After the nearly 1.5-hour block of time devoted to press access, the players took the practice court at Pratt and had an upbeat and energetic session that focused a lot less on drill work and a lot more on specific game situations. With just three freshmen on the roster this season and a group of sophomores that ended up getting a lot of experience a year ago, the pace at practice has been accelerated both literally – the players are in better shape – and figuratively because they can learn and process information faster.
"I think we can make a lot more progress in whatever we're working on, because they're familiar with the terminology, they're familiar with the patterns, they understand how we want to be play, whether it's in the half-court game, full-court game, both defensively and offensively, so we're certainly way ahead of where we were a year ago at this point in time," Summitt said.
"We've got to get better, but I think for the most part we have in what we need in. We don't need to be adding on more layers. I think we've got to give them the freedom to play, and they are demonstrating the fact that they will make plays."
The first exhibition game is this Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern against Carson-Newman at Thompson-Boling Arena. The team held its Media Day in Pratt because the overhead scoreboard in the arena had been lowered to the ground for maintenance – a clear sign that the season is nearly underway.
The second exhibition game is Monday, Nov. 9, against Delta State, also at 7 p.m. Eastern, and then the season officially starts Sunday, Nov. 15, against Baylor, which features 6'8 freshman sensation Brittney Griner.
"You know that Baylor is going to be a force to be reckoned with," Summitt said. "They've got a 6'8 center, and that will pose some problems for us, but hopefully Kelley can match up with Brittney Griner and go head to head with her. At least we've got the size this year to compete in the paint."
"But as I looked at the schedule I don't know what I was thinking. I think Debby (Jennings) probably put this together," Summitt added, referring to her longtime chief of media relations. "If you look at it, it's a typical Tennessee schedule."
Summitt sounded Monday like a financial planner as she repeatedly mentioned investments, but she was referring to the commitment of her players to get better in the off-season. That devotion stemmed from a stunning opening round loss to Ball State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. No Tennessee team had ever failed to reach at least the Sweet 16 in the 27-year history of the tourney.
"They made history – not in a good way," Summitt said. "They know a lot of people looked at this team and said, ‘Why? Why did we lose?' I think this team thought they could all come together – we had a lot of high school All-Americans – and it was just going to happen. It doesn't happen. You make things happen."
One way to do so was to spend plenty of time with Heather Mason, the team's strength and conditioning coach.
"I think (the Ball State loss) was probably felt more in the off-season when they invested in all of the workouts," Summitt said. "I mean for Heather to say in the seven years she's been here this team put in more summer workouts than any team that she has been associated with over seven years? There were some good teams. There was obviously Candace Parker and Alexis Hornbuckle and that group, and this group put in more than anyone, any other team in the seven years.
"They needed it. Trust me, they needed to put all that in, but I think because of that they have a different opinion of not only their individual games but in how the team invested, and so everyone understands that we're committed. And if someone's not committed on a given day, then it's time to call them out.
"This team had a great off-season thanks to Heather Mason and all of our players making a commitment to get a lot better. I have a different comfort level now than a year ago just being at practice with this team and watching accountability start to unfold among the group and, in particular, to have Angie Bjorklund playing the way she's been playing. I think she did a great job of getting a lot of her teammates in the gym throughout the summer. Across the board I can tell you that this team now understands what it takes to really work hard to be at a certain level to compete with the schedule that we have in place."
The Lady Vols schedule is typically tough – three of the first four opponents are ranked in AP's Top 25.
"That's one thing that hasn't changed over the years, and I think that's a good thing," Summitt said. "It was challenging for us a year ago and yet I think we're much better prepared to understand how to go out and compete as a team. We're not there 100 percent, but we're getting there."
The schedule also features some matchups that bring former UT coaching colleagues to Knoxville. Former Lady Vol player and assistant Nikki Caldwell is now the head coach at UCLA, and former Lady Vol assistant Mickie DeMoss has the same role at Texas.
"To have Nikki Caldwell coming back and have UCLA here that will be exciting. We'll get everybody from Oak Ridge here," Summitt said, referring to Caldwell's hometown near Knoxville. "She has stayed in close contact with me, and I am really proud for her and for what she has done already at UCLA.
"Texas, I think is going to be a much better team. Obviously Coach DeMoss keeps telling me they're going to be a lot better. We're looking forward to having the teams come in here. To have Louisville on our schedule is huge. We've got Oklahoma coming in. We didn't dodge any bullets. To be able to go play in the Garden (Madison Square Garden) and play against Rutgers, of all people, that's always an interesting game."
Tennessee will get to do something it hasn't done since 2005 – host the opening rounds of the NCAA tourney in Knoxville, which was chosen for a host site in 2010 and 2011.
"It's good for our team and certainly our program, our fans," Summitt said. "It's obviously good for women's basketball because of our fan support. You saw a lot of venues that had very few people in the postseason, and I think you go to places where you can generate fan support and have excitement.
"I'd rather go somewhere, if we weren't hosting, where I knew that we would have a lot of people in the stands, even if they're cheering against us."
Last season was a trying one for the program and fans as Tennessee tallied 11 losses – the most since the 1975-76 season – and watched as players were sidelined with injury, and freshmen took over key roles that they were not yet ready for on the collegiate level. Summitt made some pointed remarks about getting youngsters to put down their cell phones, pull out their ear pods and learn to communicate with each other.
"If you think about it I think every coach out there now is thinking about, ‘OK, it's a different generation,' " Summitt said. "But I am not going to lower my standards because of that. Not at all. My thought is that we have to raise the bar. I think they get it now. It has really been interesting to see the people that have invested the most, and I would say that all of our sophomores understand that they can't just step out there and put on the Big Orange uniform and win. And that's a good thing.
"I think they get it. I really think they get it. Now, with the schedule we have we have to get it. We have to get it early, and we have to be able to keep it throughout the season. It's a long season. The conference is tough. We go down to (SEC) Media Day and I'm thinking we're going to be third or fourth and, what do they do, the coaches put us as the number one. And I'm like, ‘No.' I don't know that we belong there. That's where we want to get to. We want to have the best team in the league, but there's a lot of great teams right now, and there's more parity in the game, not only within our conference but also throughout the country."
As the injuries mounted and some freshmen hit the proverbial first-year wall last season, Summitt and her staff experimented with 12 different starting lineups and different rotations to try to find the correct mix of players. That process should be easier this season.
"My thought has been at least eight – we need eight players that understand how we want to play the game and how much they have to invest," Summitt said. "The defensive part of the game we've made some progress there, but that's an everyday thing. That's all about hard work. We may have more than eight but definitely if we can get a great rotation with eight, nine people, 10 people, I think that would allow us, because we would have the depth, to be able to press and run more. If I am not mistaken I think we can do that."
The coaches may still adjust the lineup, but it will depend on whether they want to go big or small.
"I think it's going to depend on the opponent," Summitt said. "We have a certain way we want to play, but if things are not going well, if we're not scoring in our early offense (transition and quick scores before the defense gets set), then we have to be more disciplined in the half-court game. I think we can do both.
"We could go big. We can start with Briana (Bass) and go small at the point, or we could go big on the perimeter (and) most likely that would be Shekinna."
Sophomore guard Shekinna Stricklen, the USBWA Freshman of the Year, has made the leap from first to second year. Like Bjorklund, she spent the summer in the gym, and she is more comfortable this preseason with the ball in her hand.
"Shekinna is at a different level," Summitt said. "She wasn't ready for that a year ago, and she's, I think, one of the most improved players. That is going to benefit us tremendously. Bree is better. We're better across the board. There is not one player that didn't invest – some at a higher level than others – but clearly this team understands playing together now. It's all about the leaders stepping up and helping us in that regard.
"I think Angie is really trying to be a lot more vocal. She is a lot more aggressive offensively, and Shekinna is, as well. They are actually both shooting the ball really well, and that's why I like both of them on the floor, because it stretches the defense and opens up our inside game as well. I think those two invested a lot of time in the gym.
"Sydney Smallbone invested a lot of time. On the perimeter we have players who can knock down the three ball, and that opens up the inside. Angie really made a different level of commitment in the off-season and so did Shekinna. Right now they are standing out as two of the fine leaders on our team. Stricklen has been the one that has kind of set the tone for, ‘Here, we're attacking the paint.' "
Anchoring the paint this season is the 6'6 Cain, a redshirt sophomore who has steadily improved her conditioning and mobility this preseason after coming back from knee surgery last April to remove two screws from a lower bone in her right leg that were placed there when she had her kneecap realigned to correct a congenital tilt and stop the repeated subluxations.
"A healthy Kelley Cain could make a big difference for us without a doubt, and she's working really hard. We've just got to make sure we keep her healthy," Summitt said.
Junior Vicki Baugh, a 6'4 forward, would make a formidable pairing with Cain, but she is coming back from her second ACL surgery on her left knee and is limited in practice to what she is comfortable doing on the court. Her lateral movement and explosive quickness are a work in progress in her comeback.
"Vicki Baugh is one player right now that we are just day to day," Summitt said. "When she feels like she's having a great day she can get the reps in, and Jenny (Moshak) is managing that, and that's exactly what we want. We are not forcing or pushing any time for her to have to be back.
"It's just when she feels that her knees are standing up and healthy and strong. She's got to be strong. Having the back-to-back tears it's almost unheard of on the same knee. She has really had a good attitude overall, and I am anxious to see how she progresses. … . A healthy Vicki Baugh would make a big difference for us, but that's a total wait and see."
Summitt reiterated what has been apparent in practice – sophomore forward Glory Johnson will be used some on the perimeter on defense.
"We're going to definitely look at this year with her that she defend on the perimeter more and pick up early in the backcourt, because she's one of the best athletes on our team," Summitt said. "I think that would allow us to be able to get out and put a lot more pressure in the full court, as well as the half court."
Johnson started off strong last season but ended with some uneven performances as the long grind of the season caught up.
"Freshmen hit the wall. She wasn't by herself, that's for sure," Summitt said. "I think that she gave in to fatigue at times, and we're on her right now saying, ‘You can't do that again. It just can't happen.' She's responded overall."
The three freshmen have fit in rather seamlessly this preseason, a process aided by the fact that they are far fewer in number than last year's seven first-year players, and they have some upperclassmen to look to for guidance.
"Our freshmen overall I think they've really bought in, certainly Taber Spani has been very impressive in the workouts," Summitt said. "She's got deep range, which will help us on the perimeter, and it will also help open up our inside game. Faith Dupree certainly has shown a lot of promise in working in the post position, definitely her high-low game. It will help us to have a player like Faith, along with the other returning post players that we have."
Dupree has missed four consecutive practice sessions – dating to Thursday of last week – because of back spasms, but had been earning kudos from the coaches for her soft shooting touch and willingness to listen.
"Kamiko Williams is a very athletic skill player," Summitt said. "She's just got a lot to learn, but I think there's a great up-side. All three freshmen should be able to help us out."
There is not a senior on the squad for the first time in program history, but Summitt said she's not concerned.
"I am not even thinking about it," Summitt said. "People have asked me and I go, ‘Well, we don't have a senior and, guess what, next year we will. But wouldn't it be something to be able to go and win with freshmen, sophomores and juniors'?
"Are we talented enough to win with them? Yes. We've just got to have that commitment every day and every possession of every game."
MEDIA DAY FUN: The players are inundated with queries about basketball at these events, so they welcome the chance to go off script and field a few offbeat questions about what they are like off the court.
Media Day was well attended by various press outlets, so despite the 45 minutes set aside for players interviews, time ran out before two of them, Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen could be interrogated. They will be questioned later. Here's what their teammates had to say, and several were kind enough, as it were, to mention them.
Best childhood memory: I would have to say me and my dad in the snow having a little snowball fight. I turn around and then the snowball pops me right in the eye. I go running and look for my mom and my mom is laughing. (How old were you?) I was like maybe four, five. (And he hit you in the eye?) He didn't mean to."
What do you do when you first wake up in the morning: "Thank God for waking me up in the morning. Me and my family."
What really annoys you: "The people that live above us in our apartment. They pump their music all the time, and it bothers me."
If Pat Summitt didn't coach basketball, what would she do: "She would be an agent."
If you go swimming, do you pick the ocean, lake or a pool: "The pool because I can't swim, and there are lifeguards there to help me out."
What food have you tried that you never want to eat again: "It's not a food, it's a drink. I don't really like tea. I think tea is just disgusting. (Hot? Cold?) Any kind of tea."
When Pat is yelling at you what are you thinking: "Rebound. And do it right the next time."
What, besides Pat yelling at you, is scary: "Storms."
If you have to walk through a dark alley late at night, what teammate do you want with you. Nicky Anosike was nearly the unanimous choice when she was here. Who would it be now? "I think I would say Vicki. We would both do something goofy and silly together."
Best childhood memory: "I don't know. That's a good one. We used to buy snow cones from the ice cream truck and it has the screen window. And then we tried to throw them back at him. My friends and I used to do that. (You bought them and then threw them at the truck?) Yes. (Much laughter and a look of amazement from Kamiko Williams.)
Morning routine: "I have to brush my teeth." What annoys you: "Kelley Cain, no I am just kidding. No, it's Kelley Cain. She burps a lot and it is so annoying, and I live with her. And she knows it."
If Pat didn't coach basketball, what would she do: "She would probably be, what is it called when people get the animals off the street? (Animal control?) Yes, because she slapped a raccoon before. She would do animal control."
Ocean, lake or pool: "I would pick a pool because it's safe."
Food you won't eat again: "I am really picky. I don't try a lot of new foods. I didn't like that mahi mahi. Freshman year, we had it when we went to Oklahoma (in the NCAA Regional). I didn't like it."
Refrigerator contents: "Rainbow sherbet. (You don't throw it at anyone now do you?) No. I have jelly for peanut butter and jelly, and I have water."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: "I try not to look at her eyes. They're scary."
What scares you: "Any scary real-life situation or something happening to my family."
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: (Several people said you and Faith). Really? (Kelley and Glory are not getting votes.) They don't deserve any votes. I'll take Faith, too. I know Faith won't run on me."
Best childhood memory: "Childhood? I'm still a child in my head. I would say best childhood memory is my family used to live on a lake. It was only for a few years, but we had the best time. We had this old beat-up boat that we would just ram into the dock. We had a half-court sports court and we played one-on-one up there all the time."
Morning routine: "When I wake up? I always drink a big glass of water. Usually my throat is a little dry. And pray. Good start."
What annoys you: "Oh, gosh. Come back to that."
If Pat didn't coach basketball, what would she do: "What would Coach do for a living? (Much laughter from Bjorklund as if the notion were absurd, which it is.) Probably, oh, my gosh, she'd be coaching something else. I have no idea. I can't see her doing anything but coaching. (Otherwise), Coach would be living on the beach in retirement."
Refrigerator contents: "In my fridge? I have salad, chicken, milk, eggs. I cook, so it's pretty much the basics for breakfast, lunch and dinner."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: "I try to really key in on what she's saying, to not make the same mistake twice. I never take it personally. I know she is trying to make me the best player I can be, so I take what she says and I take it seriously and do whatever she is telling me to do."
What scares you: "Spiders. Absolutely, spiders. There are so many around Pratt it's not even funny. I can't take it."
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: "Vicki. She acts tough."
Back to what annoys you, what gets on your nerves: (Lengthy pause) When someone doesn't put the cap back on the toothpaste and then it gets all crusty. That's just gross."
Food you don't like or do you like it all: "Gosh, I really do like all foods. I can't even think of a food I don't like right now."
Best childhood memory: "Recess. You got a break from school. And also nap time. Back in the day you didn't want to take naps. Now you look back and you totally regret it."
Morning routine: "I go straight to the bathroom."
What annoys you: "People that – and this might sound kind of mean – but when you're eating and people come up to you and want to start a conversation."
If Pat didn't coach, what would she do: "Golf or work on a farm."
Ocean, lake or pool: "I like to swim in the ocean, but the pool is more safe. The lake is just too dirty."
Food you won't eat again: "Caviar."
Refrigerator contents: "Some watermelon, a big thing of spinach to make salads, and I drink a lot of chocolate milk."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: (Brewer has had an abundance of practice with this process.) "Why is my name and face the only thing that runs through her head? (How does that change?) Just play good."
What scares you: "Losing a close loved one."
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: (It was established at Media Day that Glory Johnson would not be the one selected. Faith Dupree later explains why.) No. Not even Kelley, even as big as she is. We went to the corn maze, and she was acting like a little kid. So probably Vicki."
Best childhood memory: "This is bad. I don't remember. I think I've been hit too many times in the head. (Cain, who was laughing at that remark, has had three concussions at Tennessee.) This is a really hard question. This is bad. I honestly don't remember. (Maybe something with your grandmother?) Her cooking is always good. Going to Florida with my family. I don't remember the details, but I've seen pictures of it all the time."
Morning routine: "Use the bathroom."
What annoys you: "Staring at me. (Is that because you're so tall?) It is. I know it comes with the territory, but it is kind of annoying. I would rather you say, ‘Wow, you're tall,' than sit there and stare at me."
If Pat didn't coach, what would she do: "I have no idea. She would find a way to coach."
Ocean, lake or pool: "I can't swim. (OK, wade in to the water.) The pool. It's cleaner because of the chlorine, and I don't want to step on any seashells or have crabs bite at my ankles."
Food you won't eat again: "I don't have one of those. (Do you like everything?) I don't like everything, but if I don't like the way it smells I am probably not going to try it."
Refrigerator contents: "Oh, Lord have mercy, what is in my refrigerator? I share it with three other people. (Who?) Syd, Vick and Brittany Napoli. She's a thrower. (Track & field, javelin.) There might be a lot of stuff in there. Of course there are condiments like jelly, mustard, mayonnaise and all that, cheese – I like cheese – ham and turkey to make sandwiches, apples, some other stuff I can't remember."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: "Don't do it again."
What scares you: "Snakes, spiders, stuff like that. I don't like scary movies, but I seem to go watch them anyway."
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: "No, not Glory. Probably Lyssi or Vick. Most people probably won't mess with us anyway. We're 6'4, 6'6."
Best childhood memory: "Probably playing in my back yard with my friends. We always had good imaginations."
Morning routine: "Use the bathroom."
What annoys you: "Waking up just in enough time before your alarm clock where you can't go back to sleep. I was talking about that today. That's the worst."
If Pat didn't coach, what would she do: "Play golf. (I don't think she's very good at it.) She's not? I don't know then."
Ocean, lake or pool: "The pool because I don't like not knowing what's underneath me. I don't like the fish touching me, and I don't know what it is."
Food you won't eat again: "I am a very picky eater so there are a lot of those. Wow. Probably, hot peppers. I hate spicy things and I tried hot peppers three times and I still don't like them."
Refrigerator contents: (Limited, because she lives in the dorm.) "I have Gatorade, water, orange juice. I can get food from the cafeteria."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: "I usually just try and focus on what she is saying so I can fix whatever I am doing."
What scares you: "Not living up to my potential."
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: (Several of your teammates have mentioned your name and adamantly ruled out Glory.) "Not Glory. We went to a haunted corn maze and the reason they're saying me is I was first through the whole thing because they don't scare me, and Glory was on my back the whole time with her eyes closed and grabbing me, so not her. I would probably say Amber."
Best childhood memory: "Traveling to the Grand Canyon. We drove from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Grand Canyon."
Morning routine: "I have to pray. (That's what Angie does, too. And drink water). I don't drink water (in the morning). Usually Gatorade or some juice."
What annoys you: "People that think they know everything."
If Pat didn't coach, what would she do: "She'd be on a farm. She'd be raising crops and taking care of animals."
Ocean, lake or pool: "The pool because I don't like fish, I don't like any type of animals under me or anything like that, so a pool. Nice, clean, something that I can clean out."
Food you won't eat again: "Chitlins. I can't do that. (That caused Shekinna Stricklen, who was listening, to raise her eyebrows.) That is probably Strick's favorite food, but she's from Arkansas. That's normal for her."
Refrigerator contents: (This causes Shekinna, Amber's roommate, to start laughing. Until Amber moved back to Knoxville in mid-October, the apartment didn't even have any pots or pans. Before she returned to Ohio, Amber's mother stocked the kitchen with some utensils, cookware and frozen meals that could be made in a microwave.) I think we have some Sprite, some Gatorade, water, lunch meat, cheese. That might be it. Our freezer is full of food."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: "A lot of times just listen and take it in. You've got to kind of block out the yelling and really listen to what she's trying to tell you."
What scares you: "Probably losing my mom. My mama is everything. I hate spiders. They get too close, and I don't like them too well."
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: "I would take Syd. Syd stood by me all last year. She had my back, so I know she wouldn't leave me for nothing."
Best childhood memory: "The neighborhood I lived in we had a whole bunch of kids so we used to play flag football, baseball. I was one of the girls out of all the guys. I think my best was – I had two older brothers – we had a back porch and a trampoline and then a little basketball court. So we would put the trampoline underneath the basketball goal. (This sounds dangerous.) It is. And then, of course, we're playing ‘Space Jam,' and all those songs. And we would jump off the porch, on to the trampoline and then do all these crazy dunks and stuff like that. (And you survived with no broken bones?) I did."
Morning routine: "Brush my teeth."
What annoys you: "I don't really like messy eaters."
If Pat didn't coach, what would she do: "What would she do? I don't know. I never even thought about that. She would probably own a farm somewhere and be a drill sergeant out there, go milk the cows, you go do this, you go do that. (Even the cows would probably be well behaved.) The cows would be like (lined up, looking straight ahead), ‘What did you say?' "
Ocean, lake or pool: "Just swimming? That's tough. I think I would actually go with the lake. I don't like not seeing the bottom. (So a clean lake?) Yes."
Food you won't eat again: "Me and Lyssi go to this sushi restaurant. We always try new stuff there. One time we had a quail egg. I will never do that again. It was horrible."
Refrigerator contents: "Right now I've got a bunch of juice, apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, TV dinners, pickles, salsa. (Briana said you can cook). She can cook a pretty good grilled cheese. And she likes her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Me and Lyssi, we cook spaghetti. We are cooking steaks later this week. I cook a lot of stir-fry stuff. My mom is a really good cook, and she gave me a whole book of recipes."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: "Look at her in her eyes. Be respectful. And listen to what she has to say. (Manning was at the 1,000-wins tribute and heard former point guard Dawn Marsh talk about how Summitt was yelling at her once before halftime while assistants Holly Warlick and Mickie DeMoss stood behind Summitt and made faces. How would Manning handle that?) That really is evil. I am a goofy person as it is. I laugh a lot and smile a lot and it would be kind of hard. I think I would be more scared of what would happen if I were to laugh. So I would probably just do like (makes a stoic face) and think about something else."
What scares you: "I don't like spiders. I am not really scared of a lot of things. I really don't like spiders, though. I guess people that are bad, that break into your house or something like that, those kind of people."
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: "Faith. She's like my sidekick. She's not really scared of anything. She's tough. Faith is always there for me, which is great. And Vicki, because she is really funny. She probably would just make me laugh."
Best childhood memory: "I am going to say visiting my grandparents during the summer because they live on a lake and all my cousins go there, so just getting to see the family during the summer time."
Morning routine: "I usually turn the TV on, go to the bathroom and then brush my teeth. I listen to the news in the background."
What annoys you: "People that are always negative, and they always complain about everything."
If Pat didn't coach, what would she do: "If I were her I would travel. She has the money to travel to wherever she wants. She could pull a Bobby Knight and start doing commentary."
Ocean, lake or pool: "Lake, definitely. Because it's usually cool – unlike a pool; sometimes pools are heated – and you can dive right in off the boat."
Food you won't eat again: "Squid."
Refrigerator contents: "I have one in my room that has water in it. I live with Kelley and Vicki and we usually have random things in there, leftovers from the night before. Vicki will cook spaghetti every once in awhile and tacos."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: "Just evaluate what you did wrong and how you can fix it and what you need to do to fix it."
What scares you: "Not doing well in school. (It should be noted that Smallbone is an honor student.) Nervousness before a big test. Am I really prepared?"
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: "Amber. She would stay calm. She would think through things. Overall, she's very strong, and she would best for protection.
Best childhood memory: "One has to be all of us sisters were in the same room, two sets of bunk beds. (Spani, the second of five children, has four sisters, now ages 21, 17, 15, and 11.) And so you have five girls every night staying up and just talking. That's definitely a memory. We were around sports all the time. (Her father, Gary Spani, played in college and in the NFL; her grandfather, Frosty Westering, was a longtime coach and is the College Football Hall of Fame.) Soccer, basketball, my parents coaching, we got to travel with our grandfather's football team for a couple of years. Things like that I will always remember."
Morning routine: "It depends if I'm in a hurry. Right now it's pretty simple. I read a devotional. I read my Bible. One or the other or both. And put on sweats for class. It's not much."
What annoys you: "I am not really easily annoyed. Sometimes if something's not right in my shoe I kind of have to, I'm not finicky, if something doesn't feel right, like tape-wise (it has to be adjusted). Stuff doesn't really bother me that much."
If Pat didn't coach, what would she do: "Motivational speaker."
Ocean, lake or pool: "Ocean. I love the ocean because I love the beach and the ocean. It's beautiful. I live on a lake so I am kind of biased there, but I would say the ocean overall."
Food you won't eat again: "I am very adventurous on foods, but some of the mystery meats over in Thailand (Taber played there with USA basketball last summer), I don't even know what they were so maybe I would stay away from those."
Refrigerator contents: (Limited, because she's in a dorm). "Gatorade, juice, chocolate milk. That's it."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: "I don't really look at it as yelling. I just want to get the essence of what she is trying to teach me and hopefully not do it again. I don't want to repeat my mistakes at all so just try to really absorb all the teaching part of it."
What scares you: "Sometimes my sisters will get me walking around a door and kind of scare me and I'll jump."
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: "I would say Kelley Cain, but I think she would be holding on to Bree. Faith probably. Because she's big, for one. She doesn't get scared easy at all. And her name being Faith."
Best childhood memory: "It has to be when my friends, Devon and David, and I went to the park and we used to kick our shoes to see who could kick it the farthest."
Morning routine: "Put my contacts on because I can't see without them."
What annoys you: "When people say, ‘Oh, I got to … never mind.' Like they'll start something and then never mind, I can't tell you. I hate that. I am like, ‘If you're going to tell me something … you can't stop.' It should be illegal."
If Pat didn't coach, what would she do: "She looks like she would be a home designer. Like Martha Stewart or something like that. Looking at her that's what she looks like she would do."
Ocean, lake or pool: "A pool because it's cleaner and there is nothing swimming in it besides people."
Food you won't eat again: "Beets."
Refrigerator contents: (Limited, because in the dorm). "A water bottle that's half empty. A Gatorade bottle that's probably empty. And an apple."
Pat is yelling, your thoughts: "Probably like what exactly is she talking about, like what part. We'll play the possession and then she'll refer to something and I'll try to think, ‘When did I do this and how can I make it better so I won't do it again.' "
What scares you: "Spiders and snakes."
Teammate you want with you in a dark alley: "Probably Glory. (Why Glory when everyone else said no?) Because me and Glory are like this (interlocking her index and middle fingers to signify being tight). And I know if something was going on she'd have my back and I'd have hers. (She had another practical reason.) If we decided to run, I would have to keep up with her because she's fast. I would have to just keep running and running and running. She would motivate me to keep running."