Lady Vols start No. 20 in preseason poll

Tennessee's Cierra Burdick indulged in some double vision this week.

The women's basketball forward first imagined how outsiders perceive the Lady Vols. Judging by a week's worth of rankings, her vision was razor sharp.

Burdick was responding to Tennessee being picked fourth in an SEC preseason poll. The Associated Press preseason top 25 poll, which was released on Saturday, had a similar take on her team. A 40-member national media panel ranked the Lady Vols No. 20. Other than the debut poll of 1976-77, when they weren't ranked, it was the lowest preseason ranking in Lady Vols history. The previous low was No. 14 to start 1984-85.

No. 20 amounts to a relatively dim view of a program that has been among the top 10 in every other preseason poll and ranked No. 1 12 times.

Burdick likely wasn't surprised.

"People don't expect much from us," the 6-foot-2 sophomore said on Wednesday. "We have a completely new coaching staff and we have five new people on our team. Quite frankly, I wouldn't expect much from us either."

The outsiders have spoken.

Burdick quickly noted that her best view is from inside UT's ranks and it's much different, much more optimistic.

"Being inside the gym and in between the lines and with my teammates and my coaches," she said, " I know what we're capable of and I know how much talent we have."

Burdick sounded almost defiant in defense of her team.

"I'm looking forward to surprising a lot of people," she said. "A lot of people don't believe in us and don't think we're going to do a lot great things this season. But I'm here to say we are."

Overall, nine teams ranked in the preseason poll dot UT's schedule, including unanimous No. 1 Baylor. Four of those teams — Kentucky, Georgia, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt — are SEC rivals. Kentucky, the preseason pick to win the conference, and Georgia were in the top 10 at sixth and 10th respectively. Texas A&M was 15th and Vanderbilt No. 16.

The Lady Vols' first order of business will be holding their ground. Road games at No 22 Georgia Tech (Nov. 11) and No. 24 Miami (Nov. 18) loom within the first 10 days of the regular season. Tennessee hasn't been unranked since the 13th week of 1984-85.

"I love it when people have us against the wall," Burdick said. "I love it when people aren't expecting much out of us because we're going to surprise them."

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Comments » 14

south_alabama_vol writes:

It will be nice to prove so many people wrong.

ACWLY writes:

Other fans may doubt the Lady Vols but I don't and am looking forward to a good positive start and year. We're not starting over so let all the people we've beaten for the past 35 years talk their phooey while we continue to add to their demise... GO LADY VOLS, we love you!

airship writes:

Holly has got prove herself as a coach of a big time program. GO lady VOLS.

tovolny writes:

GIVE THEM a WAR LICK, HOLLY. You 'gotta' love her name. 'War' 'Lick' and 'Pat' 'Head' 'Summit' (as in Summitt).

Besides, Holly sits a Harley Hog better than Peter Fonda. GO LadyVols.

butch31 writes:

Duke is NOT a Top 3 team...LOL! Delaware should be #20 UT is the #11 squad. We'll see how the road goes early.

ladyvolsfan789 writes:

in response to butch31:

Duke is NOT a Top 3 team...LOL! Delaware should be #20 UT is the #11 squad. We'll see how the road goes early.

I agree with you. Delaware and a bunch of Big Ten teams are overrated. #20 is just disrespectful.

yopatrick#231155 writes:

Depth could be a problem in a long season, but I agree, #20 is silly, if not disrespectful.

voloffaith writes:

The voters are from Missouri 'The Show Me State'. New coach at the helm....lost alot of productivity from last year. Post presence is questionable with athleticism, but not bulkier athletic players. As they say we will see and that is why they play them..........GO LADY VOLS!!!

butch31 writes:

in response to ladyvolsfan789:

I agree with you. Delaware and a bunch of Big Ten teams are overrated. #20 is just disrespectful.

This looks more like a USA TODAY POLL, its too hit or miss for me, I question 1/2 the teams in the Top 15 LOL...Cal, Delaware, Penn State, Duke, Maryland, Oklahoma, and St. John's...I could of sworn Rutgers has 4 starters back, and Top 5 recruiting class...they're NOT ranked. Whoever the sports writer's were on this poll, were OUT-TO-LUNCH.

ps11824 writes:

Who cares about the polls? Lets just see how they play. Not surprising to me that we would be ranked as such, but we will see how quickly the higher ranked teams fall.

It is hard not to be discouraged by the way things are being disrupted at UT, but the only way for the Lady Vols to get beyond the daily dung is to get in the gym and work as hard as they can, get in the game and work harder than their opponent.

I BELIEVE THEY CAN

madrigal writes:

National media is dissing Holly because it's her first year. Not like she hasn't been here since forever. What do they know?

butch31 writes:

in response to ps11824:

Who cares about the polls? Lets just see how they play. Not surprising to me that we would be ranked as such, but we will see how quickly the higher ranked teams fall.

It is hard not to be discouraged by the way things are being disrupted at UT, but the only way for the Lady Vols to get beyond the daily dung is to get in the gym and work as hard as they can, get in the game and work harder than their opponent.

I BELIEVE THEY CAN

Over 300 collegiate teams care, millions of fans care, sports writer's care...need I say more?

tonyvick#213307 writes:

I like defiant. Heck we should be tenth just to put our jerseys on. 20th? WTH... I look at the polls and can tell the people who rated this don't spend a lot of time watching women's bb. For shame.

OrangeBloodFlood writes:

I think the ranking reflect what we've done the last few years.I think now that Pats worst recruiting class ever is gone we will return to the glory days of years past.In all honesty....we've won so much in the past because we had the best players.I love and respect Pat Summit but the bottom line is the team with the best players usually wins and that helped make Pat a legend....now let's go make Holly one !

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