Young Lady Vols Learning Summitt's Defensive Style
Nov. 19, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee coach Pat Summitt will concede that the Lady Volunteers' first loss of the season was a learning experience.
That doesn't mean she wasn't disappointed about the 83-82 upset by No. 16 Virginia on Monday.
"Certainly we have a lot to improve on," Summitt said Wednesday. "I think Virginia was a team that got our attention."
Summitt said it will take commitment by the young players and plenty of repetition in practice for them to grasp the stifling defense that is at the core of the Hall of Fame coach's style.
But with a trip to Chattanooga on deck for Friday and home games against Louisiana Tech on Sunday and Western Carolina on Tuesday, fifth-ranked Tennessee (1-1) doesn't have a lot of time to regroup.
Summitt's young squad has spent extra time in the film room to learn from its mistakes against the Cavaliers.
At the core of the Lady Vols' struggles is their problems on defense, a fast-paced, high-pressure man-to-man scheme that is new to many of the six true freshmen.
Summitt said the young team may "not comfortable with how we want to play on the defensive end, and that's key for us."
More experienced players are sidelined with injuries, including sophomore guard Angie Bjorklund (back) and sophomore forward Vicki Baugh (knee). Redshirt freshman center Kelley Cain is out with a concussion.
As a result, Virginia guard Monica Wright had little problems putting up a career-high 35 points against the Lady Vols. It was Wright who scored a key jumper that tied the game at 82 with 39 seconds left.
Summit said the Lady Vols need better communication on the court, and her staff needs to do the same when it comes to explaining defensive expectations to players.
"You have to be very specific about your coverage," Summitt said.
She'd like a few more days to practice before facing Chattanooga (1-0), a team picked to repeat as Southern Conference champions. A balanced Lady Mocs squad beat Eastern Tennessee State 77-71 in its season opener, with five players scoring in double figures.
Summitt is concerned how her young players will fare in their first road game.
"We will have some Tennessee fans, but I would say UTC is going to have the majority of fans there," she said. "We're going to have a hostile environment to deal with, and that's the unknown."