For the members of UCLA’s Women’s Basketball team, this is one of the reasons that they came to UCLA – I’m positive of that.
How often do you get to face a team that is not only in the top ten and has more national chamionships than anyone in women’s college basketball, but has a coach that is nearly every bit as good as the late great John Wooden, who’s only two NCAA titles behind him and has won more games than anyone, male or female, in the history of college hoops?
That is the situation that Cori Close’s Bruins are in as they will play the sixth-ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers, with iconic coach Pat Summitt, at the John Wooden Center on campus this Saturday, December 17, at 2:00 p.m.
I don’t think I could be more obvious when I say that this game will be sold out – with capacity of the John Wooden Center being at only 2,000, it most likely is a sellout now.
My advice to those fans who were lucky enough to get tickets is to get there early.
At 5-3 on the season so far, UCLA hasn’t exactly been chopped liver as they are a solid team with a good nucleus of players, particularly Atonye Nyingifa, Rebekah Gardner, and Markel Walker, who has just returned from injury.
However, in order to score an epic upset over these Lady Vols from Knoxville, TN, they have to play a perfect game.
Forwards Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson lead 6-2 Tennessee with 16.9 and 12.8 points a game, respectively. Junior guard Taber Spani averages 12 points a contest, while freshman point guard Ariel Massengale is averaging 5.8 assists a game.
Along with Stricklen and Johnson, Vicki Baugh, at 6′ 4″, makes a more than formidable front line for the Lady Vols; Johnson avarages nine rebounds a game, Stricklen 8.8, and Baugh is averaging six boards a contest.
To say that it will be a huge challenge for the Bruins would be an understatement.
But that doesn’t compare to the credentials of Patricia Head Summitt, who’s in her fifth decade as the head coach of Tennessee’s elite program.
Her accolades are too many to count and it would take far too much time to list them all, but I’ll list her most significant honors:
- A record of 1,071-199
- 18 Final Fours
- NCAA Coach of the Year seven times, the last time in 2008.
- Eight National Championships, including three in a row from 1996-1998, with her latest title being in 2004. Only John Wooden has won more NCAA Championships (ten).
- A perfect 39-0 record in 1997-98, setting a record for most wins in one season.
- Elected to the basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.
That is what UCLA has to go up against.
Can the Bruins pull off the shocker?
About 99% of the fans would say “Absolultely no way!” to that statement, as this is certainly the female version of David vs. Goliath.
I’m personally looking for UCLA to play at their very best this Saturday; if that ends in a win, wonderful.
If it doesn’t, I will feel good knowing that they gave Pat Summitt and her Lady Vols a run for their money.