John Adams: Lady Vols should put UConn back on schedule

John Adams
Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, left, shakes hand with Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma before an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 7, 2006. Tennessee won, 89-80.

Photo by Wade Payne

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, left, shakes hand with Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma before an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 7, 2006. Tennessee won, 89-80.

Connecticut is two victories away from a third consecutive women's national championship. But there's a Tennessee twist to the Final Four storyline.

The Huskies aren't just on the brink of another national title. They're on the verge of catching UT.

Heavens to Holdsclaw! Who could have imagined such a development 13 years ago when the Lady Vols won their third consecutive national championship?

Back then, the national championship scoreboard read: UT 6, UConn 1. On Final Four Sunday, the updated score: UT 8, UConn 7.

There's nothing the Lady Vols can do to thwart their pursuer, except pull really hard for the team that knocked them out of the NCAA tournament last Monday night. If Notre Dame lets them down, pull just as hard for the winner of the Stanford-Texas A&M game to upend the Huskies.

Win or lose in the Final Four, UConn already has passed the Lady Vols as women's basketball's preeminent program by winning six of the last 11 national championships. So how does UT regain the momentum in what long has been a two-way battle for supremacy in the sport?

My first recommendation: Put Connecticut back on the schedule.

My second recommendation: Put it back on the schedule twice a season, just like in 2000.

Don't do it in the best interest of women's basketball, which has never come up with anything close to a comparable rivalry. Do it in the best interest of Lady Vols basketball.

UT canceled the series with UConn after the 2006-07 season and also turned in the Huskies to the NCAA for alleged violations, which included their recruitment of Maya Moore.

Since then, UConn has gotten nothing more than a slap on the wrist for a secondary NCAA violation, and Moore has emerged as the game's best player. Her career will end with this Final Four. It's time to move on.

And it's time to realize that UT is better off with UConn than without it.

Go back to last Monday's 73-59 loss to Notre Dame in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, after which Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said with considerable conviction: "We got exposed." Then, she added a couple of words: "We definitely got exposed defensively."

Coach Geno Auriemma's UConn teams are renowned for their ability to pick apart a flawed defense. If the Lady Vols had played the Huskies in January or early February as they once did, their shortcomings would have been illuminated long before they were one game shy of the Final Four.

That could have been a catalyst for improvement. Instead, the Lady Vols developed a false sense of team worth by breezing through a conference that isn't what it used to be. Just four SEC teams made the NCAA tournament, and only UT made it to the Elite Eight. None of the conference's five WNIT entries advanced beyond the quarterfinals.

So what if the Lady Vols went 19-0 against conference teams in winning both the regular-season championship and the SEC tournament? Their record against the Big East was more revealing. They were 3-2, including double-digit losses to Georgetown and Notre Dame and a hard-fought 79-70 victory over Marquette at Thompson-Boling Arena in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Lady Vols should be even better next season. And their strengths will be magnified by their overmatched conference competition.

You want to know your strengths? Play in the SEC.

You want to know your weaknesses? Play UConn.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 31

Volfan1 writes:

I believe you can leave that for Pat to decide.

BleedsOrangeinMO writes:

Maybe put a few more Big East teams on the schedule but don't give Geno the satisfaction.
I've been a Lady Vol fan all my life; I hate Geno but really like what he has done at UCONN.

liberalvol writes:

I've seen all of Geno's smirking face that I want to see.

ClassicVol (Inactive) writes:

I've said all along they should put UConn back on the schedule. That taking them off would hurt more than help UT.

John nailed this one.

Greyfeathers writes:

Right on target, J.A., but it won't happen. Summitt knows Uconn would clean their clock, Gino is just a better coach and recruiter. Yes, that infuriates UT fans but it is the truth. Summitt is over the hill, her coaching style has gone by the wayside. She will hang on a few more years and then Caldwell will take over and UT will be back where they should be.

Remember, you heard it first from Lazybones!!

alvol writes:

in response to Greyfeathers:

Right on target, J.A., but it won't happen. Summitt knows Uconn would clean their clock, Gino is just a better coach and recruiter. Yes, that infuriates UT fans but it is the truth. Summitt is over the hill, her coaching style has gone by the wayside. She will hang on a few more years and then Caldwell will take over and UT will be back where they should be.

Remember, you heard it first from Lazybones!!

I don't think Pat dropped uconn because she was afraid uconn would, as you put it, "clean their clock". She dropped Uconn, in my opinion, to make a point about his recruiting tactics. Pat won the last 2, and had the best team coming back when she dropped. Personally, I would like to see them play again. No doubt uconn has the stronger program right now, but as far as Geno being the best coach, that's your opinion for what it's worth.

TeeBall writes:

I know I'll get slammed for this but ...

I think Pat needs to stop playing games by committee. Since Pat does such a tremendous job recruiting, she always has 10 or more All-Americans on the team and I think she feels an obligation to play them all. Consequently, our teams don't develop the "chemistry" that other teams do as the season progresses.

Players don't just instinctively know where their teammates are going to be on every play, that comes with repetition and lots of playing time with the same players on the court. Pat constantly changes her starting line-up throughout the season and our girls never develop that chemistry. Geno, on the other hand, quickly settles on his lineup and has 1, 2 or 3 players, at the most, that will relieve a starter when necessary otherwise, his girls play together the entire season.

IMHO, Pat has won in the past with superior talent but as the women's game has developed and become more mainstream, many universities have begun to focus on womens basketball. They now recruit top shelf atheletes and coaches for their programs so winning on talent alone is not enough.

As food for thought, how many elite mens basketball teams can you think of that play 10+ players significant minutes every game throughout the season ... AND win championships ... I'll bet NONE !!!

OK ... you're turn ... slam away !!!

UCbb510 writes:

It's sad that Lady Vol fans have become so brain washed ...believing that the reason the rivalry ended was because of cheating by UCONN. The accusations were so false and ridiculous as to claim that Bird and Taurasi influenced Moore on an airplane trip ...when, in fact, they were both playing in Russia at the time of the alleged offense. Get over your wallowing and think about the future of Tenn basketball and the value of restarting this great rivalry. It's one thing to be loyal...another to be totally blind. P.S. In case you haven't checked the ESPN site..anyone can tour their facility. The NCAA saw that for what it was..no big deal. J.A.has it right...but it won't happen due to Pat's stubborn pride.

alvol writes:

in response to TeeBall:

I know I'll get slammed for this but ...

I think Pat needs to stop playing games by committee. Since Pat does such a tremendous job recruiting, she always has 10 or more All-Americans on the team and I think she feels an obligation to play them all. Consequently, our teams don't develop the "chemistry" that other teams do as the season progresses.

Players don't just instinctively know where their teammates are going to be on every play, that comes with repetition and lots of playing time with the same players on the court. Pat constantly changes her starting line-up throughout the season and our girls never develop that chemistry. Geno, on the other hand, quickly settles on his lineup and has 1, 2 or 3 players, at the most, that will relieve a starter when necessary otherwise, his girls play together the entire season.

IMHO, Pat has won in the past with superior talent but as the women's game has developed and become more mainstream, many universities have begun to focus on womens basketball. They now recruit top shelf atheletes and coaches for their programs so winning on talent alone is not enough.

As food for thought, how many elite mens basketball teams can you think of that play 10+ players significant minutes every game throughout the season ... AND win championships ... I'll bet NONE !!!

OK ... you're turn ... slam away !!!

I agree with your post. Pat implied as much in and earlier article that she would be looking at limiting the rotation next yr. With a good (hopefully) point guard coming in next yr and improved post play, the ladies should be tough.

alvol writes:

in response to UCbb510:

It's sad that Lady Vol fans have become so brain washed ...believing that the reason the rivalry ended was because of cheating by UCONN. The accusations were so false and ridiculous as to claim that Bird and Taurasi influenced Moore on an airplane trip ...when, in fact, they were both playing in Russia at the time of the alleged offense. Get over your wallowing and think about the future of Tenn basketball and the value of restarting this great rivalry. It's one thing to be loyal...another to be totally blind. P.S. In case you haven't checked the ESPN site..anyone can tour their facility. The NCAA saw that for what it was..no big deal. J.A.has it right...but it won't happen due to Pat's stubborn pride.

I agree some of those claims apparently were not justified, and tours of ESPN are available to the public, but most folks can't go to uconn and have uconn schedule the tour using university facilities. That was the secondary violation. I for one don't know what went on behind the scene of this issue and I seriously doubt you do either.I agree about restarting the rivalry.

notsold writes:

in response to TeeBall:

I know I'll get slammed for this but ...

I think Pat needs to stop playing games by committee. Since Pat does such a tremendous job recruiting, she always has 10 or more All-Americans on the team and I think she feels an obligation to play them all. Consequently, our teams don't develop the "chemistry" that other teams do as the season progresses.

Players don't just instinctively know where their teammates are going to be on every play, that comes with repetition and lots of playing time with the same players on the court. Pat constantly changes her starting line-up throughout the season and our girls never develop that chemistry. Geno, on the other hand, quickly settles on his lineup and has 1, 2 or 3 players, at the most, that will relieve a starter when necessary otherwise, his girls play together the entire season.

IMHO, Pat has won in the past with superior talent but as the women's game has developed and become more mainstream, many universities have begun to focus on womens basketball. They now recruit top shelf atheletes and coaches for their programs so winning on talent alone is not enough.

As food for thought, how many elite mens basketball teams can you think of that play 10+ players significant minutes every game throughout the season ... AND win championships ... I'll bet NONE !!!

OK ... you're turn ... slam away !!!

I agree 100%

naplessmith2 writes:

Pat Summit showed herself as petty and a sore looser when Maya choose UConn.I think Maya has a brain and didn't come to UConn because of a tour to ESPN. Give the girl credit. As I think Pat is a great coach, she tends to throw her kids under the bus when they do not make her look good. We are talking about kids loosing a game for crying out loud, they feel bad enough. I for one don't miss the rivalry games...I did the fist year.
There are a lot of 'good teams' out there to play and we do. 'WE' don't need TN they need us more. The Big East is the toughest league to play in. That is my opinion as well as a lot of sports commentators.....just saying

UCONNfaninaz writes:

Stop with the trashing of Pat Summitt. I'm a UCONN fan and I think Summitt is a great coach and obviously a very good recruiter. Hasn't anyone noticed that most championship teams over the years have had one great player? Holdsclaw, Parker, Taurasi, and Maya Moore are the reasons UT and UCONN have been so dominant over the last ten years. UCONN actually had a committee of great players in Bird, Cash, et al, but they were much better when Taurasi arrived (except for that bad game against Notre Dame in the 2000 semi-final).

I am still amazed that that UCONN team ever lost a game, given that everybody said their second team was the second best in the country at the time. But they did lose.

I do agree that Pat might have too many good players, but mainly she doesn't have a superstar. I am disappointed that UT and UCONN will not face off today, but I don't really care if they play during the season. There are plenty of other good teams out there for UCONN to beat!

Marie37421 writes:

What lazy reporting. A real reporter would actually investigate the reason the series was ended. Pat Summitt is not going to play someone that she knows paid for their players. Maya's mom now makes her money selling bags to UCONN boosters through the school store. http://www.bagsbykathrynm.net/. Why don't you actually investigate that John?

chatteastbrainerd writes:

The LV have always played one of the toughest schedules of any team in the nation. However, this year's and last year's schedule did not see them playing outside the SEC after December. In the past, Pat has played Duke or NC, sometimes both, during the SEC part of the schedule. She needs to consider adding a game or two that would challenge the LV and prepare them for the NCAA tournament. Personally, I would like them to play Maryland, Oklahoma, or Notre Dame on a regular basis. Playing Old Dominion, Texas, and Rutgers, while nostalgic, does little to prepare the LV for tougher competition.

mrvol2u writes:

in response to UCbb510:

It's sad that Lady Vol fans have become so brain washed ...believing that the reason the rivalry ended was because of cheating by UCONN. The accusations were so false and ridiculous as to claim that Bird and Taurasi influenced Moore on an airplane trip ...when, in fact, they were both playing in Russia at the time of the alleged offense. Get over your wallowing and think about the future of Tenn basketball and the value of restarting this great rivalry. It's one thing to be loyal...another to be totally blind. P.S. In case you haven't checked the ESPN site..anyone can tour their facility. The NCAA saw that for what it was..no big deal. J.A.has it right...but it won't happen due to Pat's stubborn pride.

Just a tip, don't insult someone and then try to convince them that your insult is true.

Also, for your information, the Moore trip to ESPN was an NCAA secondary violation because it was set-up by UCONN officials during Moore's unofficial visit. Uconn acknowledged and "self-reported" the incident after the NCAA questioned them about it. Go figure! I would advise you not to try that little trick with the new and improved NCAA. (If you don't understand call Bruce Pearl).

As far as John Adams and his article, nonsense as usual Mr. Adams.

If history is any indication in UT and UConn's women's basketball, it is all about the players when it comes to Natl. Champ. banners. UConn's came with Taurasi and Moore. UT's with Parker and "The Meek's". UT would have had one more had Parker not gone pro one year early.

The game between UT and UConn, like the rift, is between the two coaches. The game would not be near as wanted without the rift or either one of the coaches.

Sorry to say but Gino took it too far. Short-Man Syndrome is a sad condition and Little Gino has a double dose. Let him act like a man and then maybe the game can begin again.

You state Pat has a stubborn streak, I don't remember any olive branches being extended from Gino.

The end result will be not playing each other and the fans suffer. But I support my coach because in this case she is right to cancel the game. It had far too much to do about her and Gino rather than the game itself.

volfan#207874 writes:

I think that John Adams should stick to TRYING to report sports news, instead of TRYING to run the sports programs at UT. We have highly capable coaches who are paid big bucks to handle those chores...Without the aid of the egotistical John. If John Adams were a great coach and motivator/recruiter of young adult men and women, then I would tend to hear him out. Instead he has been nothing more than a thorn in the side of all that UT stands for. Send him packing!

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

Pat schedules some pretty tough competition every year. Georgetown could have, and should have, knocked UConn out of the tournament. It's kind of stupid to say we have to play UConn to get ready for the tournament. After all, we did play, and defeat, the team (Stanford) that beat UCon by 12 points. Wouldn't playing the team that "exposed" UConn be better tournament preparation than playing UConn?

The fact is, UConn won the battle for Maya Moore. Pat knew how important that battle was. As a result, UConn is playing for its third straight National Championship. Had she come to Tennessee, we might be playing for our fourth straight.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

Actually, I guess it would be our 5th straight.

divsoc#1396388 writes:

Well I know I will get hammered by the Vol fans for this but it's true. Pat Summitt is an icon, a legend, a great recruiter. She has helped lay the foundation for women's college basketball. With all of that said she is not a better coach than Geno. Except for Maya Moore the Lady Vols have more talent than the Huskies and usually do. (Except for Bird, Taurasi, et al years)
The difference is Geno looks for a bit more than just talent (although you have to have some)and he knows what to do with it better than Pat. Pat knows this which is why she won't play UCONN because her pride won't let her be second best to him. Yeah he say's a lot of crazy stuff that annoys her but that's Geno. All the other coaches deal with it because despite what he say's it's pretty much the truth. The bottom line is he can out coach the heck out of her. The year when UCONN routed the Lady Vols in the championship game by back dooring them all night long and Pat looked clueless to make any adjustments showed me she is not in Geno's coaching class. Look at this year with Notre Dame. The Lady Vols are the more athletic, deeper, talent laden team, but Muffet McGraw out coached her as well. Yeah they had a long winning streak but always had way more talent. Pat made a bogus stink about Geno recruiting because she knew without a Holdsclaw, Catchings, Parker, or in this case Moore type player she wasn't going to beat UCONN. She saw it early on when she went from two games a year to one against UCONN.
Not playing UCONN has hurt the Lady Vols more than the Huskies although people (myself included) would like to see it start up again. Problem...Pat has continually challenged Geno's integrity so his feeling is now we don't need Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols.
Sadly for the woman's game, he's right again.

rainbow6 writes:

No way! Tennessee's Lady Vols have nothing to gain from playing Connecticut in basketball.

Coach Summitt has nothing to prove to anyone about her teams, her record or her character. She is who she says she is and most people are satisfied with that.

What more should she be asked to do?

She was justified in her reasons for ceasing to play U Conn during the regular season.

I hope we never play them again---unless it is in the final game of the NCAA tournament.

bmaples writes:

Agree with the general premise: Lady Vols need to crank up their schedule. And not just UConn.

The second-best SEC team this year was Kentucky. How far did they get in the NCAA? Lady Vols got false security in that undefeated SEC record.

I think the worst result of not scheduling tougher schools is that the players get a false sense of how good they are. One of the most important tools for helping teams get better is to help them see what "great" actually looks like. Playing great teams helps with that.

Good column, JA.

Bruce in Louisville

divsoc#1396388 writes:

If she was right in her accusations the NCAA would have hit UCONN for major penalties. She accused Taurasi and Bird of driving Moore around when they were in Russia. She wanted to bail out of the game but have it justified. It's amazing how all the coaches in the country recruiting Moore, Pat is the only one that comes up with these "alleged" violations. All these other coaches missed those violations. Is Pat the CIA of recruiting ? The NCAA didn't agree.
You're right she doesn't have anything to gain, but the women's game would benefit. I do understand why you don't want to play them...you don't want to lose.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to divsoc#1396388:

If she was right in her accusations the NCAA would have hit UCONN for major penalties. She accused Taurasi and Bird of driving Moore around when they were in Russia. She wanted to bail out of the game but have it justified. It's amazing how all the coaches in the country recruiting Moore, Pat is the only one that comes up with these "alleged" violations. All these other coaches missed those violations. Is Pat the CIA of recruiting ? The NCAA didn't agree.
You're right she doesn't have anything to gain, but the women's game would benefit. I do understand why you don't want to play them...you don't want to lose.

Tennessee has 8 titles, UConn has 7. Now they've lost Maya Moore who was responsible for 2 of them. We have nothing to gain by playing UConn. Keep looking up to Tennessee and hoping some day you will be where we are. BTW, great game last night.

Volunatic writes:

Adams needs to write more UConn love-fest columns. Great game last night. Just broke my heart to see the Husky Ladies lose.

VOLunTEAR writes:

John Adams got EVERYTHING right in this article. The question is whether or not the two coaches are really big enough to do it.

CrankE writes:

Maybe KNS should start covering UConn. KNS wraps a whole website in Big Orange-to capitalize on all things UT only to c r a p (bite me, GVX censors!) all over them at every chance behind the shield of "journolistic objectivity".

Fans representing other schools come on here to trash UT and agree with the trolls who work for KNS like Adams who perpetually find a way to run UT down. KNS-Trolls writing for trolls. I submit that if you want to starve the trolls, then stop frequenting this site and KNS altogether.

Finally, I'm sure it's just coincidence that GVX does not have a single article on here noting UConn's loss to Notre Dame. Trolls who came out to crow at the Lady Vols demise and wave Geno in our faces 7 days ago might be...subdued today.

DRORANGELOVE writes:

in response to Volfan1:

I believe you can leave that for Pat to decide.

I agree with you volfan1. Pat knows whats best for the UT womens basketball team, NOT John Adams. After the " questionable " recruiting tactics/methods used by UCONN in getting Maya Moore I can definately agree with Pat for not giving her or Geno the satisfaction of playing or beating UT as long as she played at UCONN. Just think how dominant UT would have been and how many Nat Champ UCONN would'nt have won if Maya Moore had stuck to her word /committment to UT and Not gone to UCONN ???

ps11824 writes:

All this drivel may influence some "fair-weather Lady Vols fan" to lean toward the opinions of all these UC fans and busybodies which have rudely taken over GVX, but true Lady Vols Basketball fans know the truth and NO amount of misinformation, supposition or just plain rhetoric from JA or any other wannabe bandwagon jumper reporter will convince us otherwise. GIVE IT A REST!

WCB will stand whether Geno & UConn ever win or play again. Same with Tennessee. There are plenty top teams in the league and any can win on any given day. If you didn't see that, you are blind. How many of you quacks dissin' Pat had your bracket hold up thru the finals? Of course you did not! You all had Geno in your finals and now you know how little you know, so button up!

ps11824 writes:

Besides, Pat doesn't have to please any of you doubters. She strives to please those who are fans as long as they don't ask the ridiculous. First and foremost, she strives to make her players the best individual student athletes they can be while they are in her program.

We DO NOT NEED UConn on our schedule to be a superior program. We don't need John Adams' approval, nor the approval of any of you fair-weather fans to be a leading program in the country. And obviously the NCAA does not need UConn nor Tennessee to have a most exciting, entertaining Championship game.

You guys need to drop the drama queen acts and get on with your life. The Lady Vols and Pat Summitt are still in contention and can turn around at any given time and see at least 100 D1 programs in their rear view mirror. Among those, well, you name them since you seem to know it all. All you really need to know is the one who leads the nation in NCAA appearances, National Championships, and has the winningest college basketball coach in the country. The real team, the team that loses a game from time to time, the team that plays by the rules, the team that takes plays off, has multiple injuries, suffers uncontrollable recruiting set-backs because of those injuries, the genuine Tennessee Lady Vols are consistently in contention for the title. That reality, my friend, HAS NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH UConn!

Put your speedy little fingers to the keys, Mr Adams, and top that one.

OregonFan1 writes:

Some very valid points on both sides, but facts are facts & reality is reality.UConn has won 6 of the last 10 or 11 championships. Pat has a winning record aganist everyone, but Geno. That's even before the M. Moore era! Does anyone believe UT would have beat UCONN (Moore) than UConn beat UT?? Tenn. might have won 1 of 8 possible games with Uconn. That would have been Parkers' last year. It could easily be UCONN 20 + wins aganist 8 or 9 losses vs UT. Deep down inside Pat S. was right Geno knew & so did she! If you can't beat them, duck them!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features