Michelle Marciniak is very familiar with Pat Summitt’s stare.
A 1994 photo showed Tennessee point guard Marciniak and Lady Vols coach Summitt going eyeball to eyeball with Summitt clutching a handful of Marciniak’s jersey. Marciniak mounted the photo on her car’s dashboard the following women’s basketball season, where it served as daily motivation.
“That stare dominated us players in such an impactful and powerful way,” Marciniak said.
The statue of Summitt that was unveiled on Friday does not show the famous stare. Instead Summitt is smiling. Yet Marciniak still thinks the statue epitomizes Summitt because of the stance that’s captured. She’s standing with her arms folded and her right heel slightly elevated.
“That was her stance,” Marciniak said. “As much as her stare was impactful to all of us as players, she had a certain way she stood that you knew she was either happy with you or she wasn’t.”
A few other notes about the plaza:
— A UT official said this week that one light pole in front of the plaza will be removed and another moved to open the view.
— Summitt’s signature, which adorns the back wall of the plaza, is backlit at night.
Here’s a few more details on David Adickes, the artist who created the Pat Summitt sculpture:
— He bought his old high school, which was set to be torn down, and turned it into his art studio.
“I thought, ‘They can’t do that. That’s a historical building. That’s where we learned the jitterbug in 1943 on Friday nights. You can’t tear down an historic place like that,’ ” he said. “So I bought it. It was cheap.”
— According to a story in the Houston Chronicle, Adickes created his own inspiration during World War II, typing his own promotion then handing it to his commander amid a stack of other orders for routine signing. He became part of an elite air transport crew that made regular flights to Paris, thus exposing him to the art ambiance of the city.
— On property he owns along Interstate 10 in Houston, where Adickes lives, he has created 30-foot-tall cubist statues of the Beatles.
— Adickes created a statue of renowned heart surgeon Denton Cooley, who later performed a quadruple bypass on Adickes.
“I said my work is going to last longer than your work,” Adickes said.
— Adickes, 86, currently is working on a 34-foot-tall statue of silent film star Charlie Chaplin.
As it stands, there’s no consensus on Tennessee’s 2014 women’s basketball signing class among three major recruiting evaluation services.
ESPN HoopGurlz has the highest estimation of UT’s class, ranking the trio of Jaime Nared, Alexa Middleton and Kortney Dunbar sixth overall. Blue Star Basketball, on the other hand, ranks the class 10th and the All Star Girls Report ranks it 11th. Both Blue Star and All Star rank Tennessee’s class behind those of SEC rivals South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
The differences of opinion are reflected by signee Nared. While Hoopgurlz ranks the 6-foot-1 wing player fifth among individual players, Blue Star ranks her 19th and All Star ranks her 25th.
Blue Star ranks 5-9 guard Middleton 22th and HoopGurlz ranks her 28th. All Star, on the other hand, has her 46th.
The three services are closest to a consensus regarding 6-2 wing Dunbar. None of the three has her ranked highly. All Star has her 65th, Blue Star rates her 74th and HoopGurlz has her 79th.
UT remains in the hunt for 6-5 forward A’ja Wilson. She’s ranked No. 1 in the class by All Star and HoopGurlz and No. 2 by Blue Star.
The Lady Vols also are believed to be still pursuing guard Kia Nurse of Hamilton, Ontario. She’s ranked 10th by Blue Star and 14th by All Star.
— Although guard Andraya Carter played seven games for Tennessee last season, Kara Lawson still counts her with first-year players Mercedes Russell and Jordan Reynolds.
Lawson, who serves as a women’s basketball analyst for ESPN, thinks this trio could be a determining factor in Tennessee’s season.
“I think their freshmen are going to play a pivotal role,” Lawson said. “I think those three are going to go a long way toward determining where Tennessee is at the end of the year.”
— Middle Tennessee State forward Ebony Rowe said the officiating and the intent to curb physical play factored into the Blue Raiders’ preparation for UT on Friday.
“We knew that Tennessee the whole game was going to come in and try to outmuscle us,” she said. “We were going to play into the rules change. Instead of using our strength with our post (players), we used our heads.”
Tennessee was whistled for a school-record 33 fouls. Forward Bashaara Graves fouled out. Five other Lady Vols finished with four fouls.
Two recruiting notes to pass on:
— Jatarie White said this week on Twitter that she looks forward to announcing her college choice on Nov. 15. The 6-foot-4 post player from Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., has visited Tennessee, Ohio State, Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina.
— In a story posted on the website ProspectsNation.com, guard Kia Nurse of Hamilton, Ontario, said that she will visit Tennessee at some point after the November signing period. Nurse said that she won’t wait until spring, though, to make a verbal commitment.
Tennessee came in fourth in the Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball preseason poll, which was released on Friday. I’m one of the 36 voters on the poll and I had the Lady Vols seventh in my rankings.
The difference between the other voters and myself begins with my vantage point for UT’s 86-78 loss to Louisville in the Oklahoma City Regional final last April. The nature of that game has raised questions for me about the Lady Vols’ resolve and poise that linger into this season. Furthermore, the outcome elevated my estimation of Louisville. I ranked the Cardinals fourth, behind UConn, Duke and Stanford.
My concerns regarding UT haven’t been eased in the preseason either. I’ve had access to two full practice sessions and parts of two other practices. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Instead I am admitting to have no real sense yet for what acclaimed freshman Mercedes Russell might contribute. Nor do I have much first-hand appreciation for the effort and energy the coaches have been lauding.
At this point, I’m voting with more caution regarding Tennessee. With that in mind, I voted Notre Dame fifth based on its recent track record and its returning players. (Had I known of Natalie Achonwa’s knee injury, I would have reconsidered the Irish’s spot). I voted Maryland sixth based on All-American post Alyssa Thomas, three other returning starters and a strong freshman class.
My Tennessee vote reflects my impression that UT remains Elite Eight-worthy. Anything more is to be determined and voted on accordingly.