Despite losing five straight to Notre Dame, Tennessee’s women’s basketball series with the Fighting Irish delivers in terms of national exposure. The Lady Vols can’t take that for granted, particularly since they haven’t been to a Final Four since 2008.
Furthermore, it exposes them to a style of play not common in the SEC. As tough as it is to shoehorn a nonconference game into January, this sort of game might be more beneficial then.
“If we are going to play somebody outside of our conference in the middle of the conference season, we want it to be somebody that is going to help us get better,” UT coach Holly Warlick said, “and I think that Notre Dame exposes some things that we need to get better at, like they did (Monday).”
The teams will play again next season at Notre Dame. I’m not sure when, however.
A few other thoughts:
— Forward Jasmine Jones, who’s sidelined while recovering from concussion-like symptoms, was missed on Monday. Her 6-foot-2 size and athleticism would’ve been helpful in guarding Notre Dame’s backcourt.
— Tennessee has been outrebounded in three consecutive games. Notre Dame overcame a five-rebound deficit at halftime Monday to finish with a 36-34 advantage. Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw thought it was the difference in the game. That’s all that needs to be said about the significance of this trend.