Tennessee Coach Don DeVoe firmly believes no one player can beat his team, even if the one player is 7-feet-4 and has been known to do marvelous things with a basketball.
The Volunteers (21-7) don't plan any major changes to stop Virginia (26-3) and its all-America center, Ralph Sampson. The teams meet tonight at 7:08 (WRC-TV-4) in an NCAA East regional semifinal game at the Omni.
Notre Dame (23-5) plays Brigham Young (24-6) in the other semifinal at 9:38 p.m. The winners meet Saturday at 3:38 p.m.
"There are no secrets to basketball. We have to go out and shoot 60 percent all night, play good man-to-man defense and our big man, 6-7 Howard Wood, has to do the best job he can on the 7-4 fellow, Sampson," DeVoe said. "If we don't do all three, we'll have a tough time winning this one."
To quiet rumors in the Tennessee camp, DeVoe's contract will be extended to five years, beginning April 1, it was announced today. DeVoe had been rumored to be heading to Ohio State.
Tennessee's 58-56 overtime victory over Virginia Commonwealth -- after Virginia had struggled past Villanova, 54-50 -- in a second-round game Sunday was the "big boost" DeVoe said his team needed.
"Beating a team like VCU in OT has more of a positive effect on us than beating a team by 40 points," he said. "We really had to play hard all game. But we're not playing as well as we were early in the year."
Neither are the Cavaliers. Over the last few weeks, Sampson (18.1 points and 11.8 rebounds) has disappeared at times in the Virginia offense, mainly because teams have used an assortment of sagging defenses to take him out of the game.
Jeff Lamp (18.0) has been consistent, but the other Virginia players have been tentative and have not contributed as much offensively as Coach Terry Holland would like. Forward Lee Raker (11.0) has a buildup of calcium deposits in his right thigh and is available only for spot duty.
Holland said he expected the game to be physical.