Freshmen take over for Lady Vols in opener, 68-30

Tennessee's Alyssia Brewer looks for a shot under pressure from San Francisco's Katy Keating during the first regular season game at Thompson Boling Arena on Saturday. The Lady Vols won the game 68-39.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee's Alyssia Brewer looks for a shot under pressure from San Francisco's Katy Keating during the first regular season game at Thompson Boling Arena on Saturday. The Lady Vols won the game 68-39.

The stat sheet told Pat Summitt to pitch a fit, but Tennessee’s women’s basketball coach knew better.

The Lady Vols’ demeanor suggested otherwise, and Summitt responded accordingly when she entered the locker room at halftime of Saturday afternoon’s regular season opener versus San Francisco.

“That’s the calmest I’ve ever been in 35 years,’’ she said. “and the reason was because they were so uptight.”

After the soothing break, the Lady Vols transformed a jittery eight-point lead into a 68-39 victory before a crowd of 13,400 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Former Webb School star Glory Johnson led No. 7 Tennessee with 17 points. The freshman and senior Alex Fuller shared rebounding honors with 12 in helping the Lady Vols build a 64-41 edge.

Freshman Shekinna Stricklen was Tennessee’s other double-figure scorer with 12 points. She and classmate Briana Bass each recorded a team-high four assists.

Shay Rollins led San Francisco with 17 points.

The Lady Vols’ collective anxiety was exacerbated by the pregame banner-raising ceremony to commemorate last season’s national championship. The festivities revved the crowd, particularly the presence of Final Four MVP Candace Parker. Summitt imagined what was going through the freshmen’s minds.

“I’m sure they were thinking ‘that’s what we’re supposed to do’ all the freshmen had to be thinking that,’’ Summitt said.

“There’s no way they’re going to do it right now. So relax.”

Easier said than done, as evidenced by an opening 20 minutes of rushed shots and tentative play. By comparison, San Francisco looked cool and collected, hanging within 32-24 despite shooting 25.7 percent from the floor (9 for 35).

“I thought that for the first half, we really competed with them and that was our goal — to compete with this team,’’ said San Francisco coach Tanya Haave, a former Lady Vol.

Rollins, a 5-foot-4 senior guard, scored 11 of her points before the break, stirring a small group of San Francisco fans that included her brother Jimmy, the All-Star shortstop of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

The Lady Vols prevailed with their size and athleticism. The 6-3 Johnson combined both attributes in shooting 7 for 11 from the floor. Five of her baskets came from close range, which was a sharp contrast to the jump-shot infatuation that resulted in 2-for-11 shooting last Sunday during the final exhibition game.

“I learned that I’ve got a lot more work to do on my outside game,’’ Johnson said. “I have a lot to work on.”

Stricklen, meanwhile, draped her 6-2 wingspan over Rollins, who shot 1 for 13 after the break.

“I’m just 5-4, so to have somebody that big on me means that I have to work extra hard to get open and get off of screens,’’ Rollins said. “So by the time I get an open shot, I’m tired.”

The only problem Summitt had with Stricklen’s hustle was her tumbling over a row of courtside seats to save a loose ball. A similar maneuver during a preseason practice resulted in an injured elbow.

Summitt said a “three-peat” was allowable under just one condition.

“I said unless we’re in the national championship game and that could be the difference,” she said.

Stricklen pleaded her case by saying, “I thought I was pushed. I’m not sure. I tried to stop. I saw this little girl. I feel kind of bad because I hit the little girl. But I’m O.K.”

So was the young fan, who was hugged by Stricklen and attended to by UT athletic trainer Jenny Moshak, who fetched her an autograph from Parker.

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Comments » 30

thevoice writes:

Does Pat have a cousin who can coach football? Way to go Vols. Looking for a fun season.

coach75 writes:

wow i get to be first.

TooLegit2Quit writes:

16 Games away from 1000!

tnbigg writes:

Way to go Lady Vols! Way to go coach! Just reload and fire away! The sign of a GREAT coach!

blitzshoot writes:

Orange fire to begin the second half. Congrats Ladies.

jr2miles writes:

Good game ladies. Let make it 9 in 09. Team played much better in the second half. Go Lady Vols!!!!!!!

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

GREATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

ps11824 writes:

Oh my goodness! There is some awesome talent on this team. Albeit they are damp behind the ears and way over-anxious, they seem tough as nails and even with their lack of conditioning glaring, they really got after it in the 2nd half today. Bass was extremely impressive, I thought. She won't be backing down from anyone. this Glory Johnson can jump out of the arena and Stricklin is bound for greatness. The little pg is even faster than Bobbitt. Can you believe it? She has a decent handle too. The upper classmen, and that's a stretch to call them such, including 5th-year senior and Cait will be challenged for pt by the rookies.

utvolz#637682 writes:

in response to coach75:

wow i get to be first.

Now don't you feel stupid?

The first half wasn't pretty, but they obviously got some "coaching" in the locker room at half time. Way to go Lady Vols!

These youngsters just need some time to find their way.....

tnbigg writes:

in response to utvolz#637682:

Now don't you feel stupid?

The first half wasn't pretty, but they obviously got some "coaching" in the locker room at half time. Way to go Lady Vols!

These youngsters just need some time to find their way.....

Agree. These ladies are their own team...they are not in any way a reflection of any other previous Lady Vol team...but they have the potential...under the great leadership of Coach Summit to establish their own identity and win big in their own way. They have the potential to bring home several more Championships...including National Championships. They are clearly coachable...

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to coach75:

wow i get to be first.

certainly the first to look like a 12 year old

VOLMAN40 writes:

in response to yabadabadoo1026:

certainly the first to look like a 12 year old

so says "yabadabadoo", obviously much older and more mature at 13, who is taking a break from watching the cartoon network to post

ps11824 writes:

The climb will definitely be a bit steeper and the air much thinner Monday night when the 1-0 Lady Vols meet the #15 Virginia Caveliers coming off a 30-point win over High Point. UVA (1-0) forced their opponent into 37 turnovers, 20 in the first half, and grabbed 20 steals in their season debut. Pat Summitt's team will find little time for tired legs and other body parts to rest up. The positive aspect being, Pat had them prepped by working them 3+ hours silly on Thursday prior to today's opener against USF. The obvious negative, Lady Vols were sucking wind before the first half clock ran down. That's what I'd call a quick turnaround. Pat probably called it a lack of conditioning. "Tomorrow we'll look at film" Coach said in a post-game interview. Perhaps the team breathed a sigh of relief.

Debbie Ryan will be starting a couple of freshmen Caveliers, Arianna Moorer who lead her team in points with 19, followed by rookie, Monica Wright with a 16-point outing in her first college game. All 5 starters scored in double figures for the Cavs who sat out starting senior Lyndra Littles who will miss the entire Fall Semester's games due to academic reasons.

A win against UVA could give this Lady Vol team a great deal of confidence getting their feet wet against a veteran coach. There's a ton of history with Virginia as seasoned Lady Vols fans know. The ACC is a tough conference.

I don't want to be premature with my enthusiasm, but I have a good feeling about this group of freshmen. I just wish Baugh, Bjorkland and Cain could get a good-to-go green light. We really need some veteran leadership on that court, especially from Cait and Baugh. I don't see nearly enough improvement in Fuller. She still looks timid to me. Unfortunately for Angie, a bulging disc is not a quick-fix injury, she may have a very aggravating season. I'm trusting Jenny Moshak to do the make call.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

my take from far away....
--Fuller's minutes are wasted; she needs to be coming off the bench.
-Why did Amber Gray play so little??
-LOTS of turnovers....to be expected.
-As a comparison, the LV's from last year probably put up a 100 spot on USF team.

Pat won't say it too loudly, but she has a TON of work to do to get all this to mesh. I can't wait to actually get to SEE them instead of just reading about it.

Thanks to those who post, like 98reaus, with first-hand reports. I love that stuff.

miatatom writes:

Stricklen and Johnson are a force! This is going to be fun watching this bunch of ladies get better.

dopedawg writes:

Way to go ladies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

xvolx writes:

they are young and excited. definately not in condition. trying to learn how to play together. right now I cant see them beating virginia without cain, bjorkland and baugh. just keep working and learning. plenty of potential here.

ps11824 writes:

mparker, I was just thinking the same thing about Brewer's PT. She had 8 points and 9 rebounds in just 17 minutes. She is tough as nails. She was tenatious on the boards. She reminds me of an 'Anosike-type' baller. If she gets position, nobody's going to push her off her spot without a battle. I think when Pat takes a look at game film tomorrow she will be wandering why Alyssa B was not on the court more than 17 minutes.

Fuller, on the other hand seemed unsure of her place, hesitant with the ball. She had 5 turnovers and only 4 points. She did have 12 boards which was her saving grace. Alex seems more comfortable as a turn around shooter off the block, not a playmaker.

Pat did a masterful job in the locker room making the young'uns feel at ease. They came out second half playground loose but determined.

tenncorncob writes:

in response to coach75:

wow i get to be first.

actually, second Coach...lol...

johnlg00 writes:

in response to xvolx:

they are young and excited. definately not in condition. trying to learn how to play together. right now I cant see them beating virginia without cain, bjorkland and baugh. just keep working and learning. plenty of potential here.

Tired after a 3 1/2-hour practice a day and a half before doesn't necessarily equal "not in condition" to me. They started out hyper and tight after the banner-raising before the biggest crowd most of them had ever seen, as players, in their first real game together without the two most-experienced members of the team even in uniform. Given all that, I thought they played amazingly well. Johnson and Stricklen are scary good. McMahon and Smallbone looked better than I thought they would. No doubt they have plenty to work on and will probably drop one here and there all year, but they looked a LOT better than I feared. JMHO.

xvolx writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Tired after a 3 1/2-hour practice a day and a half before doesn't necessarily equal "not in condition" to me. They started out hyper and tight after the banner-raising before the biggest crowd most of them had ever seen, as players, in their first real game together without the two most-experienced members of the team even in uniform. Given all that, I thought they played amazingly well. Johnson and Stricklen are scary good. McMahon and Smallbone looked better than I thought they would. No doubt they have plenty to work on and will probably drop one here and there all year, but they looked a LOT better than I feared. JMHO.

they are just 18 years old. It takes time to get game conditioned. they'll be alright. pat will get them ready for post season. I see them reaching the sweet 16. I would take a nc; thats not realistic.

BigOrangeVol writes:

Much love and props to Tanya and Abby but this was USF after all. I didn't see Bill Russell out on the floor for the Dons either.

tenn32rebel writes:

98reax & mparker: Yes, Brewer's conditioning in not what it should be yet. She wore out quickly because the SFU post was a big, strong girl who really pounded Lyssi on both ends of the floor. The refs let them "play rough" in the paint.

Plus, Lyssi took the ball coast-to-coast on two different occasions. That really winded her. I'm not sure that she really recovered from those two possessions.

She should have had her double-double tonight. A missed lay-up would have given her ten points and she lost 2-3 rebounds by hairs. Clearly, she should have posted another double-double.

The next game will be interesting for Lyssi if Cain is cleared to play like Pat thinks she will. So far, Lyssi has been very consistent. She only had two TOs tonight compared to five the last game.

Caspian writes:

in response to xvolx:

they are just 18 years old. It takes time to get game conditioned. they'll be alright. pat will get them ready for post season. I see them reaching the sweet 16. I would take a nc; thats not realistic.

An NC - not realistic? BS. Good thing you're not their coach.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to thevoice:

Does Pat have a cousin who can coach football? Way to go Vols. Looking for a fun season.

Don't be insulting to your Coach Fulmer, maybe if we'd been on the same page with him more, maybe he'd won a couple when he needed to. It's fans like you i worry about, running your mouth just to get some attention. Well, I guess you succeeded!

ps11824 writes:

John, you are so right about the hype of the pregame and the 1st big game tension coming into play. I noticed how winded they were after only a few trips up the floor. Shucks, I was winded just sitting in my seat, holding my breath for what the team would look like on gameday. I was pleasantly surprised, however. The fact that they settled down and played pretty smart team ball in second half was reassuring.

Bass showed no signs of wear and tear. She is as quick as lightening. If the bigs are going to run with her they will need to be in tip top shape. One thing's for sure, she'll look up and see Glory. That girl has jets.

It was great to finally see Pat's team in action and I'm looking forward to seeing Virginia at TBA Monday night. The LVs will rest up today and tomorrow, look at film and realize they were running on tight legs and tighter nerves against USF. I bet we will see a more relaxed team come out against the Caveliers.

xvolx writes:

in response to Caspian:

An NC - not realistic? BS. Good thing you're not their coach.

when pat was asked at media days, can this team win a nc. she replied realisticly, no.

adimatteo#261830 writes:

Some of you all need to stop raising the bar a little too much, great program, great coach, great class,but still freshman, will be growing pains and lots of learning.
That is what makes Coach the best, she knows what to do and when to do it. Ive said it before, people crticize her for her rants, but everyhting is calculated, she is always in control. What always amazes me is that Coach Summitt always looks the calmest when the team is down, rather than being nervous, she calmly figures out what needs to be done.
May be a rocky year, may do better than planned or worse, but great team, great group and great team coming, remember they are freshman, lets continue to enjoy the ride as we have for so long with the top notch program and coaching staff...and lets not forget we just won two back to back championships...
Go ladyVols, enjoy your time here

Caspian writes:

in response to xvolx:

when pat was asked at media days, can this team win a nc. she replied realisticly, no.

Which is exactly what she should be saying. Freshmen don't need the additional pressure of their coach promising an NC. They need some room to develop. What a coach SAYS (especially to the press) and what they really BELIEVE are often two different things. Is it possible for them to win another one this year? Yes.

xvolx writes:

in response to Caspian:

Which is exactly what she should be saying. Freshmen don't need the additional pressure of their coach promising an NC. They need some room to develop. What a coach SAYS (especially to the press) and what they really BELIEVE are often two different things. Is it possible for them to win another one this year? Yes.

I think we are both on the same side here. all these girls are very talented. remember, candice didnt win a nc her first year.

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