Her inkling was advanced by a flurry of activity last spring that created a women's basketball coaching opening. The power of suggestion was the clincher.
"I think we kind of dropped hints to Mickie,'' Warlick said. "The minute she said she was interested, I knew it was a done deal."
The band's getting back together.
Sure looks that way when DeMoss strolls into Pratt Pavilion with Warlick and coach Pat Summitt for preseason workouts. DeMoss, who was an assistant at Tennessee from 1985-2003, looks and sounds the same. The staff rapport seems as genuine as ever.
Even the new surroundings haven't diminished the familiarity for DeMoss, who left UT to become the coach at Kentucky.
"The core philosophies of the Tennessee program are still the same,'' she said. "It's really good to be back in the environment because of the discipline that has been established and the tradition that has been established."
The new digs still rest on the same foundation. Thank goodness, DeMoss says.
What's good for Tennessee, though, is that DeMoss isn't the same coach. Four seasons as Kentucky's coach and then three seasons as an assistant at Texas have given her a different perspective on the game and a greater appreciation for its finer points.
"You've had to break things down to just minute details,'' she said, "and convince your kids that you've got to do it right every time to even have a chance to win."
Most of DeMoss' coaching evolution took place at Kentucky, where she transformed the Wildcats from an 11-win team her first season to 22-9 with an NCAA tournament victory two seasons later. Even as she was upgrading Kentucky's talent, DeMoss' ongoing challenge was scrounging for points with teams that were prone to offensive lapses. A monumental 66-63 upset of Tennessee on Jan. 26, 2006 - Kentucky's first victory over UT in 20 years - wasn't achieved without overcoming a second-half stretch of one basket in 11 possessions.
"Offensively I had to just rack my brains and do everything I could to squeeze, you know, an extra four points out of my teams," DeMoss said. "What can I do to get four extra points?"
She brainstormed with then-Kentucky men's coach Tubby Smith. She emphasized the high-low game to take advantage of 6-foot-6 center Sarah Elliott. She'd run offensive sets with counter moves to free up shooters.
She was always thinking ahead. Where are the baskets coming from? Points, we need points.
She thought the same way at Texas. Regardless of being a seat removed from the head coach's chair, DeMoss had a list of the Longhorns' offensive plays with her on the bench to help coach Gail Goestenkors with plotting strategy.
"I've broaden my horizons maybe a little bit,'' she said. "If there's a need for some (new ideas) I do think I can draw on that experience."
Lady Vols sophomore Taber Spani has experienced enough in the preseason to conclude that DeMoss has "amazing basketball expertise."
Amid her expanded wealth of basketball knowledge, DeMoss' best asset might be her belief in an old idea, one seemingly as timeless as her presence.
DeMoss estimated that during her first UT tour of duty, the Lady Vols had as much or more talent than the opposition "eight out of 10 times." She likely underestimated the advantage, which still exists.
On the other hand, she can't overstate the importance of utilizing the advantage. She should echo the same advice from her Kentucky and Texas days. Her voice ought to resonate on the importance of doing things right every time.
"I can see from her experiences that she just knows we can't waste everything that we have,'' Spani said. "We are extremely gifted as a team, but we have to max out on that."
Dan Fleser covers Tennessee Lady Vols basketball. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.