Tennessee's 11th different starting lineup of the women's basketball season made a good first impression Sunday.
After an 82-68 victory over Mississippi State, Alex Fuller, Glory Johnson, Kelley Cain, Angie Bjorklund and Shekinna Stricklen will report for the opening tipoff Thursday at LSU. But that's as far as it goes for now.
"We'll wait,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said. "One game doesn't get it."
Summitt likes the lineup's size, beginning with the 6-foot-2 Stricklen at point guard. It helps that Stricklen is more comfortable with the role.
"At first I did have problems and second thoughts,'' Stricklen said. "This is not my position. But I know I can probably play any position.
"I've learned a lot. Most of it is taking control of the ball, taking care of the ball. That's the most important part of playing point guard, really."
While Johnson lines up at forward, UT's most athletic player is being used as an extra perimeter defender. On Sunday, the 6-foot-3 freshman guarded Mississippi State's point guard.
"I thought that was a good matchup for her,'' Summitt said. "I've had that in my mind a lot. I was trying to play her more at the post but I think now she can play both."
Taking A Plunge: Losses to Duke and Kentucky last week dropped the Lady Vols five spots to No. 18 in the Associated Press' weekly Top 25 women's poll. It's UT's lowest ranking since Feb. 24, 1985.
"I'm just glad we're in the top 20,'' Summitt said.
Playing for A Bye: Tennessee and LSU play Thursday to see who doesn't play the following Thursday.
The teams are tied for fourth in the SEC standings and the winner earns one of the four first-round byes for the SEC tournament, which opens March 5 in North Little Rock, Ark.
There's basketball reasons for wanting a bye. Stricklen thought of an academic incentive, too.
"We'll get to stay here (an extra day) for school,'' she said. "We've missed a lot of class already."
Take A Bow: The Big Orange Tipoff Club will be honoring Summitt and the Lady Vols program in their fourth annual gala at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Tickets are $40 for individuals, with a contribution being made to the WBCA/Kay Yow fund, or $350 for a table of 10. Dress is casual.
For more information contact Barry Smith at email@example.com or 865-384-3412.
Notebook: Guard Angie Bjorklund matched her season high with seven rebounds Sunday. . . . Lady Vols Amber Gray and Sydney Smallbone have been doing extra cardiovascular conditioning. . . . Summitt conceded that some players probably aren't happy with their roles but she added, "Don't try to get my attention during a game. You can get it every day in practice and that's what you should be trying to do, do positive things in practice to show me and show our coaches, I'm ready. I'm ready to play."