John Adams: Talent overcomes lapses for Lady Vols

John Adams
Tenneessee's Taber Spani, center, and Glory Johnson pressure Auburn's Najat Ouardad at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday, February 5, 2012. The Lady Vols defeated the Tigers, 82-61.

(SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Saul Young, copyright © 2012

Tenneessee's Taber Spani, center, and Glory Johnson pressure Auburn's Najat Ouardad at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday, February 5, 2012. The Lady Vols defeated the Tigers, 82-61. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Even as Tennessee was leaving Auburn in its dust, it didn't distance itself far enough from Thursday's loss to South Carolina.

Talent prevailed Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Lady Vols were superior to Auburn at every position, and that ultimately carried the day.

Their energy and effort also suggested they were more vested in the outcome than in the puzzling home-court loss to the Gamecocks. They pushed the pace, extended their defense and forced 23 turnovers in the 82-61 victory.

While the performance was an upgrade over Thursday night, don't get the idea that the Lady Vols have suddenly transformed themselves into a Final Four-caliber team. They missed too many layups and gave up too many for that.

Those familiar glitches

were glaring right away. Shekinna Stricklen opened the game with a missed layup; Auburn had two layups in jumping out to a 9-4 lead that triggered a quick UT timeout.

The response to the wayward start was a clear sign that the coaches' tolerance for UT's lapses has declined. Other coaching moves throughout the game reflected that as well.

When guard Meighan Simmons misfired badly on a hastily conceived first-half jump shot, coach Pat Summitt stood up immediately and summoned Kamiko Williams to take Simmons' place.

"She still has a voice when she needs to make a point," associate head coach Holly Warlick said of Summitt, whose role with this team has been limited by her battle with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. "She may pick and choose when she does it, but when she does, it's powerful."

Warlick reacted similarly in the second half when Simmons lost Auburn's best shooter, Camille Glymph, for an open 3-pointer. Again, in came Williams; out went Simmons.

"It gets a little old when we give everybody their best game offensively," Warlick said. "We wanted to make sure 22 (Glymph) didn't go off. Meighan's defensive game has elevated. But it's got to get better."

How telling that a team as experienced as this one has to be reminded and prodded to pick it up defensively.

Still, the breakdowns recur, sometimes in bunches. On one second-half Auburn possession, two Tigers missed shots beneath the basket, only to have the ball batted back out to the perimeter. Point guard Morgan Jennings promptly altered the theme by driving to the basket and actually making a layup.

It's too late in the season — and in some cases, too late in careers — to expect a dramatic change for the better in UT's defense. In a best-case scenario, perhaps it can overcome such shortcomings with more offense of its own.

Although Simmons' defense remains iffy, she had her best shooting game of the season against Auburn, making six of nine field-goal attempts, mostly on blazing drives to the basket that found the defense lagging.

Taber Spani, who is progressing from a knee injury that cost her nine games, further bolstered the offense. She made one of her three 3-point tries and scored nine points in 21 minutes.

"She brings a different element to the floor," Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. "You have to respect her the whole time. That makes Tennessee better."

So does UT's senior leader, Glory Johnson, who criticized her team's lack of effort against South Carolina and led by her production against Auburn: 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 assists, and 6-for-7 shooting from the field.

"She's one of the best post players in the country," Fortner said. "She's just so physical. You always know she's guarding you."

The rest of UT's defense is too often a mystery.

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.

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Comments » 21

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

John you are a pitful excuse of a reporter or whatever you want to call yourself...lots of folks arround here wish youd simply dry up and blow away!!!!!!

chl1958 writes:

A dams,you are the master of negativity! The Lady Vols played with poise and intensity,yet you continue to dwell on minus items. Can you please retire soon as we are tired of you and the News Cynical!

wigmeister writes:

Article was a little too negative for me! They weren't perfect, but they were better than the article gave them credit for.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

There were two columnists on here today..........Climer and now Adams.

Seems to be pretty obvious these two are cut from the same ultra-negative cloth.

SummittsCourt writes:

I wonder what this idiot would write about if the Vols and Lady Vols all were dominating every game? Would he just stop? Would he be critical of the shoes the coaches wear? Would he complain about the pre game meal?

I guess he doesn't buy into that old saying that goes "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything."

dirislr#209355 writes:

If you people would quit reading his column you wouldn't care what he writes.

I_Bleed_Orng writes:

ignore.

formerflgranny writes:

Poor John Adams, he wants to believe he has the talent to overcome his lapes but sorry John you do not have any talent and you never will at this stage in your life. Doesn't the KNS need a janitor to clean their toilets?

I will never read or post another comment on JA's articles. If everyone would quit reading and commenting on his articles I believe the KNS would wise up and give this man a job where he has a slight chance to succeed!

Good luck in your new position John cleaning the Johns.

underthehill writes:

It is way past time for the coaches to respond to the lack of focus that happens too often..and the players involved yesterday did react in a positive way when they were pulled after a bad play..

johnlg00 writes:

I get that Adams raises the hackles of many on here, including mine on occasion, but what exactly did he say that many of us devoted LV fans haven't said on nearly every thread of every LV article since the current seniors were freshmen? The current team DOES have talent but it ALSO has apparently ineradicable flaws that will keep them out of the post-season winners' circle yet again, and maybe for the last time in Pat's incomparable career. Nearly all of us are pulling for them, but it can't be denied that they too often cause us to want to pull our hair as well.

mnvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I get that Adams raises the hackles of many on here, including mine on occasion, but what exactly did he say that many of us devoted LV fans haven't said on nearly every thread of every LV article since the current seniors were freshmen? The current team DOES have talent but it ALSO has apparently ineradicable flaws that will keep them out of the post-season winners' circle yet again, and maybe for the last time in Pat's incomparable career. Nearly all of us are pulling for them, but it can't be denied that they too often cause us to want to pull our hair as well.

I'm in total agreement with you. While the Auburn game was a slight upgrade from the South Carolina game, effort-wise, I certainly didn't see anything on Sunday that would cause me to think this team will make it to Denver. There are too many teams out there that want it more than the Lady Vols do.

notorange writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

I wonder what this idiot would write about if the Vols and Lady Vols all were dominating every game? Would he just stop? Would he be critical of the shoes the coaches wear? Would he complain about the pre game meal?

I guess he doesn't buy into that old saying that goes "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything."

My guess would be the swim team....

kazoo writes:

why don't you Adams bashers check Auburn's record. It's not a good team--3 and 9 in the SEC. Enough...said.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

John Adams is a devoted sycophant of David Climer and wants nothing more than to be just like him. Thus, his articles are pathetic, petulant drivel. HOWEVER. In this article I agree with every word. Aubun and Alabama are down at the bottom this year, and Sunday's victory was no great triumph for the Lady Vols. This time of year they are suppose to peak. They have not and they will not. The LV have been in disarray for two years, and improvement is not in sight. They are simply not a cohesive team. I have no idea why this is so, and certainly no remedies to offer. I just accept they will not make it to sweet 16.

abnerPeabody writes:

You guys need to bury the hatchet. You know without a shadow of doubt that Adams in spot on in everything he wrote in this article.

How many of you are as profecient in your life as you expect everyone else to be?
Sweep
your own house before attempting to sweep someone else's house.
Adams,keep telling the truth even if it hair lips the Devil.

It is time to realize that this Lady Vol Team is good but not good enough to cut down the nets. Maybe they will win the SEC tournament if they are lucky,but the NCAA is out of reach at this time.

bigdisbig writes:

Although I do not agree with all Adams writes I do agree with this article.
There is absolutely no excuse for losing to Carolina. They should have blown Auburn away from the get go.
Do you people seriously think UCONN would have had any problems with Auburn or SC?
The Lady Vols have caught the same disease Dooley's teams have.....LACK OF MOTIVATION.

Unless Pat or someone can build a fire under their rears they will continue to play below their means.
Sure they beat a 11-13 Auburn team that the reserves alone should have beaten.
Unlike the rest of you who cry about trolls and articles that post the truth, I feel its time to call a spade a spade and realize how low this program has sunk from the glory days of expectations of championships.....football included.

voloffaith writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Although I do not agree with all Adams writes I do agree with this article.
There is absolutely no excuse for losing to Carolina. They should have blown Auburn away from the get go.
Do you people seriously think UCONN would have had any problems with Auburn or SC?
The Lady Vols have caught the same disease Dooley's teams have.....LACK OF MOTIVATION.

Unless Pat or someone can build a fire under their rears they will continue to play below their means.
Sure they beat a 11-13 Auburn team that the reserves alone should have beaten.
Unlike the rest of you who cry about trolls and articles that post the truth, I feel its time to call a spade a spade and realize how low this program has sunk from the glory days of expectations of championships.....football included.

Well if you're gonna call a spade a spade then I'll follow your lead and call a shovel a shovel! Actually concerning the topic at hand, these Lady Vols might...I said might make the Nc2a. The RPI and 20+ wins(assuming) with reputation of the past and we probably get in. I'm afeared that best shot is maybe into 2nd round.Sweet sixteen isn't there based on what we've seen of late. Sad for Coach Summitt to have to close out career on sour note. As I've said the swan song we wanted has turned into a somber poorly written play. Hope some strange turn of events turns these ladies up a couple of notches while having them actually play like a TEAM.

CrankE writes:

If only Adams talent could overcome his "lapses". Oh wait...that WAS his talent. Nevermind.

(Disclaimer: I didn't read Adams' column-is that really necessary?)

bigdisbig writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Well if you're gonna call a spade a spade then I'll follow your lead and call a shovel a shovel! Actually concerning the topic at hand, these Lady Vols might...I said might make the Nc2a. The RPI and 20+ wins(assuming) with reputation of the past and we probably get in. I'm afeared that best shot is maybe into 2nd round.Sweet sixteen isn't there based on what we've seen of late. Sad for Coach Summitt to have to close out career on sour note. As I've said the swan song we wanted has turned into a somber poorly written play. Hope some strange turn of events turns these ladies up a couple of notches while having them actually play like a TEAM.

Good post. I do feel they will make the NCAA tourney but when they play a team with heart and desire as well as equal talent they will be done unless they can find heart.

VOLunTEAR writes:

Love him or hate him, EVERYTHING John Adams has written about THIS LVs team has been SPOT ON.

carmine writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Although I do not agree with all Adams writes I do agree with this article.
There is absolutely no excuse for losing to Carolina. They should have blown Auburn away from the get go.
Do you people seriously think UCONN would have had any problems with Auburn or SC?
The Lady Vols have caught the same disease Dooley's teams have.....LACK OF MOTIVATION.

Unless Pat or someone can build a fire under their rears they will continue to play below their means.
Sure they beat a 11-13 Auburn team that the reserves alone should have beaten.
Unlike the rest of you who cry about trolls and articles that post the truth, I feel its time to call a spade a spade and realize how low this program has sunk from the glory days of expectations of championships.....football included.

So true. It is time for people to stop bashing others who speak the truth, hahaha. And other articles have the nerve to call the name of one of best defensive guards that was run off by the coaching staff!! And coaching staff is going to blow out KW's knee making her play the defense of two. I know her knee is not that strong to be subjected to the kind of defense they want her to play.

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