Lady Vols' long-range goal: stopping Ball State

Cardinals' offense focused on hitting 3-point baskets

Tennessee began its NCAA women's basketball tournament preparations in earnest Tuesday by bracing for a bomb squad.

Ball State, the Lady Vols' opening opponent, doesn't resemble a first-round long shot when you consider its long-range shooting.

The No. 5 seed Lady Vols (22-10) and the No. 12 Cardinals (25-8) play at approximately 9:30 p.m. Sunday (TV: ESPN2) in the second game of a Berkeley (Calif.) regional doubleheader in Bowling Green, Ky. No. 4 Iowa State and No. 13 East Tennessee State play in the first game.

The winners meet Tuesday night in the second round for a trip to the regional semifinals.

Ball State has made 239 3-pointers this season in 660 attempts (36.2 percent accuracy). That total already would be a Tennessee single-season record, with two 3-pointers to spare.

Nearly 35 percent of the Cardinals' 1,914 field goal attempts have come from long range. To say that UT's defense will be stretched is certainly no stretch.

Although the Lady Vols put a greater emphasis on defending the 3-point shot after Oklahoma freshman Whitney Hand went 4-for-5 from long range against them on Feb. 2, they still have given up more 3-pointers to date (166) than they've scored (161).

"We have to have a sense of urgency about defending the three ball,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said.

The mindset during Tuesday's practice had its beginning in Monday night's tournament selection show, which featured candid comments from Summitt about the difficulties she's experienced in coaching her young team. The show also highlighted UT's relatively pedestrian place in the 64-team field as the lowest-seeded team in school history.

UT's tournament profile didn't seem to cast a long shadow over Ball State. The Cardinals gathered to watch the selection show at a Damons Grill in Muncie, Ind.

"Seeing them as a five seed, you know they're beatable,'' Ball State's Danielle Gratton told the Muncie Star Press.

Summitt thought that the evening put the tournament in perspective for the younger Lady Vols, particularly how it relates to Tennessee.

"The freshmen, I'm sure, sitting there, they realize how important this tournament is and what a big deal it is,'' Summitt said.

If anything, the rookies seemed energized afterward.

"I'm just ready to get this show on the road,'' freshman point guard Briana Bass said.

Summitt will gear this week's preparations toward preserving that feeling.

After meeting Monday night with Heather Mason, the Lady Vols' strength and conditioning coach, Summitt is following Mason's advice and giving the team today off.

"She said we have to have our legs at this time of year,'' Summitt said. "They can be the first thing to go. So I want to make sure they stay fresh."

The university being on spring break should help in this regard. Sophomore guard Angie Bjorklund had four mid-term exams last week.

"I know a lot of my teammates had a lot of tests (too),'' Bjorklund said. "Just having that out of the way and having a week off from school and just focusing on basketball is going to be huge for us. Getting good rest, taking care of the little things, that will help us get ready."

No classes also will afford Summitt the opportunity to meet with each player, which she plans to do. Her intention is to reinforce not only expectations but also the opportunity before them.

"We're not the top dog, we're the underdog,'' Summitt said. "And they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by laying it on the line."

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Comments » 17

OKEMO writes:

OKEMO say

lady vols better bring A game

ball state like nothing better
than knock out weak tennessee team

OKEMO has spoken

bmaples writes:

Got to keep Ball State locked up in the first half. Never give the lower seed a chance to build a lead; they start to believe and get stronger as they go.

C'mon, Ladies, win your first one!

Bruce in Louisville

DroopyDrawers writes:

Glory, this is your chance to show just how good you are. Stay focused. Strick, Manning, Bass, Cain, Gray, & Brewer; you can bring it also. Alex Fuller, continue to be a leader.

Lady Vols--THERE IS NO I in TEAM! Play tough.

Rebounding and defense win games and Championships.

CTOWNICON writes:

I am glad to hear that the team is ready to go. Brianna Bass I am glad to read that comment that you are ready to get the show on the road. Lady vols will rise to the occasion. Victory is yours so go out and get it. Lets silence these critics!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

here's the deal: we have the size and athletic ability to play man on their shooters. we have enough posts to rotate and contorl the inside.

On offense, they can't stop Kelley except to double- or triple- her. We've got to hit some outside jumpers.

The girl from Ball State made a mistake with her "Seeing them as a five seed, you know they're beatable,'' Ball State's Danielle Gratton told the Muncie Star Press." That will help the LV's be in a pissed-off, angry mood.

I'm quite concerned with ISU game. My worry there is, that if we make, we won't take ISU seriously enough. You hope at least ONE coach is brreaking down tape on them now. They aren't super, but they are NOT quitters.

CTOWNICON writes:

If they double or triple Kelly she is going to have to make the pass out of it to the open player under the basket. Someone should be there to receive that pass for an easy score. Outside jumpers will be needed as well.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to CTOWNICON:

I am glad to hear that the team is ready to go. Brianna Bass I am glad to read that comment that you are ready to get the show on the road. Lady vols will rise to the occasion. Victory is yours so go out and get it. Lets silence these critics!

I think Tennessee is stronger than even it thinks. And so I know other teams will be underestimating them all tournament long. Just how far we go depends on playing as a team, defending, and making our baskets. Being in a hurry to excel in all things pertaining to winning. I see that this team is damn dangerous! Always has been, and damn bad, and especially next year too, they are no pussycats~

topgun writes:

OK, everyone relax just a little. This is the Tennessee Lady Vols we are talking about. We are bigger, better, stronger!! Lady Vols will win this game and the next and go on to the sweet sixteen.

Ball State can talk about a #5 seed all they want, but this is the UTLVs!! Pat keeps a tight defense on their long ball, three shooters and they don't have a chance. UT scores about 50 points in the paint and wins by about 15.

ps11824 writes:

this excerpt from a very good blog, please take a look: nytimes.com
The Quad
For Women, Separate Is Unequal
by Jere Longman

[ The women have a great product to sell. Unfortunately, the powers that be don’t trust it enough to give it full display. By so adamantly separating the women’s tournament from the men’s, administrators risk marginalizing the sport instead of maximizing it. ]

Exactly my thoughts on how the powers that be can screw up even a good thing. They treat the women's tourney as an afterthought. They always have. Most likely, always will.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

jackxx#237396 writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Never thought I'd agree with Mike from Ucant. The great majority of the men ARE showboating hot dogs. When I watch a Vols man's game (which is rarely), if someone makes the his first attempt for a three, I turn it off. I know that there will be about forty more and about three successful and we'll lose by five. The guys like to dunk, then swing on the rim. No problem, raise the basket to twelve or thirteen feet and they'll see how Briana and Shannon feel.
Don't even mention crisp passing and foul shooting. And what is the percentage grad rate for male 'student-athletes'? Pat's is a fairly respectable 100%!

My wife and I have been LV basketball and softball fans for a long time. All I can say to the LV is keep on keepin' on and you'll be fine!

GO LV!!!!

Jackfergs in VA

BigRMan writes:

Hey Mike: If the women could make mad loot in the WNBA like the best men players do in the NBA they wouldn't stay 4 years either. Figure it out, it's not rocket science, unless you sign with Houston.

CTOWNICON writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

She can fight like one too, I am sure you don't want to be on the receiving end of her fists. Kelly is talented and you know it that is why you say she isn't so much. She is going to show you just how talented she is during this tournament. Kelly is capable of great things on that court, don't you forget it!

pammyvol1000 writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mike..that is a very rude thing to say about any college player. These are just kids. Would you like for someone to say something like that about your kids, if you have one. NO.. you would not. Kelly has battled a knee injury since High School. She is a very classy gal that went to a Christian school. Please refrain from saying ugly things about any kid.. or Lady Vol!!

mississippi writes:

in response to chuck0303#1342365:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I hope Kelley & co. see your stupid comment. Why because then she can go off on uconn and show you how that gorilla kicks butt

xvolx writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

maya moore plays like a gorilla. no talent.

RTB writes:

Mike from Connecticut --

That's a start, one normal post.

tenn32rebel writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

DON'T FEED THE TROLL!!! LET HIM SIT IN HIS DARK, DAMP CAVE ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!

"rebel"

GO BABY LADY VOLS---OUR FUTURE CHAMPIONS!!!

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