Angie Bjorklund returns to practice

Tennessee's Angie Bjorklund defends against Vanderbilt's Jence Rhoads at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011.  Bjorklund scored 14 points with four rebounds for the Lady Vols during their 68-56 defeat of Vanderbilt.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee's Angie Bjorklund defends against Vanderbilt's Jence Rhoads at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011. Bjorklund scored 14 points with four rebounds for the Lady Vols during their 68-56 defeat of Vanderbilt.

Tennessee's Angie Bjorklund took a big step toward playing again with a return to women's basketball practice on Friday.

The Lady Vols senior guard, who has missed the past six games with a right foot injury, will shoot set shots and free throws today and practice Sunday with an eye toward playing against Georgia on Monday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"It seems like forever since she's been on the floor,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said, "but I think patience was probably on our side."

The Lady Vols will remain cautious with Bjorklund's comeback.

"We're going to progress her slowly,'' said Jenny Moshak, the Lady Vols' associate athletic director for sports medicine. "You can't go from doing nothing for three weeks to full bore."

Bjorklund's progress is timely. Sophomore Taber Spani, who has been starting at off guard, is shooting 14.3 percent from the floor (4-for-28) in her last four games.

Summitt, meanwhile, is concerned about center Kelley Cain, who was in and out of Friday's practice and putting ice on her right hip. The 6-foot-6 redshirt junior, who has undergone multiple knee surgeries and has a history of hip and back issues, hasn't scored more than four points or grabbed more than four rebounds in any of her last three games.

"Jenny is on top of the treatment,'' Summitt said. "It's always a wait and see."

With post player Vicki Baugh still dealing with the aftereffects of multiple knee surgeries, the Lady Vols are fortunate to have Alyssia Brewer. The junior post, who underwent Achilles' tendon surgery on Sept. 10, had her most productive game of the season Thursday night against South Carolina, scoring seven points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

"I was just happy with how I was feeling out there,'' Brewer said. "I was feeling good about my foot and really starting to be able to contribute to the team."

Finally, forward Shekinna Stricklen took a maintenance day Friday after playing 37 minutes against the Gamecocks. She played 39 minutes against Vanderbilt last Sunday.

Dan Fleser covers Lady Vols basketball. He may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/fleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser

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Comments » 21

SoddyVol writes:

Look for Spani to start hitting her 3 pointers now. Will she start again against Georgia?

richvol writes:

Ever since Spani's birthday when she scored so well in front of her family she has played terribly. I don't understand how a shooter can all of a sudden shoot so poorly and for so long. It's not just her shooting either...she is turning the ball over as well.

I hope she recovers...Borklund was playing very inconsistent and turning the ball over with bad passing as well.

huntined#565710 writes:

It will be good to get Angie back on the floor.

OldVols68 writes:

I am guilty of this too -- I have never seen a team play to a 25-2 record and have so many of whom appear to be quality players get so many negative comments:) Every game it does not seem to matter if we lose or win by 2 or win by 50 the negative comments will ring out....even (and especially) Pat is negative a lot of times. But when it is over and done there is the good thing about so much depth that has saved this team.

richvol writes:

in response to OldVols68:

I am guilty of this too -- I have never seen a team play to a 25-2 record and have so many of whom appear to be quality players get so many negative comments:) Every game it does not seem to matter if we lose or win by 2 or win by 50 the negative comments will ring out....even (and especially) Pat is negative a lot of times. But when it is over and done there is the good thing about so much depth that has saved this team.

I understand your feelings. It seems petty to pick at the negatives but Pat responds the same way I and several others do about this team. They have not been consistent these three years and have underachieved in their play. Pat can see glimpses of what these girls are capable of yet can't seem to get them to perform up to their talent level.

The biggest thing I see missing and what frustrates me most is a lack of precision. We can't even seem to be able to throw the ball into the paint to our posts that tower over most teams. Unforced errors and lackadaisical play at times is another set of circumstances that don't set well with Pat. She wants and strives for perfection but is not getting it. Stricklen had to be told to play like an all american a few weeks ago...what's with that?

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to richvol:

I understand your feelings. It seems petty to pick at the negatives but Pat responds the same way I and several others do about this team. They have not been consistent these three years and have underachieved in their play. Pat can see glimpses of what these girls are capable of yet can't seem to get them to perform up to their talent level.

The biggest thing I see missing and what frustrates me most is a lack of precision. We can't even seem to be able to throw the ball into the paint to our posts that tower over most teams. Unforced errors and lackadaisical play at times is another set of circumstances that don't set well with Pat. She wants and strives for perfection but is not getting it. Stricklen had to be told to play like an all american a few weeks ago...what's with that?

Too many people are forgetting these are 18-20 year old kids who are dealing with multiple things on a day to day basis. Besides basketball they are dealing with their own personal issues, school demands, time demands, pressure to perform day in and day out.

It's time the fans on this board start cutting these girls some slack. It would be great if they could reel off 91 wins by 30 points and win 3 straight championships but we have to be realistic and realize with the schedule Pat plays every year, the unbelievable amount of injuries and the pressure that comes with playing for the University of Tennessee that in the end, these girls are human and will make mistakes.

One thing we can all agree on, Pat runs a tight ship, these girls go to class, get good grades and do not get into trouble off the court. With that said, these Lady Vols are doing a great job and I think this is one of Pat's greatest coaching jobs of her wonderful career.

Go Lady Vols and fans lets support and be positive for our team.

ps11824 writes:

What do you expect Pat to say, nothing? She says the truth. You cannot deny the results of the last 5 or 6 games. They are what they are. Yes, we won those games and some players played pretty well at times. Some players are digressing in their performance. Pat says the same in 'Pat speak.' Do you, mmynatt, expect Pat to sugar-coat the facts? She never has. She gives credit to players who step up. She takes the questions - she gives the answers. You see the games, don't you? Can you see something that looks positive over-all that I cannot see? Do you look at the stats? Can you do the math and see reason for Pat to come out and tell us that "I think the team is playing the way they should be playing at the end of our regular season. Yes, we are undefeated in the SEC because we have gotten better and we are going into the Tournament with confidence." No, you do not hear that babble, because we are not playing to our potential.

Pat usually says something like "we will keep working, and we'll get ready for our next opponent." That's not negative, that's fact.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

We haven' lost since Baylor. Get off their asses. They might just win it all..

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to hcjournals#206623:

We haven' lost since Baylor. Get off their asses. They might just win it all..

Agree

ps11824 writes:

So do I. We are certainly capable of defeating any team anytime. No one would be happier than 98.

ps11824 writes:

For all the posters who have their opinions of how to win one for the coach, I just want to say, thank you.

Yes, I do appreciate all the interest in the Lady Vols. It would be so very boring to have "dead space" on this gvx site. That there are so many comments of varying opinions that make it an enjoyable read on most all articles. That's more than I can say for the sports writers many times.

Just notice all the great things Pat has to say about her players when they do play with heart and desire. The Pat Summitt Show is of course a very short segment of highlights and comments.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Too many people are forgetting these are 18-20 year old kids who are dealing with multiple things on a day to day basis. Besides basketball they are dealing with their own personal issues, school demands, time demands, pressure to perform day in and day out.

It's time the fans on this board start cutting these girls some slack. It would be great if they could reel off 91 wins by 30 points and win 3 straight championships but we have to be realistic and realize with the schedule Pat plays every year, the unbelievable amount of injuries and the pressure that comes with playing for the University of Tennessee that in the end, these girls are human and will make mistakes.

One thing we can all agree on, Pat runs a tight ship, these girls go to class, get good grades and do not get into trouble off the court. With that said, these Lady Vols are doing a great job and I think this is one of Pat's greatest coaching jobs of her wonderful career.

Go Lady Vols and fans lets support and be positive for our team.

AMEN! Excellent post. Several great ones on here. 98 nailed it too. I love positive comments!

Keep them coming, it's almost tourney time! GLV!

ps11824 writes:

Thanks, ROCKN, we have to face the facts. Our team slacks off at times. I just hope they will step up when the going gets rough. They have thus far with the exception of the Bears who got spanked today by TxTech. tehe : )

Just goes to show you, any team can sneak up and bite you in the backside. Tech had a score to settle today against Griner and boy howdy, did they hold her in check.

I'm really anxious to see how Bj can do tomorrow if she gets playing time. We surely could get pumped up off a good game from Angie. They have missed her on-court presence. I believe Cain will perform better with Angie on the court.

SoddyVol writes:

Lady Vols have definitely improved since the Baylor game. Is Baylor playing about the same level as back then? I think so. Texas Tech took them down today. UConn seems to be a definite finalist. The Baylor loss should encourage the Lady Vols to play hard for at least 40 minutes a game. They are good enough and will play for another Championship if they give 40 minutes effort from now on.

ps11824 writes:

In years past, I have seen huge transformations, '97 season, for instance. No way I would have bet on The Orange & White. Of course I don't bet, but I did not given them a huge chance on the Stanford game either. Call me a skeptic, I just call them like I see them. As for the TTech vs Baylor game today, no way I would have picked that one. Actually I told someone before the game Tech would be mauled by the Bears. What do I know?

freestyle writes:

Texas Tech beat Baylor."WOW" Tenn. was picked to be the first one to fall off the wagon. Texas Tech helped the lady vols move up the poll.

OldVols68 writes:

in response to ps11824:

What do you expect Pat to say, nothing? She says the truth. You cannot deny the results of the last 5 or 6 games. They are what they are. Yes, we won those games and some players played pretty well at times. Some players are digressing in their performance. Pat says the same in 'Pat speak.' Do you, mmynatt, expect Pat to sugar-coat the facts? She never has. She gives credit to players who step up. She takes the questions - she gives the answers. You see the games, don't you? Can you see something that looks positive over-all that I cannot see? Do you look at the stats? Can you do the math and see reason for Pat to come out and tell us that "I think the team is playing the way they should be playing at the end of our regular season. Yes, we are undefeated in the SEC because we have gotten better and we are going into the Tournament with confidence." No, you do not hear that babble, because we are not playing to our potential.

Pat usually says something like "we will keep working, and we'll get ready for our next opponent." That's not negative, that's fact.

No I don't see ENOUGH positives. Especially when I think about the times I have watched UConn play lately (and yes I am aware they lost to Stanford, a team the Tennessee beat). But what I usually see when I watch UConn is a team with the best player in the country play 40 minutes of good, solid basketball with a killer instinct. They never take a minute off on either side of the ball, they make precision passes 98% of the time, and they win 99.9 % of the time. They scare me, just as Baylor does. The Lady Vols just do not seem to be on the same page as Pat for whatever reason. But before the Lady Vols can think about playing for the National Championship they better get on that page, because yes Pat does know what it takes to win that Championship.

PINK_CHAMPAGNE writes:

I don't know what the practice sessions are like,but from what I notice in the games is that this team seems to be more of a think dribble first than pass. When our guard brings the ball up the court,usually she is back there by herself being hounded by a defender. The other players have already ran down court and are in particular spots watching the guard bringing the ball up the court. I understand they are setting up for a play, but maybe if they would move more on offense without the ball, run off screens, set more screens, pass the ball more, life would be easier for them. That makes the defense shift! The offensive sets they are using are not that hard to defend, MY OPINION! Angie coming back will help! As I have stated before, I did not know how much she would be missed on the court until they didn't have her.

ps11824 writes:

mmynatt12, I have to agree with that one. Pat's the page. The team, as a whole, are not on it. They glance over it at times, but...

kazoo writes:

Some of the diehards want to think of UT as the Little Sisters of the Poor or somesuch. Summitt has got a bench full of high-school All Americas, and so, yes, there is an expectation of playing well. The Vols win nearly all of their games, but are very sloppy doing it in many if not most games, and sloppiness ultimately costs you if you have your sights set on the title--as UT always does. THAT is the issue.

ps11824 writes:

What do I know about it, but I would like to see the practice squad made up of big, athletic, bball savvy, women, instead of the guys they use. Could be that the team is not being pushed in scrimmage because of the "no contact" directives? Could explain the turnover problem. And, are they actually shooting the ball to score, or practicing more for rebounding the miss?

Sounds like I know more how to coach than Pat? Well, I don't, I'm just thinking... I know we do not want to go into the SEC Tournament tied with GA. We want to win it out right with a solid 40-minute effort, and take that momentum and confidence thru the final season game and into post season.

Go Lady Vols. You can do it. I have a visual of our '99 (was it?) team, the night they provided PAT HEAD masks for every fan; we clobbered Andy Landers mercilessly. I still have mine. Let's do it again.

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