Lady Vols host early rounds of NCAA tournament this weekend

9:47 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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Hundreds of players, coaches and fans are in Knoxville for Saturday's early play-off rounds of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

This comes as the number two seed Lady Vols will participate for first time under new Head Coach Holly Warlick in the tournament. But, for most fans and athletes, Pat Summitt is women's basketball. It's no surprise then that part of the tournament returns this year to the court that bears her name.

"I think it's pressure on the other teams because we know what we're capable of when we play the first two rounds at home," Lady Vol guard Meighan Simmons.

Thompson-Boling Arena is open for the first two rounds of the tournament. Syracuse University, Oral Roberts University and Creighton University will all hit "The Summitt" hardwood for drills on Friday.

Games start late Saturday morning. Creighton takes on Syracuse at 11 a.m.  That's followed at 1:30 p.m. by the Lady Vols versus Oral Roberts. Winners of those games will face-off at 7 p.m. on Monday.

"For our players, Coach Summitt is Coach Summit. So I think that to be able to come in and take in some of the history and some of the sights of being here is tremendous for our team," Syracuse Head Coach Quentin Hillsman said.
        
The tournament also means there are extra visitors in town all weekend, giving a boost to the local economy.
    
"Teams will be staying in our hotels. They will be eating in our restaurants. Their families will be out and about in Knoxville doing the same thing, so it's great for the community," Visit Knoxville Director of Sports Sales Jennifer Morris said.

No doubt all the teams playing in Knoxville want support from their fan communities, while the women sporting Vol orange know the legacy they must protect.
    
"If we go out and play confident like we have been and continue to stick to the game plan, and make sure that we are going out there and doing the little things, then I think anything is possible," Simmons said.

UT Athletics officials report 5,000 tickets have sold for both Saturday's and Monday's games.  They are available on-line or in person at the Thompson-Boling ticket office.

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