Lady Vols raring to go, go, go, 85-50

Exhibition turns out to be rush job

Judging by its final exhibition, Tennessee wants a running start to its women's basketball season.

A bigger, more experienced opponent tried to impose a speed limit on the Lady Vols on Sunday afternoon but succeeded for only about 10 playing minutes.

Love & Basketball barely resembled a speed bump as UT pulled away to an 85-50 victory before a crowd of 11,149 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

UT coach Pat Summitt has been specific with her marching orders and the Lady Vols are doing their double-time best to comply.

"They're really trying to stay in the up-tempo mode,'' Summitt said. "That's what we want to do."

UT took the lead for good at 12-11 with 11:08 left in the first half and bolted to 29-point advantage by the break (42-13) against a team of former collegiate players who reside in Southern California.

Despite some performance lapses, the lead grew to as many as 40 points on two second-half occasions in Tennessee's final tune-up before Saturday's regular-season opener against San Francisco.

Shekinna Stricklen finished with a team-high 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting. She was one of five Lady Vols scoring in double figures. Kelley Cain and Sydney Smallbone each scored 12. Alyssia Brewer scored 11 and Amber Gray added 10.

Brewer grabbed 11 rebounds and Cain 10 as UT built a sizable 54-36 advantage.

The 6-foot-3 Brewer came off the bench to record double-doubles for points and rebounds in both exhibitions.

"What Lyssi Brewer has brought has been solid,'' Summitt said.

Charlee Underwood led the opposition with 16 points.

Sunday's outcome was noteworthy when compared to Love & Basketball's 83-74 loss at Vanderbilt on Friday night. The Commodores, the preseason SEC favorite, led by just three points with 1:57 left.

"I think it's a very interesting selection," Love & Basketball coach Colleen Matsuhara said of the media and coaches both picking Vanderbilt to win the conference. "They are very talented. I think the Lady Vols probably go a little deeper in terms of athleticism and quickness.''

The Lady Vols used those attributes and their size to advance their fast-paced agenda against Matsuhara's team. With redshirt sophomore Cait McMahan resting her surgically repaired right knee, Stricklen and Briana Bass took turns at point guard, combining for 11 of Tennessee's 24 assists and just two of the 16 turnovers.

"I'm really getting comfortable with it,'' said Stricklen, who is new to the position. "I have great teammates. When I'm pushing the ball, they're running the floor. They're open. They're making it easy."

Although Stricklen had five assists, she was a receiver on the game's prettiest play - a behind-the-back pass from Gray for a transition layup during the first-half surge.

"I kind of looked at her and she was looking at me,'' Stricklen said. "I was like 'oh, she's about to do something.' So I was kind of looking for it."

Gray said her decision had a calculated dimension.

"People think it's a fancy pass but at that time it was the easiest pass to make,'' she said. "If you have someone running side by side the (defender) can't stop. It was something I practiced all the time in high school."

Bass' vapor trail was conspicuous in the second half as she pushing the basketball up the floor. The 5-2 freshman recorded five of her six assists in the final 20 minutes. Most of them came on transition plays.

"I believe she's faster than (Shannon) Bobbitt,'' said Summitt, referring to UT's economy-sized point guard of the past two seasons. "She doesn't shoot the ball as well, but she's trying to prove me wrong on that, too.

Bass hit three of Tennessee's eight 3-pointers. Smallbone hit a pair, showing a quicker release than last season.

On the flipside, Brewer committed five of her six turnovers during the second half, contributing to UT's intermittent lulls. Fellow freshman Glory Johnson, meanwhile, was topping off a 2-for-11 shooting effort. At times, Tennessee was hurt by deploying an all-freshman lineup.

Senior forward Alex Fuller was missed. She took a blow to her upper body early in the second half and had to be helped off the court. She finished the game as a spectator on the bench.

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Comments » 11

piledriver writes:

Pat's doin' it again! She's amazing. No need to ask her "what've you done for me lately." She shoots down Strange's fb theory: "Longevity equals hotter seats."

ladivolfan writes:

Thank Goodness It's Basketball Season!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

What!

Pat didn't talk about "love" and "family".

She went out and won. Her mentored charges played, competed and learned.

What a concept.

Hit another raccoon. you are the bomb!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

Sigh.
we don't know squat yet. We WON'T know until we hit some disciplined, athletic, half-court teams. We'll play some teams with stellar D. Finally, we will be in some close, tight games.

I'm anxious for the season, but I'm telling you this: I do indeed plan on cutting CPS some slack when we don't do so hto at times.

My feel is still for a rough season, with a strong finishing kick. No NC, but a scary team to face.

MassVol writes:

Mparker, I agree with a lot of what you are saying except that I do believe these ladies have the talent to win a NC. Like I said on another post, these girls are scary good. The thing I noticed the most is that almost all of the freshman are super athletic and can play multiple positions. Another plus is that they all RUN!. This may be a quicker team than the three meeks team of 97-98. The Lady Vols are big, athletic, fast, and deep. They are exciting to watch.

ps11824 writes:

[ "I believe she's faster than (Shannon) Bobbitt,'' said Summitt ]

Sounds exciting. If the others can keep up and get in position to do something with that 'no look' pass, we'll have an entertaining season. It's good to hear they are liking the speed-up offense. Seems like that's what the better teams run.

mparker, it's ok to get excited, isn't it, about this very young inexperienced team? It will be very interesting to see how we do against the veteran teams we will indeed meet. In the meantime I'm very excited about Pat's comments on both these practice games.

ps11824 writes:

If allowed to have a concern right now, mine would be the "missing Alex Fuller, lone 5th-year senior, in the stat line. Albeit she got clobbered in this game and sat out the remaining ?, she has not been the topic of any articles I've read thus far. Either she is not taking on the leadership roll I had hoped she would, or I've missed that info somehow. Does anyone know how she is? Was she seriously injured? Has she shown any 'leader by example' qualities in practice or in either of the exhibition games?

BigOrangeVol writes:

The opener should be fun! If the Lady Vols don't win by 50 I'd be surprised.

SFU is coached by Tanya Haave with Abby Conklin as her top assistant. Their tallest player is 6'-1" and they go with a three guard system.

They have three new starters in the line-up with Senior 5'-4" Rollins at the 2 averaging 23 points and 6 boards. Their best player is their 6'-0" Senior Center Simmons who is averaging 17 points and 16 boards. The rest of the starting line-up is their 6'-1" Forward with one year of experience, a 5'-2" Junior JC Point Guard transfer and a true Freshman 5'-8" guard.

Let's show Tanya and Abby some love... pre-game.

ps11824 writes:

Yea, BOV, Abby would be up there in my list of all-time favorite alumna. She was indeed a piece of work. I was always afraid Pat would tear her to shreads at any given moment of a game. I think Abby was too. Never a dull moment when Abby was in a game. She sure could drain the 3 when she was on her game.

xvolx writes:

in response to ps11824:

If allowed to have a concern right now, mine would be the "missing Alex Fuller, lone 5th-year senior, in the stat line. Albeit she got clobbered in this game and sat out the remaining ?, she has not been the topic of any articles I've read thus far. Either she is not taking on the leadership roll I had hoped she would, or I've missed that info somehow. Does anyone know how she is? Was she seriously injured? Has she shown any 'leader by example' qualities in practice or in either of the exhibition games?

fuller too timid and shy for leadership. she is a role player. that suits her personality. cait and bjorkland will assume leadership role. these frosh. like to run and gun. I think Pat likes that. defense needs work. I dont believe they are going to roll over and play dead for anyone.

amcguire01 writes:

I'm excited for this team. These kids already play unselfish basketball. And you know what?... they are not shy about shooting that rock! LOL!!! They might miss, but their giving it a go! LOL!

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