Noon tip set for Sunday vs. Ole Miss

Pat Summitt issued a reminder Friday that this Sunday's game against Ole Miss will tip at noon to accommodate the television broadcast on CSS, a scenario that could cut into attendance because of the overlap with church-going fans in East Tennessee.

"It definitely cuts into church time, and I hope everybody will go to early church," Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt said. "I think a lot of our fans will be here. … They'll find a way to get here, even if they come late. They'll be here."

The Lady Vol game against Ole Miss was originally scheduled for 3 p.m. but was changed to the noon Eastern tip because of television considerations.

"That was out of my hands, but I think being on TV is great," Summitt said. "It may hurt our crowd a little bit, but they're incredibly loyal and even if they come late we just want them to come."

Thursday's game against Alabama was a 110-45 destruction of the Crimson Tide and despite the inevitable outcome most of the 12,897 fans stayed to cheer until the final seconds. When Glory Johnson departed the court with a little more than 10 minutes to go, the fans stood and applauded the effort of the junior forward.

"They know the game," Summitt said. "Most of those people in the stands know the game. They've watched it and watched it and watched it. We've got a lot of people who could probably coach."

The crowd also was amused – audible laughter could be heard – when Summitt called timeouts at the 10:54 and 4:13 marks of the second half with 48- and 59-point leads, respectively.

"Did they?" Summitt said with a smile when told of the crowd reaction. "Well, I was just not happy. First of all, we have a difficult time understanding that high hands is necessary.

"I told Holly (Warlick) first thing we need to do (at practice) is get on the defensive end. We weren't aggressive with our defensive intensity. We weren't aggressive when going to the boards. I watched that last night and I was like, ‘Oh, my word.' It was bad."

Johnson actually mentioned the rebounding margin in her post-game remarks – it was 54-49 in favor of Tennessee – because she thought Alabama snared too many that should have been secured by the Lady Vols. The Crimson Tide had 28 offensive boards, far too many for Johnson's liking.

"They did," Summitt said. "Everybody just turned and ball watched."

Practice began with a film session that wasn't particularly long and was intended to address shortcomings in Thursday's game.

"When we had films today we watched all the bad stuff," Summitt said after practice Friday.

Summitt was pleased in her post-game press conference with her team's depth and the production from the bench, but she scrutinizes the game tape closely once she gets home, and she saw enough Thursday evening to start with defense at practice and put the lid on the basket to emphasize rebounding.

"I went home and I watched it and (saw) our lack of commitment to defense and board play," Summitt said.

Low hands and mixed box-outs at Friday's practice session meant team sprints.

"Keep in mind now all these people we recruited, predominantly, they all came with offensive skills, not defensive skills, so we've got to bring that out," Summitt said.

Offense certainly hasn't been an issue of late. After scoring just 54 points against Baylor, the Lady Vols have averaged 90.8 points in their last five games and topped the 100 mark twice against ETSU and Alabama. They managed to tally 73 points against LSU without hitting a single trey.

Taber Spani and Angie Bjorklund struggled offensively against LSU – neither scored in Baton Rouge – but combined for 31 points against Alabama. When Summitt watched film the next day with Spani, she learned that the sophomore sharpshooter was under the weather during the game. Bjorklund was ill on Friday and missed practice.

Vicki Baugh, who was held out of Thursday's game because of her knee and didn't look comfortable in pre-game warmups, was feeling better Friday and completed the practice. She was spry before the session, too.

"She was better today," said Summitt, who pulled Baugh after talking to her before Thursday's game. "I always ask Jenny (Moshak) what she thinks, but I don't take any risks. But if she's good to go she'll be there."

The availability of Baugh and Alyssia Brewer (Achilles tendon comeback) hasn't been as crucial of late because of the outstanding play of Johnson, the reigning SEC Player of the Week who has lit up the court on both ends since coming off the bench in the second half of the ETSU game.

Summitt is particularly pleased with Johnson's play and doesn't intend to change the lineup for now, even though Johnson's athleticism is tempting to have on the court from the opening tip.

"Absolutely," Summitt said. "So far I like the starting five we have. I think it's not bad for Glory to watch, because she does have a good feel for the game when she goes in."

That leaves Kelley Cain and Shekinna Stricklen inside – she banged her elbow hard in Thursday's game but was back at practice Friday – and Spani, Bjorklund and Meighan Simmons on the perimeter. Spani has diversified her offensive game and is as likely to score close to the basket now as she is from behind the arc.

"Taber is good in the paint," Summitt said. "She's good on the pull-up. She's good in the corners."

Simmons tallied 11 assists in Thursday's game, setting a freshman record for a single game for a first-year player.

"She showed everyone that she can share the ball, because she's been known as a scorer," fellow freshman Lauren Avant said. "Now, people are going to have to respect her passing ability, as well as her shooting ability. They're going to have to play her differently now."

Simmons also tallied 15 points for the double-double, one of only 10 Lady Vols all-time to get the double with points and assists. The others, who all did it once, were: Susan Clower, Lea Henry, Alexis Hornbuckle, Michelle Marciniak, Dawn Marsh, Carla McGhee, Shekinna Stricklen, Holly Warlick and Shanna Zolman.

"She's one of the best freshmen I've ever coached," Summitt said.

The overall result Thursday was a box score spread out with minutes for 11 players and a thoroughly entertained crowd. Summitt hopes to see a lot of fans again Sunday at noon.

With 97,479 fans having attended a total of eight home games so far – an average of 12,185 per game – Sunday's clash with Ole Miss should put the Lady Vols well over 100,000 for the season.

"I just think we have the best fans in the country," Summitt said. "It's going to be a different game from the last game, so hopefully we'll have people respond and come."

VIDEO COVERAGE: Video clips from Friday's practice.


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