Not a usual bounce-back game as Lady Vols face No. 1 Stanford

Tennessee's Ariel Massengale (5) loses the ball to Baylor's Odyssey Sims (0) for a turnover during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 76-53. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

AP

Tennessee's Ariel Massengale (5) loses the ball to Baylor's Odyssey Sims (0) for a turnover during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 76-53. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Bashaara Graves on Stanford and Christmas break

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves doesn't feel any different about what happened Tuesday at Baylor than she did last month after the women's basketball season opener at Chattanooga.

"A loss is a loss," the freshman forward said.

In this case, her thought makes sense. Defense, rebounding and composure were concerns after losing 80-71 to start the season. They're still relevant after Tuesday's 76-53 rout at the hands of the Lady Bears.

If only the same logic applied to summoning a comeback. Bouncing back against Georgia Tech after stumbling over the Lady Mocs doesn't compare with the No. 10 Lady Vols (7-2) trying to right themselves against No. 1 Stanford (10-0) Saturday (TV: SportSouth, MyVLT, 4 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Cardinal beat Baylor, 71-69, on Nov. 16 at the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu. Junior forward Chiney Ogwumike casts a long shadow, averaging 21.9 points and 12.2 rebounds per game and shooting 63.8 percent from the floor.

While a 53-49 struggle at No. 21 South Carolina on Wednesday didn't suggest invincibility, the victory said something about the Cardinal's toughness and depth. Stanford trailed by two points with 2:32 left before rallying in a raucous environment. Forward Mikaela Ruef scored just two baskets against the Gamecocks, but one broke a 45-45 tie with 53 seconds left.

Tennessee coaches entertained the thought this week that their youthful squad might be better served by playing a lesser opponent after Tuesday's loss. But they didn't embrace the notion. Assistant coach Dean Lockwood instead put his arms around a challenge that represents the best a Final Four might offer.

"At some point, if we're going to go where we want to get back to, we're going to have to play back-to-back games like this," he said. "So this is as good a time to do it as any."

After facing Baylor, Lockwood said there should be no illusions going forward.

"We got face to face with a real dragon," he said. "... and now we see where we've got to go to slay it.

Along with getting better, Tennessee has been preoccupied with getting well in advance of today's game. The prognosis for sophomore center Isabelle Harrison has been hopeful. She sat out the Baylor game after suffering a sprained right ankle Sunday against Texas.

With school out, the players were charged with reviewing the Baylor game and doing their own scouting reports for Stanford.

"They can formulate their ideas,'' Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick said. "We may not use them but they get the opportunity to watch a tape and figure out what we're going to do.

"I think it's a great exercise for them and a great building tool for us."

Warlick and her staff definitely will echo Graves' suggestion for better communication on defense.

"We didn't talk a lot on defense, that stood out to me a lot," she said, referring to the Baylor game. "Talking would solve a lot of our problems."

More toughness and attention to detail regarding defense and rebounding will be on the agenda, no matter who gets credit for it.

"It's going to be a real test of our resilience, our ability to bounce back, our ability to attack consecutive opponents of this nature," Lockwood said. "I think it's going to be very good barometer for our team."

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Comments » 9

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

I can't help but remember a video clip from Coach Pat at halftime of a game as she was giving the team a good tongue-lashing, she said: "Are you scared? You look scared". She went on to tell them how absurd that is.

The same applies to this team. They looked intimidated agaist Baylor...and it's still absurd. We ARE Tennessee...and we have what it takes to get it done.

All you have to do is BELIEVE! Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are correct.

voloffaith writes:

Cardinalttes probably by +10...........prove me wrong ladies!! GBO!!!

SummittsCourt writes:

I feel a home court upset coming! Go Lady Vols!

mtthw741 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

madrigal writes:

in response to mtthw741:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You who continually make fun of Brittney Griner by calling her a "man", "guy", or "dude" are neither funny nor smart, just rude. Get over yourselves and leave her alone. KNS should remove all such comments.

voloffaith writes:

in response to mtthw741:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Considering the time of the post this response is not surprising.....however until it is a proven fact that Ms. Griner is otherwise grow up and let it go. Anne Donavan was also 6'8" and no one questioned her only because she was not as gifted athletically as young Ms. Griner. Don't off hand recollect if she had the deeper voice, but even so it doesn't matter....The Enquirer is probably a good read for you if this type of proccupation is the norm for you....

ModelMaker writes:

Enough said. LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE. GO LADY VOLS. LETS GET IT ON!

62vol writes:

The team that beat Texas can play with the best.
Lack of inside game cost us dearly against Baylor. Is Harrison going to play?

mtthw741 writes:

in response to madrigal:

You who continually make fun of Brittney Griner by calling her a "man", "guy", or "dude" are neither funny nor smart, just rude. Get over yourselves and leave her alone. KNS should remove all such comments.

Sorry, I dont mean to offend. But I am entitled to my opinion. There is a reason she didnt play in the Olympics.

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