Not unfamiliar territory for Lady Vols, opponents in Oklahoma City regional

Tennessee and the three other women’s basketball teams convening this weekend for the Oklahoma City regional know their way to a Sweet 16 — and beyond.

The Lady Vols have been this way 31 times in their 32 NCAA women’s basketball tournament appearances. They’ve proceeded to 18 NCAA Final Fours and eight national championships. However, recent history suggests they’ve lost their way compared to the other semifinalists.

Baylor is the defending national champion. The Lady Bears have reached two Final Fours in the last three years.

Oklahoma, which is making its 10th Sweet 16 appearances, reached the Final Four in 2009 and 2010.

Louisville, appearing in its fourth regional semifinal in the past six seasons, played in the 2009 national championship game.

“I do expect the quality of basketball to be extremely high,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. “We’ve all been in these games that have such great weight.”

Another round of games begin with No. 2 seed Tennessee (26-7) playing No. 6 Oklahoma (24-10) at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena (TV: ESPN2). Top-seed Baylor (34-1) and No. 5 Louisville (26-8) follow in the other semifinal.

The winners meet at 9 p.m. Tuesday for a trip to the Final Four.

The Lady Vols haven’t survived a regional since passing through Oklahoma City in 2008. They went on

to win the national championship. No players are left from that team. Guard Alberta Auguste, a starter five years ago, did visit practice on Wednesday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

While Meighan Simmons can’t follow a leader, she can make out the trail blazed by Auguste and the other predecessors.

“It has a lot of impact,” the junior guard said of UT’s postseason history. “It sets the foundation for a lot of teams that come later on. I think for those teams that come later on, they have to remember the two things that have gotten teams there, which is defense and rebounding. If you continue to do that, anything is possible. You could follow in their footsteps, which is to get to a Final Four.”

Two other Lady Vols offered their own perspective on Tennessee’s tournament history. Ariel Massengale described it as incentive.

“It definitely comes with a lot of pride,” the sophomore point guard said. “Every time we step on the court, you don’t want to be that team that doesn’t make it to the Sweet 16 or don’t make it to the Elite Eight.”

After four years, senior guard Kamiko Williams doesn’t feel burdened by any related expectations.

“It’s pressure but, at the same time, we signed up for it,” she said. “It’s something I’ve been used to for four years.”

Among other topics covered on Wednesday:

UT coach Holly Warlick was named one of eight finalist for the WBCA Division I national coach of the year award. Simmons was chosen as one of 12 finalists for the State Farm Wade Trophy.

Williams said Lady Vols head coach emeritus Pat Summitt spoke to the team following Monday’s second-round victory over Creighton.

“To have her tell you that she loves you and that she’s proud of you and that she wants you to keep going forward, that means a lot,” Williams said.

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Comments » 12

voloffaith writes:

I wouldn't have expected Coach Summitt to say anything else. Tough road to hoe...one game at a time. Plan and practice to beat the Soonerettes then..........Oklahoma's last big run was when they had the twin sister post players who were almost,but not quite good enough....

jt45 writes:

This will be a good game and I hope the Lady Vols are ready come sunday. There is a 2 seed against a 6 seed in every region this year in the sweet Sixteen.

SummittsCourt writes:

Coach Warlick should win National Coach of the Year based on how young this team is, how injury riddled this team has been and the fact that this is her first year taking over for an icon and has this team in the Sweet 16! No other coach can match what she has done in my book.

SummittsCourt writes:

This is quite the powerhouse regional here. The winner will deserve to be in the final four! Go Lady Vols!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Excellent comments from all of you.

Go Lady Vols !

yopatrick#231155 writes:

The LVs have a tough row to hoe (it's an agricultural reference) in Oklahoma City because it will be almost a home game for the Sooners. I don't expect anybody in the country to be able to beat Baylor, so in my mind, the success of the season rides on the Oklahoma game. Play with mental toughness and the LVs win. Otherwise, not. I believe -- Go Lady Vols!

adimatteo#261830 writes:

Good luck ladies, wer'e all behind you, you all are the ones doing the work, great group, and for all the sweat and work you have done to make us all proud, hope you continue to move on.

SoddyVol writes:

The Vols need for Harrison in this game will be greater than prior games. Oklahoma has a 6'3 and 6'6 player as well as the hot shooting guard. They also have a home crowd as it is only 25 minutes (or if heavy traffic 35)from their home court to Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Their 6'6 player is slim but Vols players are not that heavy either.

DoNotReadifAfraidofTruth writes:

I see the Lady Vols losing a close one to Baylor, 79-74

lstbodeanvol writes:

Go Lady Vols !!!!!!!!!

tulelakevol writes:

The regional is like the final four already, some power teams, Go Lady Vols!!

voloffaith writes:

in response to DoNotReadifAfraidofTruth:

I see the Lady Vols losing a close one to Baylor, 79-74

Ahem....must play and beat Soonerettes first to play winner of Louisville and Baylor. Yes, Baylor is the favorite,but play the games as stranger things have happened. What if Ms. Griner goes down early with an injury and doesn't return? Ms. Sims is good, but they need the Enforcer inside. So not wishing any harm , but these things occur with bad ankle twist,etc.

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