"The last question had something to do with: ‘Well, what would you do if you were running this (and because of defenders in the passing lane), you couldn't run your offense?' " Summitt said this preseason while addressing the Boost-Her Club. "I gave them a couple suggestions so we'll have to ready for dribble entries."
Summitt, who has always opened up practices to the public and area coaches, relayed the anecdote while laughing.
"Seriously, it's not about who we're playing," Summitt said. "It is strictly about where we are. Where we are offensively with our spacing, and our passes and our screening and our shot selection and our rebounding. Those are things that we look for. In our defense, our intensity on the ball, our help, our ability to defend one-on-one (and) our commitment to defend as a team."
The Lady Eagles were gutted last season by injury but return an experienced core of players this year, including six veterans, three redshirts and six newcomers – two freshmen and four transfers. The post players and backcourt are battletested for coach Dean Walsh.
Lady Vols assistant coach Dean Lockwood will be getting his first look at the team in a live game. Lockwood, who has coached for two decades in the men's game – including a stint with former UT coach Don DeVoe – has been a welcome addition on the sideline with his exuberance and ebullient attitude. Lockwood knows exactly what he will be looking for today.
"Physicality. Our rebounding. Are we hittin' and gettin' as we like to call it here," he said. "One of the things really important is transition, because we want to be a transition team. Our posts, we need to have a transition presence every time down that floor - on any offensive possession I will be watching that ball rim to rim. The quality of our screens and the quality of our seals – those are two very key things with me offensively."
Lockwood also won't let his eyes stray from the defensive end of the floor.
"Our defensive concepts – are we helping, are we talking through screens, are we being physical and aggressive as we handle screens, are we contesting shots?" he noted. "I think early on you want to put your foundation in place; that's your bedrock. If our bedrock's in place, we can do a lot of things off of that. If it's not in place, any scheme in the world is not going to be effective."
The starters Sunday will be Loree Moore, Shanna Zolman, Shyra Ely, Sidney Spencer and Tye'sha Fluker. One of the first substitutes off the bench will be freshman Alexis Hornbuckle, who will relieve Moore at the point.
"They are two kids who are very athletic, who are multifaceted skill players," Lockwood said. "They can finish; they can hit the shot. They can have a pull-up game. Their passing - in terms of their character - they are both unselfish players. They're not consumed with their games or how they look. They are so tuned in to making people better around them."
Lockwood will be watching to say the least. So will everyone else – some of them for the first time.
"They must know something I don't." -Coach Pat Summitt after cbssportsline.com picked Tennessee No. 1 in a preseason poll. Several preseason prognosticators have tapped the Lady Vols as the top team.
"There are some key habits we want to reinforce. And the minute you go away from those, you tend to lose them and we don't want to lose them." -Assistant coach Dean Lockwood on the progress of the "bigs" – Nicky Anosike, Tye'sha Fluker and Sybil Dosty in terms of sealing off their defender, finishing under the basket, hitting the short-range jumper and rebounding the basketball."
"I think it's really important, as an assistant coach, one of my roles is that it's the old phrase you learn in teacher education: ‘Catch them do something good, and praise them.' I'm a big believer in the sandwich technique. Tell them something they did good, make the correction and then finish it with something good." -Lockwood on his coaching philosophy.
"When you have their type of skills, and you combine that type of attitude, you put two people on the floor with that type of mindset, they're just fun to watch." -Lockwood, on watching guards, senior Loree Moore and freshman Alexis Hornbuckle, on the court.
"They are like my daughters. I think this group will go down in history as a special team." -Summitt, during the preseason, while addressing the Lady Vols Boost-Her Club, about the 2004-05 team.