The 39-point margin of victory was ultimately satisfying, but Pat Summitt was not at all pleased with how her team played in the first half. She brought Shannon Bobbitt, Alberta Auguste and Alex Fuller to the press conference for a reason.
"I purposely wanted to bring the three young ladies here up on stage today because I think there are times when you know that you have certain people that you need to step up, and these three have done that for us this year," Summitt said.
"I think Alex knows her role and what she needs to bring off the bench. Certainly with Shannon, her challenge is to be the type of player that's going to push us hard in transition and defend the transition game that Purdue will bring in the open court. With Alberta, I expect a lot more from her than we got in the start yesterday; I think she understands that. She became a starter for us because of her defensive pressure and her board play. So, there's a reason the three of them are here."
The local media in West Lafayette got an indication of Summitt's expectations and the displeasure she had about aspects of Sunday's win. A question about those expectations resulted in an explanatory answer.
"As I watch this Purdue team play you've got to guard the dribble drive," Summitt said. "If you don't guard the dribble drive you're going to have to rotate your defense and I don't want them to get inside of us, because they do a great job with their high-low game as well as their dribble penetration. So my reason for not being happy – it's hard to make coaches happy because we always expect perfection and we may never get it but we continue to expect it – I believe you have to set your bar high for your players, and we didn't have it.
"Shannon Bobbitt has got to play at a different level for us to be one of the best teams in the country. She didn't do that last night. She knows she needs to do that. I think she's one of the best point guards in the country, but she's got to play like it every night. Expectations are just high."
Bobbitt's reaction at the press conference brought a lot of laughter, including from Summitt. Instead of being tense, Bobbitt smiled when asked for her thoughts on her coach's declaration.
"First, I would like to say thanks for the compliment. Thank you," Bobbitt said. "Definitely she's a challenging coach, and I just want to meet her expectations and just get prepared mentally. Watch film with her and just believe in myself and believe in my teammates. Just play hard. Play to win. Play Tennessee basketball."
Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick played point guard for Summitt from 1976 to 1980. She said Bobbitt's shortcomings in Sunday's game were easily fixable.
"She's just got to get into it a little sooner," Warlick said. "She missed some shots and it affected her a little bit. She got hit (when she ran into a screener), and that affected her a little bit. She's got to bear down. This could be your last game. She's got to play big for us. She's got to do some good things for us to win. And she knows it."
Alexis Hornbuckle, who played point guard before Bobbitt arrived two years ago and still backs up the position, wasn't concerned about her backcourt mate.
"For whatever reason she came out aggressive, but it was kind of like she was still holding back," Hornbuckle said. "I'm sure she'll let go (Tuesday) Coach has already talked to her, and she's a very responsive player so I'm not too worried about her performance."
Bobbitt has the perfect attitude to bounce back. She is coachable and has craved knowledge from Summitt during the time she has been at Tennessee.
"Just leading the team, pushing tempo, getting the ball to the right people and playing great defense," Bobbitt said. "Setting the tone for the team. Definitely it's out of my system."
She also knows how to work a room. Bobbitt took a shot to the head Sunday against ORU when she hit a screener at full speed and crumpled to the floor. When asked Monday if she were OK, Bobbitt acted a little dazed.
"Testing one, two, three," Bobbitt said into the microphone. "It knocked me a little dizzy, but I bounced back. I'm all right and I'm going to be well for (Tuesday) night's game."
Hornbuckle said the team did warn Bobbitt of the screen, but just a tad too late. The player about to encounter the screen also must quickly pick up the warning about which direction it's coming from on the floor. The post players are the ones who alert the guards.
"The screen was called, but it was a second late," Hornbuckle said. "It's screen left or screen right. If you look the wrong way you still get ran into. You can't really get mad at your post unless they absolutely don't say anything. But it was a late reaction and I don't know if she heard it. We maybe called it a half-second too late."
The Lady Vols were annoyed with themselves Monday – and maybe also a tad peeved with the persistent questions – about the sub-par performance Sunday.
"They've got a lot of pride in what they do and how they play," Warlick said. "That's a good thing. I'm glad they're annoyed. Our players take a lot of responsibility in how they play as well as we do, but when you get kids that can buy into that system, you've got a great team."
The coaching staff's dedication was apparent on Warlick's face. The coaches stayed up much of the night watching film, preparing a scouting report and getting ready for the late-afternoon practice session.
"I look fresh, don't I?" Warlick said with eyes squinting from fatigue. "It's just how it is. You scout, and you go from one day to another."
Part of Tennessee's preparation means getting ready to face more zone defenses than man as opponents try to contend with the Lady Vols' interior size and strength.
"You still have to be as aggressive against a zone as you are against a man," Hornbuckle said. "There are always ways to exploit a defense. You've just got to watch film and figure it out, usually the middle or the short corner. At some point in time it's going to give. Even when we play a zone you have areas that can be exploited so that's what you've got to do."
The offense got stagnant against Oral Roberts' zone and Candace Parker said the key is for players to move.
"We're going to face a lot of zone this tournament and we definitely have to do a better job of moving without the ball," Parker said. "I think as the game went on we got inside touches and that opened up things and that's why we were able to hit the outside jump shot. Our guards started penetrating their zone.
"I think it's key when you play against a zone you can't just stand and jump shoot from the outside. Everybody has to be involved, and everybody has to move."
For the post players that means passing out of doubles and trusting they'll get the ball back when they're open and have some room to maneuver.
"We just have to move the ball when we get double-teamed inside, passing it back out and hope we'll keep getting touches," Nicky Anosike said.
The guards also must knock down some shots to prevent the defense from packing the paint. Hornbuckle hit her first three 3-pointers, but it took awhile for help to arrive from Bobbitt and Angie Bjorklund.
"We had a tough time," Bjorklund said. "We were just standing around and had a tough time knocking down shots. They did a great job contesting shots."
Bjorklund and Bobbitt have both stroked 67 three-pointers this season. Bobbitt is hitting 40 percent from long range with Bjorklund checking in right behind her at 38.1 percent. Hornbuckle leads the team in percentage, 43.2 percent, with 35 makes from behind the arc.
Tennessee needs the guards to connect in the early going to keep the defense scattered. Bjorklund is now coming off the bench – Auguste is starting for defensive reasons and also has found her range with baseline and wing jumpers from about 12 to 16 feet – and is expected to provide some instant offense.
"That's key for her to knock down shots," Bobbitt said. "She's a three-point shooter. She's a specialist. When she doesn't knock down shots we kind of struggle, but she's finding her shot. She did well."
Another key for Tennessee is for Parker to stay on the floor. She was in foul trouble against Oral Roberts and left the game at the 14-minute mark of the second half for good with four fouls. A typical postseason officiating style is to allow a lot of contact in the paint. A closely called game would tend to benefit Parker – she has been the target of 206 of the 591 fouls (36 percent) called against opponents this season – but that was not the case Sunday.
"I think in postseason a lot of times they tend to let a lot more things go," Parker said. "I would love it if they called it close in postseason because I would be on the great end of most of those calls. You just have to adjust because you're going to get different refs. As the tournament goes on you learn to adjust."
"We know that it's going to be a tense game and probably a (big) crowd and everybody pulling for Purdue," Auguste said. "We just have to refocus, and we know how important it is to play a 40-minute game against them and keep our momentum and to make sure when we get a lead to stay with that lead and bring more pressure to them."
Bobbitt is counting on orange-clad fans to show up to counter the love of Indiana basketball.
"We are going to have our fans' support; they travel all over with us," Bobbitt said. "We like to play our best game against adversity, and I think we will play our best game and come to win. It's going to be a challenge for us, and we've got to come out and play hard."
The players remain happy about the earlier start time. They were ready to play Saturday afternoon. By the time Sunday evening arrived they seemed as fuzzy as the ears on an Easter bunny.
"I think because the game is at 7 o'clock we're going to be ready," Auguste said. "Sitting around and waiting didn't really fit our shoes. I think we're going to be ready to play."
A freshman and a senior know how important it is for Tennessee to try to neutralize the crowd.
"There's little room to play around with," Bjorklund said. "We've got to start strong every game from here on out."
"A whole lot different start," Hornbuckle said. "I don't think we came out fired up. We were in la la land kind of and hopefully the starters will get us off to a good start, and we'll be able to have a domino effect."
Summitt wants the team to pay attention to the scouting report defense – something it had done consistently until Sunday's game.
"I firmly believe if you want to survive and advance and have a chance to win a championship that you have to bring your defense and your board play every night," Summitt said. "We've had some really ugly outings on offense in postseason. Even in our championship game last year, it was an ugly win but much better than a pretty loss. Sometimes that comes at this time of the year.
"The pressure is much greater. The defense is much better. So, we understand we may not shoot the basketball as well. That's why rebounding becomes a premium for us. We obviously place a lot of impact and influence on how we want to control board play. If we can dictate with defense and board play even when we're not shooting the ball well, we give ourselves the chance to still be in a game.
"And those are things you can control. Our players, they hear it all the time, I'm not sure they believe it 100 percent of the time, but I say it about 100 percent of the time because I believe in it."
PROBABLE STARTERS: Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt is expected to start: Shannon Bobbitt, 5'2 senior guard, No. 00 (9.9 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game); Alexis Hornbuckle, 5'11 senior guard, No. 14 (10.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg); Alberta Auguste, 5'11 senior guard, No. 33 (5.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg); Candace Parker, 6'5 junior forward, No. 3 (21.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg); and Nicky Anosike, 6'4 senior center, No. 55 (8.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg).
Purdue Coach Sharon Versyp is expected to start: FahKara Malone, 5'3 sophomore guard, No. 20 (10.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg); Kalika France, 5'9 senior guard, No. 45 (8.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg); Natasha Bogdanova, 6'4 junior forward, No. 3 (6.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg); Lakisha Freeman, 6'1 junior forward, No. 24 (12.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg); and Danielle Campbell, 6'4 junior center, No. 15 (12.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg).
Purdue is shooting 29.0 percent from behind the arc but hit 7-14 against Utah on Sunday. Bogdanova was 4-6 from long range and scored 12 points. Malone also hit two 3-pointers, and France hit one. Malone and France had 17 points each, and Campbell added 14 with strong interior play.
"I think it takes players like that to get other players to follow that type of aggressive play," Summitt said of Campbell. "I know for us, when Candace goes to the rim and really attacks the glass, other post players will step up. When Shannon pushes tempo Lex is better at pushing tempo. I think that was the impact that she had on her team. I think that in postseason it's a necessity. You have to have someone who is going to establish that type of play and have that mindset and toughness."
Parker and Campbell are both from the Chicago area and are familiar with each other – they played together on a summer team – but have not played against each other.
"I've known her ever since I was in seventh and eighth grade," Parker said. "She's a great post player. She's able to turn around, nice right, left hook shot. She's really helped Purdue a lot. I'm really happy with what she's done."
"I feel Candace Parker is a great player, but we have a great team and we're ready to compete," Campbell said.
The first task for Purdue is trying to figure out a way to contain Parker.
"It's going to take more than one player to beat us," Malone said. "It's a team effort and it will be a team effort shutting her down. No one person has that task by themselves; it would be too tall of an order. We will all do our best to slow her down."
Versyp indicated that she had seen the assorted methods tried this year with different philosophies – let Parker get her points and try to shut the others down or try to limit her points with double and triple teams and hope the others don't make the defense pay for the over-attention.
"I'm a coach that watches a lot of basketball throughout the year," Versyp said. "There are some amazing players in college basketball and she's one that obviously is at the top of the list. You're not going to take everything away from her, but when you have a group effort and try to have a game plan and execute it, maybe she'll score 25 or maybe she'll score 35.
"Maybe you take something away from somebody else or you let her score all the points and not let others. It really just depends on our game plan and execution. She's a great player … but we have to do the things that we do well and worry about ourselves."
Purdue played Duke, North Carolina and Connecticut this season and Versyp felt her team competed with the ACC teams. The game against Big East foe UConn was a crushing 100-50 loss on national television.
"At that time we still had a very young group still trying to find our identity," Versyp said. "I feel we have found our identity. Our character of this team is heart and determination and resilience. When the ball goes up and the lights go on and it's an incredible atmosphere it's up to players to make some plays, and I am extremely confident with our group."
Purdue followed that defeat by winning six of eight Big 10 games.
"We've grown quite a bit from that," Malone said. "We put a string of wins together after that in the conference. We've grown as far as confidence; every player has a lot more confidence in their game and the abilities that we have, and in one another. I know we've grown tremendously from that game."
"It was very tough in the beginning," Bogdanova said. "I think in the end, as Coach was saying, it's really going to help us. We've gotten better and we have confidence. We're excited for this opportunity; Tennessee is a great team and I think it's going to be a great game for us."
Summitt certainly applauds the tough scheduling approach to out-of-conference games.
"I think the schedule that they played will definitely help them," Summitt said. "That's why every year we want to play a very challenging schedule because it's not necessarily what you do throughout the season but it's what happens throughout the season that prepares you for postseason. They've played tough competition. I think that's the best preparation for postseason.
"From all the tape I've watched on them I've been very, very impressed with their toughness. I think they're playing their best basketball right now and that's what we shared with our basketball team. I love watching games even when we're not playing. I'm always learning and want to see the best teams. I got to see most of their game against Connecticut, and I can tell you they've improved from the beginning to where they are right now."
Versyp is familiar with Summitt's coaching style. When Versyp coached in high school – Lawrence North in Indianapolis from 1989 to 1993 – she watched Summitt teach her teams.
"Even when I was a high school coach I went to her practices," Versyp said "She just is one of the best teachers of the game and continues to help everyone around her and grow the sport."
The Purdue players' approach to Tuesday's game was to follow their game plan and trust their system.
When asked about the greatness of Parker, Bogdanova pointed out the total challenge.
"She's a great player," Bogdanova said. "She can play any spot on the floor. Of course it's going to be a challenging, but most of their players are great and most of our players are great, so I think it's going to be an interesting game. As long as we play our hardest and leave it all on the court, and no regrets we're going to be happy with the results either way."
Versyp identified the three key components for Purdue.
"The big three things – we've got to handle their press, we've got to box them out, and we've got to worry about transition defense," Versyp said. "They've got guards that can penetrate. They can shoot. We need to keep them between us and the basket. We've got to force them to take some shots, but we've got to box out. They're great on the boards and have a lot of second-chance opportunities.
"Player for player they do have a lot of talent and we just have to make sure that our team concepts and our game plan kind of helps and shuts down certain areas of their game in order for us to be successful. … When we execute a game plan things go pretty well for us."
SCOUTING REPORT: Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick handled the scouting report for the Tennessee-Purdue game. Here is her assessment.
When Purdue has the ball: "We've got to stop their transition," Warlick said. "They score a lot of points on their break. That boils down to taking care of the ball because they run on steals."
Purdue played man defense against Utah, but the Lady Vols expect to see man and zone.
"I think they're going to mix it up," Warlick said. "We're prepared for both. We run a lot of offense that goes man and zone. I think they're going to press us a little bit. They're going to try to get us to turn the ball over."
When Tennessee has the ball: Essentially the Lady Vols want to make sure they keep it.
"Taking care of the basketball, making sure we have good ball movement and making sure we get a good look at the basket," Warlick said. "We want second and third shots."
Tennessee wants to show some different defensive looks.
"We want to make them rush a little bit," Warlick said. "We're going to play our game. We're going to press. We want to run every time we touch the ball."
The message has been delivered to the Tennessee players.
"Basically we get down and defend," Alberta Auguste said. "We know if we stop their best players and we feed off of each other that we could be a good defensive team. We know (FahKara) Malone is a quick guard, and we know Shannon is going to be able to make sure the offense doesn't go through her, so we are going to do a lot of pressuring on their guards."
"Their guards, their one-on-one penetration, we have to guard that," Alex Fuller said. "They also have a couple post players that duck in hard; we have to guard that. We have to deny the high post but mainly our one-on-one defense is going to be key."
Candace Parker happened to see the closing seconds of the game between Illinois and Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament that launched the Boilermakers into the NCAA tourney. The Lady Vols were warming up in the SEC tourney and the game was being played overhead on the large video screen. Parker saw the game-winning shot by Lakisha Freeman.
"We have our work cut out for us," Parker said. "They're scrappy, they play hard and I think that's what's key."
Playing Purdue at Mackey Arena – much as Tennessee had to play Pitt in the second round last year on its home court – will have the Lady Vols' attention.
"We're played in this environment," Warlick said. "This is not new to us. That's why we play the schedule we do. Our kids seem to get up for big crowds that aren't for them. I don't see that as being a problem. I just think we've got to do what we do. We can't let officials or calls – because officials are human; they're not going to make every call the way we want them to – we've got to stay focused. That's what we've generally done all year."
The staff also is grateful for the 7 p.m. tip. Sunday's game ended after 11:30 p.m., and the players still had post-game interviews and then showers. It was about 1:30 a.m. when the team returned to its downtown hotel.
"That makes for a late game," Warlick said.
BY THE NUMBERS: The Lady Vols are now 41-0 in the first and second rounds in the NCAA tourney. … Tennessee is 10-1 when playing on March 25. The sole loss was to Delta State, 62-58, in 1977. The last win was against Marist, 65-46, in 2007. … Purdue is 12-3 in Mackey Arena this season. … Only two teams have scored more than 75 points against Purdue this season – UConn and North Carolina. When the Boilermakers hold opponents under 60 points a game they are 14-2. That record falls to 5-12 when foes score 60 or more. … Only one team has shot better than 50 percent against Purdue this season and that was Ohio State (51.9 percent) in a 72-56 win on Feb. 18. No team has shot 50 percent or better against Tennessee this season.
INJURY UPDATE: Oral Roberts lost its top player, Mariana Camargo, seconds into Sunday's game when she tried to run down a loose ball off the opening tip.
Camargo lunged for the baseline, and her left leg buckled. She went down in front of Tennessee's cheerleaders, and it was initially believed that she slipped on a placard used by the cheerleaders.
However, Jenny Moshak, the Lady Vols' assistant athletics director for sports medicine, said the injury to the left knee appeared to have occurred before she came into contact with the placard. As Camargo's momentum carried her out of bounds, her right foot stepped on the placard, and she slipped.
Camargo's leg was heavily wrapped and she was unable to play in the game. Initial reports were that she sustained an ACL injury that would require surgery.
"To have that happen and not experience (the tourney) it is sad," Moshak said. "Unfortunately it's an innate part of the game, but you never want to see that happen to somebody."
Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw, who handles legislative issues for the WBCA, was asked if cheerleaders need to be farther away from the court. McGraw said that decision belonged to the NCAA.
Alexis Hornbuckle broke her right wrist two years ago when she was trying to secure a loose ball and fell between two cheerleaders.
"She leaped over the cheerleaders and landed on her wrist," Moshak said. "You've got photographers, you've got cheerleaders, you've got ball people, floor cleaners. What are you going to do? Are you going to eliminate everybody? In a lot of gyms you've got a wall right there."
Pat Summitt spoke to an emotional Camargo after the game.
"First I had to hold back tears," Summitt said.
Summitt tore her ACL in college and recovered to play for the U.S. Olympic team in 1976. She imparted some advice to Camargo, who is a member of Brazil's national team.
"I've been there," Summitt said. "It's all about the rehab."
BEST MANNERS: Those shown by Candace Parker, who shook the hand of Oral Roberts Coach Jerry Finkbeiner before Sunday's game.
"I really thought all of us were going to do it, but then my teammates didn't follow my lead and everybody just let me shake his hand," Parker said. "None of them did it."
The players had just discussed the protocol on the bench, but the other four forgot seconds later, except for Parker.
BEST SIGN OF WHAT WAS TO COME: That forgetfulness. Tennessee opened the game with a similar approach on defense – leaving shooters open and not paying attention to the scouting report defense. The result was a tied game, 9-9, four minutes later.
"I have no idea, but we'll get it back. We have to get it back," Candace Parker said.
Tennessee went ahead, 12-9, on a three-pointer by Alexis Hornbuckle and never trailed again. The lead at halftime was a relatively small 14 points, but the final margin was 39 points.
"You can't make excuses for that first half of play," Angie Bjorklund said. "We've got to come out a lot stronger than that, and we can only get ready from this."
PATCHED UP: The teams in the tournament have added a blue NCAA patch to their jerseys. For a lot of Tennessee players that means four patches – the USA flag on the left side, the SEC 75th anniversary logo in the middle, the Vol Scholar academic torch on the right side and the NCAA logo above the torch.
That leaves space for a Final Four logo above the flag.
"I guess we're going to be patched up hopefully," Alexis Hornbuckle said.
"That's definitely what we're reaching for to get to the Final Four but right now we really just need to worry about Purdue," Nicky Anosike said.
SHY-TOWN One Lady Vol fan at Sunday's game showed her love of Tennessee basketball by wearing a No. 43 jersey. That was the number of former Lady Vol and Indianapolis native Shyra Ely.
SYD-TOWN: Current Lady Vol Sydney Smallbone hails from Granger, Indiana, and was recruited by the Indiana schools, including Purdue Coach Sharon Versyp, who was at the University of Indiana when Smallbone played at St. Joseph's High School.
Versyp is in her first season at Purdue.
"Purdue, they've been known to be a tournament team," Smallbone said. "Sharon Versyp, she's a very good coach. She recruited me at Indiana. I know that she's going to have her team ready and prepared so we're going to have to come out prepared as well and take care of business."
"Sydney is a really special kid," Versyp said. "She's extremely intense. She's a kid that is hungry and just can't sit still. She wants to get out there and get better and she's one of the hardest workers I've seen in high school. She's a great outside shooter. She gave a lot to Indiana basketball."
HOOSIER HOOPS: The rosters of Purdue and South Bend are dotted with Indiana players with three for the Fighting Irish and three for the Boilermakers.
"The tradition of basketball here is unprecedented," Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw said. "Kids just grow up playing basketball. It's truly a basketball state."
"Indiana basketball was always the dream for any kid," said Sharon Versyp, a native of Mishawaka and former Purdue player who was Indiana Miss Basketball in 1984. "You want to be born with a basketball in your hand. That's what you dream of is always trying to get through the Indiana All-Stars and be a Miss Basketball and just have the ability to play wherever you want to play in the country, but hopefully those kids can stay home. We have a lot of Indiana kids in our program, but there are some that go out of state, and we just wish them the best of luck."
Smallbone played at St. Joseph's across the street from the campus of Notre Dame in South Bend. She grew up steeped in the state's tradition of hoops.
"Indiana has been known for its basketball," Smallbone said. "On the men's side you think of Bobby Knight and Indiana and what he did for the state. People grow up playing. It's the number one sport that I was put into and all my friends were put into. It's a basketball-heavy state."
JOINING FORCES: The fan bases of Notre Dame and Purdue do not particularly care for each other, but the coaches are hoping they will turn out and cheer for each other Tuesday.
Tennessee and Purdue tip off first at 7 p.m. Eastern (ESPN2) followed by Notre Dame and Oklahoma. The winners will play in the Sweet 16 next weekend in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale hopes the Purdue fans stick around and cheer "Boomer Sooner."
But the two Indiana schools could further their own cause – and they would end up playing each where they would return to being mortal enemies – if one could take out the No. 1 seed and the other could eliminate the team trying to advance to its home state.
"They're going to bond and fuse together, of course," Alexis Hornbuckle said with a smile. "But to be honest we love the crowds. Whether they're going against us or they're for us we just love a packed environment, a loud crowd. That just gets us going."
The Lady Vols might feel as if they were taking on the state of Indiana on Tuesday evening. Pat Summitt has encouraged the fans to turn out regardless of team affiliation.
"I wasn't in the gym for the first game (Sunday) night, but Holly came around the corner and she goes, ‘It is loud out there.' I said, ‘Well good,' because I think when we struggle is when people are not in the gym," Summitt said.
"I'm excited that the Purdue fans are backing their team and that they have all year long. I think that speaks volumes for the respect they have for the women's program here at Purdue. Hopefully, we can convince a few people to put on orange along the way. I think we'll have some fans here as well. It should be an exciting environment for this type of game and matchup."
Purdue Coach Sharon Versyp echoed that position.
"I want women's basketball to be on an incredible stage nationally," Versyp said. "We have done so well, with our administration and support staff and everybody that's here at Purdue for us to be very successful with attendance year in and year out. For us to be able to host and have a great crowd like the crowd for the game last night – I thought the lower bowl was so loud, so intense – you want to encourage that. You want to play in the best available venue. You want to play against the best competition because this is where women's basketball can continue to grow. I think it's a huge environment for everybody that is going to be involved."
The Lady Vol players agreed that they prefer fans in the stands, regardless of the colors they are wearing.
"We actually were discussing that at breakfast how we're excited to be booed for 40 minutes," Hornbuckle said.
"We're used to it," Nicky Anosike said. "Coach has put us in a lot of different situations as far as on-the-road games so we should be well-prepared. It's always nice when we have fans watching. I guess it's more of a motivation factor so I think we'll enjoy it."
Tennessee has now evened its record at Mackey Arena to 2-2 with the 94-55 win over Oral Roberts after struggling here in the past.
"We want it to be a packed house," Sydney Smallbone said. "I think with the crowd like that we do better. (Sunday) night the crowd was dead and sometimes we feed off the energy of the crowd. Even if it is a sold-out crowd against us I think just having all those people there I think that's going to help us."
"It's going to make us even more hungry," Alberta Auguste said. "Their fans are not going to like us. We're going to be together, have tight huddles and we're going to motivate each other."
ILLINOIS CONNECTIONS: The rosters of all four teams left in West Lafayette, including Oklahoma, have players from Illinois. Two of them, Candace Parker of Tennessee and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton of Purdue, are both from Naperville and played on the same AAU team. The two remain close.
"Lindsay has been one of my best friends," Parker said. "She is actually going to be in my wedding."
Parker is engaged to Shelden Williams, who plays for the Sacramento Kings.
"She's a great friend of mine," Parker said. "We stay in contact. She keeps up with me. I keep up with her."
Wisdom-Hylton was injured last summer while playing for the USA Basketball U21 national team. She underwent surgery to repair the ACL in her left knee and missed the 2007-08 season. Wisdom-Hylton, who averaged 14.8 points and 8.2 rebounds for Purdue last season, was the Big Ten defensive player of the year as a junior and has a year of eligibility remaining.
BEST EXCHANGE: That between Alberta Auguste and Vicki Baugh in the Lady Vols locker room Monday.
Baugh had some effective minutes Monday with eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in her first NCAA tourney game.
"I'm more comfortable just knowing the plays, chemistry with the team," Baugh said. "I am definitely more comfortable on the floor. I am not a freshman anymore."
"She's more confident," Auguste said. "It plays a big part in your game, offense and defense. It shows out there. She's been doing a good job."
Auguste passed up an open shot to hit a trailing Baugh in the second half against Oral Roberts.
"I knew I was under the goal, and I still had trailers," Auguste said.
Baugh, showing how at ease she is with her teammates, delivered a deadpan line, "I could have gotten real lazy and just jogged in and waited on your rebound."
That brought much laughter from Auguste, who ended up passing up a career high – she tied it with 13 points – with the assist to Baugh.
"That was unselfish," said Baugh, who Pat Summitt was afraid was trying to set the assist records at Tennessee because she passed so much earlier this season. "I wouldn't have given it to you."
That is called freshman progress in this case.
HUNTING 100: Tennessee has a record of 99-19 in the NCAA Tournament – they all came during Pat Summitt's tenure as coach – and will hit the 100 mark with the next victory.
"Coach has been in the game a long, long time," Alexis Hornbuckle said. "Come to think about it Coach has been in the game since my age right now. She started when she was 22. So that's crazy for somebody to come in that young and be so successful and so productive. I'm proud to just be able to play for her.
"Pat has definitely been doing this a long time and I think it just speaks to her experience in the tournament and her knowing how to handle different situations in the tournament."
The only other programs close to such success are men's basketball teams – Kentucky with 98, North Carolina with 94, UCLA with 91 and Duke with 86. The numbers for UCLA and Kentucky do not include vacated wins.
The milestone came as a surprise to the Lady Vol coaching staff.
"Tomorrow night we could?" Holly Warlick said Monday with a surprised look.
"I had no idea," Summitt said. "I'm not about numbers. I'm not about personal accomplishments. When you've done this for 34 years you do it because you love the game, and I do it because I love to recruit these student-athletes and try to help them in so many ways. Obviously winning is a part of it but (so is) teaching them the life skills that they're going to need to be successful when they leave Tennessee.
"They're like daughters. They're part of my family. I'm not always happy with them, but my parents weren't always happy with me either so it's like being a parent and a teacher and a coach."
One of those "daughters" was impressed.
"It says a lot about us. I can say ‘us' because I'm part of the history now," Candace Parker said with a big smile. "It says a lot about Coach and the effect she's left on the women's basketball and she continues to leave on women's basketball just being the winningest coach. ESPN even had to say when Bob Knight broke (Dean Smith's) record ‘men's winningest coach,' so the impressions she's left on the game it's going to be unmatched."
Summitt passed Smith's 879 wins with her 880th victory that came in 2005 against Purdue in the NCAA tourney. Knight passed Smith this past season at Texas Tech and retired.
When Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale was asked to put Summitt's NCAA win total in perspective, she said, "If I continue going at the rate I'm coaching I'll be 126 when that happens. Does that put it in perspective?"
Warlick has been with Summitt on the sidelines since 1985 so she's been a part of all 99 wins.
"I think it just says we've got tremendous tradition and it started a long time ago and we've maintained it," Warlick said. "It's always difficult to start and it's difficult to maintain, and we've had great players that have stepped up and carried on our tradition. That is what Tennessee is all about. It's about going to the NCAA and competing for championships. That's our mindset. It's built on tradition, and it starts with players."
Summitt gave a nod to her coaches, too.
"I never want to leave out my staff because they're tremendous and what they give to these young ladies is special," Summitt said. "I want to help them. I want to know at the end of the day or the end of the tournament I did everything I could to help them be successful on the basketball court. We'll take what happens and then from there to help them if they ever need me when they leave the University of Tennessee."