WHILE NO ONE DOWNPLAYS CANDACE Parker's role in Tennessee's success the past two seasons, to understate Bobbitt's would be foolish. As the newcomer to a team with aspirations of winning a title, Bobbitt endeared herself to coaches with her willingness to learn and diligent film study and won over her teammates with her tenacity and fire. There might be no better game that illustrates her intensity than the Lady Vols' 2007 semifinal victory over North Carolina. One minute she's lighting into teammate Alexis Hornbuckle to pick up her play, the next she's nose-to-nose with the Tar Heels' Ivory Latta, refusing to back down. "I love her attitude," Hornbuckle says of Bobbitt, "because that's the type of player that I am too. That is definitely that New York swagger. You can't help but get the same swagger that she has."
Bedecked in her number 00 jersey and billowy basketball shorts, she looks like an eight-year-old set loose inside her teenage sister's closet, and on the floor she can seem out of place among her taller teammates. But it's all part of her hustle. Offensively, her quickness off the dribble allows her to get into the lane at will, and her modest size allows her to slither through traps, sneak past screens and slink behind the arc for a wide-open trey. At the opposite end she takes pride in her on-ball defense, crouching down to read the ball handler's intentions. Her efforts have resulted in 63 steals in her Lady Vols career.
Summitt ranks Bobbitt behind only Holly Warlick and Kellie Jolly among the best point guards she's ever coached. "I've just really enjoyed coaching her," Summitt says. "I wish I had had her for all four years."
As Bobbitt looks forward to twin careers in nursing and the WNBA, where she will team with Parker on the Los Angeles Sparks, Summitt can look back on their brief time together and consider the irony: Bobbitt prepared her whole life to play for Summitt, and now that she's left her mark, the coach simply isn't prepared to lose her.