Summitt appeared Monday evening with seven newcomers to the Tennessee basketball team – Nicky Anosike, Abby Canon, Sybil Dosty, Alex Fuller, Alexis Hornbuckle, Candace Parker and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood. Summitt and the freshman addressed a packed Ray Mears room in Thompson-Boling Arena in what has become a preseason October highlight for the club."> Summitt appeared Monday evening with seven newcomers to the Tennessee basketball team – Nicky Anosike, Abby Canon, Sybil Dosty, Alex Fuller, Alexis Hornbuckle, Candace Parker and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood. Summitt and the freshman addressed a packed Ray Mears room in Thompson-Boling Arena in what has become a preseason October highlight for the club.">

Coach, newcomers visit Lady Vol Boost-Her Club

Pat Summitt summed it up succinctly when she addressed the Lady Vols Boost-Her Club: "Sort of looks like I brought a team, not a class." <p> Summitt appeared Monday evening with seven newcomers to the Tennessee basketball team – Nicky Anosike, Abby Canon, Sybil Dosty, Alex Fuller, Alexis Hornbuckle, Candace Parker and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood. Summitt and the freshman addressed a packed Ray Mears room in Thompson-Boling Arena in what has become a preseason October highlight for the club.

"Let me tell you how excited that I am about this freshman class," Summitt told more than 350 people. "It is, on paper, as good as it's ever been. And when we get them all healthy, I think they are obviously going to represent the University of Tennessee, continue the winning tradition and be very, very successful at the championship level. First of all I want to tell all of the players how much it means to Pat Summitt and the coaching staff that you chose Tennessee."

The coach compared the recruiting process to a marriage proposal. "You want to hear the yes word," Summitt said. "I told my staff they deserve a tremendous amount of credit because everybody worked hard. (The freshmen) have a lot of spirit, and they are talented. So you have a lot to look forward to."

Summitt did drop a surprise on the group. The Lady Vols' jerseys will not include their names on the back for the first time ever. She indicated it was partly a reaction to trying to forge unity and chemistry.

"You cannot care in this program who gets the credit," she said. "The team last year in the end came together very well. We had great chemistry, but that was through adversity. We don't want to have to do it through adversity. We want to do it because we all wear orange. We don't have names on the back of our uniforms this year for a reason. That's a first. We're going to be more talented than we've been since 1998. And that team was mighty special, and they played so fast, they had to play together. I think this team will play an up-tempo game and press so much they'll rely on each other for everything. I think they'll play together."

Each player spoke at the event and also took questions from the audience. Wiley-Gatewood was first up because she had to leave early for an evening class. "I do want her to get to class," Summitt said to laughter.

Wiley-Gatewood, a guard from Pomona, Calif. described Tennessee as her ‘dream school' and explained how to pronounce her first name – it sounds like Sha-Day. She brought howls of laughter when she said, "Everybody calls me Sadie. I heard Pat Summitt say it. And it's fine."

Three of the freshman are rehabbing knee injuries – Fuller is out for the season with a reconstructed ACL, Parker is recovering from cartilage damage but may make it back by the end of the year, and Wiley-Gatewood is being held out of practice after recurring problems with a patellar tendon.

It was noted that Wiley-Gatewood was the first of the "Six Pack" to commit to Tennessee, which brought a fist pump from her and an ovation from the crowd. She acknowledged the club for their support and ended her speech with: "Thank you guys. I'm going to class."

Anosike, a center from Staten Island, N.Y., told the group that she is one of eight children and that influenced her college decision. "I have a big family," she said. "I wanted to come somewhere where I feel like I have a second family."

Anosike was asked about the transition from high school to college. "Pat is definitely a lot more demanding than my high school coach," she said. When asked about Summitt's steely stare, Anosike replied: "Her eyes are really blue. If you just make eye contact, and let her know that you want to learn, she's really not that bad."

Hornbuckle, a guard from Charleston, W.Va., said she chose Tennessee because of the fans and because Summitt is "the greatest coach in women's basketball." When asked if she could dunk, Hornbuckle replied, "Not like Candace, not consistently."

Fuller, a forward from Shelbyville, Tenn., said she chose Tennessee because she wanted to play for a winner.

Canon, a walk-on guard also from Shelbyville, is the sister of former Lady Vol Amanda Canon. "I decided to come to Tennessee, because I really love the atmosphere and the tradition," she said.

Parker, a freshman forward from Naperville, Ill, said she decided to be a Lady Vol "to play for the best coach and to play against the best players in practice everyday because that's where you get better."

Dosty, a freshman center from Tucson, Ariz., said, "I wanted to play for the best program in America, the best fans. My visit was crazy. We went to a football game, and it was out of control. People were asking us for our autographs already."

Summitt spent the remainder of her time in fine comedic fashion and regaled the club members with one-liners and anecdotes. Some examples:

"We just started paying a lot of attention to defense," she said. "I think some of them think ‘da fence' is something you put up in the back yard. They're starting to learn what ‘da fence' is really all about. We've got a chance to be a great defensive team."

"Her work ethic is there," Summitt said of Parker's rehab efforts. "Jenny (Moshak) kind of suggested today that she was doing great. But I don't want Candace to know that."

"Sa'de – y'all got that; I'm saying Sha-Day," Summitt said. "I am concerned because she had complications (with her knee) after only four practices. But in terms of work ethic and attitude, it's been super. I'm really proud of all three for working as hard as they have and the attitude they've maintained."

"I haven't seen (Tye'sha) Fluker run this hard since she saw Anosike run by her," Summitt said. "Anosike's running with the guards. I think Sybil and Tye are getting faster just watching it."

She wondered how long it had been since Tennessee won an SEC Tournament title. "I'm just going to pack one outfit. I can't get to the championship game anymore." She noted the top four teams – ‘in no particular order' – in the conference are LSU, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. On a national level, Summitt cited Texas, LSU, Tennessee, Connecticut, Georgia and Duke.

"Outstanding. Good action. I love it." Summitt recited some of the catchphrases of the irrepressibly enthusiastic new assistant coach Dean Lockwood. "They haven't heard coach Summitt say that. He's a great guy."

Summitt closed her appearance with remarks that brought a rousing cheer: "Thank you to all of you for setting us apart in women's basketball with your loyalty to this program. You are the best fans in women's basketball. We're going to rock the house this year folks."

Summitt had to leave early because she spoke Monday night at the funeral service for longtime Lady Vol fan and Boost-Her Club member Gerald Wayne Campbell, who died Oct. 14 in Athens, Greece, where he had traveled to watch the Summer Olympics. He will be buried today in Knoxville.

"We're going to miss him so much," Summitt told the club. "What an awesome person. And to all of you that know him I just want you to know that he has meant a tremendous amount to the Summitt family and my life. The memories with Gerry Campbell will live on in all of us forever. … I'm sorry this freshman class will not get to know one of the most-loyal and dedicated boosters ever. Gerry, we know you're listening, and we love you."

Information about joining or contributing to the Boost-Her club can be found at www.Boost-HerClub.com.


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