A lot is at stake Monday – the No. 1 ranking, perhaps a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament – but Summitt made it clear only her players that are 100 percent will play. Moshak will make the determination based on medical status. Summitt stays clear of the process until she knows what she will have to work with at practice and in games.
Freshman sharpshooter Angie Bjorklund had her nose broken Thursday when she took a forearm to the face against Mississippi State. She is expected to be good to go Monday. Candace Parker injured her surgically repaired left knee. Alberta Auguste reinjured her loose left shoulder.
All three players were in rehab Saturday as Moshak spent the day trying to get them ready to play. The first step is getting them back to practice. Bjorklund practiced Friday in non-contact drills and should be OK to go again Sunday.
Auguste and Parker will report back Sunday morning for more rehab. That session will determine whether or not Moshak clears them for the afternoon practice. If they do practice, how they perform in that situation will determine if they can play Monday.
Needless to say the situation remains fluid.
Rutgers' junior center Kia Vaughn sounded as if she were hoping the Lady Vols were at full strength.
"As an athlete, I hope that she is really OK," Vaughn said. "I would never wish an injury on anyone because I would never want to be injured. But as a team player with her being out it would help our team. It's just more so that we want her to play so that it can be a more competitive game to the team that we lost to last year.
"With her there it gives us more competition; we would not want her to be out that game. I just hope that she is really OK. I heard she is not really injured too bad, and I know that with a little bit of pain strong players and great athletes push through it, and you would never know."
The Rutgers team will be in pink uniforms with black trim and pink shoes as part of the WBCA's "Think Pink" initiative to raise awareness about breast cancer. The officials in Monday's game (ESPN2, 7:02 p.m. tipoff) will use pink whistles. Summitt has said she will wear pink, and the fans who attend the game have also been asked to sport pink. Some 10,000 pink T-shirts will be distributed at the game.
"Pink is my favorite color," Vaughn said. "I have never worn an all-pink uniform. The colors are great, and I am grateful to be able to wear it in honor of cancer (awareness). I own a lot of pink."
Both teams should have plenty of motivation Monday. The Lady Vols have referenced protecting their home floor several times in interviews. The Scarlet Knights have seen Tennessee end their season for three straight years in the NCAA tourney – the Elite Eight in 2005, the Sweet 16 in 2006 and the national title game in 2007.
"It gets to the point where you' re like wow, again – over and over again," said Rutgers senior guard Essence Carson. "I remember when I was a freshman and we beat them here at the RAC, it was a good feeling. At the time as a freshman I looked at Tennessee and thought of them as one of the powerhouses in the country. At Rutgers we were still building ourselves as a national contender. I'm a senior now, and I have a goal of winning a national championship."
Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer expects a formidable challenge in Knoxville no matter who is in the lineup.
"The Tennessee team, keep in mind that they are all All-Americans and sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle, have all national level players. We are glad when one of our players is All-State," Stringer said with a smile. "We have a few that have reached national levels, but every last one of the Tennessee players are national players. They have tremendous depth, and great size. They are probably remorseful but appreciative of the opportunity and are going to show Coach Summitt that they are going to break their necks and get 25 rebounds.
"She has that way and when she is asking them to do all of that they can do it is because they are capable. So I don't think there is a difference."
Of course with Parker in the lineup Tennessee is that much more difficult to handle.
"She is the most-versatile player in America, hands down," Stringer said. "She is the most-gifted athlete; there has not been a player like her in the past 10 years or 20 years. She is a game changer there is no question about it. We should all be so fortunate to have somebody with that size and talent and that kind of competitiveness.
"She is a real sweetheart, and I am happy for her. She represents women's basketball in a great competitive sense."
Summitt won't know until Sunday if Parker is available and, even then, it will depend on how her knee responds and how it does overnight Sunday. Parker will likely be a game-day decision.
"Candace has a lot of confidence in her game, and I think she knows she's strong," Summitt said. "All the weight-training and all the rehab that she's done, it stood up for her (when she went down Thursday).
"Candace is a competitor. If she's ready to go physically I have no doubt she'll be ready to go mentally and emotionally."
Summitt is looking forward to Monday's game because it will be a collision of two powerhouses layered with a worthy cause.
"I think the ‘Think Pink' and promoting awareness for breast cancer, which I think has been a tremendous campaign, will make a difference," Summitt said. "I think it's a great matchup for women's basketball. I'm excited about it. I'm excited because they're coming in coming off a big win over Connecticut.
"Hopefully we can sell this place out and create an environment that I think is going to be good for the game. We're talking about promoting and we're also talking about taking the court and competing. It should be an awesome night."
WBHOF EVENT: Pat Summitt and C. Vivian Stringer will be at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday to kick off "Get Kids in the Game," with a one-hour autograph session.
Anyone who donates a basketball to the "Get Kids in the Game" initiative from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. will have the opportunity to get an autograph from the two coaches.
The Basketball Collection Event, a team effort of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, World Vision, University of Tennessee Women's Athletics and WIVK, will run from 1 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11.
Individuals are asked to donate new or gently used basketballs for World Vision to distribute to children that do not have access to recreational equipment around the world. Each person who donates will receive a $4 admission rate to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Baden basketballs can be purchased at the hall or a monetary donation can be made, and basketballs will be bought and donated in your name.
Summitt and Stringer were inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Their teams will meet Monday at Thompson-Boling Arena. To cap off the basketball collection, Baden Sports has agreed to donate one basketball for every point scored during the game.