Lady Vols sell work as virtue, value

Lady Vols face Rice in home opener

Ariel Massengale talks about what goes into playing hard

On the court at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday afternoon, Tennessee coach Holly Warlick was selling the value of hard work and effort to her women's basketball team.

Across the street, UT's marketing department was selling the fruits of the Lady Vols' labor to the fans. Those who already have bought in will attend tonight's regular-season home opener against Rice (1-0). Tipoff is at 7 o'clock. The game will not be televised but will be streamed online at UTSports.com.

Both sales jobs are being held to high standards.

UT's performance and season-ticket sales currently reflect a Lady Vols program that's in transition. No. 24 Tennessee (1-1) split its first two games last weekend with two dramatically different performances. Season-ticket sales, meanwhile, stand at 9,168. The total is nearly a thousand less than last season's total (10,060).

Last season's season-ticket sales were enhanced by former head coach Pat Summitt's announcement in August of 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia Alzheimer's type. Fans assumed that the season would be Summitt's last and turned out in strong numbers. Tennessee's total home attendance was 216,206.

Summitt stepped down last April to become a head coach emeritus and was replaced by Warlick.

Jimmy Delaney, UT's senior director for marketing and sales, has been encouraged by an 85 percent renewal rate. He still thinks that the 2010-11 season tickets total of 9,616 is a worthy goal this season for a fan base that has enabled Tennessee to lead the nation in home attendance for nine consecutive years.

"I think there's a sense of pride within the Tennessee fan base," Delaney said. "Even though Pat isn't the head coach, they're thinking Pat built this and we want to support it."

The marketing department has used a quote from Warlick to emphasize her coaching link to Summitt.

"Pat and I have the same values and philosophy," said Warlick in an advertisement that's been featured in, among other places, the UT football program. "We believe in defense & rebounding & putting school first, and those things are not going to change.

"The things that Pat instilled in me is how I've grown as a coach. I will continue to use those values & philosophies with our team."

Warlick also mirrors Summitt's marketing values. She initiated a summer meeting on the subject, is a willing participant in any venture and suggests ideas.

These days, Warlick is putting a lot of thought into her youthful team. A season-opening 80-71 loss at Chattanooga had her second-guessing everything from the starting lineup to her defensive strategy. Conversely, a 71-54 victory at Georgia Tech reaffirmed her belief in the virtues of playing hard.

UT will have a full roster of players tonight with guard Jasmine Phillips back after being sidelined with a strained quad.

"For the fans, you put points on the board, they appreciate that style,'' Warlick said on Wednesday. "But I think they appreciate and understand hard work and what you're doing on the floor. ... I want us to make sure we play the game with a lot of intensity and a high level of energy."

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Comments » 5

springtx_vol writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Baylor, with Griner, is the best team in the country, maybe the best of all time. Griner is that much of a game changer. I predict another undefeated national championship for them, then the bottom falls out of the ship for next year.

Everyone else this year is playing for second; next year, UT and several others will be in the running. It is a good year for the transition to Holly, to break in 5 new starters, develop some depth, and improve the program.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to springtx_vol:

Baylor, with Griner, is the best team in the country, maybe the best of all time. Griner is that much of a game changer. I predict another undefeated national championship for them, then the bottom falls out of the ship for next year.

Everyone else this year is playing for second; next year, UT and several others will be in the running. It is a good year for the transition to Holly, to break in 5 new starters, develop some depth, and improve the program.

Good observation. Yes unless there is a injury Baylor will roll. Uconn might give them a challenge if this Breanna Stewert is all that and a bag of chips . I just don't see her matching Griners play. This is a good year to develop your team and be ready for fierce competion next year. IMO if we renew the rivalry against Uconn the Wbball ratings will go up with players like our Mercedes going against Breanna. Griner will be gone so the hype will fizzle a bit. I'm sure UT is getting pressure to schedule them by ESPN and the NCAA.I still support Pats decision to scrap thr rivalry but until they do find recruiting violations from the "cheat" I think we should let our players play the best out there.

ps11824 writes:

Baylor is that good. You put a player like Griner on the floor with a team that can just deliver the ball, you got a winning team.

I'm not sure Griner will meet a match. An anomaly in the women's game is BG... No matter how one dissects the Griner story, Baylor would be a good team, but beatable, without that anomaly.

As for the Lady Vols, they will struggle; HARD WORK being Holly's battle cry is necessary to achieve chemistry and get turnovers down to a manageable rate. I still say need a 'shot doctor'. We absolutely cannot afford these long cold periods missing FTs & buckets, UNLESS we get so efficient at defense that we can shut dow the best shooters.

I said all that to say this... I don't know squat about winning basketball games, but I sure like watching my team win. I don't like excessive turnovers. I do love my Lady Vols.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to springtx_vol:

Baylor, with Griner, is the best team in the country, maybe the best of all time. Griner is that much of a game changer. I predict another undefeated national championship for them, then the bottom falls out of the ship for next year.

Everyone else this year is playing for second; next year, UT and several others will be in the running. It is a good year for the transition to Holly, to break in 5 new starters, develop some depth, and improve the program.

I surely agree with everything you said about Griner and Baylor this year, but I really don't see Baylor going down as far as you seem to think. Kim Mulkey was a great coach before Griner and she will be great after Griner. Most of the rest of Baylor's key players could start for almost any other team in the country. Oh sure, Griner's departure will open things up for other teams, but Baylor will still, IMHO, rank among the championship contenders for the foreseeable future.

madrigal writes:

in response to springtx_vol:

Baylor, with Griner, is the best team in the country, maybe the best of all time. Griner is that much of a game changer. I predict another undefeated national championship for them, then the bottom falls out of the ship for next year.

Everyone else this year is playing for second; next year, UT and several others will be in the running. It is a good year for the transition to Holly, to break in 5 new starters, develop some depth, and improve the program.

Baylor is not the best team of all time. Baylor is Britney Griner, who is arguably one of the best, and a supporting cast of pretty good players. But Griner has to play just about the entire 40 minutes for them to be that good; when she is not on the floor they are just a pretty good team. One team last year (I forget whether it was Texas Tech or A&M) found that out when they got Griner in foul trouble and came very close to beating Baylor because she had to ride the bench so much.

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