The No. 4-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol basketball team will arrive in Duluth, Ga., for the 2010 Women’s SEC Tournament as the tournament’s top seed.
The SEC regular season champion Lady Vols boast a 15-1 conference record to go along with a 27-2 record overall.
Head coach Pat Summitt indicated that there was still plenty left to accomplish on the season.
“We’ve got the SEC Tournament then trying to get a No. 1 seed (for the NCAA Tournament),” Summitt said. “There’s still a lot of basketball left to play.”
Sophomore forward Alyssia Brewer thinks the team has played well up to this point but believes last season’s disappointing season will serve the team well down the stretch.
“We’re definitely proud of what we’ve accomplished, but there have been games that we won and maybe shouldn’t have,” Brewer said. “We’ve definitely progressed from last year. We’ve got to correct our mistakes because it’s crunch time now.”
The top four seeds receive a first-round bye in the tournament, and for the Lady Vols, that means playing the winner of South Carolina and Ole Miss on Friday in the quarterfinals. The Lady Vols played each team twice during the regular season, winning all four contests.
Summitt knows her team can’t overlook the respective eight and nine seeds because her team only beat the two by a combined eight points on the road.
“If we have to play Ole Miss again, that’s a big challenge,” Summitt said. “South Carolina is playing well (too). Then there’s Vanderbilt or Arkansas and LSU.”
A Lady Vols’ win on Friday would put them in the semifinals with the opponent likely being either the No. 4 seed LSU or the No. 5 seed Vanderbilt.
If the Lady Vols advance to the finals, No. 2 seed Kentucky or No. 3 seed Mississippi St. could be the opponent. No. 6 seed Georgia, the only SEC team to defeat Tennessee this year, also has the ability to pull an upset or two to reach the finals.
Sophomore forward Alicia Manning, the most competitive player on the team Summitt said, doesn’t think it matters who the Lady Vols play as long as the team plays their game.
“We’ve played most of these teams twice,” Manning said. “We know what they’re bringing and vice versa. A lot of it is just executing. We have to take advantage of our post game and play to our strengths. If we do the little things and make extra-effort plays, I think we’ll be fine.”
Sophomore Shekinna Stricklen added she believes the team needs to be focused and prepared as they begin postseason play.
“Right now we just have to let it go and just get ready for tournament time,” the second team All-SEC selection said. “ … and just go hard in every one of the games we play.”
Summitt is hopeful this year’s team learned from last season’s disappointing year, which ended with a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament.
Entering postseason play, Summitt wants this team to play with the same emotion and intensity her previous championship teams played with.
“When this team is on a mission, you can see it,” she said. “You can feel it. It’s obvious.”