Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

With Florida next, Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt proud of team's response to off year

GAINESVILLE — Pat Summitt is taking very little credit for her Tennessee women's basketball team's impressive turnaround from last season. Most of it, she said, goes to the players.

Having lost every starter from the 2007-08 team, the Vols crumbled under the pressure of rebuilding with young talent, compiling a 22-11 record that was the worst in Summitt's legendary coaching career.

Tennessee ended the season with a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament to 12th-seeded Ball State, snapping a streak of 42 wins in first- and second-round games.

It was that humiliation, coupled with national talk about the fall of Tennessee, that led the players to rededicate themselves to improving.

"I think the offseason is what has made the difference," Summitt said. "They chose to put in more workouts than any team in the seven years that Heather Mason (strength and conditioning coach) has been here. She was amazed. They have to volunteer to do that, and she told me after the summer workouts, 'I think you and your coaching staff are going to be very, very pleased with how much they have been in the weight room, conditioning and just getting better.' The players did the work and I give them the credit for not wanting to have another year like they had gone through."

Tonight, the No. 4 Vols (14-1, 2-0 SEC) play Florida (9-7, 2-1) in the O'Connell Center at 7. Tennessee is averaging 79.3 points, and has allowed just one opponent to shoot 40 percent or better from the field.

Florida has been inconsistent on offense, and coach Amanda Butler said the worst thing it can do is get caught up in the Tennessee mystique. Her primary message this week has been that this game counts as just one — regardless of how big it seems.

"One of the things you have to address when you go into it is all of the fireworks and excitement that generally surround that game," Butler said. "You can't play intimidated, or scared, or let things get out of whack. We've got to get our third win in the SEC and that's all that matters."

Tennessee is returning to the O'Connell Center for the first time since last year's 66-57 loss to the Gators.

"I know Florida will be ready," Summitt said. "They were a lot more than we could handle last year."

Antonya English can be reached at

With Florida next, Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt proud of team's response to off year 01/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb hates to hear how he "battled through" or "grinded out" a start rather than just dominated, but that's kind of what he did Friday, allowing nine hits and a walk and being charged with two wild pitches but only three runs in earning his 12th win.

  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was curious how he would feel — and perform — in Friday's exhibition against Nashville, his first game since mid-November knee surgery.

    The Lightning’s Alex Killorn, left, makes his preseason debut and has an assist in a 3-1 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.
  3. Rays journal: Rays tie franchise home run record

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — A major flaw in the Rays offense this season — and thus a major reason for their inconsistent play and losing record — has been too much reliance on the home run.

    Wilson Ramos points after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Ww's Odessabeach makes run at Husker Magic stakes final


    ST. PETERSBURG — When Hurricane Irma blew through Florida earlier this month, Ww's Odessabeach remained in her comfort zone.

  5. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.