Seeking four in a row
Defending champion Lady Vols eye another title
Posted: Monday March 08, 1999 04:13 PM
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The preliminaries finally are over, and now the Tennessee Lady Vols get to see if they can go where no other women's team has gone before -- a fourth consecutive national championship.
"This is a time of year in which I think our team will be excited to start playing," coach Pat Summitt said Sunday night after being awarded the East Region's No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
"Fortunately, we're at home. If you can't get motivated for March, you shouldn't have a goal of winning the championship."
For the Lady Vols, it was their 11th No. 1 seed and their 18th straight berth in the NCAA tournament. Only Louisiana Tech has also been invited to all 18 tournaments.
Tennessee will host 16th-seeded Appalachian State (14-14) in Knoxville Saturday night and would play either Boston College or Ohio State in the second round with a first-round victory.
Then they hit the road for Greensboro, N.C., and hopefully San Jose in their quest for history. Tennessee's third straight NCAA title last season matched the three AIAW championships won by Immaculata (1972-1974) and Delta State (1975-1977).
"This basketball team is much more seasoned on road games than last year's team, so my comfort level is better in that regard," Summitt said.
The Lady Vols' path won't be as easy as last season's run to a 39-0 season.
Last year, the Lady Vols didn't have to leave the state of Tennessee until they packed their bags for the Final Four in Kansas City.
But Tennessee has looked much more human than last year's squad that was nearly untouchable while beating teams by an average of 30 points. Tennessee lost the second game of the season to Purdue and its regular season finale to LSU.
The Lady Vols actually trailed at halftime in two of three games last weekend in winning their ninth Southeastern Conference tournament championship.
Chamique Holdsclaw, who with fellow senior Kellie Jolly are trying to become the only players to ever win four straight national titles, doesn't see a problem as long as she plays like she did last week when she was named the SEC tournament's MVP.
"For Kellie and myself, this is our last go-around, and we're highly motivated to go out and have the team motivated for these six games and go out and win another championship," she said.
One other Tennessee team is back in the NCAA tournament for its first appearance since 1993. Fifteenth-seed Tennessee Tech (21-8), who won its ninth trip as the Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion, drew No. 2 seed Old Dominion (26-3) in the East Regional and will play Friday at the ODU Fieldhouse in Virginia.
"We've been to ODU before, and we're happy to have a chance to go back and play them again," said Tennessee Tech coach Bill Worrell.
"We respect ODU. We think we have a good draw, and I'm sure ODU feels the same way."
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