John Adams: Surprise: Lady Vols ahead of last season's pace

John Adams
Tennessee's Ariel Massengale, left, head coach Holly Warlick, and assistant coach Kyra Elzy watch the court during the game against Ole Miss at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Tennessee defeated Ole Miss, 97-68. 
  
 (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee's Ariel Massengale, left, head coach Holly Warlick, and assistant coach Kyra Elzy watch the court during the game against Ole Miss at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Tennessee defeated Ole Miss, 97-68. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

The numbers sometimes don't make sense with this Tennessee women's basketball team.

The Lady Vols beat Ole Miss 97-68 Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena. They also made 19 turnovers against the worst team in the SEC along the way. How did that happen?

An 80-63 loss to Missouri the previous Sunday made even less sense. That was the same team UT beat by 45 points a month earlier.

But not all of the surprising numbers are negative. The most telling numbers add up to a compliment.

This team is actually ahead of its more heralded predecessor at this stage of the season. Imagine that.

Last season, the Lady Vols were 17-7 overall and 8-3 in the SEC after 24 games. Now, they're 19-5 and 10-1.

Last season, they were 6-4 against top-25 teams. This season, they are 6-3.

Last season, they were outscored by an average of 18 points in three regular-season games against top-five teams Baylor, Stanford and Notre Dame. This season, they were outscored by an average of 15.3 points in losses to the same elite threesome.

The improvement has been accomplished despite significant attrition.

Starting forward Cierra Burdick missed eight games with a broken hand, freshman backup point guard Andraya Carter hasn't played since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury seven games into the season, and center Isabelle Harrison is out indefinitely after having knee surgery two weeks ago.

So how do you explain the improvement after the Lady Vols had to replace their entire starting lineup from last season while also making the transition from legendary coach Pat Summitt to first-time head coach Holly Warlick?

"We play so much together," Warlick said Sunday. "I think they understand the importance of a team effort."

Effort also has something to do with it. This team consistently plays harder than the last one.

Also, Meighan Simmons and Taber Spani have increased their production. Simmons has improved her shot selection and her defense; Spani, who wasn't healthy for much of the 2011-12 season, has come on strong after a slow start.

The scoring and rebounding production from freshman post player Bashaara Graves is another factor in UT's success. She has scored and rebounded at a rate comparable to departed All-American Glory Johnson.

You can't ignore the coaching, either, when making comparisons between this season and last.

Tennessee was basically a coach short last season. Summitt could only do so much while battling Alzheimer's; the assistants did their best to take up the slack. It was hard on everyone involved, especially Warlick, who handled many of the head-coaching responsibilities.

Succeeding a legend is one of the biggest challenges in sports. And no one is more aware of the challenge than other coaches. A number of coaches have been complimentary of Warlick after games.

"Holly came into a tough situation and she has done a great job of molding (this team)," Ole Miss coach Brett Frank said. "She has a very unenviable task. Anything short of a national championship can be perceived as not having met the standard."

But the task isn't as difficult as what Warlick went through last season.

Now, she has the head-coaching title as well as head-coaching responsibilities. And the change has been for the best.

The way the season is going, the rookie head coach could be the SEC Coach of the Year.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 52

VolInIndy writes:

Love me some Lady Vols! Good job players and coaches!

62vol writes:

Any word on when Harrison comes back?

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

For all those who think Adams is completely anti-Vol, back up...take a deep breath...and say you're sorry. I agree...Holly Warlick is the SEC Coach of the Year.

Well done, John.

movol53 writes:

I'm not sure how this works but can the Lady Vols get a medical for Carter? She played only 7 games.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

"Tennessee was basically a coach short last season. Summitt could only do so much while battling Alzheimer's; the assistants did their best to take up the slack. "

Okay, I call horsecrap on that statement. Sorry. All the way around.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Last year's team was, to be blunt, emotionally drained. They were mishandled from basically Day 1 on campus,and struggled for years with the legacy of trying to follow the "great" team the preceded them.

Remember, that's the bunch who lost to Ball State? The group who got locked out of their lockerroom, never had a decent point guard, and twice in the NCAA's got moved out by Griner??

Holly IS doing a great job. This group plays inside-out ball, lots of players contribute, and there is some trust: they trust Graves inside, Simmons outside, and the others play their role.

Holly is juggling a short bench with weak guard subs.

Pat had her way...Holy has hers; I'm glad to see Holly get some respect.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

BTW...
Only Adams or those who don't follow much ball were surprised by the Mizzou game.

Warlick warned she was worried about playing Mizzou at their place, that they wouldn't shoot so poorly as they did at Knoxville...then people get mad when coach turns out to know what she's talking about??

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

If I have a bone to pick with UT's recruiting...I wish Holly would step back and look at the type player she was, or Kim Mulkey was: gritty, smart, tough.

How in the world could it hurt UT to give up a bit of "athleticism" and pick up a player like that?? When I watch UConn or Stanford or ND, that's what stands out: they have 2 or 3 kids on the roster who are average athletes but tremendous basketball IQ.

formerflgranny writes:

in response to Fall_Creek_Vols:

For all those who think Adams is completely anti-Vol, back up...take a deep breath...and say you're sorry. I agree...Holly Warlick is the SEC Coach of the Year.

Well done, John.

Really, how could you let adams fool you again? Did you not catch all the curve balls adams threw in this article? Adams is the reason I cancelled my Sentinel subscription and I will never pay for another newspaper as long as the Sentinel continues to let this creep slander UT. I refuse to help pay his salary by subscribing to the NS and if others would cancel their subscription and let the Sentinel know exactly why you are stoping I believe the Sentinel would wise up and get rid adams!

golfman1975 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

tturley#297658 writes:

Holly = COY in the SEC
Frosh are playing hard and have a good work ethic.
And they're fun to watch!
Look for a good run in March!

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to mtnsvol44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Fine, count me as an idiot.

He was the head cheerleader to running Fulmer out of town. Was Phil in a rough patch?? Duh. Doe coaches have those times? Yes.

But, those of us who advocated for a measured plan were drowned out by those like Adams and, most likely, you....and now UT football is a National Afterthought.

Sorry, I'll stick with the idiots while the "smart" ones like you and Adams help drag the programs down into nothing.

jt45 writes:

Graves is better than johnson was as a freshman and by her senior year she may be among the elite to ever wear a LV uniform if she continues to get better like most underclassmen do.

If Russel turns out to be as good as predicted, next year has alot
for LVs BB fans to look forward to.

ITISWHATITIS writes:

in response to emailnodata:

If I have a bone to pick with UT's recruiting...I wish Holly would step back and look at the type player she was, or Kim Mulkey was: gritty, smart, tough.

How in the world could it hurt UT to give up a bit of "athleticism" and pick up a player like that?? When I watch UConn or Stanford or ND, that's what stands out: they have 2 or 3 kids on the roster who are average athletes but tremendous basketball IQ.

I don't know where you have been but this freshman class has both athleticism and BB IQ

ITISWHATITIS writes:

So does Tabor,Cierra,Kamiko,Arial and Meghan

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to jt45:

Graves is better than johnson was as a freshman and by her senior year she may be among the elite to ever wear a LV uniform if she continues to get better like most underclassmen do.

If Russel turns out to be as good as predicted, next year has alot
for LVs BB fans to look forward to.

Will be interesting...
A lot of times, the game is 'easy' for players their first year, then the soph year it gets a lot tougher...not a slump, but more of the coaches on your butt, expectations are higher, and other teams exploit your weaknesses better.

I like Graves a lot, and say she is a basketball player where Johnson was just an athlete trying to play basketball.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Graves to me has to be the Freshman of the year in all of wbb. Breanna Stewert is having a good year but not a huge impact playing along side Dolson. Jewell Lloyd is good but not making waves like Graves. I'm really surprised she is not getting more pub. I hope Russell comes in playing like Plaisance(Lsu) and Dolson is now with the strength of a Elizabeth Williams or Kelsey Bone. If she's that type of player Watch out!! From clips I've seen she's graceful and smooth.

ladyvolsfan789 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Graves to me has to be the Freshman of the year in all of wbb. Breanna Stewert is having a good year but not a huge impact playing along side Dolson. Jewell Lloyd is good but not making waves like Graves. I'm really surprised she is not getting more pub. I hope Russell comes in playing like Plaisance(Lsu) and Dolson is now with the strength of a Elizabeth Williams or Kelsey Bone. If she's that type of player Watch out!! From clips I've seen she's graceful and smooth.

If Graves doesn't get Freshman of the year it will be a travesty. Stewart hasn't played well in tough games and I don't think Jewell Loyd has the numbers Graves does. Anybody who doesn't think Graves deserves it needs to watch the last few seconds of that LSU game.

vol98champ writes:

This team is much better than I expected.
Graves has definitely been the most impressive freshman.
Simmons has improved her BB IQ and therefore is much better.
Holly is proving that she can coach and handle adversity.
Everybody, when healthy, is better than last year.
Last year's team had more talent. This team has more desire.

cdtnladyvols931#663910 writes:

in response to movol53:

I'm not sure how this works but can the Lady Vols get a medical for Carter? She played only 7 games.

If I am not mistaken, I believe that I heard them say she would get a medical redshirt, she would have a extra year of elibility.

cdtnladyvols931#663910 writes:

SEC Coach of the Year! Holly Warlick
Freshman of the Year! Baasharra Graves

hikerdude writes:

My guess is that this year's team would beat lsst year's team 7 out of 10 times.

martinvol34 writes:

GO Lady Vols!

GrandCanyonVol writes:

These girls are more for team this year. Just seem like there was more individual effort last year. As often heard, there is no "I" in team. Hope this year's "TEAM" does well as we ride into the finish......

VolsFan4Lyfe writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Graves to me has to be the Freshman of the year in all of wbb. Breanna Stewert is having a good year but not a huge impact playing along side Dolson. Jewell Lloyd is good but not making waves like Graves. I'm really surprised she is not getting more pub. I hope Russell comes in playing like Plaisance(Lsu) and Dolson is now with the strength of a Elizabeth Williams or Kelsey Bone. If she's that type of player Watch out!! From clips I've seen she's graceful and smooth.

I totally agree with you. Mondays UCONN/Baylor game will say a lot to who the freshman of the year is along with ND/UCONN games that may occur through out the season. I just look at Bashaara and look at the roll she had to take on and as a freshman she continues to thrive. I can handle 5 turnovers when you produce 19 pts 6-8 shooting 11 rebounds, an assit and 2 steals,,all while going 7-7 from the foul line. I think her FT shooting % if she was able to take a break during the game but 70% for a post player isnt to bad...I think itll be more like 73% towards the end of the year.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Graves to me has to be the Freshman of the year in all of wbb. Breanna Stewert is having a good year but not a huge impact playing along side Dolson. Jewell Lloyd is good but not making waves like Graves. I'm really surprised she is not getting more pub. I hope Russell comes in playing like Plaisance(Lsu) and Dolson is now with the strength of a Elizabeth Williams or Kelsey Bone. If she's that type of player Watch out!! From clips I've seen she's graceful and smooth.

@max....
really, really difficult to say.

On the one hand, Graves is one of maybe 2 effective offensive players UT has, Simmons being the other. So, she gets more opps.

Loyd and Stewart are both parts of teams with many other weapons. Loyd is a key to making ND good. Stewart not so much at Uconn. Graves obviously makes UT better, but UT's a lower tier team this season.

My guess would be Loyd.

Good comment, anyway.

madrigal writes:

in response to emailnodata:

If I have a bone to pick with UT's recruiting...I wish Holly would step back and look at the type player she was, or Kim Mulkey was: gritty, smart, tough.

How in the world could it hurt UT to give up a bit of "athleticism" and pick up a player like that?? When I watch UConn or Stanford or ND, that's what stands out: they have 2 or 3 kids on the roster who are average athletes but tremendous basketball IQ.

We do have a couple of "gritty, smart, tough" players. They're also good~! It isn't Holly's fault they got injured, for catsake! Do I have to remind you that their names are Carter and Harrison? We also have a few others who are developing nicely. Injuries happen and are not Holly's fault. Youth is a matter of, well, age, and other players are growing up fast. Stop picking already.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to madrigal:

We do have a couple of "gritty, smart, tough" players. They're also good~! It isn't Holly's fault they got injured, for catsake! Do I have to remind you that their names are Carter and Harrison? We also have a few others who are developing nicely. Injuries happen and are not Holly's fault. Youth is a matter of, well, age, and other players are growing up fast. Stop picking already.

Not seeing it.

Hornbuckle was close, but wild. Bjorklund? No. Massengale??? Maybe, if she's the off guard. Alicia Manning?? Yes, when she saw the floor.

I don't see a Kelly Farris at UT. Or a Jordan Madden.

That's my point: with up to 15 scholarships, I'd love to see UT with more the Madden, Farris, or Manning type players. Girls who play super D, make all the little plays, never get lost on defense.

AllforTenn writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Not seeing it.

Hornbuckle was close, but wild. Bjorklund? No. Massengale??? Maybe, if she's the off guard. Alicia Manning?? Yes, when she saw the floor.

I don't see a Kelly Farris at UT. Or a Jordan Madden.

That's my point: with up to 15 scholarships, I'd love to see UT with more the Madden, Farris, or Manning type players. Girls who play super D, make all the little plays, never get lost on defense.

Being that you know so much about grit, intelligence and toughness (in your own mind) maybe you should see if Holly will give you a job scouting potential recruits. Seems to me she is doing okay.

Theo writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Last year's team was, to be blunt, emotionally drained. They were mishandled from basically Day 1 on campus,and struggled for years with the legacy of trying to follow the "great" team the preceded them.

Remember, that's the bunch who lost to Ball State? The group who got locked out of their lockerroom, never had a decent point guard, and twice in the NCAA's got moved out by Griner??

Holly IS doing a great job. This group plays inside-out ball, lots of players contribute, and there is some trust: they trust Graves inside, Simmons outside, and the others play their role.

Holly is juggling a short bench with weak guard subs.

Pat had her way...Holy has hers; I'm glad to see Holly get some respect.

Really agree with your comment re last years senior class. I don't think anyone outside of that team can understand the pressure they were under. I've got to believe that the players knew something was going on with Pat prior to last year. I remember when they showed Pat at halftime and she said the thing about being sick to her stomach and at that time I thought that while Pat could be a taskmaster that seemed extreme. Who knows how the frustrations were manifesting themselves. Anyway, water under the bridge. Love those kids and they are Lady Vols forever.
I do, however, think that I am particularly fond of this team because they do seem to have fun together and have a joy in playing that has been missing the last few years. Don't get me wrong I want another NC banner soon but the smiles on their faces after BG hit the last second shot at LSU and the high fives after a CB no look assist mean a whole lot too.

tovolny writes:

First of all, GO LADY VOLS!

John Adams can't find it in himself to compliment Holly without taking a jab a Pat Summitt. I would like to think that every Vol fan knows the circumstances, the situation, and what HAD to be done last year. I noticed that one poster complimented John Adams, and another noticed and related the tendency of John Adams to throw a few curves. John Adams just can't present news and facts without stirring in a little grease and grime intended to blur the overall picture. He wants us to think that he calls a spade a spade, and a shovel a shovel; but, wait, he spends a lot of effort persuading us to see things that are just not there. Weidmer and Climer do about the same, except they rarely try covering up or disguising their agenda. But, finally, they are on the verge of being exposed.

One of these days Alice, one of these days.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to Theo:

Really agree with your comment re last years senior class. I don't think anyone outside of that team can understand the pressure they were under. I've got to believe that the players knew something was going on with Pat prior to last year. I remember when they showed Pat at halftime and she said the thing about being sick to her stomach and at that time I thought that while Pat could be a taskmaster that seemed extreme. Who knows how the frustrations were manifesting themselves. Anyway, water under the bridge. Love those kids and they are Lady Vols forever.
I do, however, think that I am particularly fond of this team because they do seem to have fun together and have a joy in playing that has been missing the last few years. Don't get me wrong I want another NC banner soon but the smiles on their faces after BG hit the last second shot at LSU and the high fives after a CB no look assist mean a whole lot too.

@theo...
You make a great post and you read my mind....

It's gradual when you were watching it...but stark when you compare Pat to her self even just a few years back.

I watched her at AAU the summer just prior; now I kind of "get it".

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to AllforTenn:

Being that you know so much about grit, intelligence and toughness (in your own mind) maybe you should see if Holly will give you a job scouting potential recruits. Seems to me she is doing okay.

Hey, sounds great!
Thanks!

I know enough.

Sticks in your craw?? Whatthehellever.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to tovolny:

First of all, GO LADY VOLS!

John Adams can't find it in himself to compliment Holly without taking a jab a Pat Summitt. I would like to think that every Vol fan knows the circumstances, the situation, and what HAD to be done last year. I noticed that one poster complimented John Adams, and another noticed and related the tendency of John Adams to throw a few curves. John Adams just can't present news and facts without stirring in a little grease and grime intended to blur the overall picture. He wants us to think that he calls a spade a spade, and a shovel a shovel; but, wait, he spends a lot of effort persuading us to see things that are just not there. Weidmer and Climer do about the same, except they rarely try covering up or disguising their agenda. But, finally, they are on the verge of being exposed.

One of these days Alice, one of these days.

I read Climer ages ago...and you are right: Dave makes no secret he's not a UT fan. I think he tries to give it straight, though, you know??

Mike Strange writes some good stuff, I think. Mike is a Vol fan, and he's never really nasty, but he presents the chagrin a Vol fan might feel.

LOL, I grew up reading FM Williams!

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to Fall_Creek_Vols:

For all those who think Adams is completely anti-Vol, back up...take a deep breath...and say you're sorry. I agree...Holly Warlick is the SEC Coach of the Year.

Well done, John.

I think most of the criticism about JA being anti-Vol comes from his coverage of the men's BB and FB and frankly from what's been going on in that program (an example of everything not to do in running an athletic department) would be hard for anyone not wearing orange colored glasses to not be sometimes negative. Many of the darts tossed at JA are unwarranted.

ps11824 writes:

emailnodata, how about a Kellie Jolly type, or a Kara Lawson type? Michelle Marciniak, Jody Adams? We have seen some top-notch guards dressed in Lady Vols Orange. One of the flashiest, accurate as all get-out when she was on her game would be Kristin Ace Clement. Of course she had some pretty flashy athletes around her who could catch her no-looks and convert them to points.

I think we will recruit and land some of those types in the future. Sure hope I'm around to see such a team.

volboy81 writes:

I love this team. They do seem to really play as a team. As for last Sunday vs. Mizzou, that is still beyond explaination to me, especially after Miss. State beat Mo. in Columbia this past Sunday. Bad days happen, though...and I think all of our players had a bad day on the same day!
Maybe we'll get to play them in the SEC Tournament and torch them by 45 again!
GO LADY VOLS!!!
..And yes, Holly should be Coach Of the Year and Graves Freshman of the Year & probably Player of the Year!

kazoo writes:

in response to emailnodata:

If I have a bone to pick with UT's recruiting...I wish Holly would step back and look at the type player she was, or Kim Mulkey was: gritty, smart, tough.

How in the world could it hurt UT to give up a bit of "athleticism" and pick up a player like that?? When I watch UConn or Stanford or ND, that's what stands out: they have 2 or 3 kids on the roster who are average athletes but tremendous basketball IQ.

What are you talking about? Many of UT's recent shooting guards have been high IQ types without enough athleticism. They've been a problem, not a solution. You obviously want players with both.

Of course this team has a better record than last year's team--it's better. There was quite a bit of program slippage in the last several year's of PS's tenure, that's a fact. Recruiting fell off, coaching fell off. We had some big slow teams, now we've got a more athletic team--thankfully--but lack a bit of size! The worst thing is, UT does not play the kind of tough-nosed defense that we played years ago, partly because the offensive game in women's BB has improved a ton since the 80s and 90s. Still, we need to play better defense--and the coaches need to get much better at teaching half-court offense and passing, this program's achilles heel for a long time.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to ps11824:

emailnodata, how about a Kellie Jolly type, or a Kara Lawson type? Michelle Marciniak, Jody Adams? We have seen some top-notch guards dressed in Lady Vols Orange. One of the flashiest, accurate as all get-out when she was on her game would be Kristin Ace Clement. Of course she had some pretty flashy athletes around her who could catch her no-looks and convert them to points.

I think we will recruit and land some of those types in the future. Sure hope I'm around to see such a team.

Yes sir or yes ma'am.

You have it nailed.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to kazoo:

What are you talking about? Many of UT's recent shooting guards have been high IQ types without enough athleticism. They've been a problem, not a solution. You obviously want players with both.

Of course this team has a better record than last year's team--it's better. There was quite a bit of program slippage in the last several year's of PS's tenure, that's a fact. Recruiting fell off, coaching fell off. We had some big slow teams, now we've got a more athletic team--thankfully--but lack a bit of size! The worst thing is, UT does not play the kind of tough-nosed defense that we played years ago, partly because the offensive game in women's BB has improved a ton since the 80s and 90s. Still, we need to play better defense--and the coaches need to get much better at teaching half-court offense and passing, this program's achilles heel for a long time.

@kazoo.

Not talking about shooting guards. I'm talking about guards who play tough defense, distribute the ball, and make the hustle plays.

If they can shoot, great. If not, they facilitate. Look at any of the top 3-4 teams in the USA, and they have several of those players on the court and on the bench.

This year I'd point to Farris and Doty (UConn) and Madden (Baylor), though Madden may shoot a bit more. Jewel Loyd is a lot like that, too.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

I appreciate all your comments. A few were saying this team is better than the one last year, and 2012/2013 could beat 2011/2012 etc.

Just my opinion, but last years's team played under very uncomfortable circumstances. They looked over at that bench and there was a legend, basically just sitting there, unable to coach as we have all seen her do in the past. The team wanted to win for her, the coaches......same thing. Those standing in for Pat were doing so under awkward circumstances. It had a definite effect on the play of the team. Thus.........that's how last season turned out as it did.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Hey, sounds great!
Thanks!

I know enough.

Sticks in your craw?? Whatthehellever.

You "know enough"....you don't know your zip code.

ps11824 writes:

Thanks, emailnodata, no ill will here.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to volboy81:

I love this team. They do seem to really play as a team. As for last Sunday vs. Mizzou, that is still beyond explaination to me, especially after Miss. State beat Mo. in Columbia this past Sunday. Bad days happen, though...and I think all of our players had a bad day on the same day!
Maybe we'll get to play them in the SEC Tournament and torch them by 45 again!
GO LADY VOLS!!!
..And yes, Holly should be Coach Of the Year and Graves Freshman of the Year & probably Player of the Year!

As I see SEC POY leaders at this point
Kelsey Bone
Megan Simmons
Adia Mathis
Bashaara Graves

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to golfman1975:

You "know enough"....you don't know your zip code.

Great response, value-added, well-done.

Your comments enlighten us all.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

As I see SEC POY leaders at this point
Kelsey Bone
Megan Simmons
Adia Mathis
Bashaara Graves

Ouch....
if UT does win the SEC...how do you Not pick one of them for POY??

Then, though, you get into stats and whatnot. You named some really good players.

Not that you can do it, but if UT wins the SEC, my POY is Holly and every player on the team...because it's been a huge team effort so far.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

I absolutely agree with those who say this is a really "likable" team. There's some good stuff: no griping on the floor, great ball-sharing, riding the hot hand, and so on.

What I think I see, too, is fans trying to pull this team through this transition time, and that really helps.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

I absolutely agree with those who say this is a really "likable" team. There's some good stuff: no griping on the floor, great ball-sharing, riding the hot hand, and so on.

What I think I see, too, is fans trying to pull this team through this transition time, and that really helps.

Agree completely with both of your posts above. One got the feeling watching the LVs the last few years that they seemed to be playing the game in their own heads. That included the way they related to Pat's difficulties. That time sort of brought each player's feelings about decline, mortality, and such to a level of consciousness similar to what most people would feel at the decline or death of a parent. Those situations are universal but everybody processes them differently. Over everything else that goes on in a big-time sports program, there was this added element that almost had to keep intruding. This year's team has had time to come to terms with their feelings about this extraordinary situation and seem to have learned to keep it from influencing them negatively on a daily basis. Holly deserves major credit for helping make this possible.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Ouch....
if UT does win the SEC...how do you Not pick one of them for POY??

Then, though, you get into stats and whatnot. You named some really good players.

Not that you can do it, but if UT wins the SEC, my POY is Holly and every player on the team...because it's been a huge team effort so far.

I was looking at it by stats and players impact. To me there is no TAMU without Bone. But of course if the Vols win out I think it should be a Vol sweep! It's just feels like the voters are not trying to give MS any credit. We shall see.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Agree completely with both of your posts above. One got the feeling watching the LVs the last few years that they seemed to be playing the game in their own heads. That included the way they related to Pat's difficulties. That time sort of brought each player's feelings about decline, mortality, and such to a level of consciousness similar to what most people would feel at the decline or death of a parent. Those situations are universal but everybody processes them differently. Over everything else that goes on in a big-time sports program, there was this added element that almost had to keep intruding. This year's team has had time to come to terms with their feelings about this extraordinary situation and seem to have learned to keep it from influencing them negatively on a daily basis. Holly deserves major credit for helping make this possible.

John, good points, plus this, maybe:

Holly has backed off trying to change her players character, maybe feeling that's too much on their plate right now. Pat, Geno, and the other top coaches always talk about "getting so-and-so to be more assertive" or so on..you're not hearing that with Holly. I think she just wants the kids to play how they feel comfortable, and she'll get them in situations where they can win.

I do expect that to change as she gets more players going.

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