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Is women's basketball changing in the SEC?



WOMEN'SBBPHOTO Florida will host LSU at the O'Connell Center tonight in a game that ordinarily would feature a Top-5 program in the LSU Tigers.

But perennial SEC power LSU is coming to town ranked No. 23 and with a 15-7 overall recored, 4-6 in SEC play. The Gators are 13-10, 6-4.

There was a time not too long ago when LSU and Tennessee were all that was synonymous about SEC women's basketball, along with Vanderbilt at times. But things are changing in this league. And it's not necessarily a bad thing, legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt believes.

“I can tell you from being in this league a while, you have to be ready to play every night,'' Summitt said. "That’s something we have tried to emphasize to our players. I knew that the conference was better this year, but I didn’t realize how much better until we started competing.  Every night out you better be ready to play.  We are going to get everyone’s best shot anyways, I can tell you from being at Tennessee. But it doesn’t matter who it is.  It could be the last team in the league, but they are going to bring it and play their best game. I like the fact that we are a stronger league this year than we have been in a while.”

Following tonight's game against LSU, Florida will travel this weekend to play the Vols in Knoxville on Sunday. In their first meeting this season, Tennessee escaped with a last-second, two point victory. Again, more proof that this isn't just a two-team league anymore, UF coach Amanda Butler said.

“The outside perception of our league is that if Tennessee is not dominating everyone or there’s not LSU right there in that close-to-undefeated mix, then the talent in our league or the level of competition is down,'' said Butler, a former UF player. "And it’s just the opposite of that. I think the whole league has gotten better. There’s not one team in our league that is bad. There is no one that you’re going to play that you think, ‘Oh if we play well, we’ll be okay.’ Because whoever you’re going toe to toe with, if they bring their best game and you bring your best game, you know it’s going to be a battle. Certainly things have their momentum shifts as certain teams start to play well – Kentucky is playing exceptionally well right now - and you see some things happen like that. But I think the evenness and the balance is much, much more of an indicator of the quality that we have in our league right now as opposed to the talent having gone down. That’s not it at all.''

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1:39pm]


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