Will Lady Vols shorten or lengthen bench against Ohio State?

Tennessee's Alicia Manning works on her shooting during practice.

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee's Alicia Manning works on her shooting during practice.

Kamiko Williams talks about an inspirational team meeting

DAYTON, Ohio — Lauren Avant puts all of her trust in the Tennessee coaching staff. And she’s not alone either.

“We have full confidence in them,” the freshman guard said Friday morning, “and we think they have confidence in us as well.”

Teammate Alyssia Brewer essentially agreed in discussing her possible deployment on Saturday (TV: ESPN, noon) for top-seed Tennessee (33-2) against No. 4 seed Ohio State (24-9) in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament at University of Dayton Arena.

“It’s up to whatever coach wants to do,” Brewer said, “what her game strategy is.”

Two Lady Vols who didn’t play in Monday night’s second-round game await their Dayton Regional semifinal marching orders against the Buckeyes, confident that their coaches will make the right call.

That doesn’t make their call any easier, however.

During her weekly teleconference on Wednesday, UT coach Pat Summitt seemed torn about the use of her team’s depth. When talking about defense and rebounding she said, “We may have to shorten our lineup a little and that won’t bother me.”

Moments later, she said that managing expectations might be best served by expanding the lineup.

“I would like to be able to keep people fresh,’’ Summitt said. “Our depth can work to our advantage and has in the past.”

One way or another, Ohio State coach Jim Foster didn’t seem overly concerned. He noted several teams within Tennessee’s team and indicated that the Buckeyes are prepared for all of them.

“They can play a big team; they can play a small team; they can play a quick team,” he said. “The good thing is that we’ve played against all of the above.”

UT assistant coach Mickie DeMoss favors using a combination of all of the above and said that the Lady Vols did a good job throughout the SEC tournament. But Monday’s game was their most competitive in weeks and DeMoss indicated that they lost track of utilizing at least one player.

“Avant’s probably the one player that we look back on in that game and thought somewhere we could’ve inserted her,’’ DeMoss said. “But every time it came up it was like ‘OK, now who are we going to take out?’

“She just didn’t get into the rotation. I don’t think it was intentional. It was just the way the game was.”

Tennessee’s players took a noteworthy step this week to reaffirm their readiness. At the suggestion of former Lady Vol Alberta Auguste, who played on two national championship teams, they convened a team meeting and signed off on a commitment to such basic competitive principles as trusting each other, knowing their roles and accountability.

“They’ve floated around the entire season,’’ guard Taber Spani said of the aforementioned principles. “To have them on paper, we can come together and make sure those standards are being met.

“When you do something collectively like that, it’s a lot stronger than just trying to do something individually.”

On Friday, forward Alicia Manning was perusing an Ohio State’s box score from its second-round game against Georgia and noting that the Buckeyes essentially played only five players. Reason enough for her to suggest a “high-octane” approach today.

Teammate Glory Johnson was more emphatic on the dais in the interview room.

“They have a huge post presence just like ours, but we have more,’’ she said. “So try to use that to our advantage. Wear out their posts. Try to push it back at them. They can’t run with us. I know for sure they can’t run with us.”

If Johnson has her way, fellow post player Brewer better be ready to play. She might not be alone.

“We’ve got to be a little more aggressive with our substitutions, still get them in,’’ DeMoss said. “Hopefully midway through the second half we can start seeing a difference.”

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 » 17

abnerPeabody writes:

For sure ,Lady Vols will have to be on their game.At this stage,all teams left are good enough to be a final 4 team.

Tennessee can't afford to miss layups like they have in some earlier games.They also must shoot the three. However,Defense will be the key from here to the finish.You simply can not win a National Championship without defense.Tennessee has often had let downs there.

I see Tennessee,Ucon,Baylor,Stanford in the final 4 with Ucon and Baylor going for it all in the Championship game.Baylor will win that game.(I hope}.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

I'm happy someone at KNS remembered the Lady Vols are in the national tournament, and actually playing to win it. The line up combinations are such a luxury that even the coaches seem a little overwhelmed. My only comment is the girls had better show more defensive energy than last game, or they will be going home. They seemed ill at ease with Marquette, tentative with no killer instinct.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Quote from Jim Foster on yahoo

Foster listed the Lady Vols along with everyoneelse behind the Huskies. “The Connecticut team as constructed right now has won a couple of national championships in a row and is the team to beat—and Tennessee is in the crowd with us,” he said. “They’re one of the other teams.”

Lets prove them wrong and beat them convincely. GLV

xvolx writes:

Avant is the only pt. guard we have that can guard Ohio St. pt. guard. With her conditioning, she probably won't be able to go long. I'd play Cain, Brewer and Baugh until all three had five fouls.

BleedsOrangeinMO writes:

For those of us who do not have to make the game decisions - - send in subs until you find five that really, really want to play defense and rebound.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Foster seems fairly confident, suggesting he might be able to handle our big or even our quicker lineup. That's sounding pretty confident for a team with 9 losses.

What will Pat do........try to collapse around and control the big center, and maybe be subject to getting burned by the other 4, or give Lavender ( name ? ) her 15 points and try to handle the others?

Anyway, who will step up for us? Hopefully more than one...........

volfan2002 writes:

We need to stop Lavendar because that almost certainly means we win. I would play Cain, Baugh, and Brewer and back to Cain five minutes each just in the first half. I would keep a fresh person on her and I would wear Prahalis down with Avant as she is a great on the ball defender. Hope we win and move on to the elite 8 should be a good game.

chrisw2967 writes:

Playing Ohio St in Ohio doesnt sound good.Just hope its not 5 against 8.Hope Tn gets a clean called game.If so it should be a win.

VOLunTEAR writes:

PAT SUMMITT. 'Nuff said!

charlyand#601962 writes:

Go Lady Vols!! I know you will be great!

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

This is gonna be another tough game with an Ohio crowd. If we play like we are capable, I know we will win it. I can't stand Ohio State for more reasons than one!

I believe by the middle of the 2nd half, we will put the peddle to the metal. No one has such a talented deep bench that we have. GLV!

1volk-nowi-tall writes:

Our Bigs should not pick up five fouls each. As a matter of fact if the officiating is higher quality we should not get many fouls defending OSU. Even though we are not the quickest with Cain and Brewer, Baugh and Johnson have considerable quickness. I just hope they do not continue to call fouls on our Bigs for standing still with their arms extended vertically. Those silly calls have haunted us for several years. The women's game just does not have good officials. Look at the constant 3-second calls you see and walk calls everytime a female player pivots around the basket with a spin move. The game has progressed considerably but the officiating is worse than it was under the NAGWS banner. Hope they do not choose to call fantom fouls on Johnson and Strickland. Go Lady Vols, Beat everybody.. Win or lose you are my favorite ladies team and with all that has gone on on the men's side you are now easily my favorite college team...

dvhill100 writes:

Good luck today. Do your team, your coaches and your university proud. No prisoners!

Tennfan4075 writes:

It seems rather ironic that one of the rumored reasons for Foster leaving Vandy was having to face Summitt and the Lady Vols year after year and here they are again. Go Lady Vols you are again carrying the torch for the state. It is unlikely either the men's BB or FB teams will be in the running for anything special anytime in the near future.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

All they have to do is keep doing what they are doing. After all they are the best. Ohio State is the one that better be worrying about what they are going to do. UT wins...mark it down!

Go Lady Vols!

Vol4Him writes:

Hire Shaka Smart!!!!

cdtnladyvols931#663910 writes:

in response to 1volk-nowi-tall:

Our Bigs should not pick up five fouls each. As a matter of fact if the officiating is higher quality we should not get many fouls defending OSU. Even though we are not the quickest with Cain and Brewer, Baugh and Johnson have considerable quickness. I just hope they do not continue to call fouls on our Bigs for standing still with their arms extended vertically. Those silly calls have haunted us for several years. The women's game just does not have good officials. Look at the constant 3-second calls you see and walk calls everytime a female player pivots around the basket with a spin move. The game has progressed considerably but the officiating is worse than it was under the NAGWS banner. Hope they do not choose to call fantom fouls on Johnson and Strickland. Go Lady Vols, Beat everybody.. Win or lose you are my favorite ladies team and with all that has gone on on the men's side you are now easily my favorite college team...

I am glad that I'm not the only one that sees how the officiating goes. Some teams can stay in that lane half a night! and walk-walk-walk! And Lavendar is one of the players that doesn't get called for 3 second violation!

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