Thursday, January 31, 2013

No. 9 Lady Vols 88, Mississippi State 45

Kamiko Williams made the most of a rare opportunity.

Williams made her first start of the season Thursday night in place of injured center Isabelle Harrison and produced 10 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and six steals as No. 9 Tennessee breezed to an 88-45 victory over Mississippi State.

Williams delivered her second double-double and produced career highs in rebounds, assists and steals. The 5-foot-11 senior guard now wants to start producing those totals on a more consistent basis.

''Now that Isabelle's out, it's going to have to happen,'' Williams said. ''We all have to step up. This game, I tried to focus on defense and rebounding. Everything else just played out for us.''

Harrison will undergo surgery Friday after re-injuring her left knee Monday in a 77-67 loss to No. 2 Notre Dame. The 6-foot-3 sophomore averages 10.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. The Lady Vols don't know whether she can return this season.

''I hope she is back, but I think until they go and figure out what's going on with her knee, I don't know,'' Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. ''I guess it's 50-50. That's me guessing.''

Tennessee (17-4, 8-0 SEC) didn't need Harrison against Mississippi State (9-12, 1-7), which has never beaten the Lady Vols in 34 attempts. The Lady Vols won for the ninth time in their last 10 games by dominating the overmatched Bulldogs, who had snapped a six-game losing streak Sunday with a 72-57 victory over Mississippi.

Meighan Simmons scored 21 points, Taber Spani added 15 points and Bashaara Graves had 10 points as the Lady Vols led from start to finish. Martha Alwal led Mississippi State with 16 points and nine rebounds.

The one-sided nature of the game allowed the injury-riddled Lady Vols to play everyone. Sophomore forward Cierra Burdick returned to action Thursday after missing eight games with a broken right hand, but the Lady Vols still have only nine healthy players.

All nine of Tennessee's available players entered the game before halftime Thursday and scored at least four points. Tennessee typically has used a seven-player rotation against SEC competition. Burdick, normally a starter, had four points and five rebounds off the bench.

''When basketball is your life since you were five years old and it gets taken away from you for a month, when you get to come back, all you can do is smile,'' Burdick said. ''I was so energized on the bench trying to be positive for my teammates, but there's nothing like stepping in between those lines and having the ball in your hand.''

Williams got the Lady Vols off to a fast start by collecting six points, eight rebounds and four assists in the first half. Warlick had said Wednesday she planned to have freshman forward Jasmine Jones start in place of Harrison, but Williams got the nod instead. Williams had made six previous starts in her career, though they all came in her freshman and sophomore seasons. Warlick said Jones, a freshman, feels more comfortable coming off the bench.

Williams learned she would start about a half-hour before the opening tip.

''It's one of (Williams'') best games since she's been here,'' Warlick said. ''That's our expectation for her.''

Tennessee already led 25-10 by the time Burdick took the floor to a standing ovation with 6:53 left in the half. Reserve guard Jasmine Phillips made a rare first-half appearance and scored eight points, doubling her previous career high.

Freshman center Nia Moore had played in only one of Tennessee's last five games before this one, but she scored eight points in 12 minutes off the bench Thursday. Harrison's injury puts pressure on Burdick, Moore and Jones to help starting forward Bashaara Graves handle the post duties.

''We need to have Izzy's back,'' Burdick said. ''We're so big on being a family, and when one of our family members goes down, it's important for us to have each other's back. Nia and I were just trying to get back in the groove of things and step up for Izzy.''

Tennessee's defense suffocated a Mississippi State team that ranks last in the SEC in turnover margin and assist-turnover ratio. The Bulldogs shot just 21.2 percent (7 of 33) in the first half and 31.6 percent (18 of 57) overall while committing 26 turnovers.

Mississippi State starting guards Katia May and Kendra Grant went a combined 6 of 32.

''They obviously didn't have a hangover from Monday because they came out and really took the fight to us, especially in transition offense,'' Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. ''They beat us up and down the floor from the tip. Holly's doing a great job, her and her staff are doing a great job. I know right now she's band-aiding it and holding it together with some injuries. That's an awfully hard thing to do, and they're doing a great job.''

Tamika Catchings speaks to team

Catchings' post-game talk impacts players

Tamika Catchings sat in Tennessee's locker room after Monday night's loss to Notre Dame with a choice to make.

Should the former Lady Vols All-American remain silent or should she stand up and speak her mind? She chose the latter.

"I didn't plan it," she said. "I started talking. I don't remember verbatim what I said."

She said enough to make a strong impression. Two Lady Vols referenced the impact as the team prepared to face SEC women's basketball rival Mississippi State.

"We needed to not only be challenged but also be encouraged and she did both," senior Taber Spani said.

Under the circumstances, rallying the troops is advisable. With her impromptu talk, Catchings got that process rolling. She arrived in time to watch the team's shooting practice Monday and made a talking point of its uneven quality.

"You look at the game," she said. "It was kind of the same thing."

Both Spani and point guard Ariel Massengale mentioned the observation.

"It's not a physical thing, it's more of a mental thing," Spani said. "... Being able to tune in mentally and not have any lapses is going to be huge."

Catchings also left them with reason for optimism.

"I was impressed from the standpoint of what they can be," she said. "But from the outside looking in, sometimes you see more potential than they see."

Warlick was grateful that the players heard from someone other than the coaches, especially a player of Catchings' stature.

"Sometimes, they may think a coach, we're just harping on and on and on," Warlick said. "But to hear it from a former Lady Vol and their peers, I think it has a lot of meaning."

Isabelle Harrison to have L knee surgery

Isabelle Harrison was helped to the locker room after going down with 5:07 left in the first half of Monday's 77-67 loss. She had been diagnosed beforehand with a lateral meniscus injury to the knee but was cleared to play.

On Wednesday, UT announced it was determined that Harrison will need knee surgery after a visit to Dr. Greg Mathien.

According to UT assistant director of sports medicine Jenny Moshak, the procedure will take place Friday. No timetable was announced on how long Harrison will be out.

Harrison entered the arena Wednesday on crutches. While the team worked out, she was lying on the trainer's table receiving treatment with the knee packed in ice.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pat and Her Banner :)

Click to see larger image.

No. 2 Notre Dame defeats No. 9 Lady Vols 77-67

Skylar Diggins scored a career-high 33 points and No. 2 Notre Dame built a 19-point lead in the second half before withstanding a late Tennessee rally in a 77-67 victory Monday night over the ninth-ranked Lady Vols.

Notre Dame (19-1) won its 14th straight game and snapped the Lady Vols' nine-game winning streak. Notre Dame also became the first school ever to defeat both Connecticut and Tennessee in three consecutive seasons. The Irish won 73-72 at Connecticut on Jan. 5.

Before the game, Tennessee hung a banner at Thompson-Boling Arena in honor of former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, whose 1,098-208 record in 38 seasons gives her the most career wins of any Division I men's or women's basketball coach ever.

Summitt, who led Tennessee to eight national titles and 18 Final Four appearances, already had the playing court named after her. The Hall of Fame coach stepped down in April after announcing in 2011 that she has early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. She remains on Tennessee's staff as head coach emeritus, attends just about every practice and sits in the stands for all home games. Former Lady Vol greats Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker attended Monday's game.

Tennessee (16-4) used the emotion of that pregame ceremony to take an early 7-2 lead, but the Irish answered with a 12-2 run of their own. Diggins scored 11 points in the first 10 minutes of the game to help the Irish build an eight-point lead.

Notre Dame had chances to build an even bigger lead.

Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons, who entered the night averaging a team-high 17.6 points per game, picked up two early fouls and played just 11 minutes in the first half. Tennessee's frontcourt endured a major loss when center Isabelle Harrison took a spill after driving to the basket and had to be helped to the locker room. The Lady Vols had announced before the game that Harrison was playing with a meniscus injury in her left knee.

But the Irish didn't take advantage in the early going and only led 33-29 at the half. Diggins didn't get much help from her teammates, who shot a combined 8 of 30 in the first half.

Diggins then took over the game early in the second half.

The senior guard dominated the Lady Vols on both ends of the floor. She had six points, three steals, one block and an assist during an 11-0 run that gave the Irish a 16-point lead.

Diggins started the run by sinking a 3-pointer and making a conventional three-point play. Tennessee called a timeout, but Diggins stole the ensuing inbounds pass, drove to the basket and sank one of two free throws after drawing a foul.

Diggins then made another steal that eventually led to a 3-point basket by Madison Cable. She got one more steal on Tennessee's next possession and passed to Kayla McBride for a jumper that capped the spurt.

In a 72-44 victory over Tennessee last season, Notre Dame broke open a close game in the second half and proceeded to hand the Lady Vols their second-most lopsided loss in Summitt's tenure. This time, the Lady Vols fought back.

After trailing by as many as 19 points, Tennessee rattled the Irish with a furious rally over the final 10 minutes and cut the lead to 69-64 on Taber Spani's free throw with 3:54 remaining.

That's when Diggins took over again.

She found Madison Cable for a layup that got the Irish out of danger. After Spani and Jasmine Jones missed jumpers on Tennessee's next possession, Diggins sank a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point game.

Notre Dame's lead wouldn't drop below eight again.

Jewell Loyd added 10 points for Notre Dame, while Kayla McBride had nine points and 10 rebounds. Bashaara Graves had 19 points and 13 rebounds for Tennessee. Taber Spani added 12 points and Simmons had 11 points.

Lady Vols hang Pat Summitt banner

Former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt already had the Thompson-Boling Arena court named after her. Now she also has a banner hanging from the rafters in her honor.

Tennessee unveiled the banner Monday before the ninth-ranked Lady Vols' game with No. 2 Notre Dame.

Summitt waved to the crowd as she headed onto the court with athletic director Dave Hart, her mother and future daughter-in-law. After a video detailing Summitt's career achievements aired on the scoreboard, Tennessee coach Holly Warlick walked over from the Lady Vols' bench to embrace Summitt. Warlick played for Summitt and worked as an assistant on her staff for 27 seasons.

The entire Tennessee team as well as former Lady Vol greats Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw, Michelle Marciniak and Candace Parker then gathered around Summitt in front of the banner before it was raised to the rafters.

Summitt stepped down in April after leading Tennessee to eight national titles and 18 Final Four appearances in 38 seasons. She posted a career record of 1,098-208, giving her the most wins of any Division I men's or women's basketball coach. She announced in 2011 that she has early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.

Summitt remains on staff as head coach emeritus.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fans advised to arrive early for Pat Summitt banner ceremony

The Thompson-Boling Arena gates will open at 5:30 tomorrow night — a half hour earlier than usual — for Tennessee's women's basketball game against Notre Dame.

Fans are advised to be in their seats at least 20 minutes before the 7 p.m. start in order to see the banner-raising ceremony honoring Lady Vols head coach emeritus Pat Summitt.

The Lady Vols have asked all fans to wear orange apparel and create an "Orange Out" for the game.

Along with the banner ceremony, UT's 1991 national championship trophy will be on display on the concourse behind section 116.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

David Climer: Holly Warlick looks at Tennessee Lady Vols her own way

Holly Warlick hasn’t mastered The Stare.

She can stomp shoe to hardwood with the best of them. Her voice cuts through the noise of the crowd. She waves her arms in much the same way she did as an All-America guard more than three decades ago.

The Stare? That’s not in her repertoire.

“That’s Pat,” she says. “Nobody could do it like Pat. I don’t even try.”

“Pat,” of course, is Pat Summitt, the legendary coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols and Warlick’s mentor. Summitt is known for a lot of things, but ask her former players what they remember most and many will offer stories about their most memorable encounter with The Stare.

Click here to read the rest of David Climer's story.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

No. 9 Tennessee 83, Vanderbilt 75

Taber Spani remembered only too well losing in Memorial Gym last season, and the senior made sure the Tennessee Lady Vols avoided a repeat performance.

Spani scored a career-high 24 points and Meighan Simmons added 23 as No. 9 Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 83-75 Thursday night for the Lady Vols' ninth straight victory.

''Well, I mean honestly you just want to come in and play your best against a great SEC team,'' Spani said. ''Obviously, this is a great rivalry game. But we also have a lot of respect for Vanderbilt and what they're capable of doing and it's always a great environment.''

Simmons said the Lady Vols wanted to send a message as well in this rivalry between SEC schools separated by 190 miles.

''We had to remind ourselves there's only one school in the state of Tennessee, and that's the University of Tennessee,'' Simmons said. ''We wanted to prove that point tonight.''

With No. 5 Kentucky losing to No. 18 South Carolina earlier in the night, Tennessee (16-3, 7-0) is the Southeastern Conference's last undefeated team in league play. Simmons said that's exactly where the Lady Vols expected to be. Coach Holly Warlick cautioned it's still very early this season.

''But yeah, it's great to be undefeated and be on top of the SEC,'' Warlick said. ''But ... we're not satisfied absolutely.''

The Lady Vols have won 11 straight SEC games dating back to last season and a loss here at Memorial Gym. They got a small measure of payback by beating Vanderbilt for the 25th time in 27 games in this series.

Bashaara Graves also had 16 points for Tennessee.

Vanderbilt (13-6, 3-3) lost for the first time at home this season and has lost three of four overall. The Commodores played without 6-foot-4 sophomore Clair Watkins, who tore her left anterior cruciate ligament in practice Wednesday. They still pulled down 21 offensive rebounds despite being outrebounded 46-43.

Christina Foggie led Vandy with 22 points before fouling out in the final minute, Tiffany Clarke had 19 and Kady Schrann 14.

The Commodores managed to tie the score twice, the second time at 41 after scoring the first 12 points of the second half. The Lady Vols answered with an 11-2 spurt capped by a drive by Simmons with 12:45 to go, and Vanderbilt couldn't get closer than five the rest of the way. Tennessee hit 14 of 15 at the line in the final 3:49 to seal the victory.

Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb wasn't happy with how her Commodores trailed 41-29 at halftime and shot only 25.6 percent from the floor (10 of 39).

The Commodores came in as the SEC's second-best team beyond the arc, shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range. They shot 21.7 percent (5 of 23) and missed three 3s in the final minutes with a chance to make it a one-score game. But Balcomb said the game plan called for the Commodores to work the ball into the paint and defend Simmons and Spani.

''I'm just baffled by the first half,'' Balcomb said. ''I liked the fight in the second half, but obviously the first half I didn't. We just didn't execute our game plan. Our kids are smarter than that. They have to work harder at the things we're asking them to do.''

Tennessee had coach emeritus Pat Summitt sitting on the front row behind their bench right beside Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, just her second road trip this season. She watched the Lady Vols do what they usually do in Nashville. The Lady Vols now are 61-8 all-time against Vanderbilt in this in-state rivalry and 24-6 in Nashville.

Spani said having Summitt at the game meant the world.

''We were so excited when we found out she was coming, I was really trying to look for her, and I finally found her before the game,'' Spani said. ''She brings inspiration to our team every time we see her.''

The Lady Vols grabbed control from the start on a jumper by Isabelle Harrison, whose father Dennis played football for Vanderbilt in the 1970s. Vanderbilt managed to tie it up at 4 before Simmons hit a 3-pointer to put Tennessee ahead to stay. Simmons followed with another 3 and celebrated as she ran backward down the court signaling three with each hand.

Spani hit her first two 3s as well as the Lady Vols quickly pushed the lead to double digits. Even when something went wrong for the Lady Vols when Simmons missed a layup off the fast-break after moving the ball behind her back, Kamiko Williams was there to rebound the miss and put it back up for a bucket.

Tennessee led by as much as 15 with 1:50 left on Spani's third 3 of the half, and the Lady Vols led 41-29 at halftime only to watch that lead evaporate in the opening minutes of the second half.

Lipscomb women's basketball lends its backing to a coaching legend

By Jerome Boettcher

When she stepped into a basketball arena, most television cameras captured the way Pat Summitt controlled a room, or, more appropriately, a court.

“Everybody knows the blue eyes and that stare,” Greg Brown said.

In just two years as an assistant for Summitt and Tennessee, though, Brown got to see a gentler, lighter side of the legendary basketball coach. Brown, now the head coach at Lipscomb, recalls a team trip to Greece and how his then-four-month old son, Cole, wouldn’t stop crying while on a bus.

“He was crying and scrumming around and Pat said, ‘Hey, give me that baby. Let me put him to sleep.’ And it was instant,’ ” Brown said. “Her sense of humor, all those type of things, you don’t get a chance to see unless you’re with her every day. She loves kids. She loves dogs. She loves a good joke. Those are the things I remember as much anything.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Among other notable differences, Lady Vols feel a lack of respect this season

By Jerome Boettcher

Winning eight national championships under living icon Pat Summitt, the Tennessee women’s basketball program never has been confused for an underdog.

With Summitt retired, longtime assistant Holly Warlick at the helm and a bucket load of freshmen and sophomores, this winter has provided a new perspective for the Volunteers. They considered a preseason ranking of 20th a disappointment. A season-opening loss at Chattanooga coupled with back-to-back double-digit defeats to defending national champ Baylor and Stanford offered a wakeup call.

Still, even as they’ve returned to their winning ways, the Volunteers throw down an unfamiliar card — lack of respect.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No. 9 Tennessee 96, Alabama 69

On the final day of a week honoring Pat Summitt, Tennessee paid tribute to its former coach by continuing a tradition she had started.

Beating Alabama.

Bashaara Graves had 21 points and eight rebounds as one of five Tennessee players to score in double figures Sunday as the ninth-ranked Lady Vols trounced Alabama 96-69 for their 39th consecutive victory over the Crimson Tide.

''They wanted to play this in honor of Pat,'' said Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, who played for Summitt and worked as an assistant on her staff for 27 seasons. ''Hopefully Pat saw what she has built this program on, and that's hard work with a foundation of defense and rebounding.''

Alabama hasn't beaten the Lady Vols since an 85-66 victory in the 1984 SEC tournament. Tennessee leads the all-time series 46-2 and has never lost to the Tide during the regular season.

Most of those Tennessee wins over Alabama came when Summitt was coaching the Lady Vols. Sunday marked the last day of the SEC's ''We Back Pat'' week to support former Summitt's foundation and its fight against Alzheimer's disease. During the game, Summitt received checks totaling $32,145 toward her foundation from Sam's Club, the SEC women's basketball officials and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Warlick and each of her assistants wore orange ''We Back Pat'' T-shirts under their blazers for the game. Before the game, Tennessee's coaches and players crossed the width of the court to hug Summitt, who was seated in the front row at midcourt. The team watched videos honoring Summitt before taking the floor.

Summitt, 60, stepped down as Tennessee's coach in April after winning 1,098 games and eight national titles in 38 seasons. She was diagnosed in 2011 with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. Summitt remains on staff as head coach emeritus, attends just about every practice and watches each home game from the stands.

''It was really emotional for all of us, to have a coach who's made such an impact on everybody's lives, including ours,'' Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons said. ''It was a really emotional time, just to give her a hug, to feel her and to let her know, 'Coach, I appreciate you. We love you.' It was one of those things. She just told every single one of us, 'Let's go. Let's get ready.' We were able to refocus very well after that.''

Simmons scored 16 points as the Lady Vols (15-3, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) earned their eighth straight win overall. Isabelle Harrison, Jasmine Jones and Taber Spani each added 14 points.

Daisha Simmons scored 19 points, Kaneisha Horn added 14 points and Shafontaye Myers had 12 points for Alabama (11-7, 1-4). Horn also had 10 rebounds.

''I think Holly's done a great job stepping into her role, especially stepping into Pat's footsteps,'' Alabama coach Wendell Hudson said. ''She's done a great job and has them playing at a very high level.''

Tennessee's 39-game winning streak over Alabama is tied for the second-longest active streak in any conference rivalry. Stanford has beaten Pac-12 rival Washington State 53 straight times. UCSB has 39 straight wins over Cal State Fullerton in the Big West.

Alabama's lack of success in this series didn't bother the Crimson Tide in the early going. The Tide capitalized on Daisha Simmons' hot shooting and Tennessee's turnover problems to pull ahead early. Simmons scored 12 points in the first seven minutes of the game.

Tennessee took the lead for good at 20-18 on Harrison's layup with 10:20 left in the first half, but the Crimson Tide didn't go away immediately. Alabama was within five points until the Lady Vols closed the half on a 14-5 run to take a 49-35 lead into the intermission.

Alabama just couldn't slow down Tennessee.

The Lady Vols shot 62.9 percent (22 of 35) in the first half. Harrison and Graves, who had shot a combined 3 of 15 Thursday in a 75-66 victory at Auburn, teamed up to shoot 10 of 10 and score 23 points in the first half.

''We just couldn't get our shots off (against Auburn) and it was just horrible for us,'' Graves said. ''We wanted to come out the Alabama game and make up for that game. I think we did that.''

Graves and Harrison stayed hot in the second half as Tennessee put the game out of reach. Graves ended up shooting 9 of 11, while Harrison was 4 of 7 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. Tennessee's inside strength made up for the fact it shot just 1 of 11 from 3-point range.

''It was a big factor,'' Horn said. ''They're really long. They were able to get some rebounds and putbacks. They were pretty good players. I respect them.''

Tennessee opened the second half on a 15-5 run and never looked back. After that 15-5 spurt, the Lady Vols led by at least 20 points the rest of the way.

Alabama has given up over 90 points in three of its last five games. The Tide fell 91-52 at Texas A&M on Jan. 3 and 95-83 to Georgia on Jan. 10. And they had no answers Sunday for a red-hot Tennessee team motivated to honor its former coach.

''We just wanted to make sure we represented UT and Pat in the fashion that we needed to,'' Warlick said.

Summitt still contributes to Lady Vols in new role

Former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt continues to be very involved with Lady Vols basketball.

The 60-year-old Summitt watches each Tennessee home game from the stands and attends most practices. She also serves as a frequent sounding board for coach Holly Warlick and the players.

As Warlick talked with reporters before Saturday's practice, Summitt walked by. Warlick said, "Hey, Coach Summitt, we're just talking about you."

Summitt quipped, "We're listening."

She has early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, and turned the program over to Warlick in April 2012 and was named head coach emeritus.

She will be presented donations to her foundation during Sunday's game against Alabama. The contest closes out the Southeastern Conference's "We Back Pat" week, which supports the Pat Summitt Foundation's fight against Alzheimer's.

Friday, January 18, 2013

UT to honor Pat Summitt with banner at Thompson-Boling Arena

Evidence of the greatness her teams and players achieved during her 38-year head coaching career hangs from the rafters at Thompson-Boling Arena. Soon, Lady Vol Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt will have a banner of her own hoisted high above the basketball court that bears her name.

University of Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart announced Friday at the Salute To Excellence fundraiser that a ceremony to raise Summitt’s banner will be held prior to the Lady Vols’ home game vs. Notre Dame on Jan. 28. That contest starts at 7 p.m. Eastern time and is a Big Monday match-up that will be televised by ESPN2.

“We are thrilled to honor Pat and her outstanding career,” Hart said. “She is a legend who transcends women’s basketball. This banner will serve as yet another reminder of the impact Coach Summitt has at our University and throughout the country. Her integrity, class and competitiveness continue to inspire the world of sports and, now, the fight to beat Alzheimer’s.”

Summitt, the NCAA’s all-time winningest basketball coach in the men’s or women’s game with a record of 1,098-208 (.840), will join five players she coached as well as esteemed UT men’s coach Ray Mears, Vol Network broadcasting legend John Ward and three former Vols in the lofty reaches of Thompson-Boling.

Previous Lady Vol player honorees include Holly Warlick (No. 22 -- Feb. 18, 1980), who has followed in her mentor’s footsteps as Tennessee’s head coach, Bridgette Gordon (No. 30 -- Jan. 17, 1990), Daedra Charles (No. 32 -- Dec. 28, 1991), Chamique Holdsclaw (No. 23 -- Feb. 1, 2001) and Tamika Catchings (No. 24 -- Dec. 7, 2003).

Vol honorees include Mears and John Ward (March 1, 2006), Bernard King (No. 53 -- Feb. 13, 2007), Ernie Grunfeld (No. 22 - March 2, 2008) and Allan Houston (No. 20 -- March 6, 2011).

“It will be quite an honor to join those with a banner already hanging in the rafters at Thompson-Boling Arena,” Summitt said. “I appreciate the honor and feel very blessed to have been able to spend my entire career at the University of Tennessee. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities afforded me by such a great institution.”

During her time at the helm of the Lady Vol program, Summitt guided Tennessee to an NCAA-record eight NCAA National Championships. Her squads brought home the top prize in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007 and 2008, with the ’98 edition running the table with a 39-0 record. During her tenure, UT competed in all 31 NCAA Tournaments, advancing to 18 NCAA Final Fours and carding five runner-up finishes to accompany the eight title game victories.

In the Southeastern Conference, her squads won 16 SEC regular-season crowns and 16 postseason tournament titles. The Lady Vols captured the tourney trophy in each of her final three seasons, including last year in Nashville, and eight times Summitt’s charges claimed season sweeps of the hardware. In 33 seasons of SEC play under her direction, the Lady Vols accumulated a 317-44 record (.878) during the regular season and a 69-17 mark (.802) during the postseason.

While Summitt developed 12 Olympians, 34 WNBA players, 21 WBCA All-Americans who earned 36 honors and 39 All-SEC players who received 82 total accolades, her most respected statistic is the 100 percent graduation rate of her players. All 122 of the young ladies who completed their careers as Lady Vols have earned degrees.

Summitt’s personal honors could fill a book. For her on-the-court body of work, she was named the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000, No. 11 on Sporting News’ 50 Greatest Coaches of All-Time and the 2011 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year. She has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, including the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She was a five-time Naismith Coach of the Year, the 1998 AP Coach of the Year, the 1998 IKON/WBCA Coach of the Year and the 1983 and 1995 WBCA/Converse Coach of the Year. She added SEC Coach of the Year on eight occasions (1993, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011).

In the past year and a half, since Summitt announced a diagnosis of early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type on Aug. 23, 2011, and that she was stepping away from her head coaching position on April 18, 2012, she has been recognized far and wide not only for her prowess in the realm of athletics but also for the impact she has had on society as it pertains to women, leadership and the determination and open nature in which she has handled her diagnosis and fight against the disease.

Just a few of the awards among her lengthy list of recent accolades are the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the ESPYs’ Arthur Ashe Courage Award, the USTA’s Billie Jean King Legacy Award, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Lifetime Achievement Award, AARP National Inspire Award and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

No. 9 Tennessee 75, Auburn 66

Meighan Simmons scored 29 points and No. 9 Tennessee rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half for a 75-66 victory over Auburn on Thursday night.

The Lady Vols (14-3, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) used a 40-15 run to take control of a game they’d trailed most of the way en route to their seventh consecutive win.

Simmons scored nine points on two 3-pointers and a three-point play during a 15-2 spurt that started the turnaround. Kamiko Williams’ drive with 10:05 left gave Tennessee its first lead—49-47—since the game’s opening basket.

Simmons, who had 27 points in a overtime win over Florida, made 10 of 14 shots—including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.

Taber Spani had 12 points for the Lady Vols and Ariel Massengale added 11.

Hasina Muhammed and Blanche Alverson scored 15 points apiece to lead Auburn.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sam’s Club to Donate $20,000 to The Pat Summitt Foundation

Sam's Club locations in Knoxville will present a $20,000 donation to The Pat Summitt Foundation to help in the fight against early onset dementia.

Knoxville Sam's Club managers Tony Street and Marc Hayden will present the $20,000 check to Pat Summitt on Sunday, Jan. 20, during halftime of the Tennessee-Alabama women's basketball game. Tipoff is at 1 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Summitt is the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history, leading the Lady Vols for 38 years and to eight NCAA titles before stepping down in 2012 due to the early onset of Alzheimer's disease. In 2011, Summitt founded The Pat Summitt Foundation, making it her mission to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for this generous grant from the Sam's Club stores in East Tennessee,” said Coach Summitt. “This gift is an investment that will help establish The Pat Summitt Foundation as a major contender in the battle against Alzheimer's disease as we seek to create a substantial pool of resources for strategic grants in our three focus areas of research, education and awareness and patient and caregiver support.”

Summitt’s 1,098 career coaching victories are the most for any coach, man or woman, and her eight NCAA titles is a record for women. She was named one of the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time in any sport by the Sporting News in 2009, the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century in 2000, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2012.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

No. 9 Tennessee 78, Florida 75 in OT

Ninth-ranked Tennessee needed overtime and a few breaks to extend its dominance over Florida.

Meighan Simmons scored 27 points, Bashaara Graves added 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Lady Vols beat the Gators 78-75 in overtime Sunday.

Tennessee (13-3, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) snapped Florida's 15-game winning streak at home and won for the 44th time in 48 meetings.

''If you're a spectator, it was an exciting game,'' Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick said. ''For the coaches, it was a little gut-wrenching.''

Simmons and Graves came up huge for Tennessee, which won its sixth consecutive game.

Simmons made 11 of 23 shots, including 7 of 12 in the first half, and hit four 3-pointers. Graves was clutch down the stretch.

After injuring her neck late in regulation, Graves returned and made a free throw that tied the game at 70 with 12.6 seconds remaining in regulation. She hit two from the charity stripe with 8.4 seconds left in overtime, forcing the Gators (13-5, 2-2) to take a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Kayla Lewis' shot clanged off the front of the rim.

''She's our workhorse,'' Warlick said of Graves. ''She hit big free throws at the end. She's a competitor. She's been solid. She's been consistent.''

Florida battled back from a nine-point deficit in the second half and took the lead on January Miller's jumper in the lane with 29 seconds remaining. But Graves drew a foul on the other end and then calmly sent the game into overtime. The Gators failed to get off a shot in the final possession of regulation.

Even stranger was Florida's decision to foul with 25 seconds left in the extra frame of a tie game.

Coach Amanda Butler ordered her team to send Kamiko Williams to the line. Williams, a 64-percent free-throw shooter, put Tennessee ahead for good with the first of two.

''It was a calculated risk,'' Butler said. ''It was a bad decision. I make a lot of bad decisions. If I had it to do over again, I would trust our defense.''

Still, the Gators had chances.

Christin Mercer missed two free throws with 8.9 seconds remaining.

Those kinds of mistakes are usually costly against Tennessee.

''We didn't here to come out here today for a great showing,'' Butler said. ''This team is not satisfied by losing by three to Tennessee in overtime. It is no OK. We are not a team that is ever going to be OK with a loss by any margin anywhere. ... We're growing, we're on a journey, it's a process and this is a step in it. It's a painful step in our process, but a great showing isn't what we're after.''

Jaterra Bonds led Florida with 18 points. Miller and Carlie Needles chipped in 11 each.

''We won't come up short next time,'' Needles said.

Florida's leading scorer, Jennifer George, dislocated her right shoulder in the first half and did not return. Butler said it was a doctor's decision to keep George on the bench. She had eight points, two rebounds and two assists.

''That's one of the areas that give our team great confidence,'' Butler said. ''We're not a one-woman team. Although Jennifer is one of the best players in this league, we showed that our balance is legit.''

Florida made 19 of its first 40 shots, a shooting percentage that turned Warlick's stomach.

But the Lady Vols settled down in the second half and really tightened up with defensive stops at the end of regulation and overtime.

''It's a matter of getting up, bringing intense and playing with a lot of energy and with a lot of heart,'' Warlick said. ''This team thrives on getting defensive stops and scoring in transition. When we get really lax and stand around, we're not very good.''

Friday, January 11, 2013

Announcement from The Pat Summitt Foundation

Dear Pat Summitt Foundation Friends and Donors,

We Back Pat week is starting this weekend and runs Jan 13th – 20th! The Southeastern Conference features this week of women’s basketball games to support Pat’s fight against Alzheimer’s disease. This is the second year for We Back Pat week and there will be 17 games played in 14 cities. Click here to see the schedule of games.

We invite you to join Pat in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease by attending one of these games and encouraging friends and family members to go. Please visit our Donate Page to help Pat defeat Alzheimer’s on behalf of millions of Americans battling this disease.

Thank you for your support! Together We Will Win!!!

With Fierce Courage,
The Pat Summitt Foundation

Coach Summitt and her mother at the Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball game vs. Davidson College on December 28, 2012. This is the first Lady Vols game Pat and Hazel have watched together.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No. 9 Tennessee 84, Missouri 39

Meighan Simmons scored 18 points Thursday night and No. 9 Tennessee relied on suffocating defense to trounce Missouri 84-39 for its fifth straight victory.

Bashaara Graves added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Lady Vols (12-3, 3-0 SEC). Isabelle Harrison had 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, and Taber Spani scored 11 points.

Morgan Eye scored 18 points and shot 6 of 17 from 3-point range for Missouri (12-5, 1-2). Eye had gone 11 of 18 on 3s Sunday in an 82-77 victory over Auburn, falling one shy of the NCAA record.

Missouri set an SEC record with 18 3-pointers in the victory over Auburn, but the Tigers shot just 19.7 percent (13 of 66) on Thursday. They were 9 of 36 from 3-point range and 4 of 30 on 2-point attempts.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

No. 12 Tennessee 79, No. 10 Georgia 66

Bashaara Graves scored a career-high 23 points and No. 12 Tennessee rallied in the second half to beat No. 10 Georgia 79-66, giving the Lady Vols their fifth consecutive victory in this series.

After trailing 42-40 at halftime, Tennessee (11-3, 2-0 SEC) scored the first nine points of the second half and stayed in front the rest of the way.

Meighan Simmons added 16 points for Tennessee, while Jasmine Jones scored a career-high 12 points to go along with seven rebounds. Taber Spani had 11 points and seven rebounds.

Jasmine James scored 18 points and Khaalidah Miller had 14 for Georgia (13-2, 1-1 SEC).

In each of its two conference wins, Tennessee has broken open a close game in the second half. The Lady Vols won 73-53 at No. 18 South Carolina in their SEC opener Thursday after leading 32-31 at halftime.

Georgia has won just one of its last 14 meetings with Tennessee and has lost its last 11 games to the Lady Vols in Knoxville by an average margin of 24.7 points.

This game proved much closer, at least in the early going. The lead changed hands seven times in the first half alone, with neither team pulling ahead by more than six points.

The Lady Bulldogs entered the day having outscored their opponents 391-190 in points off the bench, and they had nine players averaging at least 14.8 minutes per game. Nine Georgia players scored in the first half Sunday, while Tennessee had just nine healthy players on its entire roster.

That balance helped Georgia take a halftime lead against a Tennessee team struggling with foul trouble. Tennessee sophomore center Isabelle Harrison, coming off a career-best performance in a 73-53 rout of South Carolina, picked up two early fouls and played just six minutes in the first half.

But instead of wearing down in the second half, the Lady Vols came out stronger.

Tennessee built a seven-point lead as Georgia missed its first eight shots of the second half. Georgia wouldn't go away quite yet and cut the deficit to two points when Tennessee got a little careless with the ball.

Simmons and Graves took over from there.

The junior guard and freshman forward each scored five points during a 14-3 run that helped Tennessee build a double-digit advantage. Simmons made a 3-pointer and sank an off-balance baseline jumper at the start of the run. Graves capped the spurt by making back-to-back baskets in the paint and converting the last one into a 3-point play.

Tennessee's lead never dropped below nine points the rest of the way. Tennessee shot 50 percent (15 of 30) while holding Georgia to 29 percent shooting (9 of 31) in the second half.

Georgia hasn't beaten Tennessee in Knoxville since edging the Lady Vols 94-93 in overtime on Dec. 8, 1996. Tennessee is the only SEC program with a winning record against Georgia.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Tennessee 73, South Carolina 53

Isabelle Harrison tied her career best with 18 points and set career highs with 14 rebounds and seven blocks as No. 12 Tennessee rallied with a big second half to beat No. 18 South Carolina 73-53 in the Southeastern Conference opener Thursday night.

The Lady Volunteers (10-3) hadn't lost their first SEC game since 1997, yet they trailed 35-32 after Tiffany Mitchell's bucket early in the second half. That's when Tennessee cranked things up and took control with a 35-7 run the next 13 minutes.

Ariel Massengale tied the game at 35-all with a 3-pointer before Harrison's inside basket put the Lady Vols in front. Meighan Simmons' layup gave Tennessee the lead for good, 41-40. Harrison put back Simmons' miss on the next possession and the rout was on.

When Taber Spani connected on her second 3-pointer, Tennessee led 67-42.

Mitchell led the Gamecocks (12-2, 0-1) with 14 points.

Spani finished with 18 points on 4 of 5 shooting from behind the arc for Tennessee. Massengale scored 13 and Simmons finished with 10 points, eight of those in those in the second half.

The Gamecocks had no answers for the 6-foot-3 Harrison, who made 9 of 12 baskets and had her way with South Carolina's post players in Ashley Bruner and Aleighsa Welch - both 6-foot.

South Carolina struggled from the field, shooting 29 percent (20 of 69) for the game. None of the Gamecocks' nine players finished over 50 percent shooting. Welch, the team's leading scorer coming in, was just 3 of 7 for six points, less than half her average.

Tennessee and South Carolina both entered the matchup trying to regain their strides after some high-profile defeats. The Lady Vols had won two straight since dropping games to defending national champ Baylor and then-No. 1 Stanford before Christmas. The Gamecocks had their program-tying best-ever start at 10-0 ended by Stanford two weeks ago and have since rebounded with blowout victories over South Carolina State and Western Carolina.

The Lady Vols haven't lost in Columbia since 1980 and are 43-2 all-time against South Carolina coming in. One of those defeats, though, came last February in Knoxville, ending Tennessee's 40-game series win streak.

The Lady Vols erased that defeat a month later, upending the Gamecocks in the SEC semifinals on the way to the league tournament title.

Tennessee's height proved critical early on as Harrison was not challenged underneath. She made 6 of 7 shots, mostly all from close in, as the Lady Vols opened a 32-29 lead in the final minute of the opening half. Bruner's two foul shots with 2.8 seconds remaining before the break, though, drew the Gamecocks within a point, 32-31.

Harrison also had two of Tennessee's three blocked shots.

The Lady Vols were playing without injured starter Cierra Burdick. The team announced Tuesday she was out indefinitely with a broken bone in her right hand. Burdick started 11 of the first 12 games and was averaging 8.8 points and 6.5 rebounds.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Tyler Summitt finds calling as coach

Pat Summitt's son is in his first season as an assistant with the Marquette women

By Mechelle Voepel

In August, Tyler Summitt was meticulously prepared -- his standard operating procedure -- to propose to his high school sweetheart, AnDe Ragsdale. The fact that he'd recently undergone an emergency appendectomy was of no consequence. Even with quite literally a tender side, he showed his tender side.

"He was still able to go on a walk with me," Ragsdale said of how Tyler popped the question. "He had this beautiful Bible made for me, and he read a verse out of it. On the front of it he had engraved, 'Mr. and Mrs. Summitt.' It was perfect; it was simple and sweet, and that's what I love. He was great … despite having a really sore abdomen."

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Lady Vols ready for SEC play

Coming off two wins at Thompson-Boling Arena, Tennessee kicks off the new year on the road at South Carolina for the beginning of Southeastern Conference action.

"I loved our intensity (in the Rutgers game)," head coach Holly Warlick said. "If we bring the intensity like we did on the defensive end like I know we can, it's exciting."

"It's a grueling conference. It's a conference that we have to come ready to play every night. To open up at South Carolina there, and then to come back and play's a tough road, but we started out the year sort of the same with three of our four games on the road so our pre-conference schedule will help us."

The Lady Vols will start league play without sophomore forward Cierra Burdick who fractured her fourth metacarpal in her shooting hand on Dec. 31, but UT will have Jasmine Phillips back in the lineup.

Tennessee has had steady results from freshman Bashaara Graves, who just earned her third SEC Freshman of the Week honor after posting her sixth career double-double against Rutgers.

"Anybody that comes to Tennessee, especially the freshmen, they come in hungry," junior guard Meighan Simmons said. "I'm not surprised, I think she's (Graves) doing an amazing job. She works hard. She gives 110 percent every day in practice. She's a silent assassin. She doesn't say much or try to have any confrontation. She just works. I think that's really what has helped her this year."

"I have to be tough," Graves said. "You're in Division I basketball and you're in the hardest conference, so you have to deal with things that like. I think I'm ready for that and conference play."

UT faces the Gamecocks at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 3, in Columbia. The game will be broadcast on SportsSouth and streamed on ESPN3.

"It's an opportunity for us to come out and play South Carolin tough there," Warlick said. "They beat us here last year. If somebody thinks going to South Carolina is a pushover, they're crazy. They have the mindset of their coach and play with heart."

Lady Vols' Burdick has broken bone in right hand

Tennessee forward Cierra Burdick is out indefinitely after breaking a bone in her right hand.

Although the 12th-ranked Lady Vols didn't practice Monday, Burdick was working out on her own when she fractured the fourth metacarpal of her shooting hand.

There is no timetable for Burdick's return, though she's expected to be back before the end of the season.

Burdick, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, ranks fourth on the team in scoring (8.8) and third in rebounding (6.5).

The Lady Vols (9-3) open their Southeastern Conference schedule Thursday at No. 18 South Carolina (11-1).

Tennessee already was playing without freshman guard Andraya Carter, who started 5 of the Lady Vols' first seven games before undergoing season-ending arthroscopic surgery for a torn labrum on her right shoulder.