After two straight losses, Lady Vols' momentum flying south

Lady Vols guard Meighan Simmons (10) shoots a layup over Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike (13) during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Lady Vols guard Meighan Simmons (10) shoots a layup over Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike (13) during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Holly Warlick on the Lady Vols' loss to Stanford

Tennessee has more than two consecutive women's basketball losses to contemplate during its Christmas break.

The Lady Vols also have lost the momentum gained by seven consecutive victories, including four over ranked opponents. The surge sent them soaring up the national rankings to No. 10 after last Sunday's 94-75 victory at No. 18 Texas.

Poor shooting starts against both No. 3 Baylor and No. 1 Stanford has weakened Tennessee's offense — heretofore the team's strength. Defense and rebounding have been caught up in the ripple effect. Head coach Holly Warlick judged the team's effort in Saturday's 73-60 loss to the Cardinal as unacceptable and said, "it's my job to make sure we straighten that out and change that."

Sophomore forward Cierra Burdick agreed with her coach's criticism.

"That's what hurts," she said. "When you put on a Tennessee (uniform) you're supposed to play with heart and passion."

Saturday's game was the third in seven days for No. 10 Tennessee (7-3). Two were on the road. Burdick conceded that her legs were "shot" in the second half Saturday and mentioned an air ball she shot. But she quickly added that the players should be responsible for their physical maintenance.

"We have all the treatment and rehab at our hands and it's our job to take care of ourselves and

get our body back," she said. "That's not an excuse to (not) get in a stance and play D."

Warlick essentially told her youthful team to relax after a season-opening loss at Chattanooga last month and the players bounced back two days later with a 71-54 victory at then-No. 22 Georgia Tech. The Lady Vols' response, along with their play since then, apparently has changed Warlick's expectations, even against an elite team like Stanford. On Saturday, she was less forgiving in assessing some of the same team attributes.

"It could be (a lack of) maturity; it could be youth; we can't change our youth," Warlick said. "We can probably get a little more serious. We have had great practices. This will change. As coaches, we will make some changes, too. It is time to grow up."

In the last two losses, Tennessee's overall per-game scoring average plunged by more than six points (87-80.9) and its field goal shooting percentage fell from 46.5 to 43.2. Conversely, the opposition's overall scoring average went up more than two more points per game (62.6 to 64.8) and its shooting percentage improved from 35.5 to 37.5.

In rebounding, the lady Vols have dropped from an 8.2 to a 5.5 advantage per game.

Warlick sounded as if she wants the players to be as mad as she about any dropoff in defense and rebounding.

"You have to get ticked off because your man scored, not just because you missed a shot," she said. "You need to be extremely upset and mad that you missed a box out. You just let the team down."

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Comments » 27

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

UT just lost to the best two teams in America, so they should keep that in proper perspective..It's way too early to bail on the season before they even have played one conference game..GLV!!

wigmeister writes:

The season isn't over! It is just beginning. So get the heads out of you know where and kick some butt! Only you can make yourselves better! It is a mindset!

vol98champ writes:

Let's face some facts Lady Vol faithful. Last year, looking forward to this year's team, we had no reason to expect a top ten finish. Graves has been a wonderful addition and gives us a chance to at least compete with all but a handful of teams. On a given night we might even beat one or two of them, but the girls have to focus on success instead of failure.

movol53 writes:

Lady Vols lose two seniors this year and have three coming in. A wing, a guard and Ms. Russell.
While I hate it that we lose any game this is a very young team and every game is a learning experience. Go Lady Vols!!!!They should make the Elite 8 this year. Didn't help that we lost one guard to an injury (shoulder) and one other girl has not been playing at all due to grades(???).

oldster writes:

The big problem is the great expectations that the North Carolina game gave. We forget that no one is as good as their best game, nor as bad as their worst.

huntined#565710 writes:

When I looked at the schedule at start of the year I said we will lose to both of the teams we just lost to. Now if someone else thought we would win those games I guess maybe you thought these young ladies would be better then they are. We have a very young team playing stronger teams that are well coached.

r2d2 writes:

My prediction for the LVs at beginning of the regular season was 24-5. I assumed losses to Baylor, Stanford, Notre Dame, Kentucky and Georgia. I did not predict the loss to UTC. Another possible loss is South Carolina. Maybe a better prediction for the regular season is 22-7. They are a young team that will be better next year. Too bad Kaela Davis changed her mind about playing for the LVs.

chaos001 writes:

"The sky is falling...the sky is falling!!!"

Dial down the drama, Fleser.

SummittsCourt writes:

Coach Warlick is right - this team needs to get mad and stay mad. It's no shame in losing to Baylor and Stanford when you are a young, inexperienced team with a new head coach, but now it is time to play mad and not get embarrased again.

jdcdjc writes:

What I saw in the Stanford game was a more atheltic LV team against a much more intellegent Stanford team, and Stanford also seemed better coached.

BuckshotMcGee writes:

We lost to two much better teams. No need to panic.

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to BuckshotMcGee:

We lost to two much better teams. No need to panic.

But if these much better teams are the teams you must beat to accomplish the goal of NC, when to you panic?

RLL59 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Coach Warlick is right - this team needs to get mad and stay mad. It's no shame in losing to Baylor and Stanford when you are a young, inexperienced team with a new head coach, but now it is time to play mad and not get embarrased again.

I don't disagree with you, but history doesn't bear out your implied optimism about a young Lady Vols team getting better. The Lady Vols pretty consistently are in the top 5 recruiting classes. Yet when was the last time you could say that a Lady Vol player was a much better player as a senior than she was as a freshman? When was the last time the Lady Vols beat a team with equal or better talent? The coaches have to be more than cheerleaders and disciplinarians for the players. It seems that every year a player spokesperson continually comments about the players having a bad attitude, or not enough heart. (This year it's Burdick; last year it was Johnson). One or two players? Sure. But all the players, year after year? Not likely. I don't think many fans believe the players don't try hard enough or don't care if they win. The players need to be developed and encouraged, not beaten down.

I was, and still am, hoping that Holly would continue the practices that made Coach Summitt so successful, but make changes to those which no longer work in the women's game. So far, other than an improved half court passing game, I haven't noticed any changes.

madrigal writes:

in response to chaos001:

"The sky is falling...the sky is falling!!!"

Dial down the drama, Fleser.

Amen. Some of the rest of you could follow chaos' advice too. It wouldn't hurt you to be a little realistic without crying that the Lady Vols program has fallen into the depths post-Pat. This is a young team. They are streaky and sometimes immature. They just lost 2 in a row to (gasp!) two of the best teams in the country, and the second one not nearly as badly as I expected. The two seniors on the team have had their problems, though one at least seems to be getting past hers, and their #1 point guard is out for the season. Okay, so they lost to UTC. It was the first real game of the season and stuff happens sometimes in those games, especially with a young team. Get over it.

The fact is that there is a finite number of teams that can be in the top 5. The Lady Vols have been there more often than not for years. This team isn't, but they could very well finish in the top 10 if they play hard and well and don't have too many injuries the rest of the season. I know that's just not enough for some of you, but it'll just have to do. However, this boo-hooing and crape-hanging is ridiculous. If you can't take the ups and downs of a young team playing with a coach who is new to the head coaching thing, then I have one suggestion for you.....crawl back in your holes and Just SHUT UP. The Lady Vol nation doesn't need you. But I'm sure you'll come out the next really good season and claim you were with them all along.

underthehill writes:

I thought the effort by the players was far better than the coaching job by Holly..Burdick couldn'nt catch her breath late in the game because she gave it all she had..Kamiko was on the bench..Massengale was bushed late and playing out of control ..Kamiko was on the bench..Kamiko proved against Baylor she is by far the best defender on the team..Kamiko has a hard time defending when she is on the bench..Stanford had a huge advantage in coaching and Holly should recognize this..it wasn't hard to do...

ps11824 writes:

There's no shame in losing to ANY team as long as we play smart and work hard on every play. As long as each and every player who logs playing time gives her 100%, she has no reason to hang her head, nor will the coaching staff feel the pain of seeing their efforts thrown to the wind.

Holly & her staff are not allowed to wear whistles at game time. Give them credit where credit is due, underhill. This constant blaming and/or accusing Holly of being less than an excellent, deserving head coach is nothing less than immature. She's been at this 26 years. Have you? She's with these players night and day. Are you? Do you really think you know more about how they behave outside and during their practice sessions?

I doubt seriously that she allows players to rush shots, rest on defensive or play scared in practice. Once they take the court in real game situations, it's on the players. And for Pete's sake, stop posting as if you know more than the staff about who's on the bence and who's on the court. IF YOU DID KNOW THIS, you would be coaching your own Women's D1 College Basketball team.

I can sit here and claim to know better how to get our country out of this deep state of ruin we are in right now, but I would be blowing smoke just like you are when you condemn Holly for her coaching skill and knowledge.

With all due respect underthehill, why not make a point to be supportive which is what the team and staff need from fans now?

Nothing personal with the comments. I would say the same things to you if we were face to face. I would be sincere in the conversation.

Have a very Merry Christmas.

Volinflan writes:

Happy Holidays to all you Lady Vols Fans.

I've kept my mouth shut (perhaps it should be my fingers) since before and after the Baylor game. Personally I'm proud of the team for their effort in both the Baylor and Stanford games. I mean, they were, after all, the No 1 and No 3 teams in the country. Not many teams this year have held in games against those two any better than the Lady Vols did. And we did it with a bunch of freshmen and sophmores (for the most part).

Speaking of youth, some posters seem to want the Lady Vols to immediately vault back to the Final Four Level after graduating five seniors (most of whom are playing in the WNBA now). Ain't gonna happen. Not yet anyway. But it will. Meanwhile, lets enjoy watching a bunch of talented young ladies become a bunch of talented, experienced young ladies win a couple of Natiional Championships.

Speaking of talent, many seem to think the addition of a post will cure all weaknesses. And it will surely help, but I think, if I could go out and get one player to add to the present team it would be a 6 foot wing that could shoot 45-50 percent from the field. For the last two games I've watched the defenses collaspe on the inside game and shut it down. We tried to do the same on Ogwumike and when we did Stanford sent a "shooter" out there and banged a few three pointers. Our "shooters" chucked up some misses. We desperately need a guard that will hit 50% of their open shots. UCONN, which I believe to be the best team in the country, will kill you with those "open" shots when a team tries to overguard the bigs inside.

I'm hoping Tucker and Reynolds will bring that to the team. Meanwhile, I projecting a Sweet Sixteen, if not an Elite Eight. UCONN, Baylor and Stanford will be three of the final four (of course IMHO). I think UCONN is frightfully good.

But before all that we are going to have a very fun SEC race. How many wins do you think the regular season winner will have? I'm going to miss the home and home thing. Especially against SC GA and KY. We get Florida, Kentucky and Georgia on the road. At least South Carolina will be at home.

underthehill writes:

in response to ps11824:

There's no shame in losing to ANY team as long as we play smart and work hard on every play. As long as each and every player who logs playing time gives her 100%, she has no reason to hang her head, nor will the coaching staff feel the pain of seeing their efforts thrown to the wind.

Holly & her staff are not allowed to wear whistles at game time. Give them credit where credit is due, underhill. This constant blaming and/or accusing Holly of being less than an excellent, deserving head coach is nothing less than immature. She's been at this 26 years. Have you? She's with these players night and day. Are you? Do you really think you know more about how they behave outside and during their practice sessions?

I doubt seriously that she allows players to rush shots, rest on defensive or play scared in practice. Once they take the court in real game situations, it's on the players. And for Pete's sake, stop posting as if you know more than the staff about who's on the bence and who's on the court. IF YOU DID KNOW THIS, you would be coaching your own Women's D1 College Basketball team.

I can sit here and claim to know better how to get our country out of this deep state of ruin we are in right now, but I would be blowing smoke just like you are when you condemn Holly for her coaching skill and knowledge.

With all due respect underthehill, why not make a point to be supportive which is what the team and staff need from fans now?

Nothing personal with the comments. I would say the same things to you if we were face to face. I would be sincere in the conversation.

Have a very Merry Christmas.

Thanks and a very Merry Christmas to you and all the Vol fans and teams..and I would say the same things to you if we were face to face..and I would be sincere..Stanford was a much better coached team than UT..if you did not see that you are not much of a basketball person..when you win you win as a team..when you lose you lose as a team and that includes coaching..Holly seemed to me to make it appear the game with Stanford was lost due to her players not giving their best effort ..this was not true..Stanford is the better team at this point..I do like this UT Lady Vols team and think they are talented and going to get better and that is being supportive..there is certainly no shame in losing to a better team when you play as hard as you can play..and that is what I saw the Lady Vols do against Stanford ..I did not see a lack of effort..and I think the effort of these players is going to result in them getting better and winning the SEC...we'll see..since it is Christmas I am not going to be as rude as you..I'll just say you post what you want and I'll do the same..but in the future ..keep your instructions to yourself..again ..Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year..

underthehill writes:

in response to Volinflan:

Happy Holidays to all you Lady Vols Fans.

I've kept my mouth shut (perhaps it should be my fingers) since before and after the Baylor game. Personally I'm proud of the team for their effort in both the Baylor and Stanford games. I mean, they were, after all, the No 1 and No 3 teams in the country. Not many teams this year have held in games against those two any better than the Lady Vols did. And we did it with a bunch of freshmen and sophmores (for the most part).

Speaking of youth, some posters seem to want the Lady Vols to immediately vault back to the Final Four Level after graduating five seniors (most of whom are playing in the WNBA now). Ain't gonna happen. Not yet anyway. But it will. Meanwhile, lets enjoy watching a bunch of talented young ladies become a bunch of talented, experienced young ladies win a couple of Natiional Championships.

Speaking of talent, many seem to think the addition of a post will cure all weaknesses. And it will surely help, but I think, if I could go out and get one player to add to the present team it would be a 6 foot wing that could shoot 45-50 percent from the field. For the last two games I've watched the defenses collaspe on the inside game and shut it down. We tried to do the same on Ogwumike and when we did Stanford sent a "shooter" out there and banged a few three pointers. Our "shooters" chucked up some misses. We desperately need a guard that will hit 50% of their open shots. UCONN, which I believe to be the best team in the country, will kill you with those "open" shots when a team tries to overguard the bigs inside.

I'm hoping Tucker and Reynolds will bring that to the team. Meanwhile, I projecting a Sweet Sixteen, if not an Elite Eight. UCONN, Baylor and Stanford will be three of the final four (of course IMHO). I think UCONN is frightfully good.

But before all that we are going to have a very fun SEC race. How many wins do you think the regular season winner will have? I'm going to miss the home and home thing. Especially against SC GA and KY. We get Florida, Kentucky and Georgia on the road. At least South Carolina will be at home.

I too am proud of the effort the Lady Vols gave against Baylor and Stanford..I did not see a lack of effort as some have said..lack of effort had nothing to do with losing to either of these teams..this team is young, talented, and just need more experience to play their best..I too have hopes they can and will win the SEC..

Volinflan writes:

We all wonder what is going on with Jasmine Phillips. Has she played in any games? We were all hoping she would be the next "Little Bit" that would come in and shoot the lights out of the ball. Without Carter, we really need another guard. Especially one that can "cha-ching" those three's on a consistent basis.

ps11824 writes:

Rude? That was not my intent. I do apologize. Instructions? No, just comments, a simple imploration.

r2d2 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

Happy Holidays to all you Lady Vols Fans.

I've kept my mouth shut (perhaps it should be my fingers) since before and after the Baylor game. Personally I'm proud of the team for their effort in both the Baylor and Stanford games. I mean, they were, after all, the No 1 and No 3 teams in the country. Not many teams this year have held in games against those two any better than the Lady Vols did. And we did it with a bunch of freshmen and sophmores (for the most part).

Speaking of youth, some posters seem to want the Lady Vols to immediately vault back to the Final Four Level after graduating five seniors (most of whom are playing in the WNBA now). Ain't gonna happen. Not yet anyway. But it will. Meanwhile, lets enjoy watching a bunch of talented young ladies become a bunch of talented, experienced young ladies win a couple of Natiional Championships.

Speaking of talent, many seem to think the addition of a post will cure all weaknesses. And it will surely help, but I think, if I could go out and get one player to add to the present team it would be a 6 foot wing that could shoot 45-50 percent from the field. For the last two games I've watched the defenses collaspe on the inside game and shut it down. We tried to do the same on Ogwumike and when we did Stanford sent a "shooter" out there and banged a few three pointers. Our "shooters" chucked up some misses. We desperately need a guard that will hit 50% of their open shots. UCONN, which I believe to be the best team in the country, will kill you with those "open" shots when a team tries to overguard the bigs inside.

I'm hoping Tucker and Reynolds will bring that to the team. Meanwhile, I projecting a Sweet Sixteen, if not an Elite Eight. UCONN, Baylor and Stanford will be three of the final four (of course IMHO). I think UCONN is frightfully good.

But before all that we are going to have a very fun SEC race. How many wins do you think the regular season winner will have? I'm going to miss the home and home thing. Especially against SC GA and KY. We get Florida, Kentucky and Georgia on the road. At least South Carolina will be at home.

I agree wth most of your comments except for your comment about UCONN. How could they be the best team in the country when Baylor who won the NC with a record of 40-0, returned all 5 starters? Granted, Baylor lost to Stanford by 2 points but Odyssey Sims. their 2nd best player, did not play but 5 minutes. A good test for UCONN is the upcoming game with Stanford.

Volinflan writes:

in response to r2d2:

I agree wth most of your comments except for your comment about UCONN. How could they be the best team in the country when Baylor who won the NC with a record of 40-0, returned all 5 starters? Granted, Baylor lost to Stanford by 2 points but Odyssey Sims. their 2nd best player, did not play but 5 minutes. A good test for UCONN is the upcoming game with Stanford.

"How could they be the best team in the country when Baylor who won the NC with a record of 40-0, returned all 5 starters?" Simple - they added Stewert and Faris is fully healthy.

r2d2 writes:

in response to oldster:

The big problem is the great expectations that the North Carolina game gave. We forget that no one is as good as their best game, nor as bad as their worst.

Very astute comment. I remember one similar comment after the North Carolina win by the LVs. The commenter said the LVs were not as good as they looked nor were North Carolina as bad as they looked. Since that game the LVs are 1-2 and the Tar Heels are 4-0. Enough said, even though the LVs lost to the 2 best teams in the nation and the Tar Heels won by defeating cupcakes.

SoddyVol writes:

Jasmine Phillips needs to get to work on whatever her problem is. Maybe she is to be red-shirted. She has only played about 9 minutes so far this year.

kazoo writes:

The Vols have lost the mental toughness that used to be the HALLMARK of this program. When you come out and stink up the gym to start two consecutive big games, you've got mental toughness issues more than anything.

SoddyVol writes:

in response to kazoo:

The Vols have lost the mental toughness that used to be the HALLMARK of this program. When you come out and stink up the gym to start two consecutive big games, you've got mental toughness issues more than anything.

You are absolutely correct. Very evident from the tip off against Stanford, No Confidence.

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