KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coach Pat Summitt wanted to
know more about Villanova's motion offense last summer.
So she called coach Harry Perretta, set up a meeting in
Philadelphia and watched some former Wildcat players demonstrate
the nuances of the system. Summitt was impressed and took her
newfound knowledge back to Knoxville.
She also developed a friendship with Perretta. Who would have
known last year that the two would be squaring off against each
other in the Mideast Regional final?
Summitt and the top-seeded Lady Vols (31-4) face Perretta's
second-seeded Wildcats (28-5) Monday night for a chance to go to
the Final Four.
"What prompted me to talk to Harry?" Summitt said. "It was
more just coincidence."
Their friendship has not gotten in the way of their competitive
spirit. Summitt gave Perretta an orange tie to wear when Villanova
played Colorado in the round of 16, and she invited his team over
for a cookout.
Perretta could also learn something from Summitt's experience in
the postseason. The Lady Vols are 43-0 at home in the NCAA
Villanova, meanwhile, has had a surprising run this season. The
Wildcats beat Connecticut in the Big East tournament championship,
snapping the Huskies' 70-game winning streak and are making their
first appearance in the regional final.
"When we are done, we should hang out," Perretta said. "They
are going to rip our faces off to get the ball, but afterward we
are going to shake hands."
Summitt believes their friendship will be fine, no matter who
"Once the game begins, it is not about Pat and Harry, it's
about the game," she said. "He is here to help get his team to
Atlanta, and I am here to help get my team to Atlanta."
There are no secret strategies for either team.
Villanova runs its offense slowly in the halfcourt, often
letting the shot clock go down nearly to the buzzer before
shooting. The Wildcats rely on making 3-pointers and don't have a
true post player.
Tennessee prefers a fast up-and-down tempo with the defense
creating shots in transition. In the halfcourt, the Lady Vols try
to get the ball inside and sometimes run a form of motion offense
to get an open shot.
Penn State coach Rene Portland, whose team lost 86-58 to
Tennessee in the regional semifinal, best described Villanova's
"Harry plays chess, while the rest of us play Super Nintendo,"
Villanova was able to beat Connecticut by slowing down the game
and making shots. When the teams met earlier in the season, the
Wildcats struggled and lost by 20 points.
Perretta isn't changing his game plan against Tennessee.
"We are going to try to do what we have always done. We will
try to keep the pace of the game slow and try to generate as many
3s as we can," he said. "There is nothing really super scientific
about it. If the game gets fast-paced, we could get beat by 25 or
Defensively, Villanova will be tested by Tennessee's strong
frontline of Gwen Jackson and Shyra Ely, who are helped by reserves
Ashley Robinson, Courtney McDaniel and Tye'sha Fluker.
Tennessee will rely on scoring inside, rebounding and defense to
make the game faster. The Lady Vols outrebounded Penn State by 30
and average at least 11 more rebounds than their opponents.
"You don't try to be something different than what you are at
this time of year," Tennessee senior Kara Lawson said. "We like
up-tempo and we want to win the rebound battle. That's the recipe
for success for us."