The first round of games in the 2012 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament will be played on Thursday at the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. On Wednesday morning SEC annual honors were announced. Throughout the day, while staff completed tournament logistics, the teams playing on Thursday held practices open to the public and to the media.
For the fourth time, downtown Nashville is the site of the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament. On Wednesday the line of strong weather that spawned tornados in Missouri passed through Nashville. The dark skies, wind, and pounding rain brought back memories of the tornado that hit the Georgia Dome during the men's SEC tournament in 2008, but the storms here only produced heavy rain.
On Demonbreun Street behind the Arena, construction continues on the Music City Center, which is expected to open in 2013. The 2014 Women's Final Four will be one of the first major events coming to Nashville after the opening of the new complex.
During the day teams were allotted time in the arena for practices open to the public and to the media. The Dores practiced in the arena, then returned to campus for a private practice.
On Wednesday morning when the annual SEC honors were announced, the list included the names of four 'Dores. Junior post Tiffany Clarke was named to the All-SEC 2nd Team.
Freshman guard Kady Schrann, who started almost every game during the regular season, was named to the All-Freshman team.
Early in the season sophomore guardJasmine Lister switched between point guard and shooting guard duties, but after freshman point guard Maggie Morrison suffered a season-ending knee injury, Lister became the team's only point guard. She leads the SEC with a free throw percentage of .847 and in assists with 5.5 per game. Lister was named to the All-SEC 2nd team.
Sophomore guard Christina Foggiefinished the regular season as the SEC's leading scorer, averaging 17.9 points per game. She also leads the league in 3-pt percentage and is second in free throw percentage behind Lister. Foggie was named to the All-SEC 1st team.
After practice, the TV crews collected footage for the evening news, and the print media had the chance to talk with coaches. Since the Dores visited Starkville just a few weeks ago and defeated the Lady Bulldogs there, both coaches were asked about the previous game between the two teams.
Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb was asked whether the earlier victory gives her team confidence. "They’re just as familiar with us as we are with them -- and they were a very tough team," she answered.
"I can remember talking to my team with three minutes to go, we were tied, and I said,'There are three minutes to go, and you have three minutes to win this game. It doesn’t matter what happened before or after', so I know this game came down to execution in the last three minutes. Our players know that. This is a tough matchup."
"What does your team need to do to get the win this time?" Mississippi State Head Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis was asked. "Score more points that Vanderbilt," she quipped.
More seriously, Coach Fanning-Otis mentioned the same point in the game as Coach Balcomb. "I feel like that it’s all possession basketball. The score was 54-54 in the last couple of minutes, but a rebound, an out-of-bounds under play, getting a stop, getting an extra shot, all those things add up. So you just have to do the fundamentals."
Coach Fanning-Otis said that having four freshman as reserves had posed challenges during the season, but that they're getting better. "Our team is excited and they want to win, but it’s just a matter of gameday execution and playing hard for that 40-minutes period."
"The team that makes the fewer mistakes, that makes better decisions takes better shots, blocks out, whoever shoots the most free throws, rebounds, gets that extra shot at the free throw line, takes care of the basketball, those are the little things, the intangibles," she continued.
"What does it boil down to? Work ethic and team chemistry," she said. "Those two things because everybody can play in this league. It’s a toss-up who’s going to win it but there will be a divider, and it will get down to work ethic and team chemistry -- how we do it together and how long we pursue it out there on the floor."
Thursday's first game will tip off at noon Central Time featuring the #8-seeded Florida Gators and the #9-seeded Auburn Tigers. #7 Vanderbilt and #10 Mississippi State will complete the afternoon session at 2:30 p.m. CT. In the first game of the night session, #12 Ole Miss will play #5 Arkansas at 6:30 p.m. CT, and #11 Alabama will play #6 South Carolina in the nightcap.
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Photos copyright 2012 by Whitney D. for VandyMania.com