Baylor ends Lady Vols' season, 77-58

Lady Vols can't sustain hot start

Baylor's Brittney Griner knocks the ball away from Tennessee's Glory Johnson in the final round of the Des Moines regional of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA on Monday, March 26, 2012. 
  
 (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Saul Young, copyright © 2012

Baylor's Brittney Griner knocks the ball away from Tennessee's Glory Johnson in the final round of the Des Moines regional of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA on Monday, March 26, 2012. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Glory Johnson on loss to Baylor in NCAA

DES MOINES, Iowa — Tennessee couldn't make enough shots to muster its best shot Monday night.

After a hot start, the Lady Vols' field goal shooting steadily plunged below 30 percent, dragging their best intentions with them to a 77-58 NCAA women's basketball tournament loss to Baylor before a crowd of 9,068 at Wells Fargo Arena.

Led by Odyssey Sims' 27 points, top-seed Baylor (37-0) held off UT's second-half rallies in the final of the Des Moines Regional and advanced to the Final Four in Denver.

Shekinna Stricklen led No. 2 seed Tennessee (27-9) with 22 points. She needed 26 shots for her output, which reflected UT's chilly 30.3 accuracy (23 for 76).

Fellow senior Glory Johnson, who missed four minutes in the first half with a hip injury after a hard fall, returned in the second half and finished with 19. No other Lady Vol had more than five points.

The Lady Bears pulled most of their starters with

1:13 left. Sims stayed. She and Stricklen got tangled up in the foul lane thereafter and had to be separated, touching off a confrontation between players from both teams.

Offsetting technical fouls were called on Stricklen and Sims. Baylor's Brittney Griner, Jordan Madden and Terran Condrey were ejected for leaving the bench. The official word afterward was that none of the ejected players would be suspended for the next game.

"I just tripped; I was trying to catch myself," Stricklen said. "It looked like I pushed her. I reached down my hand and tried to help her (up). She took it the wrong way."

Stricklen said that she apologized. Sims didn't seem bothered afterward.

"We just got caught up in the moment," she said. "Everything is OK."

Sims was speaking for herself and her team. Most of the Lady Vols were an emotional wreck afterward. Sims' five 3-pointers, four assists and three steals had a lot to do with it."

"I think we overemphasized Brittney, and Odyssey killed us," UT's Alicia Manning said.

That's saying something, considering Griner just missed a triple double with 23 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks. But the 6-foot-8 center scored 15 of her points in the final 9:28.

After suggesting otherwise, Tennessee stuck with its all-senior starting lineup. Stricklen got the Lady Vols off to a hot shooting start, scoring seven points in the first five minutes. After the senior forward swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key, UT led 9-4.

At that point, the Lady Vols were shooting 4 for 7 from the floor. They missed their next eight shots, however. By the time Meighan Simmons broke the dry spell with a pull-up jumper, Baylor had charged ahead, 15-12.

Much like the first meeting with Baylor, UT's inability to hit shots betrayed its efforts. By halftime, they had sunk to 21.6 percent accuracy (8 for 37).

"We're a team that gets frustrated when we're missing," senior center Vicki Baugh said. "We've been battling that all season. It showed tonight."

Griner's presence had a lot to do with Tennessee's struggles. Along with patrolling the foul lane like usual, she was ranging out of the paint to shadow shooters.

"They force you to take quick shots," UT associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "They're just a great basketball team."

Along with their defense, the Lady Bears built their 35-20 halftime lead on the strength of five 3-pointers.

Twice in the second half, Sims hit treys when Tennessee had whittled its deficit to single digits. The last time came with 11:12 left.

With the loss, Tennessee's four fourth-year seniors — Johnson, Stricklen, Alicia Manning and Briana Bass — ended their careers as the first UT class to not reach a Final Four.

Furthermore, the coaching future of head coach Pat Summitt, who's battling early onset dementia Alzheimer's type, remains uncertain. Women's athletic director Joan Cronan said afterward that there was "no timetable" for any talks on the matter.

"We've got a great foundation," Warlick said, "and this program's going to continue to do what Tennessee has always done."

Dan Fleser may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/FleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 156

Titan writes:

Proud of the way the Lady Vols competed tonight. Baylor simply had too many weapons. When they hit their outside shots like they did and we didn't, it was over.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Good effort LV's, I don't think any team in the country can stop the "Predator" (Unless Arnold is willing to suit up)..HBTV!!

SummittsCourt writes:

Can't shoot 30% against the best team in the country and expect to win, but they played hard. Thanks Glory and Shekinna for leading the way.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Good effort LV's, I don't think any team in the country can stop the "Predator" (Unless Arnold is willing to suit up)..HBTV!!

or Danny Glover (Predator 2)...

volaholic45 writes:

1. Too much Griner. Literally. There is nothing like her height and length in the girls’ game. And she has a really nice touch on her shot, too.

2. Too much of Baylor’s outstanding outside shooting, too, especially when measured against our usual atrocious outside shooting (except some late after the issue was well-settled).

3. Speaking of shooting, Simmons bench time was ridiculous. The ridiculous “senior” lineup stayed in for about 7 and a half minutes in the first half and even longer in the second half (maybe about 10 and a half minutes). Why not put your best five on the floor? I don’t get it.

4. Speaking of coaching, I saw a real advantage in having an active, energetic coach advocating for her team and riding the refs. I’m talking about Mulkey, of course. That’s just not Holly, and it isn’t Pat – anymore, sadly. I felt better about Mulkey seeing her interaction with Pat postgame.

5. And speaking of refs, anyone else notice that Baylor doesn’t take many “got-‘em-with-the-body” calls, many touch fouls, or many over-the-back calls? In fact, Baylor wasn’t even required to be at the base line to throw the ball in after a made bucket. One time a Baylor girl threw the ball in a full half step before she stepped out of bounds, and another time Griner laid the toe of her big clown shoe on the line as she threw it in. But when it came to the Orange, they were sticklers sometimes – like Simmons false start on the free throw. Not saying it affected the outcome – 1 and 2 settled it.

Colliervol writes:

Did Griner do her J.D. Sumner impersonation in the postgame interview?

huntined#565710 writes:

Just lost to a better team.

tomkats3242 writes:

The time has come for us to accept that Pat is no longer the coach and the present players do not play for the assistants. I hate that Pat cannot be in control as she use too but maybe it is time the administration looked outside for a coach to replace Pat as I don't see anything good in the future with the present staff and players. I am not sorry to see some of the seniors leave. However the bench does not look that inviting. What has happen to the University. Our player, all sports, are not playing with the ability nor do they act like Tennessee folks should. IF there is no cure for Pat then I hope she stays at home and has a good life. LOVE YOU Pat. Goodbye seniors.

Hrockytop writes:

Baylor was just too much. Sad thinking this was possibly Pat's last game! A true legend as a person and coach!
If so, UT Admin is clueless not to throw the bank at Nikki Caldwell. Class act, great recruiter, 2009 PAC 10 coach of the year, never had a loosing record as HC, a quality resume, and from Oak Ridge...It's a no brainer.
I'm sorry folks Warlick is no clone of Pat, can't coach a lick, is never been a HC, unproven, uses Pats name to recruit. THIS IS LADY VOL BBALL.....A Dynasty not a experiment..

Just saying!!

Go Vols

rlshepa#259432 writes:

Great season for the Lady Vols. They played hard tonight and now I hope all the negative posters can hide in their caves. I expect some of them will be waiting by their phones for a call to take the coaching job at UT.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to Colliervol:

Did Griner do her J.D. Sumner impersonation in the postgame interview?

Is that anything like he/r barry white impersination?

hawkvol07 writes:

Well, I wish the outcome could have been different, but it was good to see finally a Tennessee team fight till the bitter end in their last game of the year. The men’s football and basketball teams should take note of that. Good luck to the seniors! I love them Lady Vols. Come back PAT!!!

butch31 writes:

I loved how we started, we had that fight, the drive and hunger. Unfortunately its not how u start but how u finish. U can not shoot 29% and expect to win games.
We had no one other than Glory or Shekinna the whole night. I left messages up here, and I CLEARLY advised not worry about Griner, its everyone else around her, I was worried about. Griner at 6'9" is deceptively quick, can easily tip balls out to her teammates if she is unable to retrieve the rebound. Taber, Meighan and Ariel were all bad news tonight. Vicki took herself out of the game. I do NOT blame coach Summit for sitting her out of the remainder of the game.
I hope the coaches can get some reliable shooters in here. My hat goes off to Glory & Shekinna. I do NOT like Odyssey Sims, I wish Shekinna would of FLOORED her. I am terribly sorry about their class not being able to get to a final 4.
Next will be very exciting, we will be young, and the future will be bright. This was quite an interesting season, we won 27 games and got to an elite 8. Not many teams can claim that.
I think Stanford will win this thing.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

or Danny Glover (Predator 2)...

I find it hilarious that the refs ignored the leaving the bench issue rationalizing the suspension they were supposed to be given for the next game..Because without the Predator, they are not going back to Waco with a NCAA championship..

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Baylor is one of the best all time. We fought our hearts out! They beat us fair and square. I wish them the best. That being said....I love my Lady Vols! I personally want to thank each coach and player for their hard work and dedication this year. I really wanted a national championship this year but it didn't happen. Everyone on this team has my thanks and admiration. The Lady Vols has the best program over the course of the years and still stand strong. You can't win it all every year. Thanks Ladies! You gave it your all and as General Patton once said: When a person gives it all they have...what more is there! I am proud of you and long live the Lady Vols force in college basketball! You gals ROCK!

Go Big Orange!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to Hrockytop:

Baylor was just too much. Sad thinking this was possibly Pat's last game! A true legend as a person and coach!
If so, UT Admin is clueless not to throw the bank at Nikki Caldwell. Class act, great recruiter, 2009 PAC 10 coach of the year, never had a loosing record as HC, a quality resume, and from Oak Ridge...It's a no brainer.
I'm sorry folks Warlick is no clone of Pat, can't coach a lick, is never been a HC, unproven, uses Pats name to recruit. THIS IS LADY VOL BBALL.....A Dynasty not a experiment..

Just saying!!

Go Vols

If Pat does retire, and I hate to think she will, but I truly believe Dave Hart will go after the best person for the job - but that person has to want to be here too.

That's why I believe it will not be Caldwell. I believe it will not be Warlick either.

Millisa writes:

I wish we could had won could had played alot better the Seniors will be missed. And the refs was horrible. Also Griner and her croanies should be suspended for the next game aint fair Baylor paid the refs off. And Griner is a man

hawkvol07 writes:

GET NIKKI CALDWELL IN HERE!!!!!! I will miss Pat but again,GET NIKKI CALDWELL IN HERE!!!!!!

kazoo writes:

You gotta make shots. This team is capable of beating Baylor--we've got enough players to do it--but the bears bring out the worst in our shooting. We were shooting bricks--again. Griner is one reason--but we missed open looks all night. Good grief.

I feel sorry for Glory: the woman played her butt off for four years--but ultimately both she and Stricklen were the victims of bad timing: the end of the PS era, a time when the coaching situation got sketchy--poor recruiting (we had no point guard for two years--Stricklen played the position--and too many big, slow players), players leaving, injuries, PS's health situation...and a proud program goes four years without a final four. Ouch. This team played hard and pretty well down the stretch of the season--much improved--and had a chance tonight. But you gotta make shots.

FanNotSheep writes:

Lady Vols have lost a level. They are no longer at the summit of the women's game. There's only room for a few in this sport and Tennessee is more on the top line of the second tier. They rarely sign the nation's best high school player. Griner is a freak that no one matches up with, but if the Lady Vols could shoot the three and had an inside player who could at least compete they could keep it to single digits. They gave their best effort and that's all you can ask. But it's too bad their best is no longer good enough to hang with the true elite.

There are tough decisions to make and I hope they make the right ones. Pat has done so much and has worked so hard. It would be a shame for it to continue to go downhill.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I find it hilarious that the refs ignored the leaving the bench issue rationalizing the suspension they were supposed to be given for the next game..Because without the Predator, they are not going back to Waco with a NCAA championship..

It's all about the ratings. espn and the ncaa want baylor at full strength for ratings.

I just wish that skirmish had happened early in the 1st half.

atnvol#283282 writes:

in response to Hrockytop:

Baylor was just too much. Sad thinking this was possibly Pat's last game! A true legend as a person and coach!
If so, UT Admin is clueless not to throw the bank at Nikki Caldwell. Class act, great recruiter, 2009 PAC 10 coach of the year, never had a loosing record as HC, a quality resume, and from Oak Ridge...It's a no brainer.
I'm sorry folks Warlick is no clone of Pat, can't coach a lick, is never been a HC, unproven, uses Pats name to recruit. THIS IS LADY VOL BBALL.....A Dynasty not a experiment..

Just saying!!

Go Vols

Your right, Holly is no Pat as far as coaching. You left out one important fact about Nicki Caldwell....she is a Tennessee girl(native). She needs to coach here!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

Lady Vols have lost a level. They are no longer at the summit of the women's game. There's only room for a few in this sport and Tennessee is more on the top line of the second tier. They rarely sign the nation's best high school player. Griner is a freak that no one matches up with, but if the Lady Vols could shoot the three and had an inside player who could at least compete they could keep it to single digits. They gave their best effort and that's all you can ask. But it's too bad their best is no longer good enough to hang with the true elite.

There are tough decisions to make and I hope they make the right ones. Pat has done so much and has worked so hard. It would be a shame for it to continue to go downhill.

It wasn't that long ago that the Lady Vols won back to back championships, but your point is valid. Recruiting wise, they have missed out on Griner, Augustus, Maya Moore and several other players they would have gotten in the past.

With the growth of women's basketball the talent level is growing and the talent is spreading out. It was bound to happen, but give Pat Summitt complete credit for the growth of women's basketball in this country.

Hrockytop writes:

in response to hawkvol07:

GET NIKKI CALDWELL IN HERE!!!!!! I will miss Pat but again,GET NIKKI CALDWELL IN HERE!!!!!!

I CONCUR.....MAKE IT SO!

kazoo writes:

Ya know, that senior lineup thing seemed to work in some ways. Simmons seemed better coming off the bench, for one thing. But really: You are down 15 at the half to the no. 1 team in the country--and we're playing Bass and Manning for the first several minutes of the second half? Baylor made shots, we didn't.

Is Caldwell REALLY the best coach we can find? She's only been a head coach for four years. She made UCLA better in three years, then left quickly for lsu. That's not a big track record. I think we should consider Dawn Staley. She's not as attractive as Caldwell--but the woman can coach. Look at what she's done at South Carolina-- a nothing program before she got there. She turned a bad temple program into a winner. This is a BIG hire.

ps11824 writes:

johnLG, please explain the suspension rule for me. Was it ignored tonight? Do the refs have the right to not make the ruling as it is written in the books?

volman2008 writes:

thanks lady vols i have enjoyed the last 4 years,thanks for all the good times.

ddt#1340890 writes:

Congrats Lady Vols. Only good thing may be Baylor probably only team capable of beating UConn and cheating Gino. If Simmons cannot control her ball hogging, all other players will cease to work hard next year. Coaching is a major problem. Would like to see Brenda Frese or someone of her caliber.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

It's all about the ratings. espn and the ncaa want baylor at full strength for ratings.

I just wish that skirmish had happened early in the 1st half.

Good point, it amazes me how flexible the NCAA is when money is at stake..It seems that certain NCAA officials and Memphis administration personnel knew that D.Rose had never attended one class, yet they swept the issue of academics under the rug until after the final 4 was completed..Meanwhile they ban BP for 3 yrs over a lie..How ridiculous the whole system has become.

bah4vols#266620 writes:

Was this Pat's last game?

underthehill writes:

in response to Titan:

Proud of the way the Lady Vols competed tonight. Baylor simply had too many weapons. When they hit their outside shots like they did and we didn't, it was over.

Says it all..Baylor did what TN had to do to stay in the game..hit the 3 pointers..Lady Vols senoirs gave their all and deserve thanks for their time at UT..couldn't believe the coaching staff would put Spani in the game with Kamiko and Burdick on the bench..

kazoo writes:

Pat has recruited shooters--but the ones she has signed have a tendency to be slow and not athletic and a liability in all areas but shooting. Look at Spani--excellent shooter--at least before her injury, but lacks the quickness you HAVE to have to play the 2 or the 3 positions (shooting guard/small forward). Same with Bjorklund, same with Zolman.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to kazoo:

Ya know, that senior lineup thing seemed to work in some ways. Simmons seemed better coming off the bench, for one thing. But really: You are down 15 at the half to the no. 1 team in the country--and we're playing Bass and Manning for the first several minutes of the second half? Baylor made shots, we didn't.

Is Caldwell REALLY the best coach we can find? She's only been a head coach for four years. She made UCLA better in three years, then left quickly for lsu. That's not a big track record. I think we should consider Dawn Staley. She's not as attractive as Caldwell--but the woman can coach. Look at what she's done at South Carolina-- a nothing program before she got there. She turned a bad temple program into a winner. This is a BIG hire.

THANK YOU! My feelings exactly. Caldwell has not proven herself.

Dawn Staley: 3 time Olympic champion, multiple WNBA all star, all american at UVA, made Temple and SC relevant. But the biggest plus is that she will not wilt under the pressure of replacing the legendary Pat Summitt because she is a legend herself. She definately recruits well and coaches better. She is the perfect person to replace coach Summitt.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Good point, it amazes me how flexible the NCAA is when money is at stake..It seems that certain NCAA officials and Memphis administration personnel knew that D.Rose had never attended one class, yet they swept the issue of academics under the rug until after the final 4 was completed..Meanwhile they ban BP for 3 yrs over a lie..How ridiculous the whole system has become.

the ncaa has become as corrupt as the politicians in washington. it's all about money and the ratings now.

kazoo writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

THANK YOU! My feelings exactly. Caldwell has not proven herself.

Dawn Staley: 3 time Olympic champion, multiple WNBA all star, all american at UVA, made Temple and SC relevant. But the biggest plus is that she will not wilt under the pressure of replacing the legendary Pat Summitt because she is a legend herself. She definately recruits well and coaches better. She is the perfect person to replace coach Summitt.

Staley is also /very/ competitive. She took two nothing programs and made them good fairly quickly. That is a mark of a good coach. Caldwell went to two much better situations. Nothing against Caldwell--she's got some charisma and my bet is she would be a good recruiter--and we need that. But we also need to hire a proven winner who is in her prime. There are a LOT of good coaches in women's basketball now (and players), and I'm po'd that our program has slipped. But that's what happens with coaches who've been on the job for a very long time.

jtc1956#1405220 writes:

the lady vols gave it their all tonight. Baylor is a better team with Griner. Our coaching staff did an excellent job. I will miss the Seniors especially Glory Johnson who gave it her all every game and every year. Good luck to our Seniors. Pat will be back, there is no one like her.

underthehill writes:

in response to Colliervol:

Did Griner do her J.D. Sumner impersonation in the postgame interview?

Hate to say it but this team was far more than Griner tonight..they were very well prepared and played very good defense...still proud of the effort of Johnson and Stricken..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to kazoo:

Staley is also /very/ competitive. She took two nothing programs and made them good fairly quickly. That is a mark of a good coach. Caldwell went to two much better situations. Nothing against Caldwell--she's got some charisma and my bet is she would be a good recruiter--and we need that. But we also need to hire a proven winner who is in her prime. There are a LOT of good coaches in women's basketball now (and players), and I'm po'd that our program has slipped. But that's what happens with coaches who've been on the job for a very long time.

Carolyn Peck would be my choice, but recruiting is the most important thing..Without national appeal UT will not get 5* talent..

BruisedOrange writes:

As the late Mr. Head would have put it, we just didn't have the horses for a run at the Final Four.

Now's the time to love these girls, thank them for their commitment to Tennessee, and their year-'round hard work for nearly 46 straight months.

Most of all, it's time to remind OURselves that these girls came here to fulfill THEIR dreams--not ours. Whatever frustration, anger, disappointment or resignation we fans are feeling SIMPLY CANNOT COMPARE to what THEY are feeling--and will continue to feel for a long time.

rlshepa#259432 writes:

in response to gerrybla:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

your id says it all Gerry bla

Theo writes:

Thank you senior Lady Vols. You have given us many wonderful times and many, many more highs than lows. I know not making the final four is a disappointment for you and we share in your pain. But over the years the friendships you made, the relationships with the staff and coaches will be the things the bring joy back to you again and again.
Please know how proud we are of you all. Wonderful athletes, true student athletes and most of all great citizens. As you go forward and make your way in the world we, the Lady Vols nation, will think of you all with great affection and certainty as to your future successes.
Thank you again for all the great memories and godspeed.

HillCountryDude writes:

Well, as I suspected, this game left an empty feeling as I knew it would. Of course, I'm happy for Baylor and the Lady Bears, but I feel so bad for the LV seniors. The game, as I saw it, as we discussed in another thread, outside shooting would be key. Griner was held in check early on, and forced to take bad shots early in the game. The LVs came out with great intensity, but I wonder if it was too much to sustain. It happened at the beginning of both halves. But Griner just wears down a defense, especially when the guards are hitting 3s. What can a defense do? I thought the LV game plan was good early on, but I too wondered about not in earlier in each half. Glory and Striklen played their herats out, and left it all out on the court. The officials, I agree were awful. From the beginning. They allowed way too much contact on both end, that IMO led to Glory's injury, and the altercation at the end of the game. About the altercation, it's hard to tell what happened, but Sims and Striklen obvious weren't singing Kumbaya. NOBODY should EVER leave the bench. However, NCAA rule 10 states that when players leave the bench, and are not involved in the fight, they are subject to ejection, but not suspension. From replays, I never saw a single punch, or even a push from even Sims and Striklen. But you can bet, Baylor fans sure were sweating because we weren't sure what the rule was. NBA is an automatic suspension. Regardless of what happened, it was unbecoming of both schools, and an awful way to end a game. I feel had the officials taken control early in the game, that likely would have never occured. That type of officiating can get people hurt....luckily Glory looked like she had maybe a stinger.

I don't know what's next for Coach Summitt, but I wish her well in whatever she decides to do, and wish the LVs all the best. I agree that Caldwell would be a good replacement, should they decide that this is Summitt's last year. But it's hard to come in and coach behind a legend. Maybe they can create a position for Summitt within the athletic department that gives her something to do and keep her mind sharp, without all the pressures of being head coach.

Anyway, I thought the LVs played a good solid, physical game, and aside from the shots not falling, had a good game plan. I'm proud of both schools, and am glad that it's over. I really didn't want to see this matchup, because somebody had to win, and somebody had to go home, and I was going to be sad either way....and happy either way. I'm half happy I suppose. Any, best wishes, and see you next year!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Evidently the rule states that leaving the bench and not getting involved in the altercation results in dismissal from the game but no suspension. Had they been ejected for being DIRECTLY involved in the altercation then they would have been both ejected and suspended.

ATL_VOL_FAN writes:

It is rumored Dawn Staley,may be on the short list to replace Gail Gestenkors at UT. I would also like to see consideration given to Jeff Walz at Louisville, who CPS has spoken highly of and has one of the best winning percentages of coaches with his tenure.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ps11824:

johnLG, please explain the suspension rule for me. Was it ignored tonight? Do the refs have the right to not make the ruling as it is written in the books?

The announcers said that the penalty for a player leaving the bench is ejection from the game. The penalty for leaving the bench TO PARTICIPATE IN A FIGHT is why players get suspended for the next game. Some of those waxing indignant over Baylor players not being suspended for the next game overlooked that little distinction. Griner and the other Baylor players that I saw were clearly trying to pull their players back to the bench, NOT taking swings at the Lady Vols.

As for the game, it was just about as I had feared. The LVs could have given it a much better shot if they hadn't panicked on offense and if Baylor hadn't been shooting the lights out from the 3-point line. Playing a team and a phenom like Baylor and Griner, you have to pick your poison. I thought the LVs made the right decision on defense, it just didn't work, and the fact that they were missing wide-open shots while Baylor was nailing them was a losing proposition. It wasn't even so much that the LVs were missing open shots, it was that they took WAY too many of them with no semblance of a balanced offense. No, you can't shoot over Griner, but you can drive the ball at her and then pass to an open player. The LVs didn't make enough of those passes and didn't hit enough shots on the rare occasions when they did. Too bad. Great effort, but that usually goes for naught when you don't keep your poise.

rockypop writes:

All the emotions and kudos for a hard-fought game aside, there is one fact that no one can deny. These ladies can't shoot. At least consistently. And, that has been their downfall this year. I can't remember a LV team that has shot as poorly as this one has.

Tonite, I was stunned to see shots fail to draw iron, bang off the side of the backboard, and simply fall short at incredibly close ranges. Not to mention all the ones that were blocked - and not by Griner.

Baylor simply intimidated the LV, and intimidation is what Pat Summitt has built a reputation on. It was sad to watch. I'm not complaining - it was clearly a case of being outplayed by a team with better talent.

This program is definitely at a crossroads. We're all watching to see if it can continue at a high level like UConn, or fall into mediocrity like so many of the ladies' programs that had their heyday.

Unlike years before, UT no longer has a recruiting advantage. Now, just like the mens' game, talent is what it's all about. With more great players in the women's game and more parity, UT is faced with having to find and land elite players. Can they continue to get it done?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

As the late Mr. Head would have put it, we just didn't have the horses for a run at the Final Four.

Now's the time to love these girls, thank them for their commitment to Tennessee, and their year-'round hard work for nearly 46 straight months.

Most of all, it's time to remind OURselves that these girls came here to fulfill THEIR dreams--not ours. Whatever frustration, anger, disappointment or resignation we fans are feeling SIMPLY CANNOT COMPARE to what THEY are feeling--and will continue to feel for a long time.

Well said. These girls have been through a lot, and the ones who are left have never let us down as much as they perhaps let themselves down at some important times. Their class seemed star-crossed almost from the beginning and now their tenure has ended the same way. I'm sure they all gave it all they had--more than most of us have ever given at such a young age--but it just wasn't enough at the end. Life isn't always fair.

springtx_vol writes:

in response to gerrybla:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't know anything about the Lady Vols glory days being a thing of the past. We have a great core of players with a top ranked recruiting class coming in. We should make the Elite 8 next year with a shot at the Final 4. However, my prediction is that Baylor wins next year on the back of Griner. She is simply the most dominating player (maybe forever) in the women's game. Any other team has two chances to beat Baylor with Griner, 1) Baylor shoots 30% or so from the field, or 2) the opponents shoot about 70% from the field, ala Villanova over Georgetown in 1985.

IMO, the biggest issues with the women's game is that one player can dominate the game. The LV's problem is that they haven't had that player since Parker (and Holdsclaw before that). UConn had Moore and Turasi in back to back collection of players and were dominant for several years. I shutter what to think they would be like if Donne had stayed in school with them.

AS a comparison, has there been a dominating player on the men's side of the NCAA tournament in recent history? The last back-to-back champions was Florida with a collection of players that stayed together for two years. I can't remember a single player dominating the game since Magic and Bird.

Once Griner leaves, I don't see that dominating player out there. The field in 2014 should be wide open.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Carolyn Peck would be my choice, but recruiting is the most important thing..Without national appeal UT will not get 5* talent..

This is what I put in another thread. She is from New Market Tenn, and although she's a Vandy grad, she was an assistant under Pat for a couple of years. She won a national title at Purdue and she is available. However, I would go hard for her or Gail Goestenkors. Goestenkors was a force at Duke! She did well at Texas too. She just resigned because she said "her heart told her she needed a break from coaching". Many have speculated that there were things behind the scene that lead to her resignation. But Tennessee is a once in a lifetime job, and I bet she'd pull an Urban Meyer in a HEARTBEAT if UT were to come calling. During her tenure at Duke, she led the Blue Devils to 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, 10 consecutive appearances in at least the Sweet Sixteen (1997–2007), and an NCAA-record seven consecutive 30-win seasons from 2000-2007.

Personally, I would call Goestenkors first and foremost. Her and Peck would be my top 2 choices. I understand folks wanting someone from the Vol family. But this is a top notch program that deserves the best. An argument could be made that this is the best women's program in the nation, contrary to what some are saying. It's a big world out there. There are a lot of great coaches NOT from the Tennessee family who are more qualified.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to HillCountryDude:

Well, as I suspected, this game left an empty feeling as I knew it would. Of course, I'm happy for Baylor and the Lady Bears, but I feel so bad for the LV seniors. The game, as I saw it, as we discussed in another thread, outside shooting would be key. Griner was held in check early on, and forced to take bad shots early in the game. The LVs came out with great intensity, but I wonder if it was too much to sustain. It happened at the beginning of both halves. But Griner just wears down a defense, especially when the guards are hitting 3s. What can a defense do? I thought the LV game plan was good early on, but I too wondered about not in earlier in each half. Glory and Striklen played their herats out, and left it all out on the court. The officials, I agree were awful. From the beginning. They allowed way too much contact on both end, that IMO led to Glory's injury, and the altercation at the end of the game. About the altercation, it's hard to tell what happened, but Sims and Striklen obvious weren't singing Kumbaya. NOBODY should EVER leave the bench. However, NCAA rule 10 states that when players leave the bench, and are not involved in the fight, they are subject to ejection, but not suspension. From replays, I never saw a single punch, or even a push from even Sims and Striklen. But you can bet, Baylor fans sure were sweating because we weren't sure what the rule was. NBA is an automatic suspension. Regardless of what happened, it was unbecoming of both schools, and an awful way to end a game. I feel had the officials taken control early in the game, that likely would have never occured. That type of officiating can get people hurt....luckily Glory looked like she had maybe a stinger.

I don't know what's next for Coach Summitt, but I wish her well in whatever she decides to do, and wish the LVs all the best. I agree that Caldwell would be a good replacement, should they decide that this is Summitt's last year. But it's hard to come in and coach behind a legend. Maybe they can create a position for Summitt within the athletic department that gives her something to do and keep her mind sharp, without all the pressures of being head coach.

Anyway, I thought the LVs played a good solid, physical game, and aside from the shots not falling, had a good game plan. I'm proud of both schools, and am glad that it's over. I really didn't want to see this matchup, because somebody had to win, and somebody had to go home, and I was going to be sad either way....and happy either way. I'm half happy I suppose. Any, best wishes, and see you next year!

Thanks for your classy posts and good thoughts. If Baylor plays the rest of the way with the same discipline and execution they showed tonight, the national championship is in the bag. PLEASE don't let UConn hijack another title! Baylor is clearly not merely Griner, it is a complete team that deserves all the success it has had so far. In fact, all major sports at Baylor seem to be in a bit of a golden age just now. Hope they can keep it going without RG3 and a couple of good senior men's basketball players. Thanks for visiting.

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