Lady Vols get 'gut check' in practice after SEC loss

Updated: March 9, 2007, 9:08 AM ET
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- All the fourth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols can do now is wait to see who their opponent is in the NCAA Tournament and try to endure coach Pat Summitt's practices.

Summitt believes Tennessee (28-3) is destined for a No. 1 seed when the brackets are announced Monday (ESPN, 8 ET), but she wasn't giving the players any favors Wednesday in their first day back on the court since losing in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament on Saturday.

"I wanted this to be a little bit of a gut check,'' Summitt said of the practice.

The team watched tape on Sunday but had Monday and Tuesday off.

The Lady Vols finished their drills on Wednesday by sprinting down the length of the court each time one of them missed a free throw.

Despite the latest loss, Summitt is firm in her opinion the Lady Vols will not slide to a No. 2 seed as they did last year.

"There's no doubt in my mind, but my mind is not the one to make the decision,'' she said. "It's up to the committee. You have to look at our schedule and our RPI and look at our record and think it's not too bad.''

The Lady Vols have the top RPI and toughest strength of schedule.

Tennessee breezed through the SEC regular season at 14-0 to win the league title, but the Lady Vols were challenged in the conference tournament.

They beat South Carolina and then struggled against LSU before losing 63-54. SEC player of the year Candace Parker was held to a career-low four points.

"It's in the past. There are things we can learn from it. We couldn't match LSU's intensity and how inspired they were. It clearly wasn't a priority across the board,'' Summitt said. "We had some players play well. We had some not show up. You can't beat a team like LSU unless the whole team is inspired.''

Summitt said she's looking for a "constant commitment'' on defense, a longtime staple of her program. Offensively, she would like to see better use of screens.

"We can't let our defense falter when we're not playing well offensively because that's where we've been able to stay in games and win games, even when we weren't shooting the basketball very well,'' she said.

Summitt didn't seem too concerned about Parker's lack of scoring against LSU. She attributed most of that to the defense of LSU center Sylvia Fowles.

"She took ownership. Candace is not one to shy away from responsibility. She knows that her performance was costly for us,'' Summitt said. "Let's face it. She's obviously been there night in and night out. She just didn't have the type of game we hoped she'd have and didn't seem to be able to get herself out of that.''

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press