Tennessee, DePaul square off Monday

CHICAGO - The Lady Vols met with the media and practiced Sunday, the day before taking on DePaul. Go inside with Inside Tennessee for full coverage from Allstate Arena.

The last time Tennessee played DePaul, Ariel Massengale and Kamiko Williams sat beside each other on the bench and watched.

Neither could enter the December game in Madison Square Garden. Williams wasn't cleared yet because of knee rehab, and Massengale had her left hand in a cast after suffering a serious finger dislocation injury in practice a few days before the team left for the trip.

Both will be on the court Monday night when No. 2 seed Tennessee (25-8) faces No. 7 seed DePaul (23-10) at 9:40 p.m. Eastern (ESPN2) for the right to move on to Des Moines.

DePaul Coach Doug Bruno was aware of their absence - he noted Tennessee's game in December seemed to be one of experimentation at point guard with Shekinna Stricklen playing the bulk of her minutes at the spot - and he knows the pair make the Lady Vols a better team in March.

"I think they used our game in December to see what Stricklen could do up top if that was the way it was going to have to go," Bruno said. "That's one place where they've been solidified. Massengale is back and even though (Briana) Bass starts, Massengale is the player that has the most assists on the team and has done a great job running the team for them.

"So that's one place I think they've really stabilized."

DePaul has dealt with its own injury issues this season and, after the loss of All-American Keisha Hampton in January, was left with seven players to finish the season. The Blue Demons regrouped, stayed competitive in the Big East and earned a berth in the NCAA tourney.

Players and coaches from both teams said Sunday that the game in December - Tennessee won 84-61 on Dec. 11 in the Maggie Dixon Classic - was rather meaningless in March.

"It doesn't have much bearing on this game," Tennessee senior guard Briana Bass said. "The teams have changed. We've just got to go out there and play Tennessee basketball. We've got to play excellent defense.

"This time of year everybody has something to prove."

"We're just trying to survive and advance," DePaul senior guard Deanna Ortiz said. "That's the goal of the tournament. We're a different team than we were in December; they're a different team so I think it's just going to be a totally new game.

"It's the NCAA Tournament. This is win or go home so I think it's just a totally different feel than back in December."

Massengale is happy to get to participate in this game. She injured her finger trying to scoop up a loose ball in practice, and the finger bent backwards awkwardly as she went to the floor.

The freshman guard missed the DePaul and Rutgers games on the East Coast and the UCLA one on the West Coast. She returned for Stanford, but played limited minutes because she had just returned to practice the day before the game.

Now, Massengale gets to play hometown DePaul close to her hometown of Bolingbrook, Ill.

"I am looking forward to it," said Massengale, who was able to spend Saturday evening with her family and eat at one of her favorite restaurants. "I knew Chicago was a site, but I didn't think that we would be sent here.

"And then for it to be my freshman year, it just seems like everything has fallen into place."

Massengale chatted Saturday evening with Chanise Jenkins, a freshman point guard for DePaul who also didn't play in the December game because of injury. Jenkins, who is from Chicago, ended up taking a redshirt year.

"I wish that she was playing, because it would be real neat for us to play against each other and to be playing in Chicago, but hopefully we'll have another chance in the future," Massengale said.

With the personnel changes for both teams from the December game to now, the past outcome doesn't resonate with the players.

"It doesn't matter," Massengale said. "Different people will be playing. Each team has gotten better since then because that was earlier in the season. This is the tournament. This game has more meaning. It's win or go home now."

Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick is happy to have Massengale in uniform for this game.

"It's great," Warlick said. "Depth is always good for us, and she adds another dimension to us. We can put Kamiko at the point, we can Meighan at the point, and Bree is playing well and Ariel.

"It's something that we need to take advantage of because we have depth. We want to make the game as fast as possible."

Williams remembers sitting with Massengale on the bench in the Garden - two seats down from Daedra Charles-Furlow, the team's director of character development - and watching and wishing she could play. Williams, who tore her ACL last July, was close to being released - she played a little more than two weeks later, but she didn't have final clearance yet in New York.

"The first half they got after us," Williams said. "We had a lot of turnovers in the first half. In the second half we were trying to encourage them, but we felt kind of helpless at the same time.

"We were jumping up and down screaming and yelling, so to get to go out there and play for the first time against this team, it will be exciting."

Taber Spani said the team will look familiar on film - the style of play remains the same - so there can be some benefit to a rematch.

"It matters in the sense that we have an idea of what they run, and we can go back and look at that tape, and look at what we did well and what we need to improve on, so that matters," Spani said.

"But we're a completely different team now and two months down the road everybody looks different, and obviously we have a lot more to play for, too. That can't really be measured by a game in the past."

PROBABLE STARTERS

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt was expected to start: Briana Bass, 5'2 senior guard, No. 1 (2.1 points per game, 0.6 rebounds per game); Shekinna Stricklen, 6'2 senior guard/forward, No. 40 (15.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg); Alicia Manning, 6'1 senior guard/forward, No. 15 (4.1 ppg, 4.2 ppg); Glory Johnson, 6'3 senior forward, No. 25 (14.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg); and Vicki Baugh, 6'4 redshirt senior forward, No. 21 (7.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg).

DePaul Coach Doug Bruno was expected to start: Brittany Hrynko, 5'8 freshman guard, No. 12 (10.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg), hails from Philadelphia, Pa., tallied eight points, seven boards in first game against Tennessee, named to the Big East All-Freshman Team; Deanna Ortiz, 5'10 senior guard, No. 34 (4.5 ppg, 2.5 ppg), hails from Chicago, missed the Tennessee game and the next contest at Princeton in December, will try out in April for the Puerto Rico women's national team; Anna Martin, 5'9 junior guard, No. 5 (19.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg), hails from Nicholasville, Ky., tallied 10 points, six assists against Tennessee, unanimous selection to Big East First Team; Jasmine Penny, 6'1 sophomore forward, No. 31 (11.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg), hails from Logansport, Ind., came off the bench against Tennessee and led DePaul with 16 points on 6-7 shooting from the field and 4-6 from the line, leads Big East with 58.4 percent field goal percentage; and Katherine Harry, 6'3 junior forward, No. 51 (9.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg), had seven points, seven boards against Tennessee, holds the McGrath-Phillips Arena record with 20 rebounds against Louisville.

The starters play the bulk of the minutes for the Blue Demons in Saturday's 59-55 win over BYU.

"We really will just play how we've been playing all season," Martin said. "There are seven of us that play and we're in great shape. We've been preparing for games like this so we've just got to come out and play how we've been and hope for the best."

Kelsey Reynolds, a 5'7 sophomore guard from Mishawaka, Ind., and Megan Rogowski, a 5'9 freshman guard from Prospect Heights, Ill., came off the bench and combined for 17 minutes against BYU. Rogowski has tallied 53 three-pointers this season. Reynolds has 61 rebounds, 40 assists and 30 steals and has started twice this season.

No DePaul starter went the distance against BYU, but two played 38 minutes, one was at 37 and two others logged 35 minutes each.

Two other players are listed on DePaul's available roster - Maureen Mulchrone, a 6'0 senior guard/forward from Chicago who is day to day with a back injury but hasn't played since Dec. 22; and Karima Gabriel, a 6'2 freshman forward from Manchester, N.H., who didn't play in the Big East tourney earlier this month and logged seven minutes total in the month of February.

"I'm just really proud of our basketball team and the players for putting themselves in a position to play in the NCAA Tournament and then to win and advance against a very, very good Brigham Young team," Bruno said.

"Now, it's the morning after, and the page has to be turned. Tennessee is a great program and a great basketball team whose players are on a mission. They're playing their best basketball right now."

SCOUTING REPORT Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick handled the scouting report for the Tennessee-DePaul game. Here is her assessment.

Offensively, the Blue Demons look very similar to how they played in December.

"They run a motion, a lot of back screens, flare screens, ball screens, curls," Warlick said. "He is not changing his philosophy one bit. He wants to out-score you.

"They are just playing seven people, so it makes it difficult at times for what he wants to do offensively and defensively, but his philosophy is still the same."

DePaul may be low on numbers, but the Blue Demons still shoot the three ball very well.

DePaul hit a school record 255 treys in 2010-11, and this season the mark is at 253.

The Blue Demons have hit 10 or more three-pointers eight times this season and connected on a school record 16 treys against St. Mary's. Anna Martin leads the team with 62 three-pointers while Brittany Hrynko has 58.

Defensively, the Blue Demons show different looks.

"They are in a man and they are running a little bit of a matchup zone," Warlick said. "They try to change it up. They press a little bit. They've got quick guards, so they are going to get after the ball.

"He is very selective in what he does because of the nature of his bench."

Keys for Tennessee: "We have got to make the game up and down," Warlick said. "We have got to get our transition game going. We have to make sure we communicate on defense. They are not running sets - it's concepts.

"Also, obviously making open shots."

That was a nod to Tennessee's 72-49 win over Tennessee-Martin on Saturday. The Lady Vols prevailed but misfired early and often to open the game.

BRUNO SHOW: Doug Bruno has been entertaining to say the least at his press conferences.

On Saturday, he joked Michael Fahey, the video coordinator for Tennessee, didn't even have a job after graduating from Benedictine in 2010, and now gets to work for the Lady Vols.

Fahey, who is close friends with the Bruno family, dates Sam Quigley, who played for Bruno at DePaul and graduated in 2011. He worked for the Indiana Fever as a video specialist before taking the job with Tennessee this season.

Bruno was a movie critic Friday and gave his synopsis of "The Magnificent Seven," which he used to describe his seven remaining players, though he noted that didn't always play that magnificently.

Any media members who knew the movie in the press conference dated themselves - the western film was released in 1960 - and the DePaul band has started playing the theme song.

Bruno noted the film wasn't a "chick flick," and, in his opinion, wasn't the masterpiece it was made out to be. He said every player on his team and even his staff were too young to even know the movie.

Bruno's team has been riddled with knee injuries this season, and he noted Sunday that the father of Anna Martin, who is from Kentucky, suggested a treatment of Epsom salt and moonshine. Bruno said he approved the salts but not the 'shine.

Bruno also is in the Glory Johnson Fan Club and said too much is made with regard to timing when it comes to board play. He said Johnson rebounds the best way - with her eyes.

"She's probably the most relentless rebounder in the country," Bruno said. "She just really, really pursues the glass with a vigor that is kind of in remembrance of what all the Tennessee players in the program have been about.

"They've always been great rebounders, and Glory is really, really active and really, really tough to keep off the glass."

FAN TURNOUT: A little more than 4,000 fans attended Saturday's first round games. The orange-clad fans dominated the crowd in the first game, while DePaul fans turned out for the second one.

Our fans are great," Doug Bruno said Sunday. "We wouldn't have won yesterday without our fans. I think the fans really, really did get fired up there in the second half and gave us a great lift in the second half when Brigham Young was making a run at us.

"I didn't have time to go survey and see how much of the orange stayed for our game but I know when I walked in there was a lot of orange in the crowd so I would expect that the crowd should be a great college crowd.

"I think the DePaul crowd will be larger than the Tennessee crowd, but I think it's going to be a great back-and-forth type of atmosphere which is huge for any big college game."

DePaul, which plays in the regular season on campus at McGrath-Phillips Arena, is 23-4 at Allstate Arena and has won 11 straight at the venue, including 3-0 in the NCAA tourney. Prior to Saturday, the last time the Blue Demons had played at Allstate was 2006.

On Monday the crowd will be a mixture of Tennessee orange and DePaul blue. The Blue Demon fans were loud Saturday.

"I think Monday, especially with St. Patrick's Day behind us now - it's a big event in Chicago - I think we're going to get even more support on Monday and we're going to need it because this is a tough team that we have to play and we can use any advantage that we can get," said DePaul's Deanna Ortiz, who is from Chicago.

Tennessee's Ariel Massengale provided her own support section - she will have close to 100 family, friends and fans in attendance.

"We have a great fan base who traveled as well," Massengale said. "It's going to come down to which team performs the best."

ARIEL ATTITUDE: Ariel Massengale has an inner calmness about her that was evident even during brief media excursions into the locker room.

She handles all the interviews, smiles with her teammates and seems to just stay on an even keel at all times.

She wears a bracelet on her left wrist with Philippians 4:13 on it - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

"It's my favorite Bible verse," Massengale said. "I wear this bracelet every day to remind myself that no matter what I may come against in life, I can conquer all things with him on my side."

Massengale had the bracelet made last summer while in Orlando with USA Basketball.

"This is my motto to come in and start my college career," Massengale said.

Massengale sat in her locker Sunday with headphones that she took off when the media entered. Every question brought a response that stuck to her basketball script.

"She is real comfortable, and we love it," Kamiko Williams said. "That is Rel's personality. Off the court, that is how she is. I am glad that she carries it over and plays well.

"During the day, I'll say, ‘Rel, what do you want to do?' And she'll say, ‘I'm just chillin'. ' I'm like, ‘OK, that's cool. I'll chill, too.' "

ZONE OUT: Meighan Simmons can be so involved in the game that she sometimes enters a trance-like state.

It happened in the UTM game on Saturday when she went to the wrong spot on defense - the bench immediately starting yelling for Simmons to shift, as did Glory Johnson - and the startled look on Simmons' face underscored that she realized it right away.

It was too late in that case - UTM drained a three - but Simmons regrouped, so much so that Holly Warlick said it was one of her best defensive games of the season.

"I feel like when I get overly excited I tend to get really anxious on the floor to the point where my mind starts going, like, everywhere," Simmons said. "I get so ready to get in the game and my mind is like, ‘OK, I've got to do this. I've got to do this.'

"I have to be poised, and I have to be calm when I get out there on the floor and make sure my mind is on defense. I have to be able to play both ends of the floor."

LONG WAIT: The Lady Vols practiced Sunday in the early afternoon and then have a late tipoff Monday. That's a lot of hours to fill.

With Tennessee on spring break, the players don't have mandatory study hall on the road, so they have plenty of free time. The players said they watch movies, go shopping and sleep.

They also watch basketball - men's and women's tourneys.

"We're basketball fans, too, so we love watching games," Taber Spani said.

TRANSCRIPTS/VIDEOS: The quotes from coaches and players at Sunday's press conferences are made available online for each school.

Click on the team name below to read the transcript.

Tennessee

DePaul

Also, DePaul provided videos of Sunday's press conferences. Click on the team names below to watch.

Tennessee

DePaul

ODDS AND ENDS

Tennessee is 19-0 against DePaul. The teams have played just once in the postseason and the Lady Vols won, 79-59, in Tallahassee, Fla., on March 22, 2004. Tennessee's overall record in the first and second rounds of the NCAA tourney is 47-1. The lone loss was to Ball State in 2009 in the first round. … Tennessee is 6-0 in games played on March 19. The last win on this date came against Stetson, 99-34, in 2011. The first win on March 19 was against Martha Washington, 18-10, in 1920.

INSIDE TENNESSEE VIDEO COVERAGE

Cierra Burdick

Meighan Simmons

Shekinna Stricklen

Kamiko Williams

Glory Johnson

Vicki Baugh


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