Recruiting typically involves salesmanship. In Tennessee’s case, diplomacy also is a key component this fall.
The Lady Vols are in the midst of a delicate undertaking, one that play out for another four weeks as they try to fill the lone remaining scholarship available for next season.
While considering the fallout from Alyssia Brewer’s Achilles tendon surgery last Friday, fellow Lady Vol Glory Johnson came to mind.
Thought of her again Wednesday afternoon while watching Johnson and her Tennessee teammates soldier through a women’s basketball conditioning workout, pushing shopping carts and flipping 300-pound tires. At times, Johnson didn’t look like she was breathing hard. And she was working as hard or harder than anyone.
The 6-foot-3 forward is simply too athletic and physically capable not to take advantage of this opportunity. I haven’t seen enough basketball yet to determine how much her skills have improved. But I do know that she’s healthy. And she’s a junior, so her sense of urgency ought to be rising to the occasion.
The Lady Vols are considering a faster pace and utilizing more pressure defense this season. No Lady Vol is better suited for that strategy than Johnson.
I’ve had an inaugural blog entry ready for more than week discussing the depth of this Tennessee women’s basketball roster. Alyssia Brewer’s Achilles’ tendon surgery Friday put me in rewrite mode but didn’t inspire revisionist thinking.
A typical Tennessee roster runs about 11 players deep so having 13 still amounts to a luxury. Brewer’s absence, though, calls attention to the medical history of Tennessee’s other post players. Brewer was coming into this season with a clean sheet while Vicki Baugh, Kelley Cain and Faith Dupree were not.
With that in mind, it’s worthwhile for the Lady Vols to experiment with their guards and wings in the preseason. Alicia Manning rebounds like a post player anyway. While Shekinna Stricklen and Taber Spani are sharpshooters they might be better suited for interior defense. And forward Glory Johnson still looks like their best option as a perimeter ball hawker.
Freshman guard Meighan Simmons already has demonstrated an explosive first step and skills that should translate to both offense and defense. If she hasn’t gotten fellow guard Kamiko Williams’ attention by now then the sophomore risks the consequences. Even without Brewer, there’s still a lot of players and only so many playing minutes to go around.