While Tennessee is playing catch-up in its women's basketball recruitment of guard Bria Hartley, the Lady Vols are in the game.
That's the opinion of Mike Petre, Hartley's coach at North Babylon (N.Y.) High School.
"Anytime Tennessee and Pat Summitt are calling, it's at least worth a listen,'' Petre said. "I know that she was positive about them."
Hartley, a 5-foot-9 scoring point guard was a second-team Parade All-American this spring and is ranked No. 14 on the ESPNU HoopGurlz 100. Petre describes her as having a full complement of athleticism, skills and basketball IQ.
"She has the confidence and game to help anyone when she steps on campus,'' Petre said.
Tennessee has been looking for another player to join guard Lauren Avant of Memphis Lausanne Collegiate School in this fall's signing class. A scholarship was freed up after guard Cait McMahan stopped playing last season because of persistent knee problems. The Lady Vols were interested in forward Haley Peters (Hightstown, N.J.) but she committed to Duke earlier this summer.
Petre said that Tennessee's coaches all have spoken with Hartley via conference call and coach Pat Summitt has spoken with Hartley.
"They've been great, the staff,'' he said. "I've spoken to them. They've been very positive. They've been very up front about it."
But Hartley has yet to make a campus visit to UT. Petre said that she already has made unofficial visits to such other schools on her list as Connecticut, Georgetown, Duke and Stanford.
"I'd say the key is getting her down there,'' Petre said.
Back On The Court: The Lady Vols began preseason individual workouts Thursday at Pratt Pavilion. Summitt was generally upbeat about the players' offseason work, particularly sophomore guard Briana Bass. Summitt said that if the season was starting, Bass would be the starting point guard.
Two punitive measures used during last season's struggles have been lifted. The players have recouped their practice gear and relinquished laundry duties.
But they haven't been allowed back in their locker room yet.
"We're not even talking about that; it's way too early,'' said Summitt, who added: "I think they want to make sure that they earn it back. I don't think they want anything given to them."
Good First Impression: Veteran guard Angie Bjorklund is impressed with freshman Taber Spani.
"She is such a strong person,'' Bjorklund said. "She's here to win. She's here to work. You can tell from every little thing she does. ... She's just ahead of the ballgame as a freshman. She's really impressed me so far."
Notebook: Center Kelley Cain was a workout spectator because of a concussion, suffered during what was described as a "non-athletic-related incident." ... Forward Vicki Baugh remains sidelined while recovering from knee surgery. ... McMahan will be doing her volunteer work with the team this season as an administrative assistant in the coaches' office.