Monthly Archives: November 2014

Lady Vols leftovers

Some leftovers from Tennessee’s 67-63 loss at Chattanooga Wednesday night:
— Chattanooga freshman Keiana Gilbert’s 27 points were 10 more than her previous high. Her performance recalled LSU’s Danielle Ballard, a guard with a similar scoring resume who torched Tennessee for a career-high 25 last season.

“That’s what we do,” UT coach Holly Warlick said sarcastically after Wednesday’s loss. “We give everyone the opportunity to get a career high and she took advantage of it. She was outstanding.”

Gilbert hit 11 of 19 shots and grabbed five rebounds while playing the full 40 minutes.

Chattanooga coach Jim Foster described Gilbert as “gifted.”

— Tennessee’s 16-point halftime deficit (37-21) was its biggest since trailing Baylor by 25 on Dec. 18 2012.

— Tennessee’s 37.7 percent shooting from the floor was a season low. The guards shot a combined 8 for 26 (30.7 percent).

— After missing three games with a mild concussion, Jasmine Jones scored 16 of her career-high 19 points in the second half. But the junior forward missed UT’s final shot at tying the score, missing everything on a pull-up jumper off the dribble with five seconds left. Warlick indicated there was an option on the play to feed Bashaara Graves.

“The plan was for me to drive but I took a bad shot,” Jones said.


Who’s starting

Tennessee utilized its third different starting lineup of the women’s basketball season Monday night. Wouldn’t be surprised if No. 4 reports for the opening tip Wednesday night at Chattanooga.

Given the glut of early season punishments and injuries, the uncertainty doesn’t rise to the level of concern — not yet anyway.

But the situation bears watching, particularly after the Lady Vols needed more than 10 minutes Monday night to take their first lead against Tennessee State. Wasn’t a problem against the overmatched Tigers, as evidenced by the 97-46 final. But Chattanooga will present more of challenge. The degree of difficulty will rise further at Texas on Sunday.

What to watch going forward:

— Tennessee’s commitment to its pressure defense: Is this a 40-minute strategy or will UT be more selective in its deployment? The consideration will have a bearing on the process.

— Jordan Reynolds: UT coach Holly Warlick values the sophomore guard’s knack for pushing tempo and has started her all four games. Her 5-foot-11 size and athleticism are ideal for pressing.  To date, she has 23 assists and six turnovers. But she’s also shooting 26.3 percent from the floor and averaging just 4.5 points per game.

—  Does Tennessee start two guards or three? How devoted UT is to pressing factors into this determination. So does rebounding and shooting. Both have been streaky so far this season.

— Do personalities come into play?  There’s been no evidence of that to date. Rather than starts, a bigger problem might be spreading the playing minutes throughout a deep roster. However, Warlick considers that to be a good problem.



More about Warlick

Tennessee women’s basketball assistant coach Jolette Law has more in common with her boss, Holly Warlick, than just a resume.

Along with having experience as both an assistant and a head coach, Law also shares similar personality traits, ones which don’t transfer easily when a coach slides over one seat on the team bench.

As an assistant for 12 seasons at Rutgers on C. Vivian Stringer’s staff, Law said she played the role of “the buffer” which was comparable to Warlick’s role as an assistant to Pat Summitt. But as a head coach, Law said there’s little choice but to become “the hammer.”

“She’s the one that made everything feel good, made the kids feel good,” Law said of Warlick. “Now as the head coach, you have to have the last say.”


Unusual but not unprecedented

Tennessee suspended four players on Wednesday for a violation of team rules pertaining to academics.

While such disciplinary action was unusual, it wasn’t unprecedented.

Four Lady Vols were disciplined to start the 2000-01 season. The punishment was staggered across one exhibition game and three regular-season games. Gwen Jackson sat out the exhibition, Michelle Snow missed the season opener and Shalon Pillow missed the first three regular-season games all for violation of team policy.

Someone in arena dining was winking and nodding these three through the check-out line. Apparently some benefited more than others.

Semeka Randall, meanwhile, already was on the books for missing class the previous season. Her punishment was missing a two-game trip to Maui. Ouch.

“Everyone knows team policy,” then-head coach Pat Summitt said. “Everyone knows the rules. If they don’t abide by them, they’ll sit.”

There was an echo in head coach Holly Warlick’s explanation last Wednesday of her disciplinary action.

There’s another likely correlation as well. Like before, the latest punishment reflects a firm hand but not necessarily an eagle eye.

Assistant coach Dean Lockwood compared last week’s discipline to getting caught speeding.

“I’ve probably speeded more times than I’ve been caught,” he said during an interview on the News Sentinel’s Sports Page radio show.

Lockwood described the system in place in the following manner: “It’s one of those things. We’re not saying it’s 100 percent fail-proof but we do check.”

Based on my 26 years of covering this program, that assessment isn’t unprecedented either.




A gamble worth taking

With women’s basketball season at hand, a ticket promotion being offered by Tennessee this season ought to be of great interest to Lady Vols fans.

Fans may purchase a “Big Orange Ticket” for any game for $30. If the Lady Vols win that game, fans receive a ticket to the next home game. Fans will keep getting tickets for subsequent games until a home loss occurs.

When you consider the Lady Vols’ .932 winning percentage at Thompson-Boling Arena, a Big Orange ticket could turn into several tickets.

“In creating the mini-plans for the upcoming season, we wanted to improve the fan experience and reward Vol Nation for their support,” said Jimmy Delaney, UT’s assistant athletic director for sales & marketing.

The Coke Six Pack includes games against Stanford, Texas A&M, LSU, Georgia, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Lower level seats for any three of four holiday games (Wichita State, Stanford, Oregon State and Missouri) are available for $45.

For games against Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State and Oregon State, fans may purchase four tickets and four $8 concession vouchers for $60.