will next host Texas on Dec. 8 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game is set for a 1 p.m. ET tip-off and it will be televised on FOX Sports South/FOX Sports Tennessee.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Simmons Unstoppable in 76-67 Victory over Virginia

Senior Meighan Simmons Puts Up 31 Points in First Round of Junkanoo Jam

Powered by Meighan Simmons' 31 points, No. 3 Tennessee sped past Virginia with a 76-67 victory Thursday afternoon at St. George's High School Gym in the Junkanoo Jam in Freeport, Bahamas. The Lady Vols improve to 6-0 on the season as the Cavaliers move to 3-3 overall.

After trailing 39-35 at the half way mark, Tennessee capitalized on an 8-0 run to go 55-47 on the Cavaliers. UT would hold on to the lead and take the game, 76-67.

Tennessee has now won its 14th consecutive game against unranked opponents, and improves to 15-3 all-time against the Cavaliers. The Lady Vols are now 4-0 against the ACC this year.

The Big Orange will face the winner of Kansas State-SMU at 8 p.m. ET Friday, Nov. 29.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dedication of the Pat Summitt Plaza Photobook

This special edition photobook captures and commemorates the November 22, 2013 dedication of the Pat Summitt Plaza celebrating Pat's 38-year legacy as the University of Tennessee Women's Basketball Head Coach.

All proceeds from the purchase of the Dedication of the Pat Summitt Plaza Photobook will be donated to The Pat Summitt Foundation.

Click here to order.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#4/3 Lady Vols 84, Oakland 50

Tennessee's tendency to get off to slow starts hasn't proved costly yet. The third-ranked Lady Vols still want to break the habit soon.

The Lady Vols slumbered through much of their game with winless Oakland on Sunday before a halftime lineup change sparked a 21-0 run that helped them breeze to an 84-50 victory. Tennessee (5-0) was clinging to a one-point lead late in the first half Sunday and has been tied or behind at halftime in two of its other four victories.

"The second half, we settled down and we decided to play, but the sign of a great team is we've got to play 40 minutes," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "We're very capable of it. We've got the talent to do it. I'm just waiting for us to bust out and play the perfect game."

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead all players in both categories. Meighan Simmons added 14 points, Ariel Massengale had 13, Isabelle Harrison had 11 and Mercedes Russell scored 10 for Tennessee. Victoria Lipscomb scored 13 points for Oakland.

Oakland (0-5) outhustled Tennessee at the start of the game and only trailed 28-27 with 2:07 left in the half when Amy Carlton missed a 3-pointer that would have put the Golden Grizzlies ahead. Tennessee's Jordan Reynolds sank a 3-pointer 10 seconds later to help Tennessee lead 34-27 at halftime.

"We were just playing basketball," Lipscomb said. "We were having fun. That was one thing we talked about coming in was just having fun. Even though it was a one-point game, I don't think a lot of people on the court realized it was a one-point game."

Warlick responded to her team's sluggish start by altering her lineup to open the second half. Russell, Reynolds and Andraya Carter joined usual starters Graves and Massengale on the floor. Simmons, Harrison and Cierra Burdick were on the bench at the beginning of the second half after opening the game in the starting lineup.

"She said we had let our fans down," Massengale said. "We have 10-11,000 people here watching us play, and in those first 20 minutes, we let them down."

Among those spectators was former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who remains on staff as head coach emeritus and is the subject of a campus statue that was unveiled Friday. Summitt watched Sunday's game while sitting between Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings and Billie Moore, who coached her on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team. Summitt received a standing ovation during a timeout as a video of Friday's statue dedication ceremony played on the scoreboard.

"It's a huge crowd," Warlick said. "They deserve to be, in my opinion, entertained. What I mean by entertainment is you play every possession as hard as you can play. You might not make every shot. We're not going to get every steal. But my expectation is you are going to play as hard as you can every possession. ... Our fans don't want to see us walk the ball up the floor, turn the ball over, not have effort, not have hustle plays."

There wasn't much hustle from Tennessee early on.

One week after Tennessee pulled down 33 offensive rebounds in an 87-76 victory over Georgia Tech, the Lady Vols had just two offensive boards in the first half Sunday. Oakland outrebounded Tennessee 24-20 and outblocked the Lady Vols 4-1 in the first half despite facing a major height disadvantage. Oakland had three starters 5-foot-8 or shorter and didn't play anyone taller than 6-1. Tennessee has six players 6-2 or taller.

Tennessee attempted only one free throw in the first half and struggled to solve Oakland's zone defense.

The Lady Vols showed much more energy and scored the first 15 points of the second half, as Graves scored six points during a 21-0 run that broke the game open. Oakland committed three turnovers in the first 41 seconds of the half and faced a 22-point deficit by the time Kim Bee scored the Grizzlies' first second-half points with 15:19 remaining.

Tennessee never looked back and finally utilized its height advantage as the game wore on. Tennessee outrebounded Oakland 24-13 in the second half and finished the game with 44 rebounds to Oakland's 37.

"It's an outstanding basketball team and one that we'll be seeing here in the Final Four, I'm sure," Oakland coach Jeff Tungate said.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pat Summitt Statue


Joan Cronan, AnDe Summitt, Tyler Summitt, Pat Summitt, Dr. Jimmy Cheek and Dave Hart after the statue unveiling on November 22, 2013.

Pat Summitt Plaza Dedicated

Honoring Pat Summitt's legacy: UT unveiled the statue and plaza that serve as a monument to Lady Vols legendary coach Pat Summitt.

"I don't think I'll ever forget it," Pat Summitt said during a dedication ceremony, unveiling Pat Summitt Plaza Friday morning.

Pat Summitt has eight national titles, over one-thousand wins, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On Friday morning - the legendary coach added another honor to the stack - a permanent place honoring her achievements at the University of Tennessee.

Many of her former players, her son Tyler, UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, and Director of Athletics Dave Hart were among the large crowd that attended the 11 a.m. dedication ceremony for "Pat Summitt Plaza."

Hart opened the ceremony saying it was "a goose bumps day on Rocky Top." And that it was - with Tyler Summitt constantly at his mother's side along with the Lady Vols lining the stage in their coach's honor.

For many, including Tamika Catchings, the event was a way to say thank you to the coach who shaped so many lives on and off the court.

"Thank you Pat. . . thank you for everything. . . We love you," Catchings tearfully said before giving her former coach a hug.

Tyler Summitt said his mother had such a profound impact as a coach, mother and role model for three reasons: her passion to compete, her character, and her love of family.

"Every moment is a teaching moment - a very common phrase that my mother used - that she still uses today," said Tyler.

And teaching others is something Tyler said still makes his mother "light up." He told the crowd he wouldn't be where he is today without the lessons his mother taught him along the way.

"This happens because of you," Tyler said looking at his mom. "I used what you taught me to make this happen."

When Pat Summitt took the podium, she exuded exactly why she has made such a lasting footprint in sports history - her humility.

"I just want everyone to know - for me - it's not about me. It's about everyone out there who loves the University of Tennessee," said Pat.

At end of the speeches, the players, Tyler, and Hart unveiled the nearly nine foot, 500 pound, bronze statue of the legendary coach.

David Adickes, 86, has sculpted many historical figures - the Beatles, Stephen F. Austin, and 43 U.S. presidents. Now, the next figure cemented into his sculpting portfolio is Lady Vols legendary coach Pat Summitt.

Adickes has never actually met Summitt, so he relied on countless pictures and videos to encapsulate Summitt's character. Their only face-to-face contact was on FaceTime.

"Well I just wanted to get the right pose of her and the right attitude and expression," said Adickes. "I have her leaning back; she always had her arms crossed. There's hardly an exception. It's a pose of triumph."

Tamika Catchings couldn't agree more, saying the statue embodied her former coach and mentor. Now, everyone can remember why Summitt has changed basketball and women's history - her shinning confidence, strong character, and powerful leadership. Friday was truly a fitting honor to a basketball powerhouse who personifies what it means to be a Lady Vol.

Read more at utsports.com.

Pat Summitt Coaching Tree

Lady Vols head coach emeritus Pat Summitt did not only produce a number of outstanding players during her 38 years at the helm of the UT program, but she turned out some successful coaches as well. Take a look at this list of Pat Summitt's former players, assistants, graduate assistants and more that are currently head coaches at colleges across the nation.



Pat Summitt's Influence in College Basketball Administration

Click here to see map.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pat Summitt Plaza dedication on Friday

At 11 a.m. on Friday, UT will honor the legacy of legendary Lady Vol basketball coach Pat Summitt with the dedication of a plaza bearing her name and the unveiling of a statue that was created in her likeness.

The dedication and unveiling of the bronze statue, created by internationally-known artist and sculptor David Adickes of Houston, Texas, will be held at the newly-constructed plaza on the corner of Lake Loudoun Blvd. and Phillip Fulmer Way. The event will be streamed live on UTSports.com.

UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Dave Hart will help the university pay tribute to Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA men's or women's basketball history. During her 38-year tenure from 1974 to 2012, the Lady Vols posted a 1,098-208 record (.840), won eight NCAA National Championships and claimed a combined 32 SEC regular season and tournament titles while graduating all 122 players who completed their eligibility at UT.

Along with the current Lady Vol staff members and players, several former players are expected to be on hand to help celebrate the accomplishments of Summitt during the late-morning ceremony. Following the unveiling of the statue and snapping of some group photos, a private luncheon honoring Summitt will be held in the Anderson Training Center.

The dedication is an outdoor event, and public seating will not be provided. Guests attending the ceremony will not be allowed to bring folding chairs of any kind.

Parking for the event will be available in the G-10 garage, located between Thompson-Boling Arena and Neyland Stadium. Access to G-10 will be via Neyland Drive only. Spaces for vehicles with disabled parking placards will be available in staff lot 23, located at the corner of Neyland and Lake Loudoun Blvd.

UT visitors and employees should be aware of temporary street closings for the dedication and plan travel accordingly.

Phillip Fulmer Way will close at 9 a.m. on Nov. 22 from the Andy Holt Tower administrative parking garage entrance to the intersection with Lake Loudoun Blvd. At 10:30 a.m., Lake Loudoun Blvd. will close from Neyland Drive to Volunteer Blvd. UTPD will manage traffic and crowd control for the event and will reopen streets when the crowd has dissipated following the event.

Approximately 600 donors stepped forward to provide financial support for the Pat Summitt Plaza, with leadership gifts coming from the LaPorte family of Elizabethton, Tenn., and Houston, Texas, and the Hilleary family of Spring City, Tenn. The LaPortes donated the statue, while the Hillearys provided the lead gift for the plaza in honor of Bill Hilleary, a community and business leader from Rhea County.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

#4/3 Lady Vols 87, Georgia Tech 76

Tennessee is off to a 4-0 start after topping Georgia Tech, 87-76, on Sunday night. The #4/3 Lady Vols pounded the glass to the tune of 65 total rebounds including 33 offensive boards. Bashaara Graves had the best game of her career with highs of 23 points, 18 rebounds and five assists. It was Graves' 13th career double-double.

Isabelle Harrison had 10 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for her seventh career double-double. It marked the second game that both Graves and Harrison each had double-doubles.

Freshman Mercedes Russell had 14 points in only 23 minutes.Meighan Simmons scored 13 for UT.

The Yellow Jackets (2-1) were led by freshman Kaela Davis -- the twin of Vols' freshman forward A.J. Davis -- who had 28 points on her brother's home court. Aaliyah Whiteside had 16 for Tech.

After Georgia Tech crept within five points, the Lady Vols ripped off a 12-0 run to firmly regain control of the win. Massengale canned back-to-back jumpers followed by a bevy of free throws to put Tennessee ahead 82-65 with just under three minutes remaining.

Georgia Tech made a run which brought the Yellow Jackets within five points at 70-65 on a jumper by Sydney Wallace with 6:48 left in the game. Earlier in the half, Tech cut its deficit to four points, 64-60 with 10:30 left in the game.

Tennessee corralled 65 rebounds, the most in a game since also grabbing 65 vs. Marquette on Nov. 23, 1996. That ties for the sixth-most in a game in school history.

The 33 offensive rebounds were the most since the Lady Vols had 34 vs. Arkansas on Jan. 10, 2000. Graves' 14 offensive boards are the most since at least 2000.

Graves had a double-double in the first half alone with 14 points and 11 rebounds as Tennessee jumped out to a 44-35 lead on the Yellow Jackets. Harrison also had 10 rebounds to go along with seven points.

Tennessee led by as many as 18 late in the first half at 41-23.

The Lady Vols dominated the glass, out rebounding Tech, 33-18 including 20 offensive rebounds in the first half.

Tennessee is now 6-0 all-time versus Georgia Tech including Holly Warlick's first-career win as a head coach last season, 71-54 in Atlanta.

The Lady Vols will have a week off before returning to action on Sunday, Nov. 24 as Oakland comes to Knoxville for the first time ever. The Lady Vols and Golden Grizzlies tip-off at 2 p.m., in a game that can be viewed on UTSports.com and heard on the Lady Vol Network.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

#4/3 Lady Vols 80, UTC 56

A year after being upset at Chattanooga, the Lady Vols made sure the Lady Mocs' visit to Knoxville didn't end with a similar result. After being tied at halftime, Tennessee pulled away for an 80-56 victory on Thursday night.

The #4/3 Lady Vols were led by junior guard Ariel Massengale, who scored 13 of her game-high 16 points in the decisive second half. In her regular-season home debut Mercedes Russell posted a career-high 15 points. Bashaara Graves chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds. Meighan Simmons scored 10.

Tennessee moved to 3-0 while Chattanooga evened its record at 1-1. Last season, the Lady Mocs pulled off the 80-71 stunner to spoil Holly Warlick's head coaching debut. On Thursday, Holly Warlick won her 30th game as a head coach.

The Lady Vols shot 48.5 for the game including 52.9 in the second half, making its first five 3-point attempts in the final 20 minutes. UT's bench combined for 37 points. The Lady Vols out rebounded UTC, 50-33, led by Cierra Burdick's eight.

Chattanooga was led by Ashlen Dewart (13) and Taylor Hall (12).

Tennessee opened the second half on a 21-4 run keyed by seven consecutive points by Massengale to start the game's second stanza. After scoring just three points in a foul-plagued first half, Massengale had 10 of the Lady Vols' first 21 points. UT led 53-36 less than seven minutes into the second half and never looked back.

UT's pressing defense forced the Lady Mocs into several violations and poor shooting. Chattanooga shot 22.9 in the second half and forced UTC into 16 total turnovers.

The lead expanded to 21 on Russell's layup with 12 minutes left in the game, putting the Lady Vols ahead, 59-38.

Jasmine Jones' gave Tennessee a 75-50 lead with three minutes left.

Tennesse outscored Chattanooga, 48-24, in the second half after the teams stood deadlocked at 32 at halftime.

Through three games, UT has outscored its foes 134-84 in the second half after standing tied at 94 in the trio of first halves.

In the first half, Chattanooga attacked primarily from long distance, going 6-of-16 from 3-point range. Faith Dupree led UTC with nine first-half points on 4-of-7 shooting. Tennessee did much of its damage in the paint, scoring 14 of its 32 first-half points inside. Isabelle Harrison had six points and four rebounds at the half while freshman Mercedes Russell went 3-for-3 for six points in just 10 minutes.

Chattanooga's Alex Black made a 3-pointer with 1:01 left in the first half and Simmons answered with a short jumper from the right side 20 seconds later. Ka'Vonne Towns drove for a layup with 13 seconds remaining to knot the game at 32-32 heading into the break.

Lady Vol freshman Mercedes Russell had back-to-back buckets in the paint with under four minutes until halftime to push UT's lead to 26-23. The 6-6 rookie swished a smooth turnaround jumper from 10 feet out with 3:10 left to excite the home crowd.

Andraya Carter nailed a three pointer from the left wing at the 7:44 mark to tie the game at 18-18. That shot sparked a 7-0 Tennessee run to push UT ahead. Carter hit a pair of free throws with 6:08 left to give UT a 20-18 lead. Simmons followed with a steal and a layup to give the team a four-point advantage.

Down seven points, the Lady Vols started climbing back. Jordan Reynolds hit a jumper from the top of the key at 10:31 and Harrison connected on a long jumper from the left side a minute later to pull UT to within 16-13. Harrison knocked down a jump shot from the right side to make it a one-point game with 8:25 left in the half.

Massengale got into foul trouble coming out of the first media timeout. With UT down 8-7, Massengale charged down the lane and drew an offensive foul at the 14:28 mark. With two fouls, she went to the bench. With Carter running the point, Chattanooga went on an 8-2 run to build a 16-9 lead.

Tennessee took the lead when Graves made a layup 42 seconds in to the game. On the Lady Mocs' ensuing possession, Graves and Harrison picked up fouls before Taylor Hall sunk a jumper to even the game at 2-2.

Tennessee will next host Georgia Tech on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on FOX Sports South/FOX Sports Tennessee. The Lady Vol Network will also carry a radio broadcast.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lady Vols Announce Signings of Dunbar, Nared, and Middleton

Tennessee has signed guard Alex Middleton and guard/forwards Kortney Dunbar and Jaime Nared to letters of intent.

The school announced the signings Wednesday in a university release.

Nared, who is 6-foot-1, is rated as one of the nation’s top 10 prospects in her class by multiple recruiting services. She averaged 23.7 points, 9.6 rebound and 4.7 steals per game last season for Portland (Ore.) Westview High.

Middleton, who is 5-9, averaged 16 points, 3.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game last season for Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Riverdale High. She was a finalist for Tennessee Miss Basketball honors and is rated as a top-35 national prospect by multiple recruiting services.

Dunbar, who is 6-1, had 14.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 2.7 assists per game last season for Edwardsville (Ill.) High.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pat Summitt on Cover of American Profile

Pat Summitt and her fight against Alzheimer's is the featured story in this week's American Profile, a mini-mag (newspaper insert). She makes an attractive cover girl. :)

A shortened version of the article appears here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

#4 Tennessee 81, #12 North Carolina 65

Fourth-ranked Tennessee played tough defense early to take control on the road, then did enough to turn away every charge from No. 12 North Carolina.

And yet, to listen to junior Cierra Burdick, starting the season with two road wins just wasn't good enough.

"We're striving for greatness," Burdick said after Monday night's 81-65 victory over the Tar Heels. "We want to get to the Final Four and that display was not going to get us there."

True, the Lady Vols weren't always sharp. The defense that shut down the Tar Heels early faded a bit after Tennessee (2-0) built a big lead. They committed 24 turnovers and gave up 20 offensive rebounds.

But they always had an answer for the Tar Heels (1-1), following a comeback from 12 points down at halftime to win at Middle Tennessee on Friday night.

"I didn't know if we'd be ready for the environment we've been in," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "But both games, we stepped it up when we needed to."

Ariel Massengale scored a career-high 20 points while Isabelle Harrison added 14 for the Lady Vols, who led by 12 at halftime then scored the first seven points of the second half to blow the game open. Tennessee shot 40 percent but knocked down eight 3-pointers, while its defense harassed the Tar Heels into 23 turnovers.

The Tar Heels were again without coach Sylvia Hatchell, as the recently inducted Naismith Hall of Famer focuses on treatment for leukemia.

Hatchell, who was released from the hospital last week, addressed the team during their pregame meal and longtime assistant Andrew Calder led the team from the sideline.

In the end, it was a learning experience for North Carolina's youngsters, including a freshman class ranked No. 1 nationally by ESPN.

"We're talented and we're going to be very, very good at the end when it all clicks and we learn to play together as a team," Calder said. "But we battled hard."

Freshman Allisha Gray had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead UNC, while top recruit Diamond DeShields finished with eight points on 3-for-15 shooting before fouling out with 2:10 left.

North Carolina shot just 9 for 37 in the first half (24 percent) and finished the game at 30 percent, struggling to string together enough baskets to cut into the Lady Vols' lead.

"They're aggressive, fast and they were in passing lanes a lot," said freshman Stephanie Mavunga, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out late. "... I don't think it was anything we couldn't get through. We have amazing guards and people who can handle the ball and we work on dribbling every single day in practice. But we just had to take a step back and really think about exactly what it is, and make good passes."

The Tar Heels beat Air Force 87-26 in Friday night's opener, with DeShields and Mavunga saying afterward that they were focused on taking advantage of those 40 minutes to get ready for the Lady Vols.

But the Lady Vols' physical defense locked down on the Tar Heels early, frustrating the youngsters to the point that UNC's offense began devolving into a lot of 1-on-1 play. UNC went 5 1/2 minutes without a field goal in the first half, and at one point Calder wandered out onto the court during a stoppage and screamed at his team to "Run the offense!"

Massengale, a 5-foot-7 junior, finished 5 of 12 from the field with all of her baskets coming from 3-point range. She matched her career-high with six rebounds to go with seven assists and three steals in 40 minutes.

Harrison went 4 of 5, including a key jumper at the 5-minute mark after the Tar Heels had cut a 21-point lead down to 11.

Sophomore Xylina McDaniel added 12 points and 10 rebounds for UNC, which lost sophomore reserve Megan Buckland to a right knee injury in the second half.

Friday, November 08, 2013

#4 Lady Vols 67, Middle Tennessee State 57

A year after opening the season with a road loss to an in-state foe, the Lady Vols were determined to not let that same predicament happen again.

After the first 20 minutes at the Murphy Center on Friday night, the fourth-ranked Lady Vols were once again in a perilous situation.

But a furious charge to begin the second half made sure Holly Warlick's team didn't have a repeat of last season's opener as Tennessee played stout defense while getting its shooting in gear in the final 20 minutes for a 67-57 victory over Middle Tennessee.

The Orange & White were serenaded with "It's Great To Be A Tennessee Vol" as the time expired with the Lady Vols moving to 1-0.

Tennessee trailed 34-22 at halftime before reeling off the first 14 points of the second half to surge into the lead at 36-34 with 14 minutes left in regulation.

The game stayed within one possession for the next five minutes before Tennessee was able to secure a comfortable advantage.

Junior Isabelle Harison led Tennessee with 13 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Junior guard Ariel Massengale scored 12 points and handed out five assists.

Freshman Mercedes Russell tallied 11 points in her debut game with the Lady Vols. In her return to the court after missing most of last season with an injury, Andraya Carter added 10 points including a pair of clutch 3-pointers.

Despite a tough shooting night, Cierra Burdick grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds as Tennessee out rebounded the Blue Raiders, 46-44.

UT's top two scorers from a year ago: Meighan Simmons (9 points) and Bashara Graves (4 points) were limited to a total of 13 points. Last season, the pair combined to average 30 points per contest.

MT was led by Ebony Rowe, who tallied 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Shanice Cason also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Raiders (0-1). Russell's jumper with 13:58 left in the second half gave Tennessee a 36-34 lead, the team's first edge since 10-9 midway in the first half.

After Middle Tennessee briefly regained the lead, the Lady Vols took the lead for good on a jumper by Harrison with 9:39 left in regulation. The lead moved to six on a 3-pointer by Carter with 8:18 on the clock. The lead steadily moved to as large as 10. A pair of free throws by Massengale gave UT a 57-47 lead with 4:12 left in the game.

MT continued to pressure in the final minute, cutting its deficit to five points on a pair of free throws by Cason with 25 seconds left.

The Lady Vols' defense in the second half was outstanding, MT was limited to just 6-of-29 from the floor for 20.7 percent.

Tennessee shot 36.1 for the game including 46.4 in the second half as the Lady Vols outscored Middle, 45-23 in the final 20 minutes.

Last season, Tennessee suffered a stunning 80-71 loss at Chattanooga in the first game of Warlick's tenure as UT's head coach. The Lady Vols rebounded to seven games in a row and finished the season 27-8, advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight.

Fast forward to 2013-14, and Tennessee will take its 1-0 record on the road to #12 North Carolina to play the Tar Heels on Monday, Nov. 11 at 9 p.m., as part of ESPN's 24-Hour Marathon of Basketball to kickoff the new season.

Catchings Inducted Into Lady Vol Hall of Fame

The 13th group of inductees was formally welcomed into the Tennessee Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame Friday night in a private ceremony held in front of family, friends and UT Athletics administrators at the Knoxville Hilton downtown.

"These women and their accomplishments are worthy of this special recognition," UT Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart said. "Two members of this year's class are Olympic medalists; all four have earned All-America honors and their addition to this prestigious group of women is a testament to our history in women's athletics."

The four inductees in the Class of 2013 represent five different sports. The honorees are Valerie Bertrand Bachmann (cross country/track & field), Vilmarie Castellvi (tennis), Tamika Catchings (basketball) and Rhian Wilkinson (soccer). Athletes are eligible for inclusion 10 years after they have graduated from the University, while administrators may be admitted to the Lady Vol Hall of Fame five years following their last service to UT.

In addition to Friday night's enshrinement activities, the inductees will be introduced during an on-field presentation at the Tennessee versus Auburn football game at Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Throughout the 37-year history of Lady Vol student-athletes, 1,947 women have donned the Orange and White Tennessee uniform. With the addition of the four individuals in the 2013 class of the Lady Vol Hall of Fame, membership now has reached 74 in this very elite Hall, including 65 former UT student-athletes.

TAMIKA CATCHINGS (BASKETBALL)
A member of the basketball team from 1997-2001, Tamika Catchings was on Tennessee's famed 39-0 NCAA Championship team of 1997-98, earning NCAA All-Final Four honors that season as well as USBWA and SEC Freshman of the Year accolades. Along with fellow Lady Vol Hall of Famers Chamique Holdsclaw and Semeka Randall, the talented trio became known as the "Three Meeks" during that magical campaign. Averaging 16.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest during her career, Catchings ranks fourth in career scoring (2,113) and rebounding (1,004) at UT. One of only two four-time WBCA All-Americans in Lady Vol history, Catchings helped Tennessee win four SEC titles, was a three-time first-team All-SEC selection and was named AP, Naismith, USBWA and WBCA Player of the Year in 2000 as a junior and surely would have raked in more accolades as a senior if not for a season-ending knee injury 17 games into her final year. That malady only served as a speed bump, as she embarked on a post-collegiate career that saw her win gold medals with the United States at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. She still plays professionally and is a perennial all-star for the Indiana Fever, who drafted her with the third overall pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Lady Vols 115, Carson-Newman 31

A 20-0 run to start the 2013-14 season sealed a dominating 115-31 victory for the No. 4 Lady Vols over Carson-Newman in the team's lone exhibition on Monday night in front of 10,507 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Led by sophomore forward Bashaara Graves, Tennessee had six double-digit scorers and all nine Lady Vols that saw the floor registered a bucket.

Graves - last season's SEC Freshman/Newcomer of the Year - led UT with a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double. She hit nine points from the free throw line, finishing the night 9-of-10 from the stripe. The 6-foot-2 Clarksville, Tenn., native was 6-of-8 from the floor and added five steals.

Making their Lady Vol debuts, freshmen Jordan Reynolds and Mercedes Russell scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, while shooting a combined 13-of-23 from the floor. Reynolds added six rebounds and four steals and the 6-foot-6 Russell finished with a game-high four blocks.

Senior Meighan Simmons (14 points) and juniors Isabelle Harrison (12) and Cierra Burdick (12) also reached double-digits.

Junior point guard Ariel Massengale led the game with 11 assists. Andraya Carter and Nia Moore added nine points each.

Tennessee was superior in all areas of the game, dominating the Lady Eagles on points off turnovers, 49-0, and points in the paint, 60-8. UT forced 33 Carson-Newman turnovers on the night.

The Lady Vols also captured the rebounding battle, 58-32, and outshot Carson-Newman 51.9 percent to 15.8 percent.

The Lady Vols held the Division II Lady Eagles without a field goal for the opening 10:56 of the game en route to a 51-17 halftime score. In addition to the 20-0 run after tip-off, UT used a 16-0 stretch to turn a 34-10 lead into a 40-point, 50-10 advantage with 2:37 to go in the period.

Tennessee shot 45 percent in the half, while holding Carson-Newman to just 10.7 percent from the field and forcing 18 Lady Eagle turnovers in the half.

Simmons, a Co-SEC Player of the Year last season, extended the lead to 30 points at 40-10 with a fastbreak layup with 4:41 remaining in the first half. The Lady Vols hit the 50-point mark with 2:37 to go in the period, as Graves converted a fastbreak layup to give UT a 40-point lead. The Lady Eagles closed the gap with a 7-1 run over the final 2:14.

It was more of the same in the second stanza as Tennessee used early runs of 12-0 and 15-1 to build an 80-24 lead with 12:46 to go. A layup from Russell with 6:14 on the clock put the Lady Vols over the 100-point mark. The Orange and White extended its advantage to its biggest of the contest at the final 84-point margin of 115-31.

Tennessee officially opens the 2013-14 regular season on Friday, Nov. 8 at Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. ET at the 11,520-seat Murphy Center. The Lady Vols came out on top in an overtime battle in Knoxville a year ago, topping the Blue Raiders 88-81 on Nov. 28, 2012.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pat Summitt in hospital since Sunday

Former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt is expected to be released Tuesday afternoon from a Knoxville hospital, where she has been since Sunday for what her foundation describes as "routine medical testing."

The Pat Summitt Foundation said Tuesday on Twitter that Summitt had entered a hospital late Sunday. Foundation spokeswoman Susan Arp confirmed the information in the tweet to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Arp didn't offer details on which hospital Summitt entered or the nature of her tests.

Summitt, who led the Lady Vols to eight national titles and 1,098 wins in 38 seasons, stepped down in April 2012 after announcing a year earlier she had early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. She remains on Tennessee's staff as head coach emeritus.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pat Summitt Plaza Dedication Date Set

Statue of NCAA’s Winningest Coach To Be Unveiled November 22

The University of Tennessee announced Wednesday that the dedication of the Pat Summitt Plaza and Statue will take place at 11:00 a.m. on November 22.


The dedication and unveiling of the bronze statue, created by internationally known artist and sculptor David Adickes of Houston, Texas, will be held at the soon-to-be-completed plaza on the corner of Lake Loudoun Boulevard and Phillip Fulmer Way. The public is invited to attend, and nearby Thompson-Boling Arena will offer access to restrooms.

Approximately 550 donors have stepped forward to provide financial support for the project thus far, with leadership gifts coming from the LaPorte family of Elizabethton, Tennessee, and Houston, Texas, and the Hilleary family of Spring City, Tennessee. The LaPortes donated the statue, while the Hillearys provided the lead gift for the plaza in honor of Bill Hilleary, a community and business leader from Rhea County.

View of photo gallery of the work being done on Pat Summitt Plaza on utsports.com.

Parking will be available in the G-10 garage, located between Thompson-Boling Arena and Neyland Stadium. Access to G-10 will be via Neyland Drive only. Spaces for vehicles with handicap placards will be available in staff lot 23, located at the corner of Neyland and Lake Loudoun Blvd.

UT visitors and employees should be aware of temporary street closings for the dedication. Phillip Fulmer Way will close at 9:00 a.m. on November 22 from the Andy Holt Tower administrative parking garage entrance to the intersection with Lake Loudoun Boulevard. At 10:30 a.m., Lake Loudoun Boulevard will close from Neyland Drive to Volunteer Boulevard. UTPD will manage traffic and crowd control for the event and will reopen streets when the crowd has dissipated following the event.

Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA men’s or women’s basketball history, led the Tennessee women’s basketball program from 1974 to 2012. During her thirty-eight-year tenure, the Lady Vols posted a 1,098-208 record (.840), won eight NCAA National Championships, and claimed a combined thirty-three SEC regular season and tournament titles while graduating all 122 players who completed their eligibility at UT.

For more information on how to contribute to the project, go to www.patsummittplaza.com.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Pat Summitt documentary now available on DVD

The ESPN Films documentary “Pat XO,” about former Lady Vols’ coach Coach Pat Summitt that aired in July, is available on DVD. Click here to order.

Directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters and produced by Robin Roberts, “Pat XO” tells the story of Summitt’s life and coaching career.

The documentary takes the camera from the filmmaker’s hands and places it into those who know her best.

The archival footage and statistical records woven into the film provide their own insights into a woman who cared about winning but also about elevating her players and her university.

With son Tyler Summitt as the lead storyteller, recollections are shared by Summitt’s assistant coaches, including current Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick and assistant Dean Lockwood as well as former players such as Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Michelle Marciniak, UConn coach Geno Auriemma, former UT quarterback Peyton Manning and Vols fan Kenny Chesney.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Lady Vols ready to compete for championships again

Tennessee considers the opportunity to play for a national title in its home state the perfect chance to end its Final Four drought.

The Lady Vols opened practice this week with five of their top six scorers back from a team that went 27-8 last year and lost in a regional final for the third straight season. After overachieving in the first season of the post-Pat Summitt era, Tennessee believes it's ready to start competing for national titles again.

Tennessee hasn't reached a Final Four since its 2008 national championship, the Lady Vols' longest absence from that event since the NCAA started running the tournament in 1982. This year's Final Four takes place in Nashville, about a three-hour drive from Tennessee's campus.

"It does feel a little bit different because our goal is just right up the street," senior guard Meighan Simmons said Tuesday. "It's one of those things where we have to pay attention to detail and not think too far ahead of ourselves."

The high expectations represent a change from last year, when Southeastern Conference coaches picked Tennessee to finish fifth in the league. Tennessee instead won the SEC regular-season title.

"I think we have a great chance of winning the entire thing," junior forward Cierra Burdick said. "I think we have an awesome opportunity to go to Nashville and compete in that Final Four and bring it on home to Knoxville."

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick embraces these ambitious goals. She started talking to her players about the possibility of getting to Nashville almost as soon as their 2012-13 season ended with a surprising 86-78 loss to Louisville in the Oklahoma City Regional final.

The Lady Vols, who have won eight national championships during Summitt's 38-year tenure, adopted the slogan "Grind For Nine" as they began preseason workouts Monday with a 6 a.m. workout.

"We're not trying to hide it," Warlick said. "We want to be there. We need to be there. You just talk about it. It's part of this program. It's part of the foundation Pat built. You don't shy away from competition and you approach things. It is what it is. We've got to go out and compete and make sure that we have a chance to be in Nashville."

The Lady Vols welcome back 2013 SEC newcomer of the year Bashaara Graves as well as Simmons, an Associated Press All-America third-team selection last season. Tennessee also adds one of the nation's most highly touted freshmen in 6-foot-6 post player Mercedes Russell, who should team up with Graves and 6-3 junior Isabelle Harrison to give Tennessee a formidable collection of post players.

"I think hands down we have the best frontcourt in the country," Burdick said.

Tennessee's backcourt returns Simmons and junior Ariel Massengale, last year's starting point guard. Redshirt freshman Andraya Carter started five of Tennessee's first seven games last year before a torn labrum in her right shoulder ended her season. The backcourt also adds freshman Jordan Reynolds.

Tennessee is spending the preseason working on its conditioning and defense. Conditioning could prove critical because Tennessee's roster includes only 10 players. Warlick constantly stresses that rebounding and defense have been the hallmarks of Tennessee's title winners.

Simmons, the Lady Vols' lone senior, believes this group is capable of being Tennessee's next championship team.

"For my senior year, this is the last go-around," Simmons said. "I've got to grind it out for the ninth championship because I know I don't want to leave without a championship."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pat Summitt Attends Fundraiser for Her Foundation

Hundreds of family members, friends and fans gathered at the Charles Hand Family Farm to show their support for legendary Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt.

The second annual "Evening for Pat" raised money for the Pat Summitt Foundation. The event was organized by Oasis In-Home Care, Avalon Hospice and Walking Horse Meadows Assisted Living.

"We deal so much one on one with families who have members suffering from Alzheimer's," said Cindy Hancock, Director of Community Relations for Oasis In-Home Care. "It is huge for us to raise awareness to find a cure."

Participants enjoyed music, food, a silent auction, and the opportunity to see Coach Summitt. Throughout the night she shook countless hands, took photos and received plenty of hugs.

"It's been great," said Pat Summitt, Lady Vols Coach Emeritus. "There are so many people here, and that is really special."

Summitt was diagnosed with early on-set dementia in 2011. While she did step down from her head coaching position at the University of Tennessee, the Cheatham County Central High School grad hasn't slowed down.

"Pat has brought so much energy and excitement to this cause," said Adam Waller, Director of Community Relations at The Pat Summitt Foundation. "She has helped increase funding with the federal government, and donations at events like this."

The Pat Summitt Foundation was set up to make grants to nonprofits which provide education and awareness of Alzheimer's, its onset and treatment. The organization also provided support services to patients, their families and caregivers.

Last year's fundraiser for The Pat Summitt Foundation raised $8,000. This year organizers expected to raise more than $15,000.

"It just feels good to see all these people here helping the foundation," said Summitt. "I'm happy to be here."

For more information on The Pat Summitt Foundation, visit their Web site.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Catchings, Fever overwhelm Sky

Indiana advances to Eastern Conference finals to play either Atlanta or Washington

Sometimes, Indiana rookie guard Layshia Clarendon suddenly will remember that her down-to-earth, low-key, friendly teammate is actually a very big deal.

"I see the way people cheer for her, the way the other team reacts when they announce her name," Clarendon said. "And I think, 'Oh, my gosh, that's right. This is the Tamika Catchings, three-time gold medalist, awesome community leader.' They are those 'oh wow' moments. But she makes you feel like she's just another person."

Of course, Catchings isn't just another player. She is a future Hall of Famer, someone who is at least in the MVP discussion every WNBA season. And in the Fever's Eastern Conference first-round series victory over Chicago, Catchings displayed her usual relentlessness. She was the best player on the court.

Sorry, Sky, but you'll just have to chalk this one up to a hard lesson. Chicago finished first in the East, but had its season ended decisively by Catchings and the Fever, 79-57, Sunday. Catchings led the way with 18 points and 12 rebounds, her 20th double-double in 49 career playoff games.

"She carries this team," Fever coach Lin Dunn said. "Often in her career, she's been overlooked, but she does so many things on both ends of the floor."

In some ways, though, it's less that Catchings is overlooked than she is taken for granted. But this year, with players such as center Jessica Davenport and guard/forward Katie Douglas out virtually all season with injuries, the Fever had to rely on Catchings as much as ever.

And the Tennessee graduate -- who turned 34 in July -- came through once again. Sunday was the Fever's largest margin of victory in a playoff game, and came two days after an 85-72 win Friday in Chicago. Catchings had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists, plus – as always -- set the tone defensively in Game 1. There was no backing down from the Fever in Game 2; if anything, they were even more intense.

The Sky might have been the East's No. 1 seed and the Fever No. 4, but Indiana had won the regular-season series 3-1 and was appearing in the postseason for the 10th time. Meanwhile, this was Chicago's first playoff appearance, and it looked like it. The Sky were pretty much whipped in every facet of play.

Defending WNBA champion Indiana led by 20 at halftime, and it never seemed as if the Sky had a realistic chance to catch up. The Sky shot 29.8 percent (17 of 57), were outrebounded 38-30, and were outscored in the paint 34-24.

"I look at areas of play where we were basically dominated," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "In terms of the boards, second-chance [points], paint points -- and that can't happen. The result: 17 made field goals.

"We knew coming in it wouldn't be a different game plan from Indiana, because they had success before. So it was a matter of us connecting some of the dots, and being high-IQ basketball players, making reads and plays. It gets down to toughness -- loose balls, rebounds, deflections. I'm disappointed that we went out like this; I like this team; I understand the areas we need to grow."

To do that, no team could be a better example for the Sky to follow than Indiana. Let's certainly not forget that the Fever have taken their lumps and shed bitter tears of frustration over the years, too, at playoff disappointments since the franchise began in 2000.

Catchings, the No. 3 pick in the 2001 draft, couldn't play that season because of a torn ACL she suffered her senior season in college, but then she helped lead the Fever to the playoffs in her rookie-of-the-year season of 2002. But it would take a decade before the Fever won the WNBA title in 2012, which was their ninth appearance in the playoffs.

"The way we had the upper hand was experience," Dunn said of this series. "That's a very, very talented team [in Chicago]. Do not underestimate the value of experience -- we've won a championship, and we've been in the Finals before [in 2009]."

All true, but there's a lot of talent on this Indiana team, too. Guard Shavonte Zellous, a fifth-year pro, was given the league's most improved player award before the game, as she nearly doubled her season scoring average from 2012 (7.5 ppg to 14.7).

Zellous, who had team-high 20 points Friday, scored 10 Sunday. Erlana Larkins, who like Zellous was such a key player during the 2012 WNBA Finals, had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, plus held her own against Sylvia Fowles inside.

Fowles had 14 points and 14 rebounds, with Epiphanny Prince and 2013 rookie of the year Elena Delle Donne scoring 10 points each.

Indiana has just four available players off the bench, but got 23 points out of them, led by Clarendon's nine. The Fever shot 45.8 percent from the field Sunday, after a 50.8 percent performance on Friday. Very impressive, especially for a team known for its defense. Dunn joked that maybe the Fever were making so many shots because they spent so much time in practice playing defense that they really enjoyed shooting in the games.

Now the Fever await the winner of Monday's deciding Game 3 between No. 2 seed Atlanta and No. 3 Washington; either way, Indiana will travel for Thursday's first game of the East finals, since the Fever are the lowest seed.

But Indiana has played well from that position of late: This was the third series in a row, dating back to 2012, where Indiana won as the lower seed. The Fever beat East No. 1 Connecticut and West No. 1 Minnesota in last year's playoffs.

"We came into this series knowing Chicago had three really good players, and we had to defend at a high level," Zellous said. "And I think we did that. I think now our goal is to try to get back to the Finals. So whatever it takes."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

LA's Candace Parker wins WNBA MVP

Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker has won the WNBA MVP, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Parker will receive the award Thursday night in Los Angeles before the Sparks play the Phoenix Mercury in the opener of their Western Conference playoff series. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.

Parker edged out Minnesota's Maya Moore and Chicago's Elena Delle Donne in one of the closest ballots in league history, the person told the AP. Parker finished with 234 points, Moore had 218 and Delle Donne 189. It's the closest the top two players have been in the voting since Sheryl Swoopes edged Lauren Jackson by two points in 2005.

Parker and Moore each received 10 first-place votes from the 39-member national media panel.

The 27-year-old Parker averaged 17.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists in helping the Sparks (24-10) finish second in the Western Conference.

It's the second MVP award for Parker, who won it her rookie year. Parker also won the All-Star game MVP this past July. She was runner-up to Tina Charles last season for the award.

Parker, who is still looking for her first WNBA championship, is the fifth player to earn multiple MVP awards, joining Jackson, Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Cynthia Cooper.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Taste of Turkey Creek events raises $10k for Pat Summitt Foundation

About 750 people got a chance to sample food from Knoxville-area restaurants Friday, as well as join in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

The Taste of Turkey Creek was a fund-raising event for the Pat Summitt Foundation.

A total of $10,000 was raised by attendees as they sampled food and drinks from 16 restaurants. There was also a silent auction and music performances.

Proceeds will be used by the Pat Summitt Foundation in efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer's, as well as for support services for families.

"I think it's actually making people aware, bringing people out, and allowing people to see that the Pat Summitt Foundation is making an impact," Ryan Collins said about the event.

The Pinnacle at Turkey Creek hosted the event. The Cole Neuroscience Center at The University of Tennessee Medical Center served as the presenting sponsor.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Annual Summitt fundraiser is Sept. 26

The second annual “Evening for Pat” — a fundraiser for the The Pat Summitt Foundation — will be held Sept. 26 from 5-7 p.m. at the Charles Hand Farm in Cedar Hill. Summitt, a 1970 graduate of Cheatham County Central High School, resigned in 2012 as the head women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee after being diagnosed with early on-set dementia a year earlier. Tickets for the fundraiser are $25 and includes dinner, dessert and drinks. Tickets are limited. The event will also feature an anticipated visit from Summitt, a silent auction and entertainment. For ticket information, call Alison Hurt with Avalon Hospice at 931-561-7915; Cindy Hancock of Oasis In-Home Care at 931-266-4441 or 270-839-2706; or Denise Rangel at 931-436-0979. The Charles Hand Farm is on Ross Road (located off Interstate 24, exit 19, Maxey Road). Summitt is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA men's or women's basketball with 1,098 victories. She led the Lady Vols to eight national championships, 18 NCAA Final Fours and a combined 32 SEC regular season and tournament titles during her 38-year career at Tennessee.

Pat Summitt Has Ankle Surgery

Quote from Pat: "Home recovering from ankle surgery. All went well! Will miss walks with the dogs for the next little bit. Motivated to get well soon!"

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Pat Summitt helps the New York Yankees launch Worldwide Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Before the start of the New York Yankees afternoon game against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, the organization helped launch the Alzheimer's Association's "Worldwide Alzheimer's Awareness Month."

The Yankees were joined by Tennessee head coach emeritus Pat Summitt and her son Tyler — who received the 2012 Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award from the Alzheimer's Association for the work they've done with the Pat Summitt — in the pregame ceremony. Representatives from the Alzheimer Association were also on the field for the launch.

"My son, Tyler, and I want to thank the New York Yankees for stepping up in a big way to increase awareness and funding for the fight against Alzheimer's disease," Summit said in a statement on Friday. "We are honored to have been invited to stand with them and the Alzheimer's Association to launch this month-long public awareness effort."

Summitt won 1,098 games and eight national titles in her Hall of Fame tenure with the Volunteers. The 61-year-old coach was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and retired from coaching in April 2012.

The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Dodgers are the other six MLB franchises that are joining the Yankees in support of the cause.

Pat Summitt's statement:

"My son, Tyler, and I want to thank the New York Yankees for stepping up in a big way to increase awareness and funding for the fight against Alzheimer's disease," said Summitt, who is the NCAA's all-time winningest basketball coach for men's or women's programs. "We are honored to have been invited to stand with them and the Alzheimer's Association to launch this month-long public awareness effort."