During preseason workouts, Tennessee's six women's basketball freshmen have been dangling their toes in the practice waters, getting accustomed to the feeling.
Come Friday night, they will take a deep breath and dive in head-first.
With the start of official practice, they're bound for deeper water. If anything, the presence of so many new faces ought to enhance the experience.
Enhance? Hmmmm. "Intensify" might be a better word choice.
"It's a lot more teaching, that's the biggest thing,'' Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said. "Any time you bring in young players, it's difficult to speed up the action of what you want to cover and accomplish in practice."
More teaching usually means more practice.
All the more reason to ensure the freshmen are fully aware of the situation.
Redshirt sophomore guard Cait McMahan said a team meeting was in the works. The returnees were planning to brief the rookies on what to expect beginning Friday.
"I know when I was a freshman I had jitters,'' McMahan said. "No matter what, you're going to have jitters. But they were recruited here for a reason and that reason was not to back down."
Yours truly has watched enough workouts in 20 years - and I am watching, not daydreaming - to offer a few suggestions as well. Getting from drill to drill and day to day is more about attitude than anything:
n Play through it: During one preseason scrimmage at Thompson-Boling Arena, some freshmen were hanging their heads over missed shots or errant passes.
Bad idea. Not the misses or the turnovers, those are bound to happen. The head-hanging, no matter how brief, is the big no-no.
Moments of frustration are common, particularly with eager-to-please new players who were the primary providers for their high school teams.
The circumstances have changed, however. The roster is full of providers.
When in despair, heading up the floor and on to the next possession is a better plan.
n Sounds worse than it is: Sooner or later, a freshman will get an earful from Summitt.
Hearing from her in a loud and forceful manner is a given. Hearing from one of your more experienced teammates is not.
The veteran players must be vigilant in making the rounds, explaining and encouraging. Some helpful reminders about proper etiquette also are worthwhile. At the sound of Summitt thunder, look her in the eye and don't argue.
She has the floor. Why else would they name the arena court after her. Wonder if you could sell a freshman on that logic?
n Little things are big: Over the years, I occasionally have offered a one-word bit of practice advice to incoming players: Talk.
The returning blank stares have discouraged this practice. What's the use. Better they hear it from one of their own.
Freshman point guard Briana Bass did. Former point guard Shannon Bobbitt left her with these pearls of wisdom:
"She told me to always ask questions if I'm unsure of stuff and be a leader on the court."
Doesn't sound like much. But those suggestions are priceless. They're basic, like a good pass or a solid screen.
My point about talking conveyed the same message. Communication enhances teamwork and is an essential of good defense.
OK, what I really was thinking is that Summitt loves the chatter, so you'll score points with her.
Hey, that's big, too.
n You're not alone: A freshman ought to write these words on her basketball shoes or tape them to the inside of her locker.
There will be bad days. They happen to everyone. The sooner a player realizes it, the better.
Turn to teammates and, likewise, be accessible to others.
Don't make this a lonely experience. You're in good company.
Dan Fleser covers Lady Vols basketball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.