Lady Vols' post players look to set tone for improved shooting

DES MOINES, IOWA — The unseasonably warm Midwest weather hasn't been reflected by Tennessee's shooting.

Through two tournament games, the Lady Vols are a chilly 38.8 percent from the floor (50-for-129). In advance of today's (TV: ESPN, 12:04 p.m.) Des Moines (Iowa) Regional semifinal game against Kansas, the Lady Vols reemphasized going inside in search of better shots.

"Getting (the post players) early touches and get them going,'' point guard Briana Bass said. "I think we definitely feed off that."

The strategy doesn't constitute a fail-safe formula. Forward Glory Johnson shot 2-for-9 from the floor against DePaul last Monday. But center Vicki Baugh was 8-for-11 and forward Shekinna Stricklen hit a clutch second-half shot off the dribble from close range to thwart a Blue Demons' rally.

"I think ever since I've gotten here the philosophy has been the first four minutes pound it inside; everything else opens up,'' guard Taber Spani said. "I think it sets the tone that we're attacking early.

"We're going to come at you early. We're not going to settle (for shots). I think at times up in Chicago, we settled."

Burdick's Back: The postseason has meant more than bigger games for Cierra Burdick. It also has meant more medication.

UT's freshman forward has been dealing with lower-back pain for much of the season.

"They don't know what's causing it," Burdick said. "But they upped my medication (anti-inflammatory and pain) for the tournament.

"It doesn't affect me in games. I notice it more when I get up in the morning."

Senior Catalysts: UT isn't likely to change its starting lineup at this juncture of the tournament. They've had too much success since they switched to an all-senior starting five.

The Lady Vols first employed the lineup against Florida in the last regular-season game and have continued to do so through the SEC tournament and the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. They have won six consecutive games with the lineup.

The lineup was conceived with defense in mind. It also has enabled the seniors to set the tone for the game.

"I love it," said senior Alicia Manning. "And not just because I'm in the lineup.

"We're all comfortable with it."

Better Beware: Tennessee's two tournament games in Chicago were very physical and the players were anticipating more of the same in Des Moines.

In case of a change, the coaches will advise the players to be wary of how today's game is officiated. They won't belabor the point. Instead, they will mention it as part of their defensive instructions beforehand.

"We want to play smart without fouling,'' assistant coach Dean Lockwood said, "and we want to be tuned in to how the game's being called."

Slow Success: UT sophomore guard Meighan Simmons is one of the fastest players in college basketball. But speed doesn't help her shooting touch.

"When I rush (my shot), it goes way off," said Simmons.

Intent on slowing down, Simmons had made at least half of her field-goal attempts in seven of her last 12 games. She didn't shoot better than 40 percent from the field in any of the previous 12 games.

Camp Connection: Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson got a firsthand look at Lady Vols basketball when she worked UT's summer camp.

"I was a graduate assistant at Western Illinois," she said. "It was the first summer camp I ever worked.

"I was just so impressed with (UT coach Pat Summitt) and how warm she was."

Henrickson's only camp disappointment was in not winning the competition for the best skit with her "Church Lady" impersonation.

"I thought it was pretty good," she said. "But it didn't win."

More Goodrich: Former Lady Vol Alyssia Brewer played with Kansas point guard Angel Goodrich in AAU basketball. She advised UT point guard Briana Bass to be aware of Goodrich's defense.

"Everybody's hyping up her scoring,'' Bass said. "But her defense is really good, too. She knows how to read people. She's good at getting steals by reading people."

Morning People: The Lady Vols don't seem to be concerned about the 11:04 a.m. (local time) tipoff today. It's better than a 6 a.m. summer workout with strength & conditioning coach Heather Mason.

"Half of us weren't morning people because we knew we had to run with Heather,'' guard Kamiko Williams said.

Big Regional: None of the teams in the Des Moines are lacking in size.

Baylor's 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner obviously has the biggest presence. But the other three teams have some length, as well.

Georgia Tech, which plays Baylor this afternoon, has eight players who are 6-foot-2 or taller. UT has seven 6-1 or taller. Kansas has five 6-2 or taller.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

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

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 11

wigmeister writes:

This is the big girl bracket. Our bigs have to come prepared to play lineups as big as they are! Big is such a cool word to have only three letters! Our guards have got to play well against Kansas. Take care of business, and move on to the next game, which will then be our next big game!

butch31 writes:

Go Lady Vols Final 4 here we come!!! Lets prove all the *HATERS & NAY SAYERS* wrong this year!

abnerPeabody writes:

Just make your dang layups girls and the outside will open up. I believe they have set an NCAA record this year for missing 3 ft or closer shots. Not really, but it sure seems that way.

ps11824 writes:

Today's a great day to begin the 180. Finish at the rim and take care of the basketball. Do this and you'll cut down nets.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

Just make your dang layups girls and the outside will open up. I believe they have set an NCAA record this year for missing 3 ft or closer shots. Not really, but it sure seems that way.

Good point. You see a lot of missed layups in both men's and women's ball these days. I believe it is because not many players ever learned the value of putting the ball HIGH up on the backboard, if they use it at all. You just can't work as hard as inside players and drivers do to get up tough shots and expect to just float it over the rim. You have to get it UP if you want it to fall IN.

kazoo writes:

Johnson and Baugh are wonderful. in their own ways, but neither is a traditional center/post. This is a weakness with the team. Glory is a warrior and the hardest working player in WCB--but she is a power forward/4 not a center/5, and she's not a natural scorer; she doesn't have post moves, unfortunately. She (finally) has started shooting a turnaround, occasionally, but her basic offensive contribution in the half court is the offensive-rebound put-back, and even that is a challenge as she is often trying to power the ball back up against bigger players. She's just not that big for a post player. She also tends to bring the ball down (a no-no), and often gets tied up. I'm sure coach Lockwood is a nice guy--but I don't know what he teaches the players every day because their fundamental skills are not strong. Watch a Stanford center play the position and then watch us--they know post moves. Glory should have been taught to tap the ball back in, too, rather than to always grab it, which would be relatively easy thing for her to learn, and she'd be good at doing that with her quickness--but she's hasn't been taught that, apparently.

Baugh is taller than Glory--but thin--and she seems to prefer playing the high post rather than the low post. She has no low-post moves and also brings the ball down too much, and tries to dribble in the post area--which is not a wise thing to do, generally. However, she is playing more than she has all year, and contributing more defense and more points--so that is all to the good, especially with Baylor looming.

Even with our inside challenges this year, next year is going to be doubly difficult as these two will be gone--leaving UT with one (thin but talented) sophomore center. Yikes.

JimmyJoe writes:

Our post players aren't getting it done so far... Baugh thinks she's a point guard.

butch31 writes:

in response to JimmyJoe:

Our post players aren't getting it done so far... Baugh thinks she's a point guard.

Glory is doing her job, that's NOt fair to say the posts are NOT doing their J O B. Vicki is not playing for some reason, Alicia is NOT playing for some reason, Shekinna is NOT playing for some reason. I know the UT players were up early at 5 a.m. but so was Kansas.
I am totally EMBARRASSED by Vicki, ALicia, and Shekinna they MUST pick it up in the 2nd half. 35 points given up in the 1st half to an 11 seeded team playing without their best player is EMBARRASSING. I know Coach will GO-OFF on those three in the locker room.

jt45 writes:

They are playing like they overlooked this team, why do the lady vols post players always play like their scared to foul or be aggressive on defense. They need to stop giving away those free buckets inside. I cant believe Baugh is letting those go uncontested. Either they step up their defense or this game lost.

butch31 writes:

in response to jt45:

They are playing like they overlooked this team, why do the lady vols post players always play like their scared to foul or be aggressive on defense. They need to stop giving away those free buckets inside. I cant believe Baugh is letting those go uncontested. Either they step up their defense or this game lost.

It wasn't the fact they over looked KU, its all about GOING TO BED EARLY, especially if u have to be up at 5 a.m. But Kansas was up early too. Shekinna, Alicia, and Vicki had very LOW ENERGY for some reason.
Thank goodness for for Meighan, Ariel and Glory's energy today.
We know what the starting 5 will be on Monday LOL

jt45 writes:

Simmons came to play once again 9 of 18 shooting and Ariel had a terrific Offensive game as well. These two players will be the key against baylor if they have to face them. I dont think Griner can be stopped but if the lady vols can put enough pressure on the point it could keep Griner from getting as many touches.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features