With one word Briana Bass expressed her greater sense of urgency loud and clear.
The Tennessee Lady Vol was running down her check list of things to do as Tennessee’s point guard when added this addenum: “And knock down my freakin shot.”
Even though she was wearing the usual post-practice bags of ice taped to her surgically repaired knees, Bass still was hot about a missed opener during the workout.
Maybe Bass can get away with the juicy slang in a blog. Hope so. Because she can’t get away with anything less than the mentality behind it.
The 5-foot-2 junior is getting another shot as a backup. It might be her last good shot so she can’t afford to miss, whether it’s a jumper or anything else involved with playing point.
The Lady Vols are rounding up help for starter Shekinna Stricklen. Freshmen Lauren Avant and Meighan Simmons are promising but aren’t yet up to speed. UT coach Pat Summitt doesn’t sound as if she trusts Kamiko Williams to play the position and is talking about the sophomore guard more as a wing.
Meanwhile, Bass has never looked more confident or capable through the early stages of preseason practice.
“She has really stepped up,” Stricklen said. “She’s playing that spot better than anyone right now. She’s so confident. She’s seeing the whole court and she’s talking more. She’s getting people open. That’s what a point guard is supposed to do and she’s doing it well.”
Tennessee’s intention to play a faster tempo is in Bass’ favor, provided the offseason work she put into her shooting pays off better than the 26.2 percent accuracy of last season (27.2 percent on 3 pointers). Otherwise her stature works against her and she risks the coaches again turning to other, bigger options.
“Go out and play hard, that’s all you can do,” Bass said. “You can’t control what somebody else is going to do as far as the coach. Go out and play hard.”
Hold that check list close. If necessary, hold your tongue, too.