'Jail time' is still playing off for Cierra Burdick, Lady Vols

When Tennessee's Cierra Burdick counts her women's basketball blessings, the sophomore forward doesn't forget a forgettable 80-71 season-opening loss at Chattanooga.

"We learned an enormous amount from that game,'' she said Tuesday before practice at Pratt Pavilion. "I continue to say that it was a blessing in disguise because it really was."

Hard to argue with her assessment, considering Tennessee (3-1) has bounced back since that Nov. 9 opener with three consecutive victories, including road wins at No. 22 Georgia Tech and No. 23 Miami on Sunday. The Lady Vols have recouped their No. 20 ranking in the Associated Press' weekly top 25 poll. The coaches ranked them No. 15 Tuesday in their USA Today/ESPN poll.

Tennessee is back home to face Alcorn State on Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena. With only one game this week, the team will practice early this morning and then have Thanksgiving off before returning on Friday.

For sure the players learned after the Chattanooga game that they could survive without their cell phones and computers, etc. When asked about having to "turn in" such devices, Burdick said: "Turn in is not the right word. They were taken from us. Computers, cell phones, iPhones, iPods, everything was taken from us. We were left with nothing but our team, our teammates and our staff, that's it."

Burdick said that the players essentially "were in jail" before a game at Georgia Tech the following Sunday.

"All we did was watch film," Burdick said. "All sources of outside communication were taken from us. We watched film and we bonded as a team."

First-year coach Holly Warlick downplayed the cell phone roundup as merely an extension of the normal routine.

"We do that; we just chose not to give them back after the game," she said. "We just cut off their arm with their cell phone. 'Oh my God, I have got to actually talk to somebody without my cell?' We just thought it was a way to get them focused and get ready to play Georgia Tech after the way we played on Friday night."

Warlick said that the coaches "clarified things and simplified things for each game plan" since Chattanooga. She didn't downplay the players' response.

"I thought their intensity has been really good since the Chattanooga game," she said. "The coaches have been focused, but the players have jumped on board as well."

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Comments » 5

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

It seems apparent that Holly has learned a lot from Pat and knows what buttons to push. She and this coaching staff are going to do just fine.

ps11824 writes:

I'm so glad to see a coach who's not afraid to coach DISCIPLINE. I'm so sick of this "kids being kids" lax attitude by coaches. I think the most successful teams are the teams that play fundamental basketball. They don't congratulate themselves everytime they make a basket/play. They don't get over-confident. They don't cop attitudes of how talented/intelligent/pretty they are. They don't hog the ball. They cheer for, support and trust each other and their coaches. They don't throw shots toward the basket - they follow thru til the ball goes thru the net. If it doesn't go thru, they board and make another opportunity for someone to score. They don't take plays off. they DO NOT put themselves in jeopardy by making unforced turnovers. They VALUE the basketball. They win and/or lose with dignity and immediately get back to the business of getting better.

Is that unrealistic? Heck no, it's fundamental basketball. When the game has been won or lost, and each player and coach can honestly say, "I have played/coached to the best of my ability, and I will strive to get better, then, I will go celebrate or comfort my teammates."

I'm just not pandering to this notion of dismissing bad behavior, or allowing lax attitudes of student athletes on scholarship.

Academics are first and foremost, yes. The chosen sport is 2nd as far as contractual agreement goes. Striving to be the best one can be is sort of promised when one signs the papers. Being the best in showing one's rear end does not factor in. Does it?

SoddyVol writes:

98reax,...... I couldn't agree more about shooting. I know from experience that concentration/follow-through is very necessary. Many times a great shooter wont even realize they take a hard foul until walking to the foul line and can feel it.

Volinflan writes:

98reax I agree with your post - with a small addition. You used the terms "kids being kids" I would like to add on the term "they should also be allowed to be kids" Because they are. Some of them just turned eighteen.

I watch as many lady basketball games as I can. A couple of years ago I became concerned about the "joy" exhibited by some teams versus others, and I don't mean that high fiving, chest bumping while the ball was still in play. I mean the joy the players show in thier faces on the sidelines after a play.

Show me a video of Cain, Brewer or Bjorkland guinely "celebrating" on the sideline. Sure there were some happy moments, but it seemed to me that the pressure of being "a Lady Vol and winning No. 9" took a lot of the fun out of the games. You could see the same thing when the Atlanta Braves were so successful I mean, what's another championship after 13. While other teams were body piling on the infield the Braves were calmly walking back to the dugout.

This year I see excitement coming from the players. I predict they will go deeper into the tournament that last year's Lady Vols. Well that may be a far fetch but they'll have a lot more success than expected and us fans will enjoy sharing freshman and sophmore excitement about winning games that we didn't expect to win. I prefer body piles on the infield to "I'm afraid of losing faces" on the sidelines.

ps11824 writes:

volinflan, I was grieving about the way ( Vols fb team ) show their behinds, as I was posting. Occasionally I will wonder into that den of iniquity called the football message boards. Sorry to bring those frustrations into this site.

I agree, it's a pleasure to see joy on the court. The greatest joy comes with doing the best one can do at whatever one does. I believe a disciplined team can handle success within the game, as well as owning a "my bad" and still not let either interfere with the game.

It's always fun to win. It feels good to make a tough shot/pass/board, but a disciplined player will get back on defense, and celebrate when celebration is appropriate.

Nothing feels better than cutting down the nets. Just as the Scriptures say: To everything there is a season... Ecclesiastes 3.

As for Brewer, she had little to be happy about as far as winning, or physical condition. Cain, with chronic injuries, same story. Bj put so much pressure on herself after a few cold shooting spells, she did not know how to celebrate. Self discipline is just as important as disciplinary coaching.

I may sound like an old prude. I'm not.

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