Monday, March 31
Updated: April 2, 4:50 PM ET
Tennessee's offense as good as it's ever been
By Nancy Lieberman
Special to ESPN.com
With every game that passes, Tennessee just seems to get better and better.
And on Monday, Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols earned their second consecutive trip -- and NCAA-record 14th overall -- to the Final Four.
As Tennessee gets ready to take the short trip to Atlanta, here's how we see the Lady Vols shaping up.
1. What has impressed you most about Tennessee so far in the NCAA Tournament?
Its offensive prowess. Everything is clicking. These players understand the timing of the offense, find the right player to pass to and really come at you. The Lady Vols have had opposing defenses on their heels in the past few games. And when that perfect pass or shot isn't made, Tennessee is relentless on the glass, especially on the offensive rebounds.
2. What has surprised you most about Tennessee?
I'm not surprised to see Tennessee winning. But I didn't expect to see the Lady Vols win in such dominating fashion. They are just blowing by teams -- teams that are well-coached and good. They made Villanova, a great team, look like an AAU team on Monday. As a matter of fact, I haven't seen Tennessee play this well in awhile. I didn't know the Lady Vols could play as well offensively as they've played. It's as good as I've ever seen.
3. What is Tennessee's biggest strength and weakness?
Tennessee's depth and versatility continue to be big advantages. Tennessee has never been known as a 3-point shooting team. (In fact, the only great 3-point shooters in Tennessee history that immediately come to mind are Cindy Brogdon and Kellie Jolly.) In the past, opponents have been able to pack it in against Tennessee because you knew the Lady Vols were going to drive inside. But Tennessee has more capable 3-point shooters on its roster this season than in the past 10 years combined. That helps take some of the load off Kara Lawson and is making her a better player. As a result, I've never seen Lawson play better and under more control or with more leadership than she is right now. Tennessee also has four posts who can knock your socks off
Tennessee's biggest weakness is ... the fact the Lady Vols are leaving Knoxville. But even that's a stretch. Playing as well as they have, the Lady Vols most likely would be bound for Atlanta regardless of where they played their subregional and regional games. The bottom line is that Tennessee doesn't really have a weakness right now.
4. What does coach Pat Summitt need to focus on?
Tennessee is always well prepared. Pat Summitt's coaching staff continues to do a marvelous job. At this point, she just needs to keep the Lady Vols playing at this intensity level, but that likely isn't going to be a problem. They're all on the same page right now, all playing well and in sync.
5. What does Tennessee need to do to win the NCAA title?
Just keep playing the way its playing. If the Lady Vols reach the title game, and if UConn were there, that gets a little tougher because of all the subplots between their archrival and the coaches. But Tennessee is definitely on track.
Nancy Lieberman, an ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage. Contact her at www.nancylieberman.com.