Lady Vols first official basketball practice up-tempo

Saul Young/News Sentinel
Tennessee women's basketball coach Holly Warlick instructs Taber Spani after practice on Sunday at Pratt Pavilion.

Photo by Saul Young, 2012 Knoxville News Sentinel

Saul Young/News Sentinel Tennessee women's basketball coach Holly Warlick instructs Taber Spani after practice on Sunday at Pratt Pavilion.

Holly Warlick on Basketball Practice

Taber Spani on Basketball Practice

Taber Spani has experienced her share of women's basketball practices at Tennessee.

Very few of those workouts, though, prepared the Lady Vols senior guard for the first official practice of the 2012-13 season, which took place Sunday at Pratt Pavilion.

"Honestly, I think this is one of the hardest practices that I've had in the three years I've been here," she said. "The tempo is completely different. We're so much faster, everything is quick, a lot conditioning, a lot."

First-year head coach Holly Warlick wasted no time in laying the foundation for the full-court defense and fast-paced play she intends for this team. While the preseason conditioning began this work, the practice base is more basketball specific.

"We're in shape," Warlick said. "But we're not in basketball shape."

Warlick said that practice No. 1 was devoted primarily to defense, rebounding and pushing up the floor with the basketball. Practice No. 10 probably won't be much different. Warlick sounded like she's willing to sacrifice some short-term offensive execution to extend the team's speed limit.

"Our half-court offense may suffer early and struggle a little bit,'' she said. "We want to get them comfortable with getting the ball and going and keeping a fast tempo. That's what we tried to establish today."

For five first-year players, any style of play at this level constitutes what freshman guard Andraya Carter described as "a huge adjustment." She relied on her teammates' advice and converted her pre-practice nervousness into excitement. She expects to turn to them for more input in the coming days.

"Everyone pulls each other and pulls together, so it's not as hard because of the team we have," Carter said.

Given the style of play, Lady Vols experienced and inexperienced will be turning to each other for support and encouragement.

"It's going to take a little adjustment because we're all new to this,'' Spani said. "It's not like the veterans know what to expect. Everybody is kind going through a new stage. That's exciting."

In other matters, Warlick sidestepped a question concerning former Lady Vols media relations director Debby Jennings' lawsuit against the university. The suit was amended last Wednesday to include an affidavit from head coach emeritus Pat Summitt, who was at Sunday's practice.

"I'm responsible for this team," she said. "I haven't even addressed this. It's for the courts and outside the basketball court to decide. I've been focusing on recruiting and on this team."

Regarding recruiting, guard Linnae Harper from Chicago attended practice as part of her official visit. But the Lady Vols might be out of the mix with guard Rebekah Dahlman from Braham, Minn. She's not visiting on Oct. 20 as originally scheduled.

Dan Fleser covers Tennessee women's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/FleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser.

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Comments » 5

fearthehound writes:

So Taber, this is the tango. You lead, so your left hand goes on my right shoulder...

VolzsFan writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

mocsandvolsfan writes:

GLV GO BIG O BACK TO THE TOP!

richvol writes:

Glad to hear that Holly expects her team to push the ball up the court on offense and that they will play full court pressure. Let's hope we have the athletes to do so.

Volinflan writes:

Yep, a couple of them may have to shift into 4th gear before they graduate. No matter what, it's going to be a very entertaining year and that's what sports are supposed to be.

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