OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Candace Parker sighed and slumped back in her chair as Alexis Hornbuckle perked up to discuss one of her favorite topics.
While Parker gets much of the glamour as Tennessee's star, Hornbuckle forever will have bragging rights from her performance in the McDonald's All-American game in Oklahoma City four years ago.
Hornbuckle set a record by scoring 22 points in the high school all-star game, and her team of East all-stars beat Parker's West team 91-66 at the Ford Center the site of Tennessee's regional assignment this year.
"You know what? I would love to talk about the McDonald's All-American game," said Hornbuckle, seated between Parker and forward Nicky Anosike. "Nicky and I were on the East, and Candace was on the West. All I've got to say is we won by a lot."
Hornbuckle broke the McDonald's game scoring record that had been shared by Ann Strother by Shanna Zolman, another future Tennessee star, and also helped break up Parker's only dunk attempt of the game. Parker, who had beaten a field of boys in a slam-dunk competition a night earlier, ended up clanking her attempt off the rim.
"How is Illinois West?" Parker said, disappointed that the topic had come up.
Parker still had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead her team, which also featured Alex Fuller, now a reserve for the Lady Vols.
"Hopefully we can keep our winning streak alive," Hornbuckle said before turning to Parker. "And she can get one."
Anosike, who scored two points in the game, also took the chance to poke fun at Parker when asked how her All-America teammate had changed in the four years since.
"Candace has definitely gotten her hair done since then," Anosike said. "And now she's fabulous."
HOME SWEET HOME:@ Local fans might not have an Oklahoma team to support in the regional, but they do have an Oklahoma City native they can cheer for in Texas A&M junior Danielle Gant. Gant starred at Putnam City West High School before signing with the Aggies.
Gant said Saturday she is trying to obtain about 30 tickets for her family and friends. Each player is allotted six tickets, and Gant has been asking teammates for extras.
"I wanted to go somewhere other than Oklahoma" for the regional, Gant said. "I'm used to Oklahoma. But playing in front of my family and friends is always a good thing."
Gant said playing in her hometown won't be a distraction. Blair said he expects she will receive "tremendous crowd support" because of her Oklahoma roots.
"It's just a feel-good story," Blair said. "She was a great player in high school, but look at the obstacles that she's overcome to get to where she is today. I don't believe in all my years I've ever coached a kid that plays as hard as her every possession, every time down the court."
Blair said he's had good experiences coaching players from Oklahoma, including two at Arkansas Wendi Willits of Fort Cobb-Broxton, who played briefly in the WNBA, and Kamara Stancle of Muskogee, a member of the Razorbacks' 1998 Final Four team.
"This is one of the most underrated coaching states in the country," Blair said. " It's a very good state for basketball and I will always recruit this state."
FRIENDLY CONFINES?:@ After being responsible for knocking Oklahoma out of the tournament, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw outlined the Irish's plan to make sure they have support in Oklahoma City.
"We're combing the state for Catholics right now," McGraw said. "Fill up the arena and get all the Catholic kids out here. We're really hoping the people come out. I plan on wearing red and hope the people will cheer for us."
McGraw's team practiced at Bishop McGuinness High School, a Catholic school that also calls its teams the Fighting Irish. It might help that Tennessee wears orange, although it's a much brighter shade than that of the Sooners' in-state rival, Oklahoma State.
"I figure maybe they'll cheer for us rather than orange," McGraw said.
PROFIT CENTER:@ Blair noted during his news conference that the Aggies are "not up here for the T-shirts that we're going to get as we go. We're going to have to pay $25 for them."
Then he laughed.
"Hey, somebody's making money! What about T-shirts for our teams? We want to buy the T-shirts in Tampa," site of the Final Four.
Blair wasn't kidding about the prices. T-shirts with team logos were on sale for $25 in the Ford Center lobby.
ON THE SAME PAGE:@ Duke senior guard Wanisha Smith said the transition from former coach Gail Goestenkors to current coach Joanne P. McCallie has been reasonably seamless, but not without its bumps.
McCallie, who guided Michigan State to the 2005 NCAA championship game, is in her first season with the Blue Devils. Smith said it took until the middle of the season before the team fully adapted to McCallie's coaching style.
"I think that's normal to have a new team with a new coaching staff and just really knowing what they expect and, you know, just trying to do what they want us to do," Smith said. "I think right now the trust issue is not an issue any more. We're completely comfortable with each and every one of our players and our coaches."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.