Summitt no stranger to next foe
Posted: Monday, March 21, 2011 3:37 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Marquette coach Terri Mitchell’s debut was against Pat Summitt and Tennessee in a Thanksgiving tournament in 1996. Summitt got the win — her 600th — but Mitchell got some advice from the Hall of Fame coach that’s stuck with her for 16 seasons.
“Nobody knows the real deal except those of you that are in the gym every day,” Mitchell recalled Summitt saying. “Don’t let anyone sway you with any other perspective but a player’s perspective. I give that speech every year. She has no idea that I do it, but it was one of those nuggets of wisdom that at 28 I needed to hear.”
The two coaches will meet for the first time since that introduction when the Lady Vols host the Golden Eagles in the second round of the Dayton regional of the NCAA Tournament tonight.
Summitt is impressed with the way Mitchell has handled her career, though it might be because the Marquette coach reminds her a little of herself.
“Terri’s just a great teacher. There’s a lot of similarities because she doesn’t mind holding people accountable or calling people out,” Summmit said. “She makes sure they do exactly what they’re supposed to do and that they’re invested, not just as an individual but to be a great teammate and become a great player.”
Tennessee (32-2) is aiming for a return to the Final Four after another premature loss in the NCAA Tournament last season as a No. 1 seed.
“At this time of the season sometimes it’s not really about talent,” Tennessee sophomore Taber Spani said. “It’s about how much you want to (win).”
The No. 1-seeded Lady Vols got off to a good start in a 99-34 victory again 16th-seeded Stetson in the first round.
Tennessee used a 23-0 run in the first half to pull away as all 13 Lady Vols played and scored.
Tennessee is also coming off an undefeated Southeastern Conference season and SEC Tournament championship, but the Golden Eagles take a little bit of confidence in knowing they beat Georgetown, the team that handed the Lady Vols one of their two losses this season.
Still, the Lady Vols’ No. 27 loss to Georgetown was far enough in the past that Mitchell isn’t putting too much stock in it.
“We know what we’re up against in Tennessee,” Mitchell said. “There isn’t a person in our room who doesn’t know how great this team is. And at the same time, our players feel they have been very prepared by the Big East because of the wins we’ve had, losses we’ve had, the things we have faced to make us stronger.”