Silent Summitt

The sound of silence at Saturday's practice was deafening. Pat Summitt called a team meeting before the session and then sat silently and watched her players for nearly three hours. One constant at any practice is the sound of the coach's voice. But not Saturday.

Pat Summitt stood courtside for a while and took notes. Then she sat on the sideline and stared pensively at the court. She made a few quiet remarks to her assistants, but otherwise the coach kept her gaze on the court without comment.

She saw two areas of play that have troubled her all season – coasting on occasion and surrendering the ball.

"We still have a lot of players that take a lot of possessions off, and we turn the ball over too much," Summitt said. "It's been a problem all year. Our guards have to be much more secure with the basketball. We're turning the ball over far too much to be one of the best teams in the country."

The three assistants, led by Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick, carried out the practice plan – the session went for nearly three hours – and it followed a lengthy meeting in the locker room.

"Just to talk about where we are individually and where we need to go collectively," Summitt said of the meeting. "I thought at the end of the meeting it would be best for me to just come and observe and see how they responded.

"I think anytime that you can gather info from the players and give information as coaches … the dialogue was good," Summitt said.

Clearly, Summitt had a point to make with her team and has some plans of how to get them to perform at the level that she expects. But the team also is clearly still a work in progress.

The practice was once again up-tempo – two male practice players came and helped even out the scrimmages – and players ran wind sprints for turnovers. In a show of solidarity two players who didn't have to sprint paced a player who did to help her make her time.

Summitt's silence was the most noteworthy aspect of the practice, and her post-practice remarks indicated she had gathered some valuable information by just sitting and observing. What exactly she will do with that information is still being pondered.

The assistants used different combos of players in the scrimmages and before practice Summitt and her staff discussed possible lineup changes but then decided against it, at least for now.

Getting players on the court who won't turn the ball over so readily is a priority.

"We talked about it," Summitt said. "You've got to play on both sides of the basketball."

The Tennessee team will return to the practice court Sunday afternoon before taking off Monday to fly to Chicago for Wednesday night's game against DePaul (9 p.m. Eastern, ESPNU).

Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick has been cleared for this road trip. She missed the UCLA and Stanford games on the West Coast because of a blood clot in her calf that developed after she broke her right ankle earlier this month in a workout mishap. The condition prevented Warlick from flying for circulatory reasons.

Warlick uses a wheeled scooter to get around at practice, and it came in handy Saturday since she took over the session for Summitt.

With school out, the session ran long and covered various full-court and half-court defenses – DePaul is a team that likes to run and shoot three-pointers – offensive sets, free throw shooting and game simulations.

The scrimmages, once again, elicited a lot of chatter from the players. It still didn't drown out the silence of their coach.

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