"I would say this about the team's attitude. I think that the off-season pretty much told the tale about how they responded not going to a Final Four," Pat Summitt said. "They got in the gym and worked really hard as a basketball team. That's, to me – I say this all the time – that's when you win championships. This team really got into a lot of workouts, took a lot of time to play pickup and to really work on their offensive skills.
"I thought that was a good indication that, no, they will not take for granted going to a Final Four again. We had been to four consecutive. Sid and Dom, they didn't know what it was like not to go until we got beat in the Regional Finals last year. I think that really opened our eyes. There is no guarantee that it is going to happen every year. You have to make it happen. Your plan of attack should be to get better in the off-season."
The players spent 45 minutes fielding questions from the media about just how much better they expected to be and in what areas they needed to improve. But they can only talk so much basketball sometimes. So the players also agreed to handle a few questions out of leftfield and, to keep it legit, they answered one hoops question about themselves.
Nicky Anosike, 6'4 junior forward/center, Staten Island, N.Y.
Cell phone ring: "I just have the ones that are already in the phone." (Her teammates and Anosike howl with laughter.)
If you've got $5,000 to spend, where will you shop: "I like online stores better. Zappos.com. I always get shoes."
What kind of animal would you be and why: "A liger. It's the combination. You've got the best of both worlds."
What one superhero power would you like to have: "X-ray vision."
Who would you pick to be your costar in a movie: "Martin Lawrence."
If the movie were about you, what would be the title: "I don't know. (Dom suggested ‘Big Smooth.') Sure."
What are your favorite smells: "Candles."
What magazine cover would you pick to be on: "I don't really read magazines."
A website you check daily: "My utk website."
What would your scouting report say if you wrote it: "Fierce."
Alberta Auguste, 5'11 junior guard/forward, Marrero, Louisiana
Cell phone: "Best Friend. Crabz in a Bucket by 50 Cent."
$5,000: "Probably d.e.m.o. They sell Rocawear, Ecko, Baby Phat."
Animal: "A cheetah. Fast."
Superhero power: "Probably fly (laughed about her nickname, which is "Bird").
Costar: "Morris Chestnut."
Movie title: "Birdwoman."
Smells: "Good smells like perfume."
Magazine cover: "Sports Illustrated."
Scouting report: "What is so special about Alberta Auguste? Defensive player."
Shannon Bobbitt, 5'2 junior guard, Manhattan, N.Y.
Cell phone: "I've got different rings. I go from Jay-Z all the way to oldies."
$5,000: "I'm going to the mall. I'm getting jewelry."
Animal: "I'd be a lion because of the saying they are tough: You've got the heart of a lion."
Superhero power: "I'd pick invisible."
Costar: "I'd have to go with Morris Chestnut."
Movie title: "Something Special."
Smells: "Cake, soul food."
Magazine cover: "It doesn't matter to me. Any."
Website: "My school website, utladyvols."
Scouting report: "Try to deny her the ball. Don't let her touch the ball."
Elizabeth Curry, 5'6 senior walk-on guard, New Virginia, Iowa
Cell phone: "Right now ‘God of Wonders' by Third Day."
$5,000: "Best Buy."
Animal: "Probably an eagle because I can fly."
Superhero power: "The ability to fly."
Costar: "Ashley Judd."
Movie title: "You ask tough questions (laughing). I don't really have any acting skills. I don't know."
Smells: "The rain."
Magazine cover: "Any of them as long as it's from a positive standpoint."
Scouting report: "Committed."
Alex Fuller, 6'3 sophomore forward/center, Shelbyville, Tennessee
Cell phone: "It's different" depending on which teammate is calling. Has ‘Bunny Hop' and ‘Do It'
$5,000: "I would probably go to a shoe store that carries my size (12 in women's dress shoes)."
Animal: "Probably a swan, because they're pretty."
Superhero power: "I'd say to disappear."
Costar: "Morris Chestnut."
Movie title: "I don't know, but I know who would play me. Gabrielle Union."
Smells: "Vanilla candles. I like when you can smell a cake cooking."
Magazine cover: "People."
Website: "My webmail."
Scouting report: "Good rebounder, very physical and can score inside so play her straight up."
Alexis Hornbuckle, 5'11 junior guard, Duncan, West Virginia
Cell phone: "What is my ringer? I can't think. What is it? My text is 'Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It'(and also music by Lil Scrappy)."
$5,000: "I'm going to the biggest shoe store I can find (to buy) Jordans."
Animal: "I don't know. I'd probably be a bird. You'd see more of the world."
Superhero power: "I'd probably have super strength so I could body slam Dom (who was listening in and making Alexis laugh).
Costar: "Shemar Moore."
Movie title: "I don't know. That's a good question. I'll have to think about that one."
Smells: "Anything that smells good. Candles, soap, shampoo. Dom picked food didn't she?"
Magazine cover: "ESPN the Magazine."
Website: "I don't know. I'm so random when I get online. I have no specific (destination). I'm just like, ‘Hmm … ' "
Scouting report: "This year's scouting report? You've got to play her straight up."
Did you ever think of a movie title? "Straight Up. No, I can't think of one."
Cait McMahan, 5'4 freshman guard, Maryville, Tennessee
Cell phone: "I have many cell phone ringers." Favorite? "Probably ‘Beat Drop' by Monica."
$5,000: "Five thousand dollars is a lot of money. I would probably go to a shoe store."
Animal: "I want to be a bald eagle so I can be the American bird, and I can fly."
Superhero power: "Since I'm already a bird, I'm not going to pick Superman. I would want to read people's mind."
Costar: "Denzel Washington."
Movie title: "Dang, I like your questions. What would the title be? Crazy Cait Reality."
Smells: "I like this. I like to smell candles, and I like to smell gas (like motorboats). I like to smell fall because you walk out and it's like, ‘Oh, it's basketball season.' "
Magazine cover: "I want to be on the cover of SLAM."
Scouting report: "Defend the drive, defend the three."
Nicci Moats, 6'2 freshman forward, Daleville, Virginia
Cell phone: "Oh goodness. It depends on who it is. What's the favorite? Probably ‘Shoulder Lean' "
$5,000: "Buckle for jeans and Foot Action for shoes."
Animal: "Oh, gosh. That's a funny question. I would be a lion because they're fierce and they're strong and they're protective and they're the leader."
Superhero power: "To be able to fly."
Costar: "Brad Pitt because he is just so fine. He is a good-looking guy."
Movie title: "I don't know. Oh my gosh. I would probably do some kind a reality show, like ‘The Bachelorette.' "
Smells: "I love perfumes. My favorite perfume is Dolce & Gabbana Sky Blue. That smells really good. And I love lotions like Bath & Body Works. There's one called Magnolia, and it smells really good. Fresh scents, not too heavy, stuff like that."
Magazine cover: "Sports Illustrated, definitely."
Website: "The one called The Summitt, the message board."
Scouting report: "Being a freshman and being only at practice a (few times) there definitely are freshman mistakes, but I think that I can bring a lot to this team once I get into it. So I would probably say they would see me as being a threat on the boards and being a threat in the low post."
Candace Parker, 6'4 sophomore forward/center/guard, Naperville, Illinois
Cell phone: "Beyonce ‘Ring the Alarm' "
Animal: "I would be a lion because they're the king of the jungle."
Superhero power: "I would be telepathic."
Costar: "It would have to be Boris Kodjoe."
Movie title: "The movie's about me? CP. I'll be simple with it."
Smells: "I like to smell baked cookies."
Magazine cover: "Essence."
Website: "Probably Google. I get Google alerts."
Scouting report: "Will get dunked on? (suggested by Dom) It would be, yeah, (sigh), will get dunked on."
Dominique Redding, 6'1 senior forward, Clearwater, Florida
Cell phone: "Lyfe Jennings."
$5,000: "I think I'm going to have to go to Guess and Buckle."
Animal: "A pit bull. It's relentless and loving. They're loving animals."
Superhero power: "See into the future."
Costar: "Denzel Washington."
Movie title: "The title would be ‘Clearwater.' "
Magazine cover: "ESPN. No, I change that. The Source."
Scouting report: "Don't let her touch it. Limit touches. If you don't, it's over."
Sidney Spencer, 6'3 senior forward, Hoover, Alabama
Cell phone: "It's like some whistle blowing. It scares me every time it rings. Dom did it. She changed it up on me."
$5,000: "I want to get up on my Jordan gear and some shoes. I need a dress. I really like the dresses at Dillard's. Those are nice ones, but I'd really like to go to Nordstrom, Neiman-Marcus."
Animal: "I don't know. We'll have to come back."
Superhero power: "Spider-Man, because he can shoot and cast nets."
Costar: "I like Boris Kodjoe."
Movie title: "Sidville."
Smells: "Curve; it's a cologne."
Magazine cover: "Vogue."
Scouting report: "I'm physical. I'm a shooter. I'm a scorer. I worked on my mid-range game, ball handling."
What about the animal? "I want to be a pit bull. Dom has two of them, and I love them. People think they're really mean, but they're sweet."
THE STARTERS: After holding several scrimmage sessions Sunday, Summitt has selected her starting lineup for Wednesday. Bobbitt, a junior college transfer, will open up at the point position, and Hornbuckle will fill the other backcourt spot. The frontcourt will consist of Spencer on the wing at small forward (three) and Parker and Anosike inside the paint at power forward (four) and center (five).
"I think the good combination there with the three, four and five is that you have Parker who can (also) play on the wing," Summitt said. "Spencer looked great at the four. I think that we do have some options there in terms of how we play offensively and defensively. I like Sid at the four. Obviously, Candace is a three, four and five. She can play multiple positions, so I think that gives us a good frontline look."
MOATS UPDATE: Nicci Moats practiced Monday afternoon but had to cut it short at the end because of some knee swelling brought on by lingering weakness in her left quadriceps muscle. Moats missed most of her senior year in high school to recover from ACL surgery on her left knee.
"We're still dealing with post-op ACL stuff, because the quad isn't where it needs to be," said Jenny Moshak, assistant athletics director for sports medicine. "The bottom line is her hamstring is very, very strong so I'm not worried about the ACL. But the quad is not where it needs to be so the joints take more pounding when the quad isn't strong.
"She goes for awhile, does well. When the knee starts to swell then there's a neuromuscular mechanism within the knee that as soon as you get a little swelling, the quad shuts down. The quad shuts down, the knee gives out on you. ... We get her quad stronger, she will be fine. I'll pull her if necessary, and our main focus is the weight room."
That is overall good news for Tennessee because Moats, despite her limited work, has shown an ability to score in the paint and is an excellent free throw shooter.
If the swelling is gone by Wednesday, Moshak said, Moats would be cleared to play in the exhibition game. If not, she will be held out.
Fellow freshman Cait McMahan spent the practice in rehab with some rigorous sets on a stationary bicycle. She will miss the exhibition games this week, but the goal is to have her ready for the season opener Nov. 12 against Chattanooga, if possible.
"Cait is doing very well," Moshak said.
Summitt said Monday, "You don't ever have to worry about her working hard. You would be more concerned that she's going to over-train and that is something she's got to be very mindful of. She has been great in her rehab. Jenny Moshak went with her for her checkup today, and she is right on schedule. Certainly we don't want to try to push her to get ready for these exhibition games, and hopefully she'll be ready for our opener against Chattanooga."