Summitt: Lady Vols' No. 2 seed is slap in face
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Pat Summitt was shocked and confused.
Tennessee beat LSU to win the Southeastern Conference tournament, played the toughest schedule in the nation and was ranked second in the RPI.
So when the sixth-ranked Lady Vols received a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Summitt told her players to consider it "a slap in your face."
Summitt believed Tennessee (28-4) had earned a top seed. The selection committee believed otherwise, sending Tennessee to the Cleveland Regional to play 15th-seeded Army in Norfolk, Va., on Sunday.
Because North Carolina, the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, is also in Tennessee's bracket, Summitt said that means the Lady Vols were considered the lowest second seed.
"That's a slap in your face," Summitt said after watching the selection show with her players at her Knoxville home. "It's a slap in our program's face. I guess it's my fault for putting together the toughest schedule in the country year in and year out. But as far as I'm concerned we got no respect and I don't understand it."
Joni Comstock, the selection committee's chairman, explained on ESPN that the RPI is only used as a tool for seeding. She said Tennessee's four losses hurt a chance for a top seed.
Comstock denied on the show that Tennessee was being considered the lowest No. 2 seed and was only placed there for geographic reasons.
"Liar!" someone in Summitt's house shouted during Comstock's televised interview.
The Lady Vols lost at Duke, at Kentucky, at home to LSU and at home to Florida. The losses to Kentucky and Florida marked the first time Tennessee has ever lost to two unranked teams in a season.
Summitt speculated that the committee looked at the effect of the loss of point guard Alexis Hornbuckle, who broke her wrist on Feb. 12 and is out for the season.
She said this was the most baffling bracket she's ever seen.
"I don't know what we did wrong," Summitt said. "You have to look at the strength of schedule. We're No. 1 and if I'm not mistaken Ohio State is No. 21. And their conference is No. 7. Those two things don't add up."
The players also didn't understand.
"Being able to win an SEC championship and to overcome so much adversity as we have through the course of the year with injuries or whatever, when they showed us the two seed in by far the toughest region, it was complete disrespect by everybody," senior guard Shanna Zolman said.
The Lady Vols are aiming for their seventh national title and first since 1998. They have been a No. 1 seed the last three years for a total of 17 times out of 25 NCAA Tournaments.
Summitt said she wondered if the brackets showed that the committee was hoping new teams would make it deeper into the NCAAs.
"You have to stop and think about that. As I looked at the bracket I thought they must want new teams at the Final Four," she said.
The Lady Vols have been to four straight Final Fours and 17 overall.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press