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Respite Helps Tennessee's Players

March 13, 1997|Associated Press

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt wondered if she had made a mistake when she gave her Volunteers three days off after they lost to Auburn in the semifinal of the Southeastern Conference tournament on March 2.

"That's unheard of in this program," Summitt said. "I wanted to pick up the phone and call to say I wanted to change my mind."

She didn't, though, and now she has a team that's refreshed and refocused on trying to defend its national championship in the NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament that begins Friday for some teams and Saturday for the 10th-ranked Volunteers, who play Grambling in a Midwest subregional in Knoxville, Tenn.

One thing is certain in this tournament, which culminates in the Final Four in Cincinnati. The teams there won't be the same as the Tennessee-Connecticut-Georgia-Stanford quartet that has made up the Final Four the last two seasons.

Connecticut and Tennessee are together in the Midwest regional, and Georgia and Stanford are in the West.

Tennessee (23-10) played 22 games against teams that were or still are in the top 25 and played everybody in the final top 10, except No. 4 North Carolina. Tennessee played No. 5 Louisiana Tech and No. 9 Louisiana State twice each.

"I kept reminding myself and my staff of the schedule and the demands we placed on this team, our backcourt situation with the injuries, the fact [point guard] Kellie Jolly is playing 38 minutes a game," Summitt said. "If nothing else, our guards needed the break. There's been a lot of pressure on them and they've handled it well."

Plus her players didn't lose their edge.

"We've come back and had some of our best practices of the year," she said.

Old Dominion (29-1), top-seeded in the Mideast, entertains Liberty (22-7) on Friday; and North Carolina (27-2), top-seeded in the East, plays host to Harvard (20-6). Connecticut (30-0) will be at home against Lehigh (15-14) on Saturday, and in the West Regional, top-seeded Stanford (30-1) entertains Howard (24-5).

USC plays San Francisco on Saturday in the Mideast Regional in Gainesville, Fla.





At Norfolk, Va.

Purdue (16-10) vs. Maryland (18-9), 3 p.m.; Old Dominion (29-1) vs. Liberty (22-7), 30 minutes after previous game.

At Ruston, La.

Auburn (21-9) vs. Louisville (20-8), 4 p.m.; Louisiana Tech (29-3) vs. St. Peter's (25-3), 30 minutes after previous game.


At Gainesville, Fla.

USC (19-8) vs. San Francisco (25-5), 3 p.m.; Florida (21-8) vs. Florida International (21-8), 30 minutes after previous game.

At Baton Rogue, La.

Clemson (19-10) vs. Marquette (20-9), 4 p.m.; Louisiana State (23-4) vs. Maine (22-7), 30 minutes after previous game.



At Athens, Ga.

Arizona (22-7) vs. Western Kentucky (22-8), 3 p.m.; Georgia (22-5) vs. Eastern Kentucky (24-5), 30 minutes after previous game.

At Charlottesville, Va.

Utah (24-5) vs. Iowa State (17-11), 3 p.m.; Virginia (21-7) vs. Troy State (23-6), 30 minutes after previous game.


At Palo Alto

Stanford (30-1) vs. Howard (21-5), 6:30 p.m.; Texas Tech (19-8) vs. Montana (25-3), 30 minutes after previous game.

At Lawrence, Kan.

Vanderbilt (18-10) vs. Washington (17-10), 4 p.m.; Kansas (24-5) vs. Detroit (23-6), 30 minutes after previous game.



At Boulder, Colo.

Stephen F. Austin (27-4) vs. Toledo (27-3), 6 p.m.; Colorado (21-8) vs. Marshall (18-11), 30 minutes after previous game.

At Champaign, Ill.

Duke (18-10) vs. DePaul (20-8), 4 p.m.; Illinois (22-7) vs. Drake (23-7), 30 minutes after previous game.


At Storrs, Conn.

North Carolina State (19-11) vs. Iowa (17-11), 3 p.m.; Connecticut (30-0) vs. Lehigh (15-14), 30 minutes after previous game.

At Knoxville, Tenn.

Oregon (21-6) vs. San Diego State (23-6), 3 p.m.; Tennessee (23-10) vs. Grambling (24-5), 30 minutes after previous game.



At Chapel Hill, N.C.

Michigan State (21-7) vs. Portland (27-2), 3 p.m.; North Carolina (27-2) vs. Harvard (20-6), 30 minutes after previous game.

At Tuscaloosa, Ala.

St. Joseph's (25-4) vs. Kansas State (19-11), 4 p.m.; Alabama (23-6) vs. St. Francis, Pa. (21-8), 30 minutes after previous game.


At Austin, Texas

Notre Dame (27-6) vs. Memphis (22-6), 4 p.m.; Texas (21-7) vs. Southwest Texas State (17-11), 30 minutes after previous game.

At Washington

Tulane (26-4) vs. UC Santa Barbara (24-5), 3 p.m.; George Washington (25-5) vs. Northwestern (17-10), 30 minutes after previous game.

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