No easy answers for inconsistent Lady Vols

Summitt wants more production from Fuller

Neither a head count nor a roll call can account for Tennessee's competitive presence at the NCAA women's basketball tournament.

UT coach Pat Summitt conceded as much earlier this week.

"I could sit here at the house and drive myself nuts about how are we going to respond and who's going to show up,'' she said.

The fifth-seeded Lady Vols (22-10) showed up in Bowling Green Ky., Friday to begin final preparations for a first-round game against No. 12 Ball State (25-8) at approximately 9:30 p.m. Sunday (TV: ESPN2).

No. 4 Iowa State plays No. 13 East Tennessee State at 7 in the first game of a Berkeley (Calif.) regional doubleheader.

The winners plays Tuesday night for a trip to the regional semifinals.

Inconsistency has been a travel companion throughout UT's season. It's followed the Lady Vols through great victories, such as the 20-point second half comeback against Rutgers on Jan. 3, and deflating losses, like the listless performance at Kentucky on Feb. 19.

Having seven first-year players on the roster has contributed to the uneven ride. However, it's not the sole reason for the bumpiness.

One of Summitt's most pressing personnel concerns this week revolves around Tennessee's lone senior, forward Alex Fuller. The coach ticked off Fuller's scoring totals in three SEC tournament games - two points, no points, four points - as if they're seared in her memory.

Those games were a puzzling follow-up to Fuller scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in the regular-season finale against Vanderbilt.

"I want Alex to be at a different level,'' Summitt said. "She didn't have a good SEC tournament. We count a lot on her."

The practice time between tournaments wasn't enough time for sweeping changes. Still, some useful tinkering took place. For example, the coaches emphasized to guards Shekinna Stricklen and Angie Bjorklund the importance of keeping their hands off defenders, so as to avoid foul trouble. An effort was made to sharpen the setting and using of screens, too.

With the university on spring break, several players took advantage of their added free time by doing extra shooting.

At this point, UT's most reliable repellent against inconsistency likely involves sheer effort.

"I think the one thing that I've tried to emphasize to them is that is something we shouldn't have to coach,'' Summitt said. "We can help them with the execution, but you have to bring the overall intensity level and your desire to compete on every possession."

The thought isn't lost on UT's younger players. In the aftermath of Monday night's selection show, the freshmen were fairly consistent in their take on the regular season's best lessons.

Amber Gray: "Just to leave it all on the floor."

Alicia Manning: "Just to never take a possession off."

Stricklen: "We just have to play hard every minute for 40 minutes."

Manning extended the line of thinking to a fallen teammate.

"You never know when it is going to be your last game, so you really have to leave it all on the floor," she said. "I never really grasped that until I saw Vicki Baugh come back and tear her ACL (knee ligament) again. Knowing someone and being close to someone who has that happen to them, it's heartbreaking."

Bjorklund, who has played the full 40 minutes three times this season, said that conditioning isn't an issue regarding effort. It's a matter of confidence and determination.

"You have to trust what you did in the preseason, everything to build up to this, that it's going to carry you through," Bjorklund said. "You have go all out every possession and trust that."

Notebook: Forward Glory Johnson has had the cast on her left hand removed and will wear a wrap on the hand in the tournament. The freshman forward suffered a sprained thumb ligament in the SEC tournament.

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Comments » 26

dwa7#337691 writes:

1st..............well what do I get?

LdyVolFaninKS writes:

Watch your turnovers too ladies. No bad, lazy passes. I truly believe if you limit your turnovers to 15 or less you will win every game! Get your butts back on transition D and make every possession count! You can do it...I have faith in you! I hope you packed enough stuff to go all the way to St. Louis!!

PITBOSS009 writes:

THE GAMEPLAN IS THE SAME ITS TRIED & TRUE.YOUNG LADY STICK 2 THE SCRIPT.JST LISTEN 2 THE COACHING STAFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CTOWNICON writes:

I agree with Pat, Fuller is going to have to step up. It is all good being the leader on the floor but she is going to have to contribute with points. She rebounds pretty well but she is just to passive with the ball. She could be the difference in this tournament if she looks to score and rebound. Alex is better than she has been playing and she has a great jump shot and three point shot. She is capable of a 15 point game every time she hits the floor. They need that balance scoring and play hard defense and limit the turnovers. I know you ladies will rise to the occasion so practice and get some rest.

mmynatt writes:

There is no Candace on this year's team; but more critically there is no Nicky Anosike on this team. Fuller is a big disappointment all the way around. I know it is obvious now that Fuller could never fill either Parker's or Anosike's shoes, but no one else could have either. The team was just too damn young all the way around. They may win the first game, but I would not be too surprised to see this be the first Lady Vols' team to not make the Sweet 16.

They say the words Pat wants to hear, but even Vanderbilt fought harder on the court than this team did. This year sucks for the Vols sports teams -- football, men's bb, and women's bb..........maybe the softball team?????

xvolx writes:

Amber Gray, "just leave it all on the floor". She can't get on the floor long enough to leave it. This team has not played a forty minute game this year. That means all ten ladies. If they haven't learned by now, they'll be a packing for home.

CTOWNICON writes:

No two players are the same. Alex is not a disappointment to me. She just needs to step up her play. She is a capable player and she will prove it in the tournament. I think they will go as far as the want to go. I see them going pass the sweet 16. Pat knows her players and she knows what they are capable of and I am sure she has them ready to play. I don't know where all the negative comments from supposed to be fans are coming from. If you are a fan, try and leave positive comments or constructive criticism. If you are not a fan, then don't come here at all. Good luck lady vols!

LdyVolFaninKS writes:

in response to CTOWNICON:

No two players are the same. Alex is not a disappointment to me. She just needs to step up her play. She is a capable player and she will prove it in the tournament. I think they will go as far as the want to go. I see them going pass the sweet 16. Pat knows her players and she knows what they are capable of and I am sure she has them ready to play. I don't know where all the negative comments from supposed to be fans are coming from. If you are a fan, try and leave positive comments or constructive criticism. If you are not a fan, then don't come here at all. Good luck lady vols!

Well said! For a minute there I thought I was on the men's post. If you are a true fan, you will support the Lady Vols in a positive way, through the good and the bad.

volfan73120#211815 writes:

in response to mmynatt:

There is no Candace on this year's team; but more critically there is no Nicky Anosike on this team. Fuller is a big disappointment all the way around. I know it is obvious now that Fuller could never fill either Parker's or Anosike's shoes, but no one else could have either. The team was just too damn young all the way around. They may win the first game, but I would not be too surprised to see this be the first Lady Vols' team to not make the Sweet 16.

They say the words Pat wants to hear, but even Vanderbilt fought harder on the court than this team did. This year sucks for the Vols sports teams -- football, men's bb, and women's bb..........maybe the softball team?????

You don't sound like a very good fan to me with all your negative post. The Lady Vol track team just recently won the NCAA national championship. Does that not make you proud?

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to xvolx:

Amber Gray, "just leave it all on the floor". She can't get on the floor long enough to leave it. This team has not played a forty minute game this year. That means all ten ladies. If they haven't learned by now, they'll be a packing for home.

Well maybe it's time to string 4 or 5 good ones together, wouldn't that make you happy Mr. observer and positive thinker!

martic#220796 writes:

Will the fan that chewed me out about comments on Alex's play in SEC tournament please apologize? It turns out support in the huddle was not enough. Why Pat chose to point to her play in the Fla. game (as good)was a big suprise to me, yet you didn't comment when I mentioned how much all that huddle support meant in the Auburn game when she spent most of her time on the bench. And yes I said it Pat did have the nerve to mention how well she played!!!!! Even she seems to have realized the error of her ways.Do you?

martic#220796 writes:

in response to martic#220796:

Will the fan that chewed me out about comments on Alex's play in SEC tournament please apologize? It turns out support in the huddle was not enough. Why Pat chose to point to her play in the Fla. game (as good)was a big suprise to me, yet you didn't comment when I mentioned how much all that huddle support meant in the Auburn game when she spent most of her time on the bench. And yes I said it Pat did have the nerve to mention how well she played!!!!! Even she seems to have realized the error of her ways.Do you?

I believe that fan to be ladyvolfanforever. Look, I've been a LV fan since you could walk in and sit wherever you wanted to and only a hand full of people where there. I have pulled for them to the end. I have personally been at the 2 Championship losses to UCONN and the loss to Michigan St. So I've suffered through under performing players and teams before.But I also had the pleasure to see us win 2 Championships which was a real high. I have nothing against Alex, I do wish she would play the way she is capable of. So from here on out I will only post the positive. GO LADY VOLS!!!!!

PureOrange writes:

Effort and heart from the tip-off to the final horn. No more of this half a game effort stuff. Either play hard on every play or prepare for the trip back to Knoxville. It is really that simple.

If our Ladies play as they have played in many games this year, just as our men have played, they will get the same results our men got.

Playing this, "turn it on when I want to" will not get it.

I hope they have finally learned that lesson. If so, they can go far; if not, they will get their names in the record books as the first losers before the final 16.

voloffaith writes:

in response to dwa7#337691:

1st..............well what do I get?

We'll give you a collective atta girl for the most brilliant post on this article about the Lady Vols.

xvolx writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

Well maybe it's time to string 4 or 5 good ones together, wouldn't that make you happy Mr. observer and positive thinker!

"I don't know if this team can be reached". This generation doesn't have the competitive spirit". I don't know who is going to show up to play". That positive enough for you. Those are Pat Summitt's words. I'm sick of all you positive thinkers. In the real world, it's results that matter. bottom line. fini

ps11824 writes:

One of our ex Lady Vols, Sybil Dosty, playing for Arizona St. now leading Andy Landers' lady dawgs by 8 points. The Sun Devils looking good. Dosty left TN after her sophomore year averaging just 10.2 minutes per game was obviously not happy with the fit/pt here in Ktown. She and Moss would have been in orange this NCAA season to help Alex Fuller provide veteran leadership for our young'uns. Would it be a positive factor? What do I know? Why did they leave?

We just never know when we will be deleted or why, do we?

I can say this with all sincerity. I love my Lady Vols, regardless. Whether the dance goes on and on, I don't know, but they will be a force to be reckoned with next season, mark it down!

Seriously seeking St. Louis.

blitzshoot writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get a life Michelle or come to Kissimmee,FL so I can tell you in person. Either way, just STFU.

ps11824 writes:

A former Lady Vol, Dawn Marsh, pg of the '87 NC team is staying in the game wearing the black&white and blowing a whistle in the North Carolina vs Central Florida game.

Caspian writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Congratulations. Those were excellent years for UConn, to be sure. They were definitely the better team on those occasions.

ps11824 writes:

SEC looking good so far. Miss St & UA getting thru the 1st round.

Lady Vols look good anytime! May I elucidate?

1987, 89, 91, 96, 97, 98, 07 & 08. Did you say '08? Wasn't that the year whatever was picked by, well, everyone except Lady Vol fans to win it all? Yep, that was the NCAA tourney championship which was awarded to whatever long before the tourney started. Whatever had to cough it up, however, when whatever was schooled by who? The cardinal. The cardinal? Isn't that a dancing tree? Yep, they danced all over whatever. They later danced with the Lady Vols and the Lady Vols danced to the champion's podium...

I certainly hope my comments aren't too tetchy for the naysayers. Sometimes they cannot handle the truth.

CTOWNICON writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The facts you can't dispute is that Uconn will always be inferior to Tennessee. Lady vols have 8 championships and Uconn 5. Uconn and every other womens basketball team is playing catch up to the lady vols. Lady vols will forever reign and be the measuring stick by which all other teams are measured. Until Uconn or any other team passes the 8 championships that Tennessee has they can't say anything to take Tennessee shine. Lady vols are the brightest stars in the field and don't you forget it. Uconn trying to get number 6 and they want get it, they will lose, so you can continue to suffer with your jealousy of the lady vols. Choke on our 8 championships.

CTOWNICON writes:

in response to blitzshoot:

Get a life Michelle or come to Kissimmee,FL so I can tell you in person. Either way, just STFU.

When you get through telling it off, push it in the swamp and let the gators eat. If you need help I will be more than happy to assist you.

CTOWNICON writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your book doesn't matter. Lady vols have victories over Uconn, maybe not in championship games but they do have victories over them. If Uconn could have made it to the championship game in the last two years they would have suffered under the greatness of the lady vols and Queen Pat Summitt. Uconn has been in a serious drought when it comes to getting to the championship game, tell Geno to fix that coaching problem since he is in your book, something.

abnermc writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You mean Geno Soprano?

ps11824 writes:

When you are the best, you don't have to answer questions.

martic#220796 writes:

in response to Mike_From_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I said I had personally attended the 2 losses, not that they had only lost 2. Maybe you should read with understanding!!!! I know and felt every one of those losses. As I said I was present for 2 Championship losses to UCONN!!!!!!!!

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