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MEMPHIS SPORTS SCENE

MEMPHIS SPORTS SCENE

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An interesting aspect of all winning coaches is the singular ability to be unhappy with an undefeated team. There is something about perfection that begs for more perfection in every way imaginable. Tennessee Lady Vols (ranked number two, nationally) coach Pat Summit knows perfection, going 7-0 on the early season after taking down number five ranked Stanford just a little bit back. Things seem perfect in the land of garish orange and nightmarish Lady Vols squads. But Summit wants more. More specifically, she wants her young group of players to pick up the man-to-man defense. “Right now, we are not a strong as I would like to be as far as having an individual who is a defensive stopper,” she said in a recent phone interview. “We have to rely more on team defense. If we see that we can't do it individually, we will just have to work to do it collectively." Summit also knows about what it takes to win a championship, earning rings in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, and 1998. She knows that any serious title run will take defense. A defense that will control the other team. So far this season, Summit feels that her team has been controlled, despite the seven wins. “"We have managed to win games when the score was in the 60s and games when the score is the 90s,” she says. “If the tempo is slow, then it tells me that we are not dictating the tempo and we are letting our opponents dictate the pace of the game. As a team, we need to dictate the tempo and play our game. Once we get better defensively, we will be able to control the tempo more. This team has found a way to win games in the 60s, 70s and 80s. As far as preparing us for the NCAA Tournament, tight games prepare us better than blowouts, but this is not the 1998 team by any means defensively. We have been able to win by having our veterans put up points in big games." Also important to improving the man-to-man defense is that it would allow the Lady Vols to switch from zone defense to man-to-man with impunity, forcing offenses to adjust in big ways. "I have always been a man-to-man coach, but I have been disappointed somewhat in our lack of execution on defense,” she said. “We have played well in man-to-man in spurts, but we have to be more consistent with the pressure. Against Stanford, we were able to switch into the zone and it was beneficial, but in the closing minutes, we went back to the man-to-man and it worked for us." According to Summit, the holidays are a perfect time to tweak line-ups because the focus is solely on basketball and not divided with classes. “They’re in Basketball 101,” Summit said of her athletes holiday plans. “They’re watching more film. I can visit players one on one. And we’re practicing. I have their undivided attention. There shouldn’t be any distractions, other than that they want to shop all afternoon.” Perfection, even to the detriment of Christmas shopping. That makes a championship. ODDS & ENDS NOTABLE
  • Ron Tillery, the CA‘s beat reporter for the Griz might be out of a job soon. On Grizzlies.com, a message-board subscriber will now submit post-game reports to the website. This new intrepid’s username? Doofus.
  • Things could be worse. Not only are the Houston Rockets on a major downturn at the moment, star guard Steve Francis was just arrested for a DWI. Francis was the guard picked second by the Grizzlies (in Vancouver) but who refused to play in Canada.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies have entered the world of the bobble-head! The rather odd sports marketing phenomenon will enter the Pyramid on January 19th, when fans will receive a Lorenzen Wright bobble-head doll. After that, bobbles for Stromile Swift, Jason Williams, Shane Battier, Pau Gasol, and Michael Dickerson are on the board, respectively.
  • New interim coach of the New York Knicks Don Chaney and Knicks superstar Latrell Sprewell should get along just fine. As head coach of the L.A. Clippers, Chaney was accused of attempting to choke then center, Benoit Benjamin. Alternately, When Sprewell was with the Golden State Warriors, he was accused of choking his then coach P.J. Carlesimo.
QUOTABLE
  • “We had a lot of chances, they picked up the intensity on defense and we did not respond. We tried to pound the ball inside, but couldn’t score.” Grizzlies head coach Sidney Lowe on his team’s performance against the Denver Nuggets. The Grizzlies lost that game, 89-86 after giving up a 13 point lead in the third quarter.
  • "It’s a 48-minute game; we did impose our will on them for about 40 minutes.” Grizzlies forward Grant Long on the Nuggets loss.
  • “There are no easy wins in the NBA.” Denver Nuggets assistance coach Mike Evans on his team’s comeback win.
  • “Are y’all expecting a riot? They’re not that bad.” Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley to the cadre of security personnel outside of the Griz locker room after the team’s loss to Minnesota on December 6.

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