I watched the Lady Vols play Auburn yesterday on ESPN 360, hoping to see coach Pat Summitt win her 999th game. [Update: see Summitt's trek at Tennessee nears pinnacle]
Instead I saw them lose in a lackluster effort.
I know that the team is young and there have been injuries, so let's just get that out of the way first.
But, ladies, really. The first half wasn't that bad, although they didn't even get to the free throw line. There were three travel violations within as many minutes, it seemed, but at least the Lady Vols hung in there. But in the second half of the game it looked to me as if the team gave up. As the Auburn team scored point after point, some of the Lady Vol players just didn't respond.
When I used to see that in wheelchair tennis, I always thought it was either a conditioning problem or a player had given up, just decided that a loss was inevitable, and stopped trying to win. I find it hard to believe that a team coached by Pat Summitt has conditioning issues, which leads me to think that some of the players gave up. It certainly looked that way.
This is a far more serious issue for a coach to deal with than the fact that she has a young team. Players can get experience as they play, but a negative attitude on a team has to be rooted out.
I don't get to see the team play that often, because so many of their games aren't televised up here and I listen to them on their website via their radio broadcast. But I'm guessing by the time I do see them again, knowing Pat Summitt, I may be looking at different faces. Although at least one player, the one who scored 26 points, understood.
"They got all the hustle plays and they just looked like they wanted it more than we did," Stricklen said. "The turnovers really hurt us. That's really what killed us in the game. We could see they had a lot of effort. They were in the passing lanes. They were just stealing the ball."
This loss was worse than the score reflected. And kud0s to the Auburn team for their win.
Summitt: I've lost my patience :
We've got some non-competitive people on this team and that's not going to get it. They're not going to play," she said. She's tweaking her lineup for when No. 13 Tennessee (15-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) hosts Mississippi (13-6, 2-3) on Thursday night. ]