Persistence is Lady Vols' best ally in recovering from loss to Stanford

Tennessee's Meighan Simmons and Mercedes Russell cheer on their teammates during the second half of the game at Stanford on Saturday, December 21, 2013. Tennessee lost to Stanford, 70-76. 
  
 (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee's Meighan Simmons and Mercedes Russell cheer on their teammates during the second half of the game at Stanford on Saturday, December 21, 2013. Tennessee lost to Stanford, 70-76. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

SAN FRANCISCO — The most thorough inspection of Tennessee’s women’s basketball season took place on Saturday against Stanford and the Lady Vols’ persistence passed.

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Comments » 20

Allenfan writes:

It wasn't like everyone in Volnation did not know what Ogwumike was going to do with the exception of the coaching staff. I personally think Jones is more of a liability from what I have seen for the past 2 years. Let 5 or so players play a lot of minutes (and yes Chiney played the full 40 minutes). Most of the things I read think Simmons needs to be on the bench, I think that we cannot win without her having a great game, and she needs to be in the game. You will see this a lot this year, it is no different that Skylar Diggins of seasons past, we knew what she was going to do, but never stopped her. We should NEVER let one single player beat us, wake up coaches.

RLL59 writes:

in response to Allenfan:

It wasn't like everyone in Volnation did not know what Ogwumike was going to do with the exception of the coaching staff. I personally think Jones is more of a liability from what I have seen for the past 2 years. Let 5 or so players play a lot of minutes (and yes Chiney played the full 40 minutes). Most of the things I read think Simmons needs to be on the bench, I think that we cannot win without her having a great game, and she needs to be in the game. You will see this a lot this year, it is no different that Skylar Diggins of seasons past, we knew what she was going to do, but never stopped her. We should NEVER let one single player beat us, wake up coaches.

Lack of preparation for an opponent goes hand in hand with Lady Vol players not understanding their individual roles. June Jones is a talented athlete, but needs focus and guided development. She shouldn't be dribbling the ball down the court, nor should she be expected to score. She should be focused on defense and rebounding. Is she ignoring directions, or is she not adequately getting it? If she's ignoring it, she shouldn't play.

Meighan was voted the preseason player of the year by the League coaches. That was based on game experience and observations over 3 years. I totally agree that she needs to play... and score. While she's far from the perfect player, she's the best we have as an impact player. Since Candace left, the Lady Vol's best players have always been subjected to criticism for their weaknesses rather than being praised for their strengths, and because they couldn't contribute enough for the Lady Vols to win the big games. Lack of adaptation by the coaches, as the game has changed and women's teams have improved, has resulted in poor player development and team cohesion, but never gets the blame for year after year underachievement.

underthehill writes:

Carter may be the best all around player on the team..Simmons is the best on offense when she is hot..when she is not she will get you beat cause she ain't gonna stop putting up bad shots..the coaching staff has to deal with this by using Simmons as a spot player and not a go to player.. Carter and Jones have the most defensive skills to play baseline to baseline and both have to be on the floor when pressing...I have not lost faith that this coaching staff will do an excellent job in spite of the fact that what Ogwum did was a result of extremely poor game preparation and game coaching..the depth on this team is the strength and they are at their best when they use that depth to speed up the game..

MaxVolFan writes:

Exactly I'm tired of the talk about what we should have done or we got away from the game plan. For one Coach should call more timeouts and don't take them home with her. Secondly and we all are screaming this. Put your best players on the floor and make them win for you. All of the subbing doesn't help the players or the flow of the game. Let five players grow together. Sub in players when it is needed. Did the Meeks play just 20 mins a game? No they were in it to win it. Did Pat sub in a lot of players when Candance or Nicki A and Hornbuckle was playing ? No! Sheleft tthem out there to win it . Stanford only had about 4 good players with only two averaging in double figure scoring and their team just wanted it more. We are still not hungry! I expect this team to wallop Lipscomb and choke out LSU early.

ModelMaker writes:

There was a lot of coaches that new what Parker was going to do when she played for the Lady Vols but they just could not stop her. Oqwumike is up there with the best of them. Harrison and Graves just flat out got their b--- kicked underneath. I think if the Lady Vols are going to win the SEC or reach the final four they are going to have to get Russell in the flow of things. Graves and Harrison are good ball players but not great players. But I think with Russell in there with them, "together", they can be great. I think the same way about the guards. Massengale and Carter are good guards but not great; together they have a chance to be great. I go to all the home games and when they are in there together I think they work really well together. The problem is they don't get enough playing time playing together. I like Simmons but I think she would help the team more coming off the bench. I think it would take pressure off her and it would give her a chance to see the flow of the game. I think one thing that would help Simmons shooting is with Russell in there, just speaking for myself, it would help my confidence in my shooting; it would help Carter and Massengale shoot better also. All I know is it's going to be hard to improve if you don't try something different than what you have been doing. All the "good" teams are improving right along with us. The Lady Vols don't have Williams to bail them out this year.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

Carter may be the best all around player on the team..Simmons is the best on offense when she is hot..when she is not she will get you beat cause she ain't gonna stop putting up bad shots..the coaching staff has to deal with this by using Simmons as a spot player and not a go to player.. Carter and Jones have the most defensive skills to play baseline to baseline and both have to be on the floor when pressing...I have not lost faith that this coaching staff will do an excellent job in spite of the fact that what Ogwum did was a result of extremely poor game preparation and game coaching..the depth on this team is the strength and they are at their best when they use that depth to speed up the game..

Agree about Carter's potential. I couldn't see the game but from the radio description she didn't have one of her better games Saturday. Simmons is a mystery but I agree with you and others that she has to play. As for Ogumwike, it is disheartening that with two All-America-type post players and the #1 incoming freshman post player, one of them at least wasn't assigned ONLY to box out Ogumwike on defense. Not help on anybody else, not even worry about getting the defensive rebound herself, just simply keep a body on her AT ALL TIMES. It is hard to stop a great player when she is bringing her A game, but you just can't let ONE player beat you, the SAME way, THROUGHOUT the game! Especially when she plays a position that is supposed to be a strength of your own team! You always have to try to make SOMEBODY ELSE beat you! That's Basketball 101.

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Agree about Carter's potential. I couldn't see the game but from the radio description she didn't have one of her better games Saturday. Simmons is a mystery but I agree with you and others that she has to play. As for Ogumwike, it is disheartening that with two All-America-type post players and the #1 incoming freshman post player, one of them at least wasn't assigned ONLY to box out Ogumwike on defense. Not help on anybody else, not even worry about getting the defensive rebound herself, just simply keep a body on her AT ALL TIMES. It is hard to stop a great player when she is bringing her A game, but you just can't let ONE player beat you, the SAME way, THROUGHOUT the game! Especially when she plays a position that is supposed to be a strength of your own team! You always have to try to make SOMEBODY ELSE beat you! That's Basketball 101.

Agree 100%..there is no excuse for letting a player do what Ogwum did...we have the players to box her out..and deny her the ball..I think that basketball 101 master was Coach Ray Mears..

ljlongtimevolfan writes:

The Lady Vols can get better and be an elite 8 team and maybe a Final Four team this season if they make the correct player management decisions which requires benching Simmons or we can wait on her to graduate before we rise to the top tier of Women’s Basketball. She is the weakest link on the team with absolutely no defensive skills against quality teams and is a distraction with her selfish showboat style of play. When Holly benches her we play so much better and look like a team on the court. I know she was Pat’s favorite and the PR machine has been to focus on her at the expense of the team and program but it’s time for change. Champions win with inside play, defense and team work. Let’s have a starting lineup with Massengale, Carter, Graves, Harrison and Russell with Burdick being the sixth player.

RLL59 writes:

Yes, we can wait for the next 'savior' of the program. From some fans' standpoint, Simmons can join Strickland, Bjorkland, and Johnson in the trash heap of former Lady Vol players who let them down. How many preseason 'players of the year' by both the League coaches and the sportswriters have been relegated to riding the bench and making spot appearances in big games? For the most part, it's a good thing that fans' influence is limited to commenting.

MaxVolFan writes:

Russell has to get in the gym and add strength to be a force in the paint. It makes me sick looking at the #1 team in the country play so polished and well together . We have a lot of work to do if we are gonna have a chance. The key to winning is making smart quality shots and make them in spurts . That kills a teams confidence. CHW should have got the teams attention well before it got outta hand. A technical foul , anything to light a fire. You can't rely on a halftime speech with a team like ND or Uconn. They will lite us up. Both of Uconns players coming off of injury hasn't missed a beat. How in the world did they do that? Frustrated Vol fan.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to ljlongtimevolfan:

The Lady Vols can get better and be an elite 8 team and maybe a Final Four team this season if they make the correct player management decisions which requires benching Simmons or we can wait on her to graduate before we rise to the top tier of Women’s Basketball. She is the weakest link on the team with absolutely no defensive skills against quality teams and is a distraction with her selfish showboat style of play. When Holly benches her we play so much better and look like a team on the court. I know she was Pat’s favorite and the PR machine has been to focus on her at the expense of the team and program but it’s time for change. Champions win with inside play, defense and team work. Let’s have a starting lineup with Massengale, Carter, Graves, Harrison and Russell with Burdick being the sixth player.

I think you just about summed it up. But I would not hold your breath for Holly to bring Simmons off the bench. It's a tough choice too make but I think Holly needs to make it for the sake of the team. Choice's choice's choice's; life is all about choice's. That's one good thing about this country, one has a choice.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to RLL59:

Yes, we can wait for the next 'savior' of the program. From some fans' standpoint, Simmons can join Strickland, Bjorkland, and Johnson in the trash heap of former Lady Vol players who let them down. How many preseason 'players of the year' by both the League coaches and the sportswriters have been relegated to riding the bench and making spot appearances in big games? For the most part, it's a good thing that fans' influence is limited to commenting.

If it was me I would want your opinion and a few other's on here anytime they wanted to give me a suggestion. I'm not saying I would use it but I would want it just the same. You never know you might give me a view of something that I never saw.

avolman writes:

in response to Allenfan:

It wasn't like everyone in Volnation did not know what Ogwumike was going to do with the exception of the coaching staff. I personally think Jones is more of a liability from what I have seen for the past 2 years. Let 5 or so players play a lot of minutes (and yes Chiney played the full 40 minutes). Most of the things I read think Simmons needs to be on the bench, I think that we cannot win without her having a great game, and she needs to be in the game. You will see this a lot this year, it is no different that Skylar Diggins of seasons past, we knew what she was going to do, but never stopped her. We should NEVER let one single player beat us, wake up coaches.

I agree totaly with entire post and especially about Simmons. This is the first time I have commented all year, but can not keep mouth shut any longer. When are the coaches going to wise up on Simmons. What is she shooting for the year? I read the box scores each game and it can not be more than 30% at best and some of those are layups take those out and 25% tops. She can not hit, but that doesn't stop her from hurting the team and you see her picture at least once a week in the paper, I can not stay quiet any longer. If she would have hit 8 for 18 Tennessee would have tied Stanford but she only hit 5 of 18 with a couple of those 5 layups. She does not rebound or assist well, but she has not seen a shot she doesn't like. I do not like being negative, but stats don't lie.

RLL59 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

If it was me I would want your opinion and a few other's on here anytime they wanted to give me a suggestion. I'm not saying I would use it but I would want it just the same. You never know you might give me a view of something that I never saw.

I also welcome and enjoy the comments by you and the others who have shown a real interest in the Lady Vols. But I have noticed over the past 4 years that, in the eyes of many fans, individual players have become the scape goats for the team habitually under achieving. Benching players hasn't made a difference, nor has waiting for the next crop of recruits. There's are reasons why UConn continually over achieves, and it's not because their players have more talent.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to RLL59:

I also welcome and enjoy the comments by you and the others who have shown a real interest in the Lady Vols. But I have noticed over the past 4 years that, in the eyes of many fans, individual players have become the scape goats for the team habitually under achieving. Benching players hasn't made a difference, nor has waiting for the next crop of recruits. There's are reasons why UConn continually over achieves, and it's not because their players have more talent.

We are really not to far off. I think Uconn does better because I think Auriemma utilizes his players much better than Holly. In my opinion you can't keep jerking player's in and out every 2 minutes and expect to get any continuity to the offense or defense for that matter. When you have depth like Tennessee has, OK utilize it, give them a break every now and then; but don't keep taking them in and out every couple of minutes. Auriemma always has his best five players in the game with 5 min. left. I agree with that. Holly allot of the time has a sub in there with the game on the line.
As for Simmons, I think Simmons is a good basketball player but I think Carter has a lot of basketball smarts and handles pressure well (3 point shot to bring the Lady Vols withen two points with a little over a minute to go against Stanford). But I also think she works really well with Massengale. I just think Simmons could help the Lady Vols allot more coming off the bench. Look what Williams did last year (I am not sure she shouldn't have started). Well these are all just different ways to look at it, but it gives people a feel for what the fan's think; after all they are the one's paying the money. Hope you have a Merry Xmas and a great New Year.

johnlg00 writes:

A number of interesting comments on here. It is clear that opinions vary about Simmons' value. She may well end her LV career as one of the most mystifying players ever. Since the criticisms are fairly well-known and not without some merit, let me make an argument for some of her positives. No point in anyone coming back at me with any "Yes, but(s)..." As I said, the negative arguments have been made; here are some positives.

First, on a team that does not have a lot of outgoing personalities and fiery spirits, she is one such. While she can apparently get down on herself, she can also fire up the others when she is in a positive mood.

Second, while she is a "volume shooter", she can also hit several in a row and nobody is faster on the court with the ball in her hands.

Third, she does miss a lot of shots but she also is enough of a threat that she speads the floor and draws defensive attention which opens things up for the others, and her frequent misses give the team's accomplished offensive rebounders more chances. We already know that the LVs are not especially good at feeding the post, so a missed shot is almost as good as a feed.

Whether these positives outweigh her negatives over the long haul is a decision the coaches must make. I would say merely that this is far more than an issue of "She's a selfish ball-hog and needs to sit down."

And of course, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Vols and fans. Thanks to the current board members for giving me much food for thought on our mutually favorite subjects!

ModelMaker writes:

in response to johnlg00:

A number of interesting comments on here. It is clear that opinions vary about Simmons' value. She may well end her LV career as one of the most mystifying players ever. Since the criticisms are fairly well-known and not without some merit, let me make an argument for some of her positives. No point in anyone coming back at me with any "Yes, but(s)..." As I said, the negative arguments have been made; here are some positives.

First, on a team that does not have a lot of outgoing personalities and fiery spirits, she is one such. While she can apparently get down on herself, she can also fire up the others when she is in a positive mood.

Second, while she is a "volume shooter", she can also hit several in a row and nobody is faster on the court with the ball in her hands.

Third, she does miss a lot of shots but she also is enough of a threat that she speads the floor and draws defensive attention which opens things up for the others, and her frequent misses give the team's accomplished offensive rebounders more chances. We already know that the LVs are not especially good at feeding the post, so a missed shot is almost as good as a feed.

Whether these positives outweigh her negatives over the long haul is a decision the coaches must make. I would say merely that this is far more than an issue of "She's a selfish ball-hog and needs to sit down."

And of course, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Vols and fans. Thanks to the current board members for giving me much food for thought on our mutually favorite subjects!

Choices, choices, life is full of allot of tough choices. That's way Holly makes the money she makes. She makes the right choice with the players we have and the Lady Vols win the SEC and get to the final four. It's going to be interesting as to how this all play's out. Whats your take on all this. What are your thoughts on who would give us the best chance to get to the final four. Seems too me from what I gather from the Stanford game, Ogwumike was grabbing everything that Simmons was putting up there.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

Choices, choices, life is full of allot of tough choices. That's way Holly makes the money she makes. She makes the right choice with the players we have and the Lady Vols win the SEC and get to the final four. It's going to be interesting as to how this all play's out. Whats your take on all this. What are your thoughts on who would give us the best chance to get to the final four. Seems too me from what I gather from the Stanford game, Ogwumike was grabbing everything that Simmons was putting up there.

If I knew for a fact what the best plan is going forward, I would have Holly's job instead of sitting here swapping opinions with all of you! I would only say that most of Ogumwike's rebounds were offensive, the ones that hurt the LVs the most, which means that Meighan probably was not the one shooting them. It is only occasionally Meighan's fault--like shooting when there is nobody underneath--that the LVs aren't putting back more of her misses.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to johnlg00:

If I knew for a fact what the best plan is going forward, I would have Holly's job instead of sitting here swapping opinions with all of you! I would only say that most of Ogumwike's rebounds were offensive, the ones that hurt the LVs the most, which means that Meighan probably was not the one shooting them. It is only occasionally Meighan's fault--like shooting when there is nobody underneath--that the LVs aren't putting back more of her misses.

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner but I had some business that was allot more important than getting back to you. Ya know John you don't need too know the best plan going forward and you don't need too know as much as the coach. All one has too do is too suggest something or have an opinion on something that might make things better. The company that I work at we welcome suggestions. You don't have too know as much as management but they like your suggestions just the same. There were times the company would use a suggestion and there were times when we didn't but in any case it showed management that the employee really cared about the company that he or she worked at. Anytime anyone had a suggestion too try and make things better I was all for it. That's really all I have too say about it.

CaptainPicard writes:

The reason why Stanford defeated the LVS but could not defeat UCONN is Stefanie Dolson. She did not allow Chiney O. to have her way. The LVS need Mercedes Russell to become Mercedes (Bill) Russell.

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