(1) Tennessee (0-0) vs. Chattanooga (0-0)
Game Info: 7:00 pm EST Fri Nov 19, 2004
Tennessee hopes to blend the nation's top recruiting class with its talented veterans as the top-ranked Lady Volunteers begin the season at Chattanooga on Friday.
Tennessee comes in with one of its best incoming classes ever. But that group isn't at full force just yet. Dunking sensation Candace Parker and Alex Fuller both had knee surgery, while Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood has a knee problem. It's uncertain when any of them will return.
``I know Candace will get back onto the court when her knee is ready and she is able to perform,'' Vols coach Pat Summitt said. ``However, depending upon how her knee responds to rehabilitation, this could result in a possible redshirt situation.''
Parker, a 6-foot-3 forward from Naperville, Ill., averaged 24.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.3 steals during her senior year of high school. Following her senior season, Parker became the first woman to win a national slam dunk contest that was part of this year's McDonald's High School All-American Game festivities.
Summitt starts her 31st season with 852 victories at Tennessee, which lost to Connecticut in the NCAA finals last April. She's just 28 wins shy of setting the all-time NCAA mark held by former North Carolina men's coach Dean Smith.
Summitt still has three healthy players from her recruiting class, but blending them with veterans Shyra Ely, Shanna Zolman and Loree Moore has been a challenge, even for a coach with a women's record six NCAA titles.
``They are quick learners,'' Summitt said, ``but sometimes I go home and I feel like a first-grade teacher.''
The 6-foor-2 Ely is Tennessee's top returning scorer after averaging 17 points and 6.5 rebounds last year. Zolman averaged 12.3 points while shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point range and 95.7 percent (88-for-92) from the free-throw line.
The Lady Vols have won 12 straight against Chattanooga, including an 83-52 victory over the Lady Mocs in the season opener last season.
Chattanooga returns four starters from last season's team that went 29-3 to set a school record for wins. The Lady Mocs won the Southern Conference for the fourth straight year and beat Rutgers to earn the first NCAA tournament victory in school history.
Chattanooga was eventually knocked out of the tournament with a 60-44 loss to Vanderbilt in the second round of the Midwest Regional. The defeat snapped the Lady Mocs' 27-game winning streak.
Forwards Katasha Brown and Tiffani Robinson are Chattanooga's top returning offensive players. The 5-foot-11 Brown averaged 14.4 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point range last season. Robinson was second in scoring with 11.8 points per game.