Monthly Archives: September 2013

A welcoming attitude

Since she’s been at Tennessee, Cierra Burdick has seen her share of change.

First, longtime assistant Holly Warlick replaced coaching legend Pat Summitt as head coach. Since then, strength and conditioning coach Heather Mason has been relieved of her duties and athletic trainer Jenny Moshak suddenly retired this summer.

While the names, faces and roles change, Burdick’s attitude remains steadfast.

“I love every person that has come through this program,” the junior forward said.

Lee Taylor represents the latest change, replacing Mason this summer as the Lady Vols’ strength and conditioning coach.

“Obviously when you get somebody new, you have to welcome them in with open arms,” Burdick said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do with coach Lee. He’s done a fabulous job with getting us in here and getting us motivated and determined.”

Regarding recruiting:

Along with visiting Class of 2014 prospect Jatarie White, Tennessee’s coaches also are believed to have made in-home visits this week to three 2015 recruits: Point guard Asia Durr (Douglasville, Ga.), Wing Napheesa Collier (St. Louis) and guard Danni Williams (Clovis, N.M.).

Guard Gabby Green from Oakland is scheduled to make an official visit the weekend of Oct. 5, joining White, forward Alexis Jennings and guard Alexa Middleton.






Recruiting, rankings and other things

Tennessee’s coaches have hit the road, making in-home visits with women’s basketball recruits.
Following a social media trail of tweets and instagram photos, the Lady Vols coaches apparently began on the West Coast, where they visited wing Jaime Nared in Portland, Ore., and guard Gabby Green in Oakland, Calif. Forward Kortney Dunbar of Edwardsville, Ill., who committed to the Lady Vols last week, said the coaches would visit her on Friday.
Meanwhile, center Jatarie White and guard Alexa Middleton, who also has committed to UT, will make their official campus visits on the weekend of Oct. 5. Forwards A’ja Wilson and Alexis Jennings might visit that weekend, too.
In other items:
— Lindy’s preseason Top 25 is out and Tennessee is ranked sixth. Defending national champion Connecticut is No. 1, followed by Duke, California, Notre Dame and Stanford. Louisville, which beat UT 86-78 in the Oklahoma City Regional final last season, is No. 8. Other SEC teams in the rankings are Kentucky (No. 7), South Carolina (No. 13), Georgia (No. 19), Texas A&M (No. 21) and LSU (No. 24).
— UT head coach emeritus Pat Summitt announced via Twitter that she has undergone ankle surgery. “All went well! Will miss walks w/dogs for next little bit. Motivated to get well soon!” Summitt said in her tweet.
— Tennessee forward Cierra Burdick is recruiting UT student-athletes to join a campus “Dream Team.” “Dream” is an acronym for “Daring to role model excellence as an athletic mentor.” Burdick joined a team while attending Butler High in Matthews, N.C.. She pledged like the other members to not use drugs, alcohol or tobacco products and be role models for other youth. She said last May that joining the team “was the best thing I could’ve ever done.”
— Will be writing about Lady Vols senior guard Meighan Simmons for Sunday’s editions of the News Sentinel and Talked to her younger brother, Ryan, who’s a sophomore linebacker at Oklahoma State. He had an interesting take on the scrutiny he receives, compared to his sister.
— Next week will write about new strength & conditioning coach Lee Taylor. Several players have commented on his intensity and how he regularly pushes them out of their comfort zone. Burdick offered this gem; “He even said it himself (last Wednesday) that he’s got to be a butthole. So we’re expecting his buttholeness.”

Tradition still sells

Tennessee looks awfully familiar to Kortney Dunbar.

That explains why the Lady Vols needed just two months of recruiting and an official visit last weekend to secure a commitment from the 6-foot-2 wing from Edwardsville, Ill.

“Tennessee has always been a great school for tradition,” Dunbar said. “I’ve always been a big fan of their basketball.”

Dunbar’s perspective shouldn’t be taken for granted. Tennessee  is entering its second season in the post-Pat Summitt coaching era. Furthermore, five seasons have passed since the Lady Vols’ last trip to the Final Four.

No matter, Dunbar still thinks UT is a good place to chase championship dreams. She believes in head coach Holly Warlick and her experience as a player and long-time Lady Vols assistant under Summitt. And she looks forward to playing in front of a fan base that continues to keep the program No. 1 in attendance.

She chose Tennessee over Baylor and Louisville — two programs that knocked the Lady Vols out of the NCAA tournament that last two seasons, respectively.

“I just feel like Tennessee is going to be Tennessee,” she said.

I will be writing more about Dunbar in Sunday’s News Sentinel and at

Tennessee needs a few more recruits to feel the same way as Dunbar. The Lady Vols are believed to still be recruiting the following players:

A’ja Wilson, 6-4, F, Hopkins, S.C.; Gabby Green, 6-1, G, Oakland; Jatarie White, 6-4, C, Charlotte; Jaime Nared, 6-1, W, Portland, Ore.; Kia Nurse, 6-0, W, Hamilton, Ont., Alexis Jennings 6-2, F, Madison, Ala.

Wilson, Green, White and Nared all are ranked among the top 13 prospects in the Class of 2014 by ESPN HoopGurlz. Wilson is ranked No. 1. She’s not expected to make her choice until spring.

— Former Lady Vol Taber Spani is playing overseas for a team in the Polish city of Gorzow Wielopolski.