KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Even Tennessee greats such as Tamika
Catchings and Chamique Holdsclaw felt the sting of coach Pat
Summitt's harsh criticism during practice.
The members of this year's heralded freshman class haven't been
spared either, but they've learned to handle Summitt's angry glare.
"It's kind of like, yeah, she's yelling at you, but that's her
job. Her job is to get the best out of you," freshman Nicky
Anosike said. "She wouldn't be where she is right now if she
didn't do that."
After all, Summitt is 10 victories away from surpassing Dean
Smith as the all-time winningest coach in college basketball.
Summitt signed six freshmen in a recruiting class considered one
of the best ever in women's college basketball. But the fanfare
ended when the women arrived in Knoxville. There has been no
coddling of superstar egos. The Lady Vols don't even wear their
names on their game jerseys anymore.
Summitt said her approach with the freshmen has been persistence
"Now I don't look at them as freshmen anymore. I just look at
them as players," Summitt said.
"I think they've all handled it very well -- the demands of
practice and whatever's been thrown their way -- good or bad.
They've been a good group."
Only two freshmen -- Anosike (pronounced AN'-oh-sic-ee) and guard
Alexis Hornbuckle -- have played in every game and broken into the
Anosike is expected to start for the No. 5 Lady Vols (18-3) in
their big game Thursday at top-ranked LSU. Finding time for all of
them to play has been hard because Tennessee has seven
Guard Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood has played in only 11 games mainly
because of tendinitis in her right knee. Center Sybil Dosty plays
behind junior Tye'sha Fluker and Anosike. Forwards Alex Fuller and
Candace Parker haven't played at all after both had offseason knee
The hardest part about practice for Hornbuckle is staying
focused for three hours.
"When you take a possession off, oh, she'll let you know about
it quickly," Hornbuckle said. "It's happened to me. I get it a
lot, but you snap back and say, 'You're right, coach.' "
Assistant coach Nikki Caldwell, who played for Tennessee from
1990-94, doesn't think Summitt has changed her approach over the
years. Caldwell said she was called out in practice, too.
"The thing we tell the kids is Pat is an intense-type person,
and she wants nothing but the best for them," Caldwell said.
"They need to be patient with it and see that, yeah, I am becoming
a better player because of it."