Alicia Manning reclaims her role

Lady Vol junior is reserve strength for Alabama

Tennessee's Alicia Manning shoots at the basket over ETSU's Jasmine McIntosh.

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee's Alicia Manning shoots at the basket over ETSU's Jasmine McIntosh.

Pat Summitt on the state of the Lady Vols

Although surrounded by the formidable double team of frustration and confusion, Alicia Manning wasn't trapped.

No question, she thought.

"You just can't let that stuff get to you,'' she said. "You can't always be asking why, why, why?

For Tennessee's wing player, the vexing question was why wasn't she playing more. After all, she had established a women's basketball role for herself during the latter portion of last season and played well enough to make the SEC all-tournament team. She reprised her stat-stuffing part with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists this season in a Thanksgiving Day game against Missouri at the Paradise Jam.

"It's the coaches' decision; what they say goes,'' Manning said. "I just have to work on what I do (and) prove back to them what I bring to the table. That's what I did."

The 6-foot-1 junior is getting back in character as No. 5 Tennessee (13-2) prepares to play Alabama (11-3) at 7 tonight (TV: CSS) at Thompson-Boling Arena. That's what the reviews are saying.

After Manning scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in 24 playing minutes during Sunday's 73-65 win at LSU, teammate Kelley Cain said, "She just brings a lot of energy with her every game."

During her weekly teleconference on Wednesday, UT coach Pat Summitt said that Manning, "doesn't mind doing the dirty work. She doesn't mind battling the boards and playing great defense.

" . . . I look at her as a utility player. That's a tremendous asset to have on a team."

With Taber Spani back from last season's foot injury and Shekinna Stricklen moved from point guard to forward, Manning was caught up earlier this season in UT's lineup shuffle. She resurfaced with a start at Old Dominion on Dec. 5 but her playing time was diminished by foul trouble in the ensuing three games: Texas, Baylor and Stanford.

Associate head coach Holly Warlick made a point of telling a bewildered Manning to relax and play her game.

"She makes things happen when she just plays the game within our system,'' Warlick said.

Manning helped herself with more practice effort and by devoting extra time to her skills, which drew Summitt's attention.

While she's not starting, as she was at the end of last season, Manning has been one of the first reserves off Tennessee's deep bench the last three games and has averaged 20 playing minutes per game.

Manning isn't taking her improving situation for granted. She intends to keep working on her 3-point shot and free throws, among other offensive skills. She figures that scoring consistency is the best way to ensure the viability of the role she's worked hard to establish.

"If I can somehow get even just eight to 10 points a game,'' she said, "on top of what I already bring as far as hustle, defense and rebounding, all that, then I'm pretty set."

Manning's blue-collar sensibility is a worthwhile mindset for tonight's game. It would be a considerable upgrade over last season's effort at Alabama, when the Lady Vols lollygagged from pre-game warm-ups through a 74-67 victory that left Summitt grumbling: "We disrespected the game of basketball."

The Crimson Tide will demand more this time from Tennessee. Alabama senior forward Tierney Jenkins, who's from Mount Juliet, Tenn., leads the SEC in scoring (18.9 points per game) and rebounding (11.4). The Tide's aggressive defense has helped create a turnover margin of plus-9.2, which ranks sixth nationally.

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Comments » 23

SoddyVol writes:

Look for Alabama's turnover margin to go down somewhat tonight. The Vols also have the ability to be aggressive on defense and I look for improvement in handling/passing the ball.

PINK_CHAMPAGNE writes:

Lady vols need to come ready to play their game, regardless of the opponent. Last years game at Alabama, I was just as upset as Pat Summitt.

OldVols68 writes:

My favorite player on the team -- she always gives A+ effort. Wish she played more than she does, but like Alicia herself said, "that's up to the coaches".:)

Pullingguard writes:

How did Summit let Tierney Jenkins escape her clutches and wind up at Alabama, becoming the top SEC scorer and rebounder? I thought all good volunteer state female players were destined to be Lady Vols..

volfan#207874 writes:

in response to robbiestewart89#522523:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Totally B.S. Get a life!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

How did Summit let Tierney Jenkins escape her clutches and wind up at Alabama, becoming the top SEC scorer and rebounder? I thought all good volunteer state female players were destined to be Lady Vols..

Before the injuries hit, the LVs were loaded with post players rated higher than Jenkins coming out of high school. Take any of the top eight LV players and put them on a weaker team, and they would likely have conference-leading stats, too. There is also a matter of suitability for the LVs' style compared to Bama's. Horses for courses, in other words. There could be any number of other factors in play here. Nobody gets everybody they want, and maybe Jenkins realized she would get more playing time and more of a featured role at Bama. I would certainly take our current team over Bama's.

volboy81 writes:

I love it when Manning plays...She hustles like nobody else out there! Lets stop Jenkins and get our 87th straight win over the Crimson Trickle!
GO LADY VOLS!!!

ps11824 writes:

johnlg00#206211 writes:
in response to Pullingguard:

How did Summit let Tierney Jenkins escape her clutches and wind up at Alabama, becoming the top SEC scorer and rebounder? I thought all good volunteer state female players were destined to be Lady Vols..

Before the injuries hit, the LVs were loaded with post players rated higher than Jenkins coming out of high school. Take any of the top eight LV players and put them on a weaker team, and they would likely have conference-leading stats, too. There is also a matter of suitability for the LVs' style compared to Bama's. Horses for courses, in other words. There could be any number of other factors in play here. Nobody gets everybody they want, and maybe Jenkins realized she would get more playing time and more of a featured role at Bama. I would certainly take our current team over Bama's.]]

johnlg, it befuddles me why folks keep asking such questions. I'm not knocking anyone for being curious, but we discuss frequently the matter of why kids dor or do not fit the program, or whatever.

I like the way you answered the query. Horses for courses, how appropriate.

Pullingguard, I hope the question is legit, and not another jab at our recruiting staff.

BBhoops writes:

Pat treats Alicia the same way she does Kamiko. Might as well be lifeguards at a swimming pool. If she think the team is about to drown, she calls on them in for help.

ps11824 writes:

BBhoops writes:
Pat treats Alicia the same way she does Kamiko. Might as well be lifeguards at a swimming pool. If she think the team is about to drown, she calls on them in for help.]]

It is the responsibility of each member of the team to know and to do their job when they are called on to do so. Athletes know that when they sign with UT. The inability or unwillingness to abide by and embrace the Lady Vols philosophy usually will surface and the athlete will pout and/or request transfer. Some simply sit on the sideline and pull down team morale. Some learn to embrace and encourage, being grateful to play a roll in such a prestigious program while earning a first-class education from the University of Tennessee. Perfect example in Orange, Sydney Smallbone. Enough said.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

How did Summit let Tierney Jenkins escape her clutches and wind up at Alabama, becoming the top SEC scorer and rebounder? I thought all good volunteer state female players were destined to be Lady Vols..

PG....just because, you know??

CPS does not always follow 'ratings' (see Faith Dupre) but quite often the LV's tend to follow the 'in-the-know' crowd of recruiting. If you ever go to AAU games, you'll hear little bits of buzz about some player or other. Pretty soon, only those players get attention from the big dogs.

The two top posts this year, Stokes and Williams?? The press would tell you they are god's gift to women's basketball. I'll tell you I've seen both, and I've seen both struggle against players their size.

Long post to give you a very short answer: it is a cr@p (carp???? :0) ) shoot.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

Alicia:
I have always figured you gave up your offense and focused on being a floor-wax machine to get playing time, reading (correctly) that Summitt values that.

The rules changed this year, we decided we needed offense. You did not have a great game against Griner in the NCAA's last season, looked intimidated. My guess is CPS felt other's offense was more valuable than your hustle/defense.

My direct comment to you:
-find a 6'7" leaper to play 1-v-1 against, learn to get him up in the air and get around him
-hit the step-back jumper from 6-8'
-hit the 3 when only token defense is on you; you don't have to be Angie, but watch the Stanford girls.

you've some power in that body, keep moving people around and screening hard, scraping defenders and what not; it's an under-rated skill that wins game. In particular, get in the way of shot-blockers.

Good luck and best wishes. I'm just some guy who knows zip about ball.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

BTW, Alicia, you are in my Sid Spencer group of favorites. Just need those offensive tweaks.

notoriousBIGorange writes:

Perhaps the NCAA should investigate the UConn womens team for using PED's...
http://www.cbssports.com/general/stor...

patsvolsrgr8 writes:

A-Town is a lot of fun to watch on the floor and brings a lot to the team as well. Keep up the hard work; Pat always rewards that somehow; never give up, you're an asset just like all the others on the team.

itsgolden writes:

in response to ps11824:

BBhoops writes:
Pat treats Alicia the same way she does Kamiko. Might as well be lifeguards at a swimming pool. If she think the team is about to drown, she calls on them in for help.]]

It is the responsibility of each member of the team to know and to do their job when they are called on to do so. Athletes know that when they sign with UT. The inability or unwillingness to abide by and embrace the Lady Vols philosophy usually will surface and the athlete will pout and/or request transfer. Some simply sit on the sideline and pull down team morale. Some learn to embrace and encourage, being grateful to play a roll in such a prestigious program while earning a first-class education from the University of Tennessee. Perfect example in Orange, Sydney Smallbone. Enough said.

I couldn't agree more with "BBhoops". Illustrative of this is the recent game against LSU where both Kamiko and Alicia helped the Lady Vols to pull out the W. Given the remarks by 98reax, I assume it's Kamiko and Alicia's responsibility to win the game when teams shut down Spani and Bjorklund, who by the way are the slowest players on the floor usually. Both Alicia and Kamiko are ballers and if they had stat lines like Bjorklund and Spani did against LSU, they would be yanked from the starting line-up. I didn't realize "schollies" were given to players to "embrace and encourage" albeit that would be a secondary role. All this time I believed they had cheerleaders to do that. Sydney Smallbone is not a "perfect example", but more like a wasted scholarship. I have nothing personal against Smallbone, but from the very beginning I asked if she was a niece or close relative of CPS who needed a free ride. With what she's contributed to the Lady Vols, all adult learners who attend UT should be seeking to fill her role on this team when she graduates. At 40+, I would love to get out there and run around and swish a 3 ptr occasionally for an exaggerated "first-class" education. Are PhD candidates eligible?

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

in response to itsgolden:

I couldn't agree more with "BBhoops". Illustrative of this is the recent game against LSU where both Kamiko and Alicia helped the Lady Vols to pull out the W. Given the remarks by 98reax, I assume it's Kamiko and Alicia's responsibility to win the game when teams shut down Spani and Bjorklund, who by the way are the slowest players on the floor usually. Both Alicia and Kamiko are ballers and if they had stat lines like Bjorklund and Spani did against LSU, they would be yanked from the starting line-up. I didn't realize "schollies" were given to players to "embrace and encourage" albeit that would be a secondary role. All this time I believed they had cheerleaders to do that. Sydney Smallbone is not a "perfect example", but more like a wasted scholarship. I have nothing personal against Smallbone, but from the very beginning I asked if she was a niece or close relative of CPS who needed a free ride. With what she's contributed to the Lady Vols, all adult learners who attend UT should be seeking to fill her role on this team when she graduates. At 40+, I would love to get out there and run around and swish a 3 ptr occasionally for an exaggerated "first-class" education. Are PhD candidates eligible?

oh my, here we go with this 'slow' cr@p again.

One of the slowest teams in the country, Stanford, played in the finals last season. That same slow team just whipped UConn's a## a week ago.

If speed on the court is all it took, the SEC should win every season. Probably the fastest girls in the nation.

You seem to be on a nice rant about Pat signing 'slow' girls...you just want to go ahead and change that to 'white', or do you not have the guts to be honest??

CoachFulmerFan writes:

in response to itsgolden:

I couldn't agree more with "BBhoops". Illustrative of this is the recent game against LSU where both Kamiko and Alicia helped the Lady Vols to pull out the W. Given the remarks by 98reax, I assume it's Kamiko and Alicia's responsibility to win the game when teams shut down Spani and Bjorklund, who by the way are the slowest players on the floor usually. Both Alicia and Kamiko are ballers and if they had stat lines like Bjorklund and Spani did against LSU, they would be yanked from the starting line-up. I didn't realize "schollies" were given to players to "embrace and encourage" albeit that would be a secondary role. All this time I believed they had cheerleaders to do that. Sydney Smallbone is not a "perfect example", but more like a wasted scholarship. I have nothing personal against Smallbone, but from the very beginning I asked if she was a niece or close relative of CPS who needed a free ride. With what she's contributed to the Lady Vols, all adult learners who attend UT should be seeking to fill her role on this team when she graduates. At 40+, I would love to get out there and run around and swish a 3 ptr occasionally for an exaggerated "first-class" education. Are PhD candidates eligible?

Spani and Angie should start, they are the much better players. Manning is good rebounder and good defensively, but she doesn't provide much of an offensive threat. Kamiko's real talent is dribble driving, but she doesn't shoot the three ball well. She also tends to foul easily and seems to be slow on defense. Those are reasons she doesn't start. Smallbone actually came in as the 11th ranked player out of HS. Angie was 3rd in that class. Smallbone is a mystery to me because I thought she would have turned out to be more of a contributor to the lady vols.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

in response to CoachFulmerFan:

Spani and Angie should start, they are the much better players. Manning is good rebounder and good defensively, but she doesn't provide much of an offensive threat. Kamiko's real talent is dribble driving, but she doesn't shoot the three ball well. She also tends to foul easily and seems to be slow on defense. Those are reasons she doesn't start. Smallbone actually came in as the 11th ranked player out of HS. Angie was 3rd in that class. Smallbone is a mystery to me because I thought she would have turned out to be more of a contributor to the lady vols.

smallbone and bass fall into that category of player who really just got muscled out.

they are decent, but neither shoots very well, and can be exploited on D. Each could be starting at a number of schools, having solid careers. They are role players whose only role is in practice.

Do I like this?? Really, no. I like to see kids play. I'd like to see rosters trimmed back to 12 kids on scholarship.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to dead_vol_foul:

smallbone and bass fall into that category of player who really just got muscled out.

they are decent, but neither shoots very well, and can be exploited on D. Each could be starting at a number of schools, having solid careers. They are role players whose only role is in practice.

Do I like this?? Really, no. I like to see kids play. I'd like to see rosters trimmed back to 12 kids on scholarship.

Some good points here, as usual, but I am a bit leery about the idea of limiting rosters to 12 players on scholarship. Actually, I think the limit is pretty close to that now, but my point is that so many female players seem to get season- and career-ending injuries, compared to male players, that any further limits on scholarships could lead to some pretty depleted rosters by the end of the season. Of course, the men's team seems to show that you CAN have too many potentially good players on a roster who, if they get disgruntled with sitting, can become "locker-room cancers", so I guess there really is no simple answer. Not very satisfying to so many posters who insist that every issue DOES have a simple answer, but there it is!

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Some good points here, as usual, but I am a bit leery about the idea of limiting rosters to 12 players on scholarship. Actually, I think the limit is pretty close to that now, but my point is that so many female players seem to get season- and career-ending injuries, compared to male players, that any further limits on scholarships could lead to some pretty depleted rosters by the end of the season. Of course, the men's team seems to show that you CAN have too many potentially good players on a roster who, if they get disgruntled with sitting, can become "locker-room cancers", so I guess there really is no simple answer. Not very satisfying to so many posters who insist that every issue DOES have a simple answer, but there it is!

John, I thought a while on the 12.

I, too, have seen teams with injuries that take them down to 8 or so...

But what I see a LOT of is teams who really only go 8-9 deep anyway.

A lower-level D1 coach had this to say: "I'd like to see the scholly limit lowered so that teams like us could get more of those girls who really won't ever play at the top-tier schools".

His point, and I believe in it too,is that there is ALMOST no room at the top in the women's game. You just don't see that Butler run, or the George Mason...

Sometimes I'd like to a 'super 16' NCAAW championship, and then the rest have a separate championship, just for competition sake. The women's game is so, so different than the men's. There are very few 'dominant' women players, and they all end up on the top few teams.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to dead_vol_foul:

John, I thought a while on the 12.

I, too, have seen teams with injuries that take them down to 8 or so...

But what I see a LOT of is teams who really only go 8-9 deep anyway.

A lower-level D1 coach had this to say: "I'd like to see the scholly limit lowered so that teams like us could get more of those girls who really won't ever play at the top-tier schools".

His point, and I believe in it too,is that there is ALMOST no room at the top in the women's game. You just don't see that Butler run, or the George Mason...

Sometimes I'd like to a 'super 16' NCAAW championship, and then the rest have a separate championship, just for competition sake. The women's game is so, so different than the men's. There are very few 'dominant' women players, and they all end up on the top few teams.

I hadn't really considered the issue from that angle. Another thing to consider is that overall squad depth may not be as much of an issue in the women's game since many if not all of them practice against male players. In the men's game, you need a full roster to ensure competitive practices; the women's game, not so much.

No question there is a tremendous divide between the top-tier teams and the rest. Your proposal likely would open up the game to more fresh faces, but on the other hand, the quality of play might be diluted at the top. Hard to say how that might play out in terms of fan interest--i.e., a larger number of more evenly-matched teams versus a slight decline in quality of play--but it is an interesting idea to consider.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I hadn't really considered the issue from that angle. Another thing to consider is that overall squad depth may not be as much of an issue in the women's game since many if not all of them practice against male players. In the men's game, you need a full roster to ensure competitive practices; the women's game, not so much.

No question there is a tremendous divide between the top-tier teams and the rest. Your proposal likely would open up the game to more fresh faces, but on the other hand, the quality of play might be diluted at the top. Hard to say how that might play out in terms of fan interest--i.e., a larger number of more evenly-matched teams versus a slight decline in quality of play--but it is an interesting idea to consider.

john, I never look for it to realistically happen...I'm curious though, how do you see the quality of play being diluted??

If, for instance, you start your 'Class 1' NCAAW at the Sweet 16 level, then all games will be good ones.

In the Class 2, you would get a bit more range from top to bottom. Sometimes, such as Ball State over UT, or Harvard over Stanford, you get the round 1 or 2 upset...but to me it never seems to get much past that.

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