Caldwell endorses Summitt's response to uneven effort

Tennessee guard Kamiko Williams, left, passes the ball as UCLA forward Nina Earl, right, defends at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. The Lady Vols defeated the Bruins 61-47.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Kamiko Williams, left, passes the ball as UCLA forward Nina Earl, right, defends at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. The Lady Vols defeated the Bruins 61-47.

Tennessee got an earful from two coaches on Saturday.

First, the Lady Vols were informed by UT coach Pat Summitt that an 61-47 women’s basketball victory over UCLA wasn’t up to standards and would cost them their off day today.

“I don’t know why our team didn’t come more focused, competitive and driven,’’ Summitt said.

The Lady Vols then listened to UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell. She was ushered into the postgame interview room early so that she and her team could catch a flight.

“I want to hear this,’’ said UT guard Angie Bjorklund after she and teammates Glory Johnson and Taber Spani yielded the mircophone and took seats in the audience.

Turns out that they had heard it all before.

“Ladies, I probably would be in agreement with (Summitt) if I was still on the staff here — that we would probably come back (and practice) the next day,’’ said Caldwell, a former Lady Vols assistant coach, “because there were some things that we were able to exploit.”

No. 6 Tennessee (5-0) started in listless fashion and fell behind by 10 points in the first half against an opponent that wasn’t yielding anything in terms of toughness and determination.

What saved the day for UT before a matinee crowd of 14,176 at Thompson-Boling Arena was a 49-35 rebounding advantage, which translated into a 30-4 edge in second-chance points. Tennessee’s defensive effort limited UCLA (4-2) to six second-half field goals as well.

Freshman Spani led Tennessee with 16 points. Bjorklund scored all 12 of her points in the second half. Johnson scored 11 before fouling out with 4:08 left.

Center Kelley Cain grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.

The most positive part of the postmortem was the report from the trainer’s room. Sophomore wing player Alicia Manning, who was helped off the floor in the second half, suffered only a right knee contusion after colliding with a UCLA player. Manning is expected to be fine.

After listening to both coaches, Bjorklund indicated that she couldn’t have said it better.

“It’s obvious that we can be better, no matter who’s telling you,’’ she said. “I could tell that we need to get back in the gym. No question.”

Tennessee’s problems began on offense. One game after their team shooting percentage never dipped below 50 percent against Middle Tennessee State, the Lady Vols couldn’t reach 30 percent in the first half against the Bruins.

Bjorklund and point guard Shekinna Stricklen didn’t score a point before the break. Stricklen eventually scraped together six but shot 1-for-9 from the floor.

“Shekinna didn’t come in and run our team,’’ Summitt said. “She looked like she was absolutely about to go to sleep, just sitting there in the huddle.”

While the Lady Vols were struggling to run plays and make shots, UCLA was methodical in controlling game tempo from the outset and building a lead that reached 24-14 after a jumper by Rebekah Gardner 4:54 before halftime.

“You have to give Nikki and her staff credit and her team,’’ Summitt said. “They were far more motivated and outplayed us in the first half.”

Spani began UT’s comeback by scored eight of the team’s final 11 points in the first half. She started the second half by driving to the basket, drawing a foul and converting two free throws.

A rebound basket by Johnson gave Tennessee the lead for good (31-29) with 18:55 left, but the advantage didn’t reach double figures for good until the final 4:30.

UCLA hung around thanks to freshman forward Markel Walker, who scored more than half of the Bruins’ 20 second-half points and took game honors for points (19) and rebounds (14).

Not even Tennessee’s defense in the second half did much to brighten Summitt’s day. Therefore, the day after will include a practice.

“I’m the one that’s responsible because I’m the head coach,’’ Summitt said. “But the accountability of the players was not there and it’s got to get there.”

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Comments » 14

dbc5361 writes:

yawn

LdyVolFaninKS writes:

Observations:
1. Randy Smith is the worst commentator EVER!!
2. Brian is still a TERRIBLE ref!!
3. The Lady Vols need to use the glass more.
4. The Lady Vols need to go back to the passing
basics. What ever happened to a good ole 2
handed chest pass?
5. Pat still knows how to coach 'em up at half
time.
6. Still looking pretty good, but still need to
play 2 good halves. The first half was pretty
ugly.

CTOWNICON writes:

Congratulations on the win! Bad shooting night but they pulled it off. Two things: Got to play a better first half and learn to handle defensive pressure. I guess I should have said three, cut back on the turnovers and look inside more when the shots are not falling. Kelly got overlooked a lot tonight. Glory and Taber, I applaude the effort.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

I thought the camera man had the hots for Nikki. Can't blame him, she looked hot!!!!!!

utfan00 writes:

This team was lacking something today. I thought they all were lazy. I was suprised to big 6'6 Kelly Cain put up several shots right under the goal and failed to make the basket. What was going on with her tonight? I don't think they deserve to be back in the locker room.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

I agree with utfan00 that the team looked lazy, especially in the first half. Got to play with more aggression....shots have to go in. Game reminded me of last year, when they would only play well for one half....got to play well the entire game! Get some hustle Lady Vols! GBO!

CTOWNICON writes:

I wanna give credit to Nikki and her team! They did not look intimidated and that Markel Walker was more than a handful. The pac-10 is a good conference. Some of their teams are underrated. Look at USC, they took out two top 25 teams, Texas and Miss. State. Just goes to show you that no matter who you are playing, you better bring your best effort to the floor.

ladivolfan writes:

in response to LdyVolFaninKS:

Observations:
1. Randy Smith is the worst commentator EVER!!
2. Brian is still a TERRIBLE ref!!
3. The Lady Vols need to use the glass more.
4. The Lady Vols need to go back to the passing
basics. What ever happened to a good ole 2
handed chest pass?
5. Pat still knows how to coach 'em up at half
time.
6. Still looking pretty good, but still need to
play 2 good halves. The first half was pretty
ugly.

This guy isn't so bad compared to the couple that commentated the MTSU game. I wanted to plug up my ears and yell at them to stop talking!

LdyVolFaninKS writes:

in response to ladivolfan:

This guy isn't so bad compared to the couple that commentated the MTSU game. I wanted to plug up my ears and yell at them to stop talking!

I had to listen to that game on the internet, which wasn't bad. Mickey Dearstone is the best in the business in my opinion! Smith couldn't keep the player's straight throughout the entire game! Kept mixing up Cain and Glory, calling out wrong player's names throughout the entire game. I finally muted it for a while and turned on some tunes!! Just realized I could have listened to Mickey call this one while watching it on SS. Maybe I'll do that Tuesday!

chaos001 writes:

in response to LdyVolFaninKS:

Observations:
1. Randy Smith is the worst commentator EVER!!
2. Brian is still a TERRIBLE ref!!
3. The Lady Vols need to use the glass more.
4. The Lady Vols need to go back to the passing
basics. What ever happened to a good ole 2
handed chest pass?
5. Pat still knows how to coach 'em up at half
time.
6. Still looking pretty good, but still need to
play 2 good halves. The first half was pretty
ugly.

Amen!!!

1. The man couldn't even keep the numbers straight for the players. What a waste of air.

2. Inline (sp?) makes me want to jump through the TV and punch him in his stupid face. Another waste of air.

I'll add a #7. Box out and set up for the rebound. Lots of wasted second chance opportunities!

phhome writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

I thought the camera man had the hots for Nikki. Can't blame him, she looked hot!!!!!!

I can't blame the cameraman, I have the hot's for Nikki, she is all that and then some, but our lady vols look like they ate a bit too much turkey, with the fixin's and don't forget, Nikki knew what buttons to push for our girls, while having her girls ready to play. Look forward to Pat's extra day of practice, she needs to get into Kamiko's head, the girl could be great down the line, plus I wish Vicki would get back soon! Take no prisoners! GLV's!!

xvolx writes:

wasn't pretty. Didn't take lady vols long to resort to last year. Bjorkland, "we need to get back in the gym". What do you think you were playing in today?

richvol writes:

If Cain makes her layups we win easily. It sure didn't look good in the 1st half as we took bad shots,missed them and were just plain outworked. Kelly played better in the 2nd half. She moves better up and down the court from last year. Glory played well but the officials were terrible. They called every little touch foul on her while letting Kelly get banged around under the basket...call it evenly. Taber is impressive along with Kamiko. If Brewer would get aggressive she could be really good...she has skills.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Girls you are the Lady Vols and we just expect more every game every play. Play like you practice because I'm sure Pat practice you with excellence.

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