'Mama Massengale' aspiring to familiar role

Point guard giving orders to teammates

Tennessee's Cierra Burdick and Isabelle Harrison know better than most about teammate Ariel Massengale's knack for giving directions.

After all, they live with her.

"We call her Mama Massengale," Burdick said Wednesday of her housemate. "She is a bossy, bossy, bossy person. ... It's good. If we didn't have a bossy point guard, then how much of a point guard would they truly be."

Despite missing all four of her shot attempts in last Sunday's game against North Carolina, Massengale played her part in directing Tennessee's offense, dishing out a season-high seven assists in the 102-57 women's basketball victory.

The 5-foot-6 sophomore played 30 minutes and has played at least that much in three of the past four games. The workload has been noteworthy, since Massengale began the season recovering from tendinitis in her left Achilles' tendon.

"It's good to have her injury-free right now, leading the team, playing hard," UT coach Holly Warlick said. "I know the last game she didn't score a lot of points, but she distributed the ball and got everyone where they needed to be. She was a typical point guard that we needed."

Massengale's health is especially important, considering that backup point guard Andraya Carter has left three of the last four games with an injured right shoulder. The 5-foot-9 freshman, who has started five games this season, was on the court Wednesday at Pratt Pavilion, but was held out of contact. Warlick listed her as day to day.

Along with her usual duties, Massengale got in Harrison's face on Sunday, pulling the sophomore center away from a contentious situation in the first half. Harrison likely is familiar with that sort of treatment.

"Even at the house with Izzy and I, she'll try to boss us around," Burdick said. "Izzy and I are like 'OK, Mom.'

"Izzy and I are clearly way bigger than her. She can only do so much."

Still, she keeps trying. For example, when Burdick goes for a midnight snack, she'll likely encounter a disapproving Massengale, who's apt to say, "C, I told you the kitchen was closed."

"I'm like, 'I'm hungry,' " Burdick said. "And she's like, 'No, get out of the kitchen. It is closed.' "

Extra-Long Break: Warlick isn't unhappy with Tennessee's two-week break between games but she speculated that the players didn't feel the same way.

Think again.

"I think if we don't relax too much then we'll be fine,'' Harrison said. "Holly is going to keep us focused no matter what. So games, practice, whatever we do, I think if we go at it full force we'll be fine."

Warlick said that practices will be kept relatively short with an emphasis on fine-turning the team's play and maintaining conditioning.

Senior Taber Spani took advantage on Wednesday, taking a maintenance day to receive treatment on her lower back.

Signing Autographs: Warlick will sign autographs at the Tennessee Official Team Shop at Stokely Athletics Center from 4-5 p.m. today.

Warlick played at the facility, which will be closing on Dec. 15.

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Comments » 5

johnlg00 writes:

Thanks for the link, max. Great article on Bashaara. She looks like a real keeper.

reachkim00 writes:

Keep up the great work ladies! GO LADY VOLS!!!

SummittsCourt writes:

Feels like this could be a great year for the Lady Vols!

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

In other breaking news. Carter is out for the season . Mama Ariel, its time to step your game up . You got two big-time guards in Sims and Orrange that are wanting to cross u up. Let's bring it to them ! Go Vols!

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