Summitt closing in on all-time win mark
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 and patience.
"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 starting lineup.
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 upperclassmen.
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 surgery.
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."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
MORE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- Moore, Lynx halt Mercury's 16-game streak
- Catchings' scoring mark highlights Fever win
- Sky defeat Liberty in Delle Donne's return
- Maggie Dixon Classic taps UConn, St. John's