Lady Vols approach offseason with urgency, use time as season in itself

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves drills during practice at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. 
  
 (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves drills during practice at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

When Tennessee’s coaches met with their players last week, they urged the Lady Vols to separate the “off” from “season” when considering the next four-plus months.

Assistant coach Dean Lockwood referred to the time between now and the start of preseason women’s basketball workouts next August as a season in itself. The period has been assigned a different sort of urgency after Tennessee stumbled in the Oklahoma City regional final, losing to Louisville 86-78.

The way in which Tennessee lost — falling behind by 20 points before responding — will linger with coach Holly Warlick.

“I think there was a little bit of jitters,” she said. “We have to get past that. That’s up to us. We thought we prepared them the right way. Apparently we didn’t.”

The players’ mandate involves addressing their individual skills and improving their overall play.

“Where we are right now is not quite good enough; we have to be better,” Lockwood said. “That onus falls on every player.”

In an interview on the News Sentinel’s “Sports Page” radio show last Friday, Lockwood said, “In programs like ours, it’s generally understood,

you’re always trying out. You’re always competing. There are no guarantees. There are no assurances.”

Lockwood went on to say, “It’s not cutthroat. At the end of the day, we need all of our players.”

The roll call includes incoming freshmen Mercedes Russell, Jordan Reynolds and Jannah Tucker. They figure to ratchet the competition for roles and playing time.

In Russell’s case, the impact could be dramatic. Although she’s been listed at 6-foot-5, Lockwood said that Russell actually stands at least 6-6. She was the most valuable player of the McDonald’s girls All-American game last Wednesday, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. During her high school career in Springfield, Ore., Russell scored 2,273 points, grabbed 1,642 rebounds and blocked 562 shots.

Warlick said Russell “makes us better in all aspects.”

Lockwood expects UT to experiment with a front line of Russell, 6-3 Isabelle Harrison and 6-2 Bashaara Graves.

“At one point or another, we’re going to look at that group playing together, whether they start or don’t start,” Lockwood said.

Reynolds, a 5-foot-11 guard from Portland, scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the McDonald’s game. Lockwood described Reynolds as primarily a point guard but with combo-guard skills. She will join Andraya Carter — who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last December — in the competition at point guard, along with returning starter Ariel Massengale.

“I think it’s going to be very interesting and that’s a very, very good thing,” Lockwood said. “There’s going to be a high level of competition for that position. I think it’s going to be very good for our program.”

Tucker’s profile has been diminished some by a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament suffered last summer. The injury robbed the 6-foot wing player from Randallstown, Md., of her senior season. Still, Lockwood foresees Tucker as someone who will play with “physical strength and toughness” and has the capability to shoot 3-pointers and drive the basket.

All three incoming freshmen, along with the returning players, likely will attend at least one session of summer school. Warlick said that new NCAA guidelines allow a coach to work with up to four players at a time for two hours per week when they are enrolled in summer school.

“I think it’s important for us to have that opportunity,” Warlick said. “It helps us set a tone for what a workout looks like.”

In that sense, they can make the offseason seem more like a season in itself.

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Comments » 51

madrigal writes:

Work hard and get healthy, Lady Vols, and we will see you in the fall. The future is bright!

johnlg00 writes:

Glad to hear that all of the freshmen will be on campus for at least half of the summer. I am also happy to hear that coaches will be permitted to work some with the players. If either Graves or Harrison can be effective on the perimeter and Russell can immediately be a solid post player, the LVs' inside game should be second to none. One major factor in the decision whether or not to go with that lineup is likely to be the ability of Graves or Harrison to defend on the perimeter. If neither can defend effectively one-on-one out there but ARE effective on offense, I see a lot of zone in the LVs' future.

Equally important will be the upgrade of the backcourt. Luckily, the freshmen could also play important roles there. I would like to see Simmons take up yoga or transcendental meditation to learn to control her nerves a little better without sacrificing her energy. I'm not insisting on those means, but the matter does seem to require some attention. Massengale not only needs to improve her physical conditioning, she also needs to really study film from last year to see the kinds of situations where she exercised poor judgment and determine to avoid them better next year. All of them could stand to improve their free-throw shooting, passing, and movement without the ball.

In any case, the LVs should have lots of tools and parts to build an imposing machine that should carry the LVs to heights they haven't reached lately. It's up to the coaches to come up with a design for that machine that can take best advantage of the available raw material.

KCHS63 writes:

Russell, Harrison, and Graves are all posts. Graves and Harrison can both drive full court to the basket, but they are talented posts.

I can see Dean wanting the three of them on the floor at times, but good luck to him keeping Cierra Burdick off the floor. She's way too competitive (and effective) to be on the bench.

Pat used to talk about the season being a puzzle that had to be solved. With all this great talent I can't wait to see what the staff can create. That's as difficult a puzzle as a team with lesser talents.

volfan2002 writes:

The coaches get it they know that all of our players need to be mentally tougher and learn to play great defense. We have the talent to win the National title next season but it will only happen if all of our players become better on defense and mentally tough for a full 40 minutes.

djtee1266 writes:

John! upgrade of the backcourt is true. And you are correct about Massengale not only needs to improve her physical conditioning but her all around game. Lets be fair when we played the top teams she did not show up or was used by the other team point like Sims of Baylor with steals. I we look good at the 4-5 not sure about the 3. I would not say J.Jones right now because she played the 5 for 4 years in HS and i`m not sure when she will make that turn to be a true wing player. But anyway i think we should be in good shape when the season starts.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to KCHS63:

Russell, Harrison, and Graves are all posts. Graves and Harrison can both drive full court to the basket, but they are talented posts.

I can see Dean wanting the three of them on the floor at times, but good luck to him keeping Cierra Burdick off the floor. She's way too competitive (and effective) to be on the bench.

Pat used to talk about the season being a puzzle that had to be solved. With all this great talent I can't wait to see what the staff can create. That's as difficult a puzzle as a team with lesser talents.

Yeah, I've gotta say I'm not REALLY in favor of playing Graves, Harrison, and Russell all at the same time except maybe in spurts. I am most looking forward to having some real depth in the posts so when one goes out--or DOWN, perish the thought!--there will be a quality replacement for her. If Burdick continues to improve, she will be REALLY hard to dislodge from the starting lineup; she already rebounds like a post and is better offensively from the perimeter than Graves or Harrison. As you say, there really does seem to be a lot of promising parts to work with on this team. I hope all the gals are going to work hard in the offseason so as to force some really difficult decisions on the part of the staff. I would rather have the problem of having to figure out what to do with a whole LOT of talent than to have to figure out how to compensate for not having nearly ENOUGH of it!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to djtee1266:

John! upgrade of the backcourt is true. And you are correct about Massengale not only needs to improve her physical conditioning but her all around game. Lets be fair when we played the top teams she did not show up or was used by the other team point like Sims of Baylor with steals. I we look good at the 4-5 not sure about the 3. I would not say J.Jones right now because she played the 5 for 4 years in HS and i`m not sure when she will make that turn to be a true wing player. But anyway i think we should be in good shape when the season starts.

I think the team will be in great shape with Jones and Burdick at the 3. Jones was showing signs of being able to make the transition you mentioned and Burdick is a natural 3. Massengale reminds me of a statement by Kenny Smith commenting on the NCAA men's tournament coverage. He said that what most people think of as talent in basketball is not nearly as important as the ability to consistently make good decisions in games. There have been occasions when some might question Massengale's talent, but not as many as those when we might question her decision-making. Basketball is a lot like golf in one important respect; it's not the great shots/plays that win in the long run, it's making the RIGHT shot/play ALL THE TIME. Ariel seems to still need to learn that to the point where it becomes a habit. The ability to make good decisions with the ball is what talent IS in a point guard; most of the rest is largely irrelevant at that position.

fake_basketball writes:

when do they play UCONN?

ModelMaker writes:

in response to volfan2002:

The coaches get it they know that all of our players need to be mentally tougher and learn to play great defense. We have the talent to win the National title next season but it will only happen if all of our players become better on defense and mentally tough for a full 40 minutes.

I agree with you and John both. You both make very good points. As to the mental part of it, if the Lady Vols can't play their best in the big games then you have to ask yourself way am I wasting my time and the coaches time playing this game at all.

UTFAN1993 writes:

http://espn.go.com/espnw/hoopgurlz/86...

one of the best articles I've seen on next year's recruits/signees.
we maybe getting a superior class, but it's not like we are the ONLY one's doing it.

WCBB_FAN writes:

in response to fake_basketball:

when do they play UCONN?

They would rather sit back and watch Norte Dame send the huskies back home again tonight. 4-0

Yep that's right!!!!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to UTFAN1993:

http://espn.go.com/espnw/hoopgurlz/86...

one of the best articles I've seen on next year's recruits/signees.
we maybe getting a superior class, but it's not like we are the ONLY one's doing it.

Great article. I can't say I really follow women's basketball much beyond the Lady Vols, but I have noticed how the national talent pool has continued to grow at an ever-accelerating pace. Some people say that the LV program has declined, but what has really happened is that the game has grown too big for any one program to reasonably expect to dominate it year in and year out. The LVs are still an elite program, as they will conclusively demonstrate next year.

UTFAN1993 writes:

I am a very optimistic person in sports, but I am realistic also.I think that the LV will have a good chance @ a reg season title or tourney title, but will really have to work harder next yr than they did this season, because...
Kentucky returns 6 & 4, sr/jr and has an inbound # 5 nation recruit class.
Vandy returns 3 & 4 sr/jr with a # 8 ranked freshman class.They also had a Top 25 recruiting class last yr.
They will be absolutely loaded w/ experience in the '14-'15 season with 4 srs and 6 jrs, plus the freshmen that are in this class will have a year of experience(#16,#21,#62)

Gonna be a fun time for Melanie in a couple of years, replacing 6 players. I remember when Pat had a bunch of freshmen to tame.

last year Gary B @ TX a/m signed 7 in his #2 ranked class.

Fla_ A.Butler signed 6 that year and has 2 r/s fr to total 8 that will be in a sr class a few yrs from now.

I know UT is loaded and will be bringing in a highly ranked class, but I would like to know what anybody else thinks will be the top 4 teams in the conference next year and why.......
Remember Bone and Pratcher are gone, but Gilbert is still there. Mathies gone too, but we can't forget, these teams reload with big time players too.

UTFAN1993 writes:

A BIG Congrats ladies, you represented the Vo Nation well.

2013 WBCA Division I Coaches' All-America Team Honorable Mentions

Bashaara Graves
University of Tennessee Fr.F/C 6-2

Meighan Simmons
University of Tennessee Jr.G 5-9

Volinflan writes:

in response to UTFAN1993:

I am a very optimistic person in sports, but I am realistic also.I think that the LV will have a good chance @ a reg season title or tourney title, but will really have to work harder next yr than they did this season, because...
Kentucky returns 6 & 4, sr/jr and has an inbound # 5 nation recruit class.
Vandy returns 3 & 4 sr/jr with a # 8 ranked freshman class.They also had a Top 25 recruiting class last yr.
They will be absolutely loaded w/ experience in the '14-'15 season with 4 srs and 6 jrs, plus the freshmen that are in this class will have a year of experience(#16,#21,#62)

Gonna be a fun time for Melanie in a couple of years, replacing 6 players. I remember when Pat had a bunch of freshmen to tame.

last year Gary B @ TX a/m signed 7 in his #2 ranked class.

Fla_ A.Butler signed 6 that year and has 2 r/s fr to total 8 that will be in a sr class a few yrs from now.

I know UT is loaded and will be bringing in a highly ranked class, but I would like to know what anybody else thinks will be the top 4 teams in the conference next year and why.......
Remember Bone and Pratcher are gone, but Gilbert is still there. Mathies gone too, but we can't forget, these teams reload with big time players too.

My USWAG (unscientific wild A-- guess) is Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and LSU. Because it is off season I will address your question as to why, but it'll take me a couple of days. I don't thing Georgia graduated much of what we saw in the tournament. South Carolina the same. LSU had a couple of their stars out for the season. The same with Vandy. But I think the Vandy star that missed the whole season was a senior. Like I said It'll take me a couple of days - or you can just take my word for it. I wouldn't, but it is a long off season and we've nothing else to do.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Oh I can't stand it! They are gonna be tied with us! I'm ticked!

UTFAN1993 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Oh I can't stand it! They are gonna be tied with us! I'm ticked!

I think that according to all of a season's worth of stats, that it could possibly get ugly. It really depends if the wind finally starts to release from the high-flying balloon trip that Lousiville has been on.I tip my hat to them, but one just has to wonder how much longer that they can put up numbers above and below their season averages.I would love to see both men & women Louisville teams win it all, but I think the cards may finally be unfolding for the ladies.We shall see.

WCBB_FAN writes:

For those of you who didn't know, Mercedes was at the final four game. Anyone curious to know what see is thinking about Louisville beating Baylor, Tenn.( her college choice over Louisville) and Cal. and now ready to compete for the national championship. The lady cardinals did not look like a lost struggling high school team and I didn't see the coach doing any sideline babysitting when they were down by 10. His players stayed calm and found a way to prevail. I bet she is wondering if she made the right decision coming to Tenn.

r2d2 writes:

in response to WCBB_FAN:

For those of you who didn't know, Mercedes was at the final four game. Anyone curious to know what see is thinking about Louisville beating Baylor, Tenn.( her college choice over Louisville) and Cal. and now ready to compete for the national championship. The lady cardinals did not look like a lost struggling high school team and I didn't see the coach doing any sideline babysitting when they were down by 10. His players stayed calm and found a way to prevail. I bet she is wondering if she made the right decision coming to Tenn.

Ms. Russell is not wondering if she made the right decision to come to TN instead of Louisville. They have made a great NCAA tournament run but UCONN will end that run on Tuesday. TN needs to improve its defense to win a NC and Mercedes will be a key player to accomplish this. I hope her nickname is "Bill" during her tenure at TN.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

We have a lot of work to do if we are gonna knock off those big uglys in Conn next year. They have every key player back except Faris . We along with Duke and UNC may be the only teams to match the talent they have and that's if our freshmen plays with maturity beyond their yrs.

richvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I think the team will be in great shape with Jones and Burdick at the 3. Jones was showing signs of being able to make the transition you mentioned and Burdick is a natural 3. Massengale reminds me of a statement by Kenny Smith commenting on the NCAA men's tournament coverage. He said that what most people think of as talent in basketball is not nearly as important as the ability to consistently make good decisions in games. There have been occasions when some might question Massengale's talent, but not as many as those when we might question her decision-making. Basketball is a lot like golf in one important respect; it's not the great shots/plays that win in the long run, it's making the RIGHT shot/play ALL THE TIME. Ariel seems to still need to learn that to the point where it becomes a habit. The ability to make good decisions with the ball is what talent IS in a point guard; most of the rest is largely irrelevant at that position.

Massingale was a big problem this year. The off ense never got into a real groove due to her poor decisions. For the life of me I still cannot see why in the world she was starting at the end of the season when Kamiko was available and much better.

I don't know if the coaches can fix her...I have seen freshmen with much better judgement.

ps11824 writes:

UTFAN1993 writes:
in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Oh I can't stand it! They are gonna be tied with us! I'm ticked! ]]]

See, it doesn't matter now that Geno most likely will get his 8th. Why, because Pat is no longer competing. That game is over and Pat won. So whatever Geno accomplishes from now on, as Pat would say, "it is what it is." She went out the winningest coach in college basketball, and that stat won't change for her.

BTW, the one-on-one with Pat & Robin was heart wrenching for me. Why? Why did she need to keep asking Pat questions? I'm just saying, with all due respect, could you not see how grueling it was?

RLL59 writes:

Player development season to season is a shared responsibility between the player and the coaches. Unfortunately, other than Izzy, it's been a long time since we've seen a Lady Vol player improve much beyond her freshman year. Watch the elite teams. They win either with a totally dominant player like Griner (rarely) or with an organized offense and defense (Notre Dame, UConn). They run plays that open up their scorers; they know where their teammates are on the court, so their passes are quick and anticipated by the receiver; they play aggressive defense but don't overguard. None of these require each player to be a superstar, though to be the most successful, the better the athlete the greater the success. The Lady Vols have the players to execute as well as UConn and Notre Dame; they just haven't put the schemes into practice.

Yes, it appears that Geno will get his 8th NC, and realistically will get at least a few more before he retires. No one will ever match the contributions of Coach Summitt to women's basketball, but most of her records will be eclipsed eventually. UConn just keeps on winning.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Right now I don't look at it as Pat vs Geno. That rivalry is finished. We still have years and years of wball and the Lady Vols will win more Natl championship in the next couple years. It's gonna take great coaching to win games in my opinion. I think Kim Murkey cost Baylor a championship when she failed to stop Louisville perimeter offense and 3 pt shooting. She was relying on her PG to bail them out. The good thing is Uconn's Soph class is kinda weak and only have one player coming in this year. So the lady Vols has to load up and do it fast .

RLL59 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Right now I don't look at it as Pat vs Geno. That rivalry is finished. We still have years and years of wball and the Lady Vols will win more Natl championship in the next couple years. It's gonna take great coaching to win games in my opinion. I think Kim Murkey cost Baylor a championship when she failed to stop Louisville perimeter offense and 3 pt shooting. She was relying on her PG to bail them out. The good thing is Uconn's Soph class is kinda weak and only have one player coming in this year. So the lady Vols has to load up and do it fast .

It's good to be optimistic, though I think multiple NC's in the next couple years is a long shot. I certainly agree on your coaching comment. Holly needs to make whatever adjustments are necessary to improve the team play and remedy whatever weaknesses exist in the players; she needs to complete the move out of Coach Summitt's shadow.

Geno gets the most out of his players, besides competing for the best high school athletes. I hope I'm wrong, but his down year recruiting is likely due to the youthful make up of the current team.

martic#220796 writes:

good post. Why is it that we don't seem to improve? I do think Meighan made strides defensively, don't know what's going on in her head during big games though. I once read where Pat made a tape for Holdzclaw show her defensive mistakes maybe that can be done for Massengill.
Whatever Geno does with his players is amazing, the transformation of Farris and Dolsen are amazing and how he got Stewart to respond was fantastic. How he manages to get all these #1 all Americans to not mind sitting on the bench is nothing short of miraculous. We better get to work and work hard to become truly relevant again cause Geno just keeps reloading!! This is coming from a totally devoted long time LV fan. Why can't we get the best out our players?

UTFAN1993 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Right now I don't look at it as Pat vs Geno. That rivalry is finished. We still have years and years of wball and the Lady Vols will win more Natl championship in the next couple years. It's gonna take great coaching to win games in my opinion. I think Kim Murkey cost Baylor a championship when she failed to stop Louisville perimeter offense and 3 pt shooting. She was relying on her PG to bail them out. The good thing is Uconn's Soph class is kinda weak and only have one player coming in this year. So the lady Vols has to load up and do it fast .

Max, I have to disagree with you a bit and here is why:
Uconn had the #1 player from the 2011 class and also had the # 1 national ranked class, which makes their soph class pretty strong. Now that is backed up with the #1 player in 2012. Sure they will only have one player for '13, but she still isn't shabby(#75, I think)
But they already have the #7, #8, & #39 players for 2014 verbally committed to play there.
The LV have their work cut out for them, just to get back to the final 4. A big opportunity was wasted this year and we know they know. I'm sure they will be putting in many, many hrs of work this summer, which probably not a person on this site will see and therefore will not be able to appreciate to the fullest.
Also look out for No.Dame,Duke, No Carolina, Kentucky, as they have great classes to add to the great players that they already have.

Mike_In_Storrs_CT writes:

in response to UTFAN1993:

Max, I have to disagree with you a bit and here is why:
Uconn had the #1 player from the 2011 class and also had the # 1 national ranked class, which makes their soph class pretty strong. Now that is backed up with the #1 player in 2012. Sure they will only have one player for '13, but she still isn't shabby(#75, I think)
But they already have the #7, #8, & #39 players for 2014 verbally committed to play there.
The LV have their work cut out for them, just to get back to the final 4. A big opportunity was wasted this year and we know they know. I'm sure they will be putting in many, many hrs of work this summer, which probably not a person on this site will see and therefore will not be able to appreciate to the fullest.
Also look out for No.Dame,Duke, No Carolina, Kentucky, as they have great classes to add to the great players that they already have.

Nobody is going to touch Uconn for the next several years. Uconn will get their 8th national championship in a few hours and they will be unbeatable for at least the next 3 years in a roll. And yes we are only getting one player next year, however she is a very very good player who is a scoring machine. So everybody just better get used to seeing Uconn win several more championships. By the way everybody better also get used to seeing and hearing about the new face of womens basketball and her name is Brianna Stewart.. NOT GRINER Go Huskies!!!!!!!

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to UTFAN1993:

Max, I have to disagree with you a bit and here is why:
Uconn had the #1 player from the 2011 class and also had the # 1 national ranked class, which makes their soph class pretty strong. Now that is backed up with the #1 player in 2012. Sure they will only have one player for '13, but she still isn't shabby(#75, I think)
But they already have the #7, #8, & #39 players for 2014 verbally committed to play there.
The LV have their work cut out for them, just to get back to the final 4. A big opportunity was wasted this year and we know they know. I'm sure they will be putting in many, many hrs of work this summer, which probably not a person on this site will see and therefore will not be able to appreciate to the fullest.
Also look out for No.Dame,Duke, No Carolina, Kentucky, as they have great classes to add to the great players that they already have.

I'm not saying that Uconn won't be tough after Dolson and Hartley leaves. I'm saying they have players on the team that hasn't played much in Banks and Stokes so we got to hope that will be a off year. Don't like Geno but the guy knows how to bring out the best in his players. Like lil Mikey says teams can only hope Uconn has a bad year. What's gonna hurt Uconn is playing in the little East or the new AAC lol. What UT needs to teach more of is fundamentally sound basketball and not rely on talent alone.

madrigal writes:

in response to martic#220796:

good post. Why is it that we don't seem to improve? I do think Meighan made strides defensively, don't know what's going on in her head during big games though. I once read where Pat made a tape for Holdzclaw show her defensive mistakes maybe that can be done for Massengill.
Whatever Geno does with his players is amazing, the transformation of Farris and Dolsen are amazing and how he got Stewart to respond was fantastic. How he manages to get all these #1 all Americans to not mind sitting on the bench is nothing short of miraculous. We better get to work and work hard to become truly relevant again cause Geno just keeps reloading!! This is coming from a totally devoted long time LV fan. Why can't we get the best out our players?

Team improvement is not a one year project. It takes several years and involves more than just adding players. I think Holly did a pretty amazing job with this group and I wish people would stop slamming her. I think the team will continue to improve. Pat herself has said that she probably coached impaired for a couple of seasons even though she didn't realize it, and that may be some of the problem. And lay off Massengale. She did the best she could, being thrust into the starting point guard role when Carter went down *and* playing on a bad wheel all season. Her A/T ratio was good enough that I heard sportscasters talk positively about it in more than one game. You sound like one of those fans that thinks being in the Elite Eight is "failure". Only one team can be #1, and being one of the top eight is not too darn shabby. This group went as far as they possibly could with what they had. The only way to go is up, and I get sick of "fans" like you who do nothing but whine if we don't get a national championship. UT is still, and will be for a long time, one of the elite programs in the nation. And future championships are not far off.

Oh, and perhaps you didn't know that Kelly Faris just missed being Indiana's Miss Basketball her senior year...by 4 votes, to Skylar Diggins. Transformation? Not hardly. She was that good to begin with.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

In Pats book she herself even mentioned that she wasnt quite herself as far back as 2006. Man she was tough as nails growing up. If you haven't got the book I would get it if you love Lady Vol bball. I hope I can get her to sign it one day.

Mike_In_Storrs_CT writes:

in response to madrigal:

Team improvement is not a one year project. It takes several years and involves more than just adding players. I think Holly did a pretty amazing job with this group and I wish people would stop slamming her. I think the team will continue to improve. Pat herself has said that she probably coached impaired for a couple of seasons even though she didn't realize it, and that may be some of the problem. And lay off Massengale. She did the best she could, being thrust into the starting point guard role when Carter went down *and* playing on a bad wheel all season. Her A/T ratio was good enough that I heard sportscasters talk positively about it in more than one game. You sound like one of those fans that thinks being in the Elite Eight is "failure". Only one team can be #1, and being one of the top eight is not too darn shabby. This group went as far as they possibly could with what they had. The only way to go is up, and I get sick of "fans" like you who do nothing but whine if we don't get a national championship. UT is still, and will be for a long time, one of the elite programs in the nation. And future championships are not far off.

Oh, and perhaps you didn't know that Kelly Faris just missed being Indiana's Miss Basketball her senior year...by 4 votes, to Skylar Diggins. Transformation? Not hardly. She was that good to begin with.

Your right about Kelly Faris, she was that good to begin with. She won 4 straight High school chanmpionships. And she never lost one single game in High school either. She did just lose to Skylar by 4 votes for Miss Indiana. I do want to say one thing about Skylar Diggens though. She is without a doubt the greatest point guard I have ever seen in my life. I of course am a huge Sue Bird fan, and Rennee Montgomery fan. But I have to say it like it is. Skylar is the best ever period. Very few players who have ever played have her heart, and will to win, and talent all rolled in one. Skylar is also without a doubt the greatest competitor and opponent Geno has ever faced in his entire career. I would put her on the alltime starting team in the history of womens basketball in a second. And its a shame she was not able to win at least one championship, but it is what it is. Skylar has done so much for womens basketball and I wish her the best in her pro career.

VOLindiana writes:

I don't like to make predictions about Lady Vol basketball... I.E. this season. I thought this past season we'd be lucky to make a 5 seed in the tournament. Heart goes a long way, Talent with heart goes further. We will have the talent next year. With being her first year, I think CHW probly second guessed herself on things and was nervous this season when it truly got down to it becuase this was her first time in the driver seat. I loved what she did. I love who she is bringing in next year. With a year under her belt I think she is just going to be a better coach next year and continue to improve. She wants to carry the Tennessee tradition and I know she can do it. CPS father told her after her 1st loss. "you can't take a donkey to the kentucky derby" CHW knows what she needs to do, I just hope she can engrave it on the players minds.

I just hope our guard play improves. I heard that Jannah can really fill that 3 spot really good, I hope Jones developes a jumper like Burddick. When Burd is on fire, she is on and I can really see her playing that 3 position if she gets her speed up and her conditioning. I'd say the 3 is the hardest spot to fill because your asked to cover so much on the court. You can't teach 6'6 in the post. I'm expecting a Candace Parker Syvia Fowles mix from her. Just really excited for this upcoming season!

Anytime you get a group of kids that are talented and EVERY spot on roster is up for grabs and your creating competition on your team, good things can only come from that.

UTFAN1993 writes:

April 8, 2013

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Postseason honors continue to roll in for members of the Lady Vol basketball team, as Full Court announced its 2012-13 postseason awards.

In balloting by Full Court editors, Bashaara Graves has been chosen National Freshman of the Year and a member of the Freshman All-America First Team. Junior Meighan Simmons, meanwhile, was selected to the Full Court All-America Third Team.

Finally...recognized for all of her hard work.I have said from day one that Graves would be a very special player for UT. I appreciate both of them for what they bring night in and night out, but I strongly feel that Graves has really been overlooked until now.

UTFAN1993 writes:

****************HELP NEEDED****************************

Please go to the awards site and vote for one of our LV players , who is a top 10 finalist for Senior class award . Raven Chavanne, has the best batting average of all of the finalists.

http://www.seniorclassaward.com/seaso...

BeRealistic writes:

Let's get to recruiting some players that can play with ND & Conn.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to BeRealistic:

Let's get to recruiting some players that can play with ND & Conn.

I think Holly did just that. # 1 recruit

johnlg00 writes:

in response to UTFAN1993:

I think that according to all of a season's worth of stats, that it could possibly get ugly. It really depends if the wind finally starts to release from the high-flying balloon trip that Lousiville has been on.I tip my hat to them, but one just has to wonder how much longer that they can put up numbers above and below their season averages.I would love to see both men & women Louisville teams win it all, but I think the cards may finally be unfolding for the ladies.We shall see.

You're probably right, but I'll still be pulling for the Lady Cards with all my might! I won't mind if the UL men win, since I don't have so much as a hamster in that fight, but I don't want UConn to tie the LVs for championships just yet. Pat should be allowed to stand alone in that category for at least another year. After that, the LVs should be back in contention in their own right.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to richvol:

Massingale was a big problem this year. The off ense never got into a real groove due to her poor decisions. For the life of me I still cannot see why in the world she was starting at the end of the season when Kamiko was available and much better.

I don't know if the coaches can fix her...I have seen freshmen with much better judgement.

I'm sure somebody will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the LVs had a more effective offense this year than they have had in several years. They did have their lapses, not ENTIRELY her fault, and I have been a pretty consistent critic of Massengale's play ever since she has been here, but it isn't impossible that she will "get it" yet at some point. Even if she doesn't, either Carter or one of the freshmen might beat her out.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to WCBB_FAN:

For those of you who didn't know, Mercedes was at the final four game. Anyone curious to know what see is thinking about Louisville beating Baylor, Tenn.( her college choice over Louisville) and Cal. and now ready to compete for the national championship. The lady cardinals did not look like a lost struggling high school team and I didn't see the coach doing any sideline babysitting when they were down by 10. His players stayed calm and found a way to prevail. I bet she is wondering if she made the right decision coming to Tenn.

We all ought to know that verbal committments are only worth the paper they are printed on, so I guess it could be possible Russell could be rethinking her committment to UT, but her attendance at the Final Four isn't necessarily evidence of that. It may just be a perk for being named HS Player of the Year. I'm pretty sure it would be a MAJOR NCAA violation for Louisville to pay for her to be there. I'll need more evidence than the fact that she was at the Final Four to doubt her committment right now.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to madrigal:

Team improvement is not a one year project. It takes several years and involves more than just adding players. I think Holly did a pretty amazing job with this group and I wish people would stop slamming her. I think the team will continue to improve. Pat herself has said that she probably coached impaired for a couple of seasons even though she didn't realize it, and that may be some of the problem. And lay off Massengale. She did the best she could, being thrust into the starting point guard role when Carter went down *and* playing on a bad wheel all season. Her A/T ratio was good enough that I heard sportscasters talk positively about it in more than one game. You sound like one of those fans that thinks being in the Elite Eight is "failure". Only one team can be #1, and being one of the top eight is not too darn shabby. This group went as far as they possibly could with what they had. The only way to go is up, and I get sick of "fans" like you who do nothing but whine if we don't get a national championship. UT is still, and will be for a long time, one of the elite programs in the nation. And future championships are not far off.

Oh, and perhaps you didn't know that Kelly Faris just missed being Indiana's Miss Basketball her senior year...by 4 votes, to Skylar Diggins. Transformation? Not hardly. She was that good to begin with.

I would say that it is easier to improve a basketball team from one year to the next than it is a football team, for example. It's hard to measure the impact a little improvement in a few areas can have on a team's overall record. Of course, coaches and players must share a common vision of the kind of team they want to be and the players have to take responsibility for their own improvement in certain areas. I think the LVs may have lost a certain focus in recent years due to Pat's difficulties, but now that they know they were just "thatclose" to the Final Four this year, they might well be motivated to make that extra push in the offseason.

Red_Mamba writes:

in response to WCBB_FAN:

For those of you who didn't know, Mercedes was at the final four game. Anyone curious to know what see is thinking about Louisville beating Baylor, Tenn.( her college choice over Louisville) and Cal. and now ready to compete for the national championship. The lady cardinals did not look like a lost struggling high school team and I didn't see the coach doing any sideline babysitting when they were down by 10. His players stayed calm and found a way to prevail. I bet she is wondering if she made the right decision coming to Tenn.

Really!! She was there along with 20 other top recruits from the class of 2013. They played in the WBCA all-American game Saturday, and Swin Cash and Tamika Catchings were the honorary coaches for each team.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to johnlg00:

We all ought to know that verbal committments are only worth the paper they are printed on, so I guess it could be possible Russell could be rethinking her committment to UT, but her attendance at the Final Four isn't necessarily evidence of that. It may just be a perk for being named HS Player of the Year. I'm pretty sure it would be a MAJOR NCAA violation for Louisville to pay for her to be there. I'll need more evidence than the fact that she was at the Final Four to doubt her committment right now.

I believe all three Tennessee recruits have signed.

Theo writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

I believe all three Tennessee recruits have signed.

Yep.

Theo writes:

in response to Mike_In_Storrs_CT:

Nobody is going to touch Uconn for the next several years. Uconn will get their 8th national championship in a few hours and they will be unbeatable for at least the next 3 years in a roll. And yes we are only getting one player next year, however she is a very very good player who is a scoring machine. So everybody just better get used to seeing Uconn win several more championships. By the way everybody better also get used to seeing and hearing about the new face of womens basketball and her name is Brianna Stewart.. NOT GRINER Go Huskies!!!!!!!

Okay Mike, now you have made me mad that I even posted that I hoped you and yours were okay after word of the Newtown tragedy. You take our good thoughts and concerns and then come on our board talking smack.
Graves and Russell will both school Stewart for the next several years.
There are no guarantees for NCs the next several years. It is going to be a death match between UT, ND, NC, Duke, Stanford and maybe UConn.
BTW, since you feel the need to come on this board to keep us informed regarding UConn ( of the ever shrinking, disappearing, Little East), when is Geno's trial for sexual harassment? Yep, that's who I'd want my daughter playing for. Kind of creepy isn't he?

vol4life1983 writes:

I am a huge UT Fan of course but I can't believe people are sleeping on Maryland! Top teams next season UT, Conn, Duke, Maryland, and North Carolina. Other teams such as ND Baylor Louisville, and Stanford will be good but not great. And I wouldn't sleep on Rutgers either because they have a lot of talent but didn't play well together but T. Scaife is the next Cappie for them. UT and Conn in the championship games for at least the next couple of years. UT and Conn should start the rivalry back up honestly UT hasn't been the same since outside of Parker and company and even then they didn't totally dominate

Allenfan writes:

You can agree or disagee but no coach gets a team as prepared as UCONN when they get to the final four. We had a vey successful season, as no one expected us to come close to a Final Four, yet we were one winnable game away. Injuries play such a big part just check with Oklahoma, Maryland, as well as the Lady Vols. Was I a Holly Fan?, no I wasn't. Am I now?, yes I think she did a great job. The off season I think should help and I think the person that needs the most work is Jones. She is very talented, but needs to be polished. I don't think Ariel will get much better, but there is help on the way. Izzy needs to get healthy, if she improves as much in season 3 as she did in season 2 she will be dynamic. Mercedes can be as good as she wants to be with hard work, and J Tucker looks like the real deal. A Carter will be in the starting lineup from the start. With the top talent and deph we will be fine for a few years. I think the chips are on the table, the only question is will we cash them in?.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Let's not forget Jannah Tucker coming in. Tall and solid and can shoot the 3 ball. In my opinion , I would play your best five and keep them your starters . Yes we will have loads of talented players on the bench but the constant rotation will hurt chemistry. A 8 player rotation will lead to success. Who will separate themselves in the off-season and be the best player to start?

Mike_In_Storrs_CT writes:

in response to Theo:

Okay Mike, now you have made me mad that I even posted that I hoped you and yours were okay after word of the Newtown tragedy. You take our good thoughts and concerns and then come on our board talking smack.
Graves and Russell will both school Stewart for the next several years.
There are no guarantees for NCs the next several years. It is going to be a death match between UT, ND, NC, Duke, Stanford and maybe UConn.
BTW, since you feel the need to come on this board to keep us informed regarding UConn ( of the ever shrinking, disappearing, Little East), when is Geno's trial for sexual harassment? Yep, that's who I'd want my daughter playing for. Kind of creepy isn't he?

Yes we are all ok, thanks for your concern. As a matter of fact I live Not far from that Sandy Hook elementary school. And nobody will every forget that awfull day, especially people in the tiny state of CT. Uconn will be playing for them tonight as well. They have been honoring the Newtown victims all season with patches on their jerseys. And trust me we will win our eighth title tonight for them. And I would not call the next few years a death match. Because there is not one single school in the country who has proven they are an elite powerhouse like Uconn is. Not one!! All that talk about Baylor for 4 years, actually 5 years if you count Griners senior year in high school. It was all anybody was talking about, and they did nothing and acomplished nothing but one measly little title. All those people at Espn looked like they swallowed a cat after Baylor lost this year. Kara Lawson, Burke, and everybody else at Espn dont know what to say now. I suggest they dont even talk or make any more predictions, because none of them are ever right about anything. They should just sit back, keep their mouths shut, and enjoy Uconns domination. I dont think any of them have predicted a winner yet in all these years. They are always wrong, so now they will be forced to start talking about Uconn again. When its over tonight they can all kiss Genos Italian you know what, where the sun doesnt shine too.

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