Lady Vols talk NCAA tournament and facing Kansas in Iowa
In March, basketball teams have to stay on their toes and be adaptable. Tennessee’s Lady Vols were reminded of that this week.
Their mission toward an anticipated NCAA women’s basketball tournament rematch with Baylor now goes through Kansas instead of Delaware.
“We were scrambling a little bit last night,’’ Tennessee assistant coach Mickie DeMoss said Wednesday.
The Lady Vol staff was scrambling because 11th-seed Kansas sprang a 70-64 upset on No. 3 seed Delaware on Tuesday night in Little Rock in a second-round game.
The No. 2 seed Lady Vols (26-8) face Kansas (21-12) on Saturday (TV: ESPN, 12:04 p.m.) in the Round of 16 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Undefeated No. 1-seed Baylor takes on Georgia Tech in the other Sweet 16 game in Des Moines. The winners battle Monday night for a trip to the Final Four.
Assistant coach Dean Lockwood had been assigned the Delaware scouting report as UT prepared for its bracket. His diligence was rendered irrelevant after Kansas defused Delaware and its high-scoring All-American, Elena Delle Donne.
“I had probably 11 or 12 hours of film work and written stuff,’’ Lockwood said with a laugh.
DeMoss had the Kansas scout. Tennessee was safely through to the Sweet 16 after beating DePaul on Monday night.
“We kind of thought Delaware would win, just from watching both teams,’’ DeMoss said. “But this is March Madness.
“Anything can happen, even on the women’s side now. Used to be, I think, the women were more predictable. But now there’s more parity on the women’s side.
“We had watched a little Kansas tape, but not as much as Delaware.’’
The Jayhawks had to regroup after losing leading scorer Carolyn Davis to a season-ending knee injury Feb. 12.
Point guard Angel Goodrich has stepped up her game in the tournament, scoring 20 points in a win over No. 6 seed Nebraska and 27 against Delaware.
“I didn’t matter who we play,’’ said UT senior Shekinna Stricklen. “I wasn’t scared of Delle Donne. We’ve got a great defensive player in Glory (Johnson).
“But we’ve got KU. We’re not taking KU for granted. They’re a good team. I watched ‘em last night.
“If we don’t win, we can’t get to Baylor, so this game is more important.’’
The Lady Vols have been pointing toward a rematch with Baylor and 6-foot-8 star Brittney Griner since the bracket was unveiled on March 12.
Baylor eliminated UT in 2010 in the Sweet 16 round. Since then, the Bears have also beaten the Lady Vols in two regular-season games, including 76-67 on Nov. 27.
“This next game is motivation,’’ said Johnson, “because we want to match up with Baylor. We want the opportunity to play them again.
“But at the same time, we have to pass Kansas. If you don’t pass Kansas, you don’t meet up with Baylor.’’
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