The #3 Lady Vols host the #7 Miami Hurricanes tonight at 6:00 for the State Farm Tip-Off Classic, which is airing as part of the ESPN College Hoops 25-hour Marathon.
Coach Pat Summitt is in her 38th year at Tennessee and is well known to be battling early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
The Lady Vols, determined to win her a 9th national title, have adopted the motto: “Time for 9.”
Tennessee has 4 starters back from last season’s 34-3 team, including SEC Preseason Player of the Year Shekinna Stricklen. Freshman Ariel Massengale has taken over at point guard for the Lady Vols and with 3 consecutive high school state titles on her resume, Massengale started the season opener against Pepperdine. This makes Massengale just the 14th player in Summitt’s tenure to start in her 1st collegiate game.
Tonight’s game figures to move at a breakneck speed. The Hurricanes bring the deepest team that Coach Katie Meier, who was helped to land her first head coaching job by longtime mentor Pat Summitt, has had since she came to Miami 7 years ago. Meier is eager to see how her team matches up against one the the nation’s best.
“We’re seeking information from this game, information about our team,” she said. “We will find out in November if we’re ready for a game like that, and that’s when you want to find that out. You don’t want to find out in March that you’re not prepared for a game of that caliber. This is the time to find out, when you still have time to fix things.”
Said Summitt who was disappointed with the defensive effort against Pepperdine: “We’ve got to start out stronger … put the pedal to the metal and keep it there. We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us playing Miami.... I can tell you, we are going to learn a lot about us in that game. We have to go into the game with great preparation and focus.”
The Lady Vols will be looking to sharpen their one-on-one defensive game against the Hurricanes while limiting turnovers in this high adrenaline match-up. Tennessee’s style of energy driven aggressiveness and athleticism is mirrored in Miami and tonight will be a high profile test of wills played out on the floor of Thompson-Boling Arena.