Vicki Baugh out for season

Lady Vol basketball player Vicki Baugh has been lost for the season after a medical exam Tuesday revealed a torn ACL in her left knee. The injury occurred late in the game against Oklahoma when the sophomore forward cut to the basket to receive a lob pass, landed awkwardly and still finished the layup.

Tennessee Associate Athletics Director Jenny Moshak announced the news Tuesday evening after Dr. Greg Mathien was able to review the results of Vicki Baugh's MRI, which was performed earlier in the afternoon.

"Dr. Greg Mathien, UT team orthopedist, confirmed that the MRI performed on Vicki revealed a torn ACL in her left knee," Moshak said. "She will begin rehab immediately, but is out for the season."

The rehab will start this week to calm down the knee and ensure strength before surgery. A surgery date will be set that factor in the condition of Baugh's knee and her academic commitments, according to Debby Jennings, chief of media relations for the Lady Vols.

Pat Summitt met with the team Tuesday – she did not hold practice – and also assigned the players to scout the upcoming game with Georgia on Thursday.

"Obviously they're really hurting for Vicki and sad," Summitt said by telephone late Tuesday evening in between watching game tape and making homemade ice cream for a Lady Vol fund-raiser function at her home on Wednesday evening. "It's hard. I mean it's hard. It's hard to go through it once, much less face what she's getting ready to face. I know our team is going to reach out to her. Our staff will. She's in the best possible hands she can be in with our orthopedic people and obviously with Jenny and her knowledge and experience that she's had.

"It's just sad," Summitt added. "I just hate this for her."

The injury was particularly heartbreaking for Baugh because she had just recovered from one surgery and had worked so hard to help the team this season.

"I know it," Summitt said. "And she played well last night."

Baugh, a 6'4 post player from Sacramento, Calif., had torn the ACL in the same knee last April in the national championship game. She rehabbed over the summer and fall and was able to practice in October when the season officially started, though she was limited at times.

Baugh seemed to have turned a corner in her comeback in December in a win over Stanford, but she injured the lateral collateral ligament in the same knee on Jan. 1 at a practice in New Jersey and played sparingly last month.

After passing her threshold tests for agility, strength and balance, Baugh returned for the Oklahoma game on Monday and scored 11 points in 24 minutes, a tantalizing indication of how much better Tennessee was when Baugh was on the court.

Summitt said Baugh's quad strength was tops on the team. She also noted that Baugh told her before the game against the Sooners that she was feeling good and ready to play.

"Dr. Mathien and Jenny and everyone was comfortable and confident, because her quad was so strong," Summitt said. "I thought she played a great game."

Baugh finished the basket – the knee seemed to buckle as she landed to corral the pass but she went up and hit the shot, just like in Tampa – but crumpled to the baseline afterwards and had to be helped from the floor.

"It wasn't like she just landed on one foot," Summitt said. "I thought she had both feet under her but when she hit you could see it (the knee) shift. I was just hoping that it wasn't what it turned out to be."

This season Baugh had played in a total of 14 games, starting 10, and was averaging 6.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. It is too late to take a redshirt year so Baugh has used a year of eligibility.

Summitt talked to Baugh after the game and again Tuesday when the news was official.

"We're all heartbroken," Summitt said, her voice heavy with emotion. "She's such a great kid. She's a great person. She comes from a great family. She has worked hard. When you have one of those even the first time around it's like, ‘Why me?' I can only imagine what she's thinking now."

The loss of Baugh means redshirt freshman center Kelley Cain and true freshmen forward Alyssia Brewer have to elevate their game.

"Kelley needs to step up, and Kelley needs to be more consistent for us, and she's got to be tough on both ends of the floor," Summitt said. "Lyssi picks and chooses at times when she plays hard and so does Kelley. That's typical freshmen. One thing for Kelley is that she has been around our program so if anyone understands it she should understand it."

Cain also could be inspired by seeing a teammate have basketball suddenly snatched away because of a knee injury. Cain is returning from major knee surgery and has had adjustments to make on the court, plus she has dealt with physical setbacks because of tweaks to her right knee. For Cain it could fall into the category of ‘there but for the Grace of God go I.'

"That is something she would have to answer," Summitt said.

Freshman forward Glory Johnson is already in the starting lineup but she would need to improve her overall post play.

"I think her post game has got to get better, and when I say better, more consistent offensively and a lot tougher defensively, " Summitt said.

Summitt has ushered a team through devastating injuries to a teammate on many occasions in her career. She knows the team will be troubled by what has happened to Baugh, but Summitt also has to get the players focused for Thursday's game against Georgia, an important matchup for seeding in the SEC.

Tipoff is 7 p.m. (TV: FSN) and the doors at Thompson-Boling Arena open at 5:30 p.m. to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd as Summitt tries for career win No. 1,000.

"I think coming off a loss in Oklahoma should help them refocus on the task at hand as a team," Summitt said. "Right now they're doing the scouting for the Georgia game."

The coaches are letting the team do a scouting report?

"I'm not letting them do it," Summitt said after a long pause, with an emphasis on the word "letting"

So she's making them do it?

"Think about it," Summitt said. "Here they are and we are investing typically anywhere from six hours to 12 hours with our coaches (per game.) Betsy (McAllister) probably pulls up 12 to 16 hours to condense this down for our coaches to do the scouting. And then we go out there last night and we don't know who the best three-point shooter is? And if they do they're not committed to defending the best three-point shooter or denying the high-low?"

McAllister is the team's video coordinator and spends hours each day breaking down tape to be used for film study with the team, one-on-one sessions and scouting reports. The three-point shooter for Oklahoma was Whitney Hand, who hit 8-9 shots overall and 4-5 from behind the arc.

"After that game I was like, ‘No! No!' Holly was at the end of her rope and rightfully so," said Summitt, referring to Holly Warlick, who prepared the scouting report for the Oklahoma game. "Because she had that scout, and she invested so much in it and then they don't show up and commit to using scouting report defense. So if they're going to have any against Georgia they have to do it themselves."

Summitt has used the tactic in the past but the assistants still sort of guided the process. This time, the team is on its own.

"Nobody went to film session with them today," Summitt said.

During Wednesday's practice the staff will "go through what we want to run" offensively "and then we will ask them to give us information on what we've got to defend and how we're going to defend it," Summitt said.

Summitt did note one exception to her ire. She lauded the job that Alex Fuller did defending Courtney Paris in the post. Paris' streak of 112 double-doubles came to an end and Fuller had a hand in defending her for much of the game with an effort coming from Cain to deny the basket late in the game that would have extended the streak

"She did a good job," Summitt said.

The guard defense, on the other hand, was difficult for Summitt to watch on film.

"The fact that we couldn't guard Hand was unacceptable," Summitt said.

The purpose of having the players prepare a scouting report is so that they will both value the information in a game and realize how much goes into preparing one.

"I think they'll have a good understanding," Summitt said. "They spent several hours down here today."

With such a young team Summitt is having to reach into her bag of coaching tricks. She already had the players wash their practice gear for a week last month. Now they're in charge of a scout.

"I got out the shovel," Summitt said. "I had to get the shovel out and go dig deep."

The fact Summitt would do it for the game in which she could hit 1,000 wins shows how little she is focused on that milestone.

"It's not about 1,000," Summitt said. "It is about us winning the conference game. It's a must win in SEC play."


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