John Adams: Elite mismatch for Lady Vols

John Adams
Lady Vols head coach Holly Warlick calls to her players in the final seconds of the first half against Stanford at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Lady Vols head coach Holly Warlick calls to her players in the final seconds of the first half against Stanford at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Not everything has changed in Tennessee women's basketball from last season to this one.

The Lady Vols still look overmatched against elite teams.

You saw that again Saturday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena as No. 1 Stanford started fast and did what was necessary the rest of the way to take a 73-60 victory.

The Cardinal picked up where No. 3 Baylor left off Tuesday night in Waco, Texas. The Lady Bears jumped out to a 17-0 lead en route to a 76-53 victory.

Two double-digit losses in the same week doesn't constitute business as usual for the Lady Vols. That hasn't happened since January of 1997 when they lost by 15 points to No. 1 Connecticut and by 11 to No. 2 Old Dominion two days later.

You don't have to go back that far to find comparable results against similar teams.

Tennessee lost to Stanford by 17 points last December and by 19 to Baylor in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament in March.

If that senior-laden team couldn't be competitive against Final Four-caliber teams, perhaps it was too much to ask of this less experienced UT model. But first-year head coach Holly Warlick made it clear she expected so much more against the Cardinal.

"We're playing the No. 1 team," she said. "We've got a great crowd."

Based on the last two practices, Warlick felt her team had moved past the thumping from Baylor and positioned itself to seize an opportunity. Instead, she was astonished by the lack of effort, especially on defense.

Sound familiar?

It was a recurring theme for last season's more experienced and talented team. Warlick even referenced that inconsistent effort in her preseason media conference, emphasizing that more of the same wouldn't be tolerated.

Maybe that's why Tennessee's third loss in 10 games resonated more than the first two.

"You've got to have a relentless effort and a big heart," Warlick said. "We didn't play with energy."

Effort might not have been all that was lacking against Stanford. You have to wonder about the Lady Vols' confidence after being overwhelmed a few days earlier by Baylor.

Tennessee might have stopped Stanford from building a big lead early if it had simply hit all those follow-up shots following offensive rebounds in the early going. It shot as though Baylor's Brittney Griner were still lurking, poised to swat away anything close to the basket.

But the drop-off from Griner to Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike is only five inches. You're going from a 6-foot-8 All-American to a 6-3 All-American.

UT didn't have a good answer for either one.

Ogwumike had 21 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots while playing the full 40 minutes. Her timing was significant, too.

Tennessee's finest moments came midway through the second half when it forced a faster tempo, sliced a 17-point lead to nine, and helped restore a roar to the crowd. But in the next two minutes, Ogwumike had a layup, an assist, two rebounds and a block. Just like that, the lead was up to 15.

The Lady Vols can raise their intensity. They can push harder on defense. They can become more committed to a faster tempo.

But they still won't have a good answer for players like Griner and Ogwumike. Or for teams as good as Baylor and Stanford.

Those answers come only through recruiting.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 24

Vol_For_Life writes:

John Adams, you suck!

donald.evans#212851 writes:

This is "Life After Pat". Rarely does the understudy to a legend come in and succeed. Hoping Holly can get it done. She deserves a shot at least.

VolMoment writes:

John Adams is a sick little man with the Nepolian complex.

bigdisbig writes:

Rag on John Adams all you want but the truth is YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
Holly will NEVER return the Lady Vols to the status they were under Pat.
Holly is an assistant coach at best. IF she were head coach caliber she would be coaching somewhere else before Pat left.

The Lady Vols are on the same track as the football Vols have been the past 4 years. Great recruits are going other places and the ones we have are NOT getting coached up like they need. They used to ALWAYS be competitive against everyone. Now they are getting blowed out by top teams.....sound familiar?
Thank you Dave Hart and Jimmy Cheeks for ruining yet another Volunteer program.

tovolny writes:

No stats, no purpose , no compassion, no insight, no class, no reveal...would you have known this was a John Adams item if his name or picture wasn't attached.? At least it is Christmas, so Weedeater and Gomer probably aren't around to rebound what John is throwing up. UT Sports has reached the bottom of a huge swale, but at least we can rejoice in the fact that we are not as low down as some of the subterranean moles gnawing at our misfortunes while posing as sports writers. Some of the guys and gals at KNS are outstanding. If not for one giant ugly spot, KNS might be a red sky at night, and not a red sky in the morning.

My hair is getting grayer, my stomach is getting bigger, my neck is getting redder, and my knees and back are getting sorer. However, I am still aghast that we have to endure such lousy, biased, truth bending soothsayers attempting to provide editorial enlightenment. What we get is dark light reflecting off formless dark matter. Will this ever do us any good? Does it matter, matter, matter, matter???????

Good night, and Merry Christmas to all.

wildmed writes:

The Lady Vols are a good team, evidenced by convincing victories over some Top 25 competition, but this loss and the one to Baylor show they are far from an elite team. It's hard to compete against All-Americas if you lack same.

Razor784 writes:

This team lost so much, and they're so young. Next year with a loaded class coming in, they should be back near the top.

AllforTenn writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Rag on John Adams all you want but the truth is YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
Holly will NEVER return the Lady Vols to the status they were under Pat.
Holly is an assistant coach at best. IF she were head coach caliber she would be coaching somewhere else before Pat left.

The Lady Vols are on the same track as the football Vols have been the past 4 years. Great recruits are going other places and the ones we have are NOT getting coached up like they need. They used to ALWAYS be competitive against everyone. Now they are getting blowed out by top teams.....sound familiar?
Thank you Dave Hart and Jimmy Cheeks for ruining yet another Volunteer program.

Is this the best you can do? You know nothing about the ability of Holly. "Great recruits are going other places..." How dumb a statement; Holly signed the number one recruit and the no. 2 ranked class already. Crawl back into your hole and stay there.

8ball writes:

in response to AllforTenn:

Is this the best you can do? You know nothing about the ability of Holly. "Great recruits are going other places..." How dumb a statement; Holly signed the number one recruit and the no. 2 ranked class already. Crawl back into your hole and stay there.

Wrong Holly can't even put the best 5 players on court..

kennypowers writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Rag on John Adams all you want but the truth is YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
Holly will NEVER return the Lady Vols to the status they were under Pat.
Holly is an assistant coach at best. IF she were head coach caliber she would be coaching somewhere else before Pat left.

The Lady Vols are on the same track as the football Vols have been the past 4 years. Great recruits are going other places and the ones we have are NOT getting coached up like they need. They used to ALWAYS be competitive against everyone. Now they are getting blowed out by top teams.....sound familiar?
Thank you Dave Hart and Jimmy Cheeks for ruining yet another Volunteer program.

Got to love East TN. "They are getting blowed out." I feel like you should have added a y'ins in somewhere.

madrigal writes:

I am so sick of all the whiners on here. (That also includes John Adams) This is a young team and they will be inconsistent this year. That's just the way it is. We have a new coach who is still part of the former system but you couldn't wait to rag on her....you've been doing that since she was appointed, before her team ever took the floor. Some fans you are! A bunch of spoiled brats is more like it. Every program has growing pains and this is the year it's happening. Nobody wins all the time. If you can't support the Lady Vols through some tough times, which this is right now, you aren't real fans of the program, just fair weather fans. Who needs that?

tomkats3242 writes:

I quit reading the newspaper because of the stupid John Adams articles and now I will stop looking at this site if someone don't get rid of him here. What a waste. No one wants to read the stupid articles he writes so someone at the KNS must be in his household holding hands with him. FIRE ADAMS

johnlg00 writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Rag on John Adams all you want but the truth is YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
Holly will NEVER return the Lady Vols to the status they were under Pat.
Holly is an assistant coach at best. IF she were head coach caliber she would be coaching somewhere else before Pat left.

The Lady Vols are on the same track as the football Vols have been the past 4 years. Great recruits are going other places and the ones we have are NOT getting coached up like they need. They used to ALWAYS be competitive against everyone. Now they are getting blowed out by top teams.....sound familiar?
Thank you Dave Hart and Jimmy Cheeks for ruining yet another Volunteer program.

Pretty harsh indictment for a team as young and inexperienced in big-game pressure as these gals are. I agree that they could and should show a little more poise and energy than they have against the elite teams, but I think they will improve on that as the season goes on. As Adams said, it's not like this hasn't happened to LV teams before when Pat was still coaching and at the top of her game. The current team has plenty of talent, they are just a little short-handed personnel-wise and very young. They also have a great class coming in next year. A little less hyperventilating and a little more patience might do a body good. Sometimes you have to give the other team a little credit, too.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

No need to pile on, JA..Holly will probably never have UT poised to win at the level Pat had them. Any person with an ounce of intelligence knows you don't want to follow a legend.

jt45 writes:

Lot of folks gonna be eating crow next year when Russell comes in and joins this years freshman, Graves, Carter, Mercedes Russell and Harrison along with several other top players should get the job done.Has everyone forgotten this was a rebuilding year? Show me another Team who lost all five starters with this many quality wins, bet you cant !

No they are not a top 4 team YET but in a year or so your looking at a NC quality team in the making.

John Adams I challenge you to find a better playing team that Lost all 5 starters, let alone the best coach in college basketball to ever coach a game. Somehow I doubt you would write anything about that.

Lacey writes:

in response to jt45:

Lot of folks gonna be eating crow next year when Russell comes in and joins this years freshman, Graves, Carter, Mercedes Russell and Harrison along with several other top players should get the job done.Has everyone forgotten this was a rebuilding year? Show me another Team who lost all five starters with this many quality wins, bet you cant !

No they are not a top 4 team YET but in a year or so your looking at a NC quality team in the making.

John Adams I challenge you to find a better playing team that Lost all 5 starters, let alone the best coach in college basketball to ever coach a game. Somehow I doubt you would write anything about that.

I hope you are correct but I doubt it.

wagee12 writes:

Same old result as last year for WarLICK. Another butt kicking in the back of the pants suit! Job was handed to her on a silver platter. How long will it take before Kellie Jolly or Caldwell is called home?

tovolny writes:

in response to kennypowers:

Got to love East TN. "They are getting blowed out." I feel like you should have added a y'ins in somewhere.

Hey, notice that the guy you are criticizing did make his point. By reading what he wrote, we know he is upset with the way the Lady Vols are playing, and we know is main complaint is clearly focused on Holly. So, what are you relating? The answer seems to be that your purpose was self gratifying. By pointing out that East Tennessee does actually have a few people that would rather communicate with a colloquial flare, you probably inflated your ego. Did you know that Eastern Nebraska and Southern Iowa are the only places scoring higher SAT scores in grammar than East Tennessee? Have you ever toured Brooklyn, Long Island, Northern California, Southern Louisiana, the slums of Baltimore, or how about Northern Ireland? And, thank you for giving me this opportunity to express myself.

bigdisbig writes:

in response to AllforTenn:

Is this the best you can do? You know nothing about the ability of Holly. "Great recruits are going other places..." How dumb a statement; Holly signed the number one recruit and the no. 2 ranked class already. Crawl back into your hole and stay there.

WRONG on both counts. Get your facts straight dude. Even IF Holly signed the number 1 class in the nation she simply cannot coach. Pat was tough and smart. Holly is Dooley in a dress.

volsince64 writes:

It's not Mr. Adams' fault that the team is playing poorly. He is reporting what he sees. Which part of his observations do you think are wrong?

SummittsCourt writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BruisedOrange writes:

FTA: "Tennessee might have stopped Stanford from building a big lead early if it had simply hit all those follow-up shots following offensive rebounds in the early going."

Ironic that EXACTLY THE SAME could have been written about the men's game against Western Carolina.

Do we have a rim or venue optics controversy in TBA this season?

exlineman writes:

This team definitely has potential, just getting them to jell as a team. Poor shot selection, shooting from 15 20 ft. out with no one on the boards. Point guards playing out of control. Players telegraphing their passes, even a jr. high student knows better. Point guards getting caught going into traffic and picking up their dribble with no one to throw to. Waiting to late on their passing to someone that is open and have to pass off. Saw one player yesterday open for a three and when she caught it dribbled in missing her shot.

I see a lot of potential, just young players being imtimidated by some one ranked higher than them. Stanford seems to have alot of backyard scoop shooters that do know how to use the backboard, a trait that seems to be hard to get young players to adopt. Have coached both male and females and females seem to be the hardest to get to use the backboard on alot of their shots. This team will only get better and I personally feel that Holly a previous all american herself will get the job done at UT.

jmaples54 writes:

it is what it is. please give holly time-- not just weeks or even just this season. we could've gone out and gotten a proven coach, but this is probably the way pat wanted it. hasn't pat earned the right to pick her successor?

the "instant gratification" crowd just can't handle what actually has been going one for the last several years.

all vol fans need to take an aspirin (or valium) and cheer on our teams win or lose.

as for volforlife, volmoment, tovolny, and tomkats-- i have constantly ridiculed you as immature homers for hating on adams. as i have said, adams tells the truth without cheerleading, without malice, but often with a healthy dose of satire.

you resemble the posters who slam those who use incorrect grammar. you miss the bigger point. and you make yourself look small in the process.

try to join in the discussion of the topic. expand your mind. grow up. or take up sportswriting and see if you're any better. lol.

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