Frequently Asked Questions
This page updated November 21, 2006.
Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Lady Vols have a long and stories history against practically all of the major womens' college basketball teams. In these pages we'll discuss any questions you may have about womens' basketball and the Lady Vols program.
The Rivalry: Tennessee and UConn
Pat Summitt comments about the rivalry with UConn in her book, Raise the Roof. It's a two-pronged rivalry. UConn's program was built up in the 1990s and challenged Tennessee for prominence in the women's game, and an unfortunate remark by a Tennessee Vol player led to an exchange of harsh words that has yet to be forgiven by most fans on both sides:
Summitt writes in 1998:
The peculiar thing about it [the Tennessee-UConn rivalry] was that it was a young rivalry; it had grown up overnight with the rapidity of a brushfire. There were other teams with whom we had much older animosities: Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech, Stanford and Vanderbilt, to name just a few. But Tennessee-Connecticut had a magnitude and an intensity I had seldom encountered. Whenever we played, it seemed to mean so much to both sides.
It all started in 1995, when we were ranked No. 1 and UConn upset us in Storrs. Then, at the end of the season, Jennifer Rizzoti got a steal and a layup to beat us for the national championship." ...
"They added insult to injury by beating us twice more, winning regular season meetings in 1996 and 1997. Rarely had a team dominated us that way. But if they owned us for a while, we avenged ourselves in the playoffs.
We upset them twice in the postseason en-route to claiming back-to-back national championships in '96 and '97. Our last meeting had come in the '97 tournament. The Huskies were undefeated and the unaninous favorite to win it all, until our Cinderella team with ten losses stunned them in the regional finals, and went on to claim the title.
We vied off the court, too, for media attention and for prized recruits. UConn was coached by an articulate, persuasive recruiter, Geno Auriemma, who had made the Huskies the darlings of the east coast media....
As much as the rivalry pained us sometimes, we all enjoyed it. Geno and I respected each other and we understood that our seesaw battle for preeminence was great for the game."
Then came the Tennessee-UConn game of 1998.
|"Afterwards, Geno was gracious. "Tennessee is certainly everything it's advertised to be," he said. "There just seems to be little you can do, because they put so much pressure on you. And they had a lot of assistant coaches up in the stands, too."
Unfortunately the good manners on both sides deterioratedthe morning after the game. Semeka Randall, euphoric as she came off the court, made an ill-considered comment on a postgame radio show. When asked whether the crowd had been a factor, she said, trying to compliment our fans, "Oh, yeah, I think Connecticut about ran off the floor, they were so scared."
The quote hit the morning papers and was taken out of context. A day later, according to the east coast press, Geno made some unkind remarks in response to Semeka's comment, including a slighting reference to the way our team lost the 1995 championship game to UConn.
A controversy was born. Semeka's comments and Geno's retort roiled through the media in the northeast. My phone rang off the hook, seeking comment. I declined to throw fuel on the fire.