Summitt seeks offensive patience

Coach Pat Summitt intended to spend Saturday evening watching film on the Houston Jaguars. During Sunday afternoon's exhibition game her eyes will be focused on the Lady Vols.

"It's all about us," Pat Summitt explained when asked about Tennessee's approach to its second exhibition game against what is expected to be an overmatched opponent.

Summitt's assistants did spend time this past week watching the Jaguars, so she let them handle the scouting report for Sunday's 3 p.m. game at Thompson-Boling Arena. The head coach scrutinized the film of the first exhibition game last Wednesday, a 104-49 romp over Carson-Newman.

"I want us to value each possession more," Summitt said when asked what she would be looking for Sunday. "We had some possessions in which I thought we were impatient offensively. We took quick shots. That's OK in transition if you've got numbers, but not in the half-court game. We just need a little more shot discipline."

That discipline – and the attention to details – was emphasized during Saturday's two-hour practice. Despite a looming game, Summitt put her charges through their paces with some full-court work and an equal distribution of offensive and defensive drills.

After watching the game tape against Carson-Newman, Summitt's initial impressions were confirmed.

"Pleased with awareness on defense," she said. "I thought defensively we made a lot of progress before that game, and then we carried it over. I think last week was one of our most productive defensive weeks. We obviously concentrated on our offense, and I thought it was ahead of the defense. Now I think our defense has caught up."

The eye-opening stat for Tennessee was the rebounding – the Lady Eagles stayed even off the glass, 36-36, despite not playing anyone taller than 6'1. Carson-Newman had 15 offensive boards.

"I think as far as our rebounding we've just got to be consistent on sending four to the offensive glass," Summitt said. "There were times we'd have two, no more than three. Defensively, I just think we've just got to really limit teams to one shot. You get beat on the second-chance opportunities. We're not as disciplined in our box-outs as we need to be. They all have to take responsibility."

Summitt will start the same five – juniors Shannon Bobbitt and Alexis Hornbuckle in the backcourt and a frontcourt of senior Sidney Spencer, sophomore Candace Parker and junior Nicky Anosike.

The Jaguars, a traveling team of former college players, are expected to start: Brandi Jones (Texas A&M), 5'7 guard, 6.5 points per game, 3 rebounds per game, 2 steals per game; Amber Cunningham (Rice), 5'9 guard, 6.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.5 assists per game; Lashinda Winters (University of Houston), 5'4 guard, 4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.3 apg; Daphne Andre (Houston), 5'11 forward, 1.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1 apg; and Shanta Johnson (Stephen F. Austin), 5'11 forward, 6.3 ppg, 4 rpg, 1 spg.

Other players on the roster include Umeki Webb (N.C. State), Chandi Jones (Houston), Melissa Abraham (Memphis) and Tamea Scales (Texas A&M). Houston has lost to UTEP, 83-63, and Texas, 72-31. The Jaguars will play Texas A&M and Connecticut next week.

The Lady Vols got stellar bench play in the first exhibition game from senior Dominique Redding (20 points, five rebounds) and sophomore Alex Fuller (11 points, eight boards.)

"She's just got a knack for being around the ball," Summitt said of Fuller. "She's alert, she anticipates. She's a worker, a blue-collar player right there."

Fuller was 3-7 from the field against Carson-Newman, but Summitt didn't hesitate to shake that off. Fuller did hit her sole three-point attempt and was perfect (4-4) from the line.

"She's been shooting the ball great in practice," Summitt said.

Redding is a proven entity on offense; Summitt will be watching the forward to see what she brings on both ends of the floor.

"Her commitment has always been on the offensive end, and her commitment needs to be defense and boards," Summitt said. "I know she can shoot the ball. I'm not concerned about that, and even if you're having an off game I'm not concerned about that. I'm concerned about what's on the right side of the stat sheet. She's starting to commit to it."

That side of the stat sheet records rebounds, assists, turnovers, blocks, steals and minutes played.

As far as the left side – shot attempts and free throws – Summitt expects Redding and Spencer to put up some numbers.

"Both seniors, if you look at them, outside shooting, we need them both," she said.

Spencer and Redding play the small forward position, but they are versatile enough to move inside to the four spot at power forward. Spencer also can take the five spot, or center position. In some lineups, they both could be on the wing. For those reasons, they could be on the floor at the same time.

"You've got those two on the floor together they can spread the defense and open up the inside game," Summitt said.

Redding won't lack for confidence when it comes to shooting.

"Shooting is all a mind game," she said. "Every shot I take out there I think it's going to go in. If you don't think that then you're going to miss the shot. I just try to stay confident and just hit my open shots and get a couple of layups and free throws."

But she also knows there is only one way to stay on the floor for Tennessee.

"Just play good defense," Redding said.

Redding watched Carson-Newman film with Spencer, her roommate, and she saw room for improvement in Sunday's game.

"I think we're going to have to score a lot more (early)," Redding said. "We started out kind of slow on the offensive end in our last game. I think we've got to play defense and let our defense turn into offense. Everyone has to box out."

STARTING EARLY: A member of the class of 2010 – and the only high school freshman to make Street & Smith's 2006 All-America team – watched practice Saturday morning.

Lauren Avant, a 5'9 guard, was courtside during the Lady Vols practice session at the arena. The Street & Smith Honorable Mention selection played last summer on an AAU 15-and-under team that was scouted by Summitt, according to The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis. Connecticut, Duke and Vanderbilt also have shown interest, and the offers are already rolling in for the young player. Her father, Andre Pruitt, coaches the elite team in Memphis.

The combo guard attends Lausanne, a prestigious private school in Memphis, and averaged 12.6 points per game as an eighth-grader on the school's varsity team. West Tennessee has been brimming with basketball talent of late – and Florida has plucked several players out of the area – but Tennessee is obviously looking to extend its range and defend the borders.


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