Tennessee and Texas began their women’s basketball series in 1978. The schools dip into the same recruiting pool for most of their players.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick thinks the familiarity will impact preparation for Sunday’s latest meeting, most likely in a constructive manner for the Lady Vols.
At the very least, the scouting report should be easier to grasp.
“I think our kids probably understand Texas a little bit more than they do Albany and Syracuse,” said Warlick, referring to two of Tennessee’s recent opponents. “We see them a lot on TV, not that our kids didn’t respect the teams that we played. It is just a different style. I think they understand the sense of urgency to get ready for Texas. A lot of their friends are on that team. I just think they are more familiar with who is on that team and its style of play.”
Te’a Cooper didn’t know how to make an entrance Sunday afternoon. Or at least she didn’t know enough to feel totally comfortable.
Tennessee’s freshman guard said she wasn’t prepared for the elaborate introduction ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena, which features players running through flashing lights and smoke onto the court.
“That was probably when I was the most nervous,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting all the smoke and stuff.”
It didn’t show then or ever against Central Arkansas. She looked well-rehearsed for her women’s basketball debut at UT with 22 points, six assists and four steals. She even managed 36 playing minutes without apparent difficulty, despite having what UT coach Holly Warlick has described as a “banged-up” right knee.
There was a lot to like about Tennessee’s performance in Sunday’s 102-47 victory. A freshman who didn’t play like a freshman was high on the list.
“She didn’t play like I thought she would come in and play,” Central Arkansas guard Brianna Mullins said. “She didn’t play timid. She was scoring and her defense was amazing.”