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Sunday, March 30
Harry and Pat battle for spot in Final Four

Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coach Pat Summitt wanted to know more about Villanova's motion offense last summer.

So she called coach Harry Perretta, set up a meeting in Philadelphia and watched some former Wildcat players demonstrate the nuances of the system. Summitt was impressed and took her newfound knowledge back to Knoxville.

She also developed a friendship with Perretta. Who would have known last year that the two would be squaring off against each other in the Mideast Regional final?

Summitt and the top-seeded Lady Vols (31-4) face Perretta's second-seeded Wildcats (28-5) Monday night for a chance to go to the Final Four.

"What prompted me to talk to Harry?" Summitt said. "It was more just coincidence."

Their friendship has not gotten in the way of their competitive spirit. Summitt gave Perretta an orange tie to wear when Villanova played Colorado in the round of 16, and she invited his team over for a cookout.

Perretta could also learn something from Summitt's experience in the postseason. The Lady Vols are 43-0 at home in the NCAA tournament.

Villanova, meanwhile, has had a surprising run this season. The Wildcats beat Connecticut in the Big East tournament championship, snapping the Huskies' 70-game winning streak and are making their first appearance in the regional final.

"When we are done, we should hang out," Perretta said. "They are going to rip our faces off to get the ball, but afterward we are going to shake hands."

Summitt believes their friendship will be fine, no matter who wins.

"Once the game begins, it is not about Pat and Harry, it's about the game," she said. "He is here to help get his team to Atlanta, and I am here to help get my team to Atlanta."

There are no secret strategies for either team.

Villanova runs its offense slowly in the halfcourt, often letting the shot clock go down nearly to the buzzer before shooting. The Wildcats rely on making 3-pointers and don't have a true post player.

Tennessee prefers a fast up-and-down tempo with the defense creating shots in transition. In the halfcourt, the Lady Vols try to get the ball inside and sometimes run a form of motion offense to get an open shot.

Penn State coach Rene Portland, whose team lost 86-58 to Tennessee in the regional semifinal, best described Villanova's style.

"Harry plays chess, while the rest of us play Super Nintendo," she said.

Villanova was able to beat Connecticut by slowing down the game and making shots. When the teams met earlier in the season, the Wildcats struggled and lost by 20 points.

Perretta isn't changing his game plan against Tennessee.

"We are going to try to do what we have always done. We will try to keep the pace of the game slow and try to generate as many 3s as we can," he said. "There is nothing really super scientific about it. If the game gets fast-paced, we could get beat by 25 or 30 points."

Defensively, Villanova will be tested by Tennessee's strong frontline of Gwen Jackson and Shyra Ely, who are helped by reserves Ashley Robinson, Courtney McDaniel and Tye'sha Fluker.

Tennessee will rely on scoring inside, rebounding and defense to make the game faster. The Lady Vols outrebounded Penn State by 30 and average at least 11 more rebounds than their opponents.

"You don't try to be something different than what you are at this time of year," Tennessee senior Kara Lawson said. "We like up-tempo and we want to win the rebound battle. That's the recipe for success for us."



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