Lady Vols express sorrow for OSU

The Lady Vols held a moment of silence before Friday's practice in memory of the two Oklahoma State women's basketball coaches killed in a plane crash, and Pat Summitt and Mickie DeMoss reminded the Tennessee players to cherish each day.

Oklahoma State Head Coach Kurt Budke and Assistant Coach Miranda Serna died Thursday when their single-engine plane crashed in Arkansas while they were on a recruiting trip. The pilot, former Oklahoma State Sen. Olin Branstetter, 82, and his wife, Paula, 79, also perished when the plane nosedived into the Winona Wildlife Management Area, about 45 miles west of Little Rock where the coaches had intended to watch two prospects. The cause of the crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

"This is obviously an incredibly devastating event," Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis said Friday. "It's our worst nightmare. The entire OSU family is very close, and to lose anyone, and especially these two individuals who were incredible life forces in our family, is worse beyond words.

"Ann (Hargis) and I were with the family this morning. They need all of our prayers and all of our support. When something like this happens, and God forbid it happened again, we have to pull together."

In January of 2001, 10 people affiliated with the Oklahoma State men's basketball team were killed in a plane crash in Colorado.

"We don't know a lot about what happened or how it happened, but we know they're gone, at least from our presence, but I know they're here in our hearts," Hargis said. "I ask everyone to pull together and to support each other and the Budke family and Serna family in every way possible."

Interim Head Coach Jim Littell said, "Our kids are totally devastated. They love Coach Budke and love Coach Serna. A lot of the reason they are here is because of those two people. Coach Serna was a tireless worker and got those kids believing in her. Obviously, they are hurting because we have lost two tremendous people from the OSU family.

"He was a great basketball coach, but he was a better husband and a better dad and a better friend. I think all the people in this room (who) knew Coach Budke are better off for knowing him. He will not be forgotten, he will not be replaced and I love the man."

Tennessee junior forward Taber Spani, who is from Lee's Summit, Mo., and played in the Kansas City area, knows one of the Oklahoma State players, Heather Howard, a junior forward from Shawnee Mission, Kansas. Sophomore guard Meighan Simmons also has a connection to the school. Her brother Ryan Simmons is a freshman football player for the Cowboys.

"I think everyone across the country is in a state of shock," Spani said. "We, as well as everyone across the country, are praying for Oklahoma State and everyone involved, especially the team members and that coaching staff."

Taber Spani talks to the media Friday

Mickie DeMoss talks to the media Friday

Pat Summitt talks to the media Friday

The Lady Vols held a practice session Friday at Pratt Pavilion in a preparation day for the upcoming Virginia game.

"We defended some of their set actions," Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood said. "We worked against a zone, worked against both zones, wanted to work against their half-court trapping and pressing.

"We wanted to clean up some of our stuff. But in terms of Virginia prep we did a lot of stuff defending their actions offensively and then working against their zone defenses."

The Lady Vols will leave Saturday for Charlottesville, Va. No. 3 Tennessee (2-0) plays Virginia (3-0) on Sunday at 2 p.m. Eastern at John Paul Jones Arena.


Team huddle

Friday practice clips

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