Right on schedule

Tennesse currently is ranked No. 2  in RPI and its women’s basketball schedule is rated 10th, per the NCAA. The schedule is ranked ninth by RealTime RPI.

The resume reflects the Lady Vols’ 14-2 record (which includes three victories over top 10 opponents) and 10-game winning streak. It also refutes my thought that their early season schedule might be too soft.

I wondered whether six preseason games against Penn, Oral Roberts, Winthrop, Tennessee State, Saint Francis and Lipscomb was perhaps two or three too many to gird Tennessee for the rest of its schedule. As the season has played out, the bigger issue was center Isabelle Harrison missing five games with a sprained knee and needing at least two more to begin rounding into form. Her absence was a factor in losses to Chattanooga and Texas.

The Lady Vols didn’t suffer for playing so many overmatched foes because they didn’t develop bad habits. Against a similar schedule last season, they committed too many turnovers and didn’t play hard enough on defense. Those issues lingered throughout the season and played a huge part in their NCAA regional exit against Maryland.

This season, a recent dip in offensive efficiency was reversed in the past two games, during which Tennessee recorded 37 assists while committing 19 turnovers. The Lady Vols had reason to grumble about their defense against Arkansas yet they surrendered just 51 points.