NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As a doctor checked Candace Parker's
knee on Friday, the Tennessee star turned to her trainer and
mouthed, "Don't count me out for Monday."
A day after Parker bruised her knee in No. 2 Tennessee's 87-69
win over Mississippi State, the 6-foot-4 forward was plotting how
she'd prepare for Monday's game against a No. 7 Rutgers team that's
rolling off an upset of top-ranked Connecticut.
"I am going to be rehabbing like crazy," she said Friday at
practice, where she hobbled around on crutches. "[Tennessee
trainer Jenny Moshak] and I are going to be buddies for the next 48
hours and just try to get back."
Coach Pat Summitt is urging caution with the knee that's already
undergone two surgeries to repair a torn ligament that Parker
suffered in high school and won't decide until Monday if Parker
Parker was one of three Lady Vols to be injured in the scrappy
game against the Lady Bulldogs. Freshman guard Angie Bjorklund
broke her nose and senior forward Alberta Auguste reaggravated a
Tennessee's schedule doesn't get much easier, with key
Southeastern Conference opponents LSU and Vanderbilt up next.
"As big a game as it is to play Rutgers here at home, I'm
hopeful that they will be able to play. But if they are not ready,
they are not ready, and other people are going to have to step
up," Summitt said.
None of the Lady Vols (21-1) are underestimating the stakes of
Monday's game, also a rematch of the 2007 national championship
game won by Tennessee 59-46. The game will air as part of ESPN2's
"Big Monday" broadcast.
"It is a very emotional game for us as well," guard Alexis
Hornbuckle said. "They knocked off the number one seed. If we can
come in here Monday night and take care of business then we would
become the number one seed, so we have a goal in mind as well."
Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer doesn't think Tennessee would
be any less dangerous without Parker as other Lady Vols will jump
at a chance to show Summitt they can play just as hard as the star.
But, she also realizes just how important Parker is to women's
"She is the most versatile player in America, hands down. There
has not been a player like her in the past 10 years or 20 years,"
Stringer said. "She is a game changer, there is no question about
ESPN probably wouldn't mind having the fan favorite and dunking
sensation back in the lineup for the broadcast, but said the
Tennessee-Rutgers rematch meant more than just one player.
"We are disappointed about Candace Parker's injury, however the
rematch of the 2007 national championship game led by two legendary
coaches will still be a terrific game for an ESPN2 Big Monday
franchise," said Carol Stiff, senior director of programming and
acquisition for ESPN.
Doctors will monitor Parker's knee through Monday afternoon as
she works with trainers. X-rays showed the ligament didn't sustain
any permanent damage and shows no signs of swelling.
"Jenny Moshak is the best in the business at rehabbing. I told
her she is going to earn her money, and she said she would be
spending a lot of time with all of them, just trying to get them
back and healthy and ready to play," Summitt said.