Summitt turns up heat on Lady Vols

Updated: January 28, 2009, 10:47 AM ET
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coach Pat Summitt has tried explaining things to her young team. She's issued challenges to her players and even made them launder their own practice jerseys.

But they still don't get it. She says they lack heart.

I've lost my patience. It's gone. ... We've got some non-competitive people on this team.

-- Pat Summitt

It's left Summitt, closing in on the 1,000th victory of her career, as frustrated as she's ever been with one of her Lady Volunteer squads.

"I was trying to be patient," Summitt said. "I've lost my patience. It's gone."

After 23 Tennessee turnovers led to 29 Auburn points in an 82-68 loss to the Tigers on Sunday, Summitt decided to make practices more demanding.

She's turned up the volume of her criticism and ordered more intense drills. On Monday, the team had to make 23 defensive stops against the practice squad -- one for each of its turnovers against the Tigers.

Several players are on the hot seat: freshman point guard Briana Bass isn't loud enough on the floor; sophomore guard Angie Bjorklund isn't taking enough shots; freshmen forwards Alyssia Brewer and Amber Gray aren't being physical enough.

"We've got some non-competitive people on this team and that's not going to get it. They're not going to play," Summitt said.

She says she'll tweak the lineup when Tennessee (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP, 15-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) hosts Mississippi (13-6, 2-3) on Thursday night.

Freshman guard Shekinna Stricklen, whom Summitt praised as one of the few competitive Lady Vols, will start in place of Bass at the point. Freshman guard Alicia Manning will also start to add size in Bass' absence.

Summitt said she was also sick of watching the Lady Vols fall behind to opponents. Tennessee has trailed at least once in each of the past 11 games, including all of its SEC games.

In eight of those 11 games, the Lady Vols have either trailed or been tied with their opponent at some point during the second half. They've lost three of those games.

Tennessee, which sits fourth in the SEC behind No. 5 Auburn, No. 12 Florida and No. 20 Vanderbilt, still must face No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Duke in addition to the rest of the SEC slate.

"The one thing I can do, I can demand every day. I can hold the bar a little bit higher, and it just went up," Summitt said.

The Lady Vols will again be without Vicki Baugh against the Lady Rebels as the sophomore forward continues to rehab her sprained left knee.

Should Tennessee beat Mississippi, Summitt will play for her 1,000th win at Oklahoma on Monday.

But she's not thinking that far ahead.

"A thousand wins has not entered my mind," she said. "I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get this team to compete on every possession."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press