Double dribble: Women

Published February 5, 2005


Pat Summitt has been doing it for years at Tennessee. So, too, has Gail Goestenkors at Duke. In fact, it has become a common practice on campuses all over the country.

Women playing against men during practice. But that may be coming to an end.

Last week, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics began reviewing the use of male practice players. Some committee members have said they have anecdotal evidence that some men have been awarded scholarships to compete against the women during practice. The committee contends it's important to investigate the issue in terms of whether it is counterproductive to opportunities for women.

Summitt begs to differ.

"To me, you're looking for a reason to say we don't want the guys on the court," Summitt said. "It's quite the opposite to me. You can rotate your players in and have a chance to really mix up your lineup as opposed to having them always go against each other. For us it's been great. I grew up playing against my older brothers, it made me tougher and I think that's good. . . . . I'd be very disappointed if we couldn't use them."

Florida coach Carolyn Peck believes the use of male practice players has been instrumental in raising the level of play in the women's game.

"You're going to get better by playing against stronger and quicker competition," Peck said. "To have the additional practice players to go against helps you to prepare, especially in the SEC, for the top level of competition that you're going to play against; I think it's a total benefit for the game, not one team over the other."

The NCAA may make that determination in the near future, and many coaches will be watching closely.


The former Clearwater standout, a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward, helped Tennessee to an overtime win over Florida, scoring seven, including four in overtime, Thursday night. After the game, she talked about life in Knoxville and coming home again.

When you stepped up to shoot those free throws (with UT leading by two with 2:01 left in overtime) what were you thinking?

My thoughts were just to knock down these free throws. We do it every day in practice and I'm a pressure player so I like when the pressure is on me.

What is your role on this team this season?

My role has been just to play defense and (rebound) because that's what coach Summitt really gets on me about because my offense is not a problem. That's what I tried to come out here and do (Thursday night).

What has this season been like for you?

Up and down. It's tough. You've got to learn and everything and you've got to do everything right because she's (Summitt) always on you, always pushing you. It's been a learning experience.

Has it been tougher than you thought?

Oh, yeah, a lot tougher than I thought. It's crazy, but you love it because she (Summitt) gets the best out of you every day. You have to be in practice, she rides you, rides you, rides you, but you've just got to understand that it's for your own good.

How do you feel you're progressing?

Better than I what I was at the beginning of the season, on defense and rebounding, and hopefully I can continue to get better.

How many people were (in Gainesville) to see you and what was that like?

I had about 30 people here. It was fun because I rarely get to see my family and that's the hard part. Last week I had my mom come for a week just to spend time with me because I miss her so much and that was great.


No. 24 Florida State (19-3) at No. 3 Duke (20-2), 4 p.m. Sunday, Sun Sports: FSU has ended its two-game losing streak and needs an upset win to stay in the thick of the ACC race.

No. 5 Tennessee at No. 1 LSU, 7 p.m. Thursday, ESPN2: For all those who say the SEC is down, you'll want to watch this game between the league's premier teams. OFF THE RIM

Her uncle, former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, may be the most famous member of her family, but TCU senior center Sandora Irvin continues to make a name with her play. Irvin has been named one of the 20 midseason candidates for the 2005 Wooden Award. Last month, Irvin broke an NCAA single-game record with 16 blocked shots against UAB. Against ranked opponents (UCLA, Georgia, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Utah, Tennessee and Houston), here's how Irvin has fared: 20.7 points per game, 14.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals, .795 on free throws. Irvin is the all-time TCU leader in double doubles, with 59 in 115 career games, and is the first TCU player, male or female, with 1,000 career rebounds.


"I tripped on my way to the locker room before the game. Everyone was teasing me about it. They said they should trip me before every game." - Michigan State sophomore guard Victoria Lucas-Perry after she scored a career-high 25, nearly quadruple her season average, in a 101-40 victory over Northwestern Thursday night. Lucas-Perry tripped and fell running into the tunnel after pregame warmups.