Taber Spani on the Lady Vols' win over Alcorn
Photo by Saul Young, 2012 Knoxville News Sentinel // Buy this photo
Kamiko Williams made the most out of 18 seconds Sunday afternoon.
Tennessee's senior guard squeezed her biggest contributions to a 90-37 women's basketball victory over Alcorn State into that relatively small time frame.
The reaction lingered much longer. First, the announced crowd of 10,609 at Thompson-Boling Arena roared its approval to a series of athletic plays by Williams. Then her coach and teammates convened a discussion afterward about a suitable encore.
"There is so much that she can bring to the table, and I think sometimes she doesn't even realize it," UT guard Meighan Simmons said. "... When she does it, it gets everyone else involved and it brings out the best in everyone."
Several of Williams' teammates already were engaged, as evidenced by six Lady Vols scoring in double figures. Simmons led No. 20 Tennessee (4-1) with 12 points. Bashaara Graves, Taber Spani, Jasmine Jones, Nia Moore and Isabelle Harrison each scored 10. For Spani, it was her first double-figure scoring game since Dec. 17 of last season.
Williams was one of three players to grab four steals as UT amassed 22 and had a hand in 34 turnovers by Alcorn State (0-4), which resulted in 37 points.
Amid this uncanny show of balance, Williams stood out midway through the second half by first soaring for an offensive rebound and scoring a putback basket. Her main event was Johnny Manziel-worthy. She blocked a shot at the other end of the court and snared the loose ball out of midair in the resulting scramble. Williams then spun and fired a strike deep down the court to a streaking Simmons for a layup.
"That's just the explosiveness that she has," Spani said.
Williams chalked up the three-feat essentially to spontaneity.
"A lot of things that I do are just off of reaction, just things I do and it just happens," Williams said. "I don't really think much about the play. I just let things go the way it is."
The thinking has been left to head coach Holly Warlick, specifically how to coax more highlights out of Williams in a more meaningful context.
"I think we've come to the conclusion that we have to have a little bit of balance now when coaching her,'' Warlick said. "We can't stay on her all the time because she takes everything really personal, so I think you've got to get on her but you've got to show her a little love as well."
There was plenty of that feeling to go around on Sunday. Alcorn State coach Tonya Edwards had her moments beforehand. Warlick escorted the former Lady Vol point guard across the court to head coach emeritus Pat Summitt, who was sitting in the front row. Edwards and Summitt embraced and shared a brief conversation. Edwards said that Summitt told her, "basically the she loves me and, of course, I love her for everything that she's done for me and just overall the discipline that she helped instill in me while I was here at Tennessee."
During the pre-game introductions, Edwards received a hearty ovation from the crowd.
Edwards' players enjoyed their coach's homecoming.
"It's all good coming back,'' Alcorn forward Renelle Richmond said. "You want for your coach to come back where she first and foremost learned everything, the whole aspect of basketball. From a player-to-coach relationship, that's an important part of basketball. You could tell she was happy to come back."
Then, the game began and the Lady Braves were buried not only by their turnovers but also by 12 for 53 shooting from the floor (22.6 percent). Guard Tierro Frost needed 15 shots to score a team-high nine points.
"I thought we gave effort," Richmond said. "We could've given more."