Sidney Spencer has successful knee surgery

Lady Vol basketball player Sidney Spencer had successful surgery Monday to repair a torn ligament in her knee. <p> Spencer, a sophomore from Hoover, Ala., will begin rehabilitation Tuesday. <p>

Sidney Spencer had already started rehab exercises before the surgery and showed the same sideline dedication that she displayed on the court.

Immediately after the injury Spencer said she wanted to be the best rehabber she could be and had already accepted the fact that it had happened and couldn't be reversed.

Prior to Monday's surgery she had been working with flex bands, riding a stationary bicycle, performing balance and strength exercises and doing abdominal crunches.

"Relentless," coach Pat Summitt said of Spencer's approach to rehab. "I saw her do crunches the other day until my stomach hurt. She goes at it in whatever she does. That's just who she is. She's got an incredible work ethic and got a great focus. She has it in the classroom; she has it on the court. And then she gets off in Sidville for a little while, but she comes back."

Jenny Moshak, UT assistant athletics director for sports medicine, said the surgery was performed at UT Medical Center by Dr. William Youmans and fixed the anterior cruciate ligament in Spencer's right knee.

Youmans "found an isolated tear but no other damage," Moshak said.

Spencer injured the knee in practice Feb. 23 during defensive drills when her knee hyperextended as she was sliding into position.

Summitt learned the next day after Spencer's MRI exam that the ligament was torn and called her father, Stephen Spencer. Summitt expressed hope that Sidney Spencer, who can be a little quirky and inhabit her own world - thus the reference to "Sidville" - would be OK.

"Her dad told me the night I talked to him, 'She'll be fine. She'll be just like I was,' " Summitt said. "He had knee surgery. Her brother had knee surgery. He said we just move on."

It was a big loss for Tennessee - three other players are sidelined with knee injuries for the season - as Spencer had been playing some of her best basketball of the season. She had played in all 25 games and started 13. She averaged 5.2 points per game, 4.0 rebound per game and almost 19 minutes per game.

Eight scholarship players were available for practice Monday. Freshman center Sybil Dosty remains sidelined because of illness, but Summitt said she expected Dosty to be cleared to practice Tuesday.

Tennessee plays Sunday at 9:30 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The team will also practice Wednesday before taking off a day Thursday, and then practice will resume Friday and Saturday. Summitt said Dosty would practice Thursday since she hasn't practiced in more than a week. Summitt gave the team three days off last week after winning the SEC tournament, but Dosty hasn't been able to practice because of her flu-like illness.

"Hopefully she'll be ready to go," Summitt said.

BUZZ OUT: Tennessee officially announced Monday that men's basketball coach Buzz Peterson would be let go. It was a sad day for Summitt, who considered Peterson to be a good friend.

"Buzz and I are very close so it's been emotional for me," Summitt said. "He's a great guy, and I respect how he handled everything. At this point obviously the decision has been made. ... I do support the administration, and I hope good things happen for Buzz in the future as well as this program. It's time for everybody to move forward. But maybe I guess more than anything I'm sad. I'm so fond of him."

Summitt said she talked to Peterson on Sunday night, and "he's a strong man."

Summitt had to turn her attention Monday back to her team, which she is preparing for the NCAA Tournament amid the hoopla of her tying and passing Dean Smith - Peterson's coach at North Carolina - in the record books for career wins. Summitt has 878. Smith retired with 879.

"All I've got to do is see that group, and that takes my mind off everything else when I see our team," Summitt said. "I think I have very narrow focus. That's an understatement. I love this time of year, and it's what all these players have worked really hard for. I'm just excited for them, and I just want to make sure we continue to try and get a little bit better every day."

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