Coach, Lady Vols earn AP accolades

ATLANTA – Four Lady Vols and Head Coach Pat Summitt captured SEC women's basketball honors from the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Pat Summitt, who guided the fourth-ranked Big Orange squad to a 31-2 record and an SEC regular season and tournament championship sweep this season, was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the fifth time, while freshman Meighan Simmons was named the SEC Newcomer of the Year.

Juniors Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson nabbed First Team All-SEC accolades, while Simmons was named to the All-SEC Second Team and senior Angie Bjorklund grabbed Honorable Mention All-SEC honors.

Summitt is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history with 1,068 wins, and she has won eight national titles. She is seeking her ninth NCAA Championship this season, as the Lady Vols were announced as a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament on Monday night.

"It's all about having great players," Summitt said. "I always say I've never scored a basket for the University of Tennessee. It's all about the people that have invested in this.

"It's great to be surrounded by people that are in your court and want to see you do the right things and help you along the way. This team has matured tremendously. I'm really happy for them."

Simmons leads the Lady Vols in scoring (13.7 ppg) and assists (2.8 apg). A lightning quick 5'9 guard, she burst onto the collegiate scene by scoring in double figures in her first 13 contests.

"I could have never done it without my teammates and being on a winning team, just going out there and playing our game and playing at another level," Simmons said. "I've always thought, 'I want to be on ESPN one day,' but I never thought it would be to this point."

Stricklen, the SEC Tournament MVP, averages 12.6 ppg and 7.5 rpg this season, while shooting 48.7 percent from the floor. Johnson averaged a double-double in league play with 13.7 ppg and 10.3 rpg.

Bjorklund missed six games towards the end of the regular season with a foot sprain, but rebounded to earn SEC All-Tournament honors. She is averaging 11.1 ppg and shooting an SEC-best 45.0 percent from three.

Earlier this month the SEC coaches released their all-conference teams with Summitt earning Coach of the Year and Simmons garnering Freshman of the Year. The coaches tabbed Stricklen as the SEC's Player of the Year and she was joined on the coaches' All-SEC First Team by Johnson.

The Lady Vols open their 30th NCAA Tournament on Saturday against 16th-seeded Stetson at 11:05 a.m. ET at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.


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