Ariel Massengale talks about what goes into playing hard
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."