Inside story: Bashaara Graves, Isabelle Harrison back on track as Lady Vols handle Alabama, 96-69

Tennessee Bashaara Graves, right, drives against Alabama's Bri Huchen in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 96-69. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Tennessee Bashaara Graves, right, drives against Alabama's Bri Huchen in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 96-69. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Tennessee's Taber Spani, right, collides with Alabama's Jessica Meritt (11) while driving in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 96-69. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Photo by Wade Payne

Tennessee's Taber Spani, right, collides with Alabama's Jessica Meritt (11) while driving in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 96-69. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Lady Vols hug Pat Summitt before their Alabama game

Bashaara Graves and Isabelle Harrison couldn't make a shot to start Tennessee's last game. On Sunday, the two post players couldn't miss.

Two games after failing to grab a single rebound, Meighan Simmons was hoarding them against Alabama.

Statistical order was restored by this Lady Vols trio in a 96-69 SEC women's basketball victory before a crowd of 12,512 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Graves' 19 points led five double-figure scorers for No. 9 Tennessee (15-3, 6-0 SEC). Simmons' seven rebounds were one short of her career high. Their personal achievements reflected UT's collective success when shooting the basketball or fetching it against the Crimson Tide.

Guarding the ball, particularly against Alabama's Daisha Simmons, was more problematic. But UT defended the bottom line, winning for the 39th consecutive time in the series with the Crimson Tide (11-7, 1-4). The points were the most scored by Tennessee in an SEC game since a 110-45 victory over Alabama on Jan. 6, 2011.

The result also showed some respect for Lady Vols head coach emeritus

Pat Summitt. The game was part of the SEC's "We Back Pat" initiative to raise awareness and funding for Summitt's foundation in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

"We talked about Pat's sacrifices and what she's meant to everyone," UT head coach Holly Warlick said. "We just wanted to make sure we represented UT and Pat in the nature we needed to."

Meighan Simmons scored 16 points for Tennessee. Isabelle Harrison, Taber Spani and Jasmine Jones had 14 apiece. Jones' total was a career high.

Graves and Jones each grabbed eight rebounds in leading Tennessee's 50-38 advantage.

Jones completed the rewrite of her season highs with four blocks, one more than the 6-foot-2 freshman forward had for the entire season.

Every Lady Vol scored and grabbed a rebound and nobody played more than Spani's 29 minutes.

The Lady Vols started 9 for 11 from the floor and shot 62.9 percent (22 for 35) for the first half. Graves and Harrison, who were a combined 0 for 8 in the first half against Auburn on Thursday, started 10 for 10 against Alabama.

"We didn't have a great game against Auburn," said Graves, who finished 9 for 11. "We couldn't get shots off. It was terrible for us.

"We wanted to come out for the Alabama game and make up for that game. I think we did that."

UT's Simmons, who was irritated by her six turnovers against Auburn, committed just one on Sunday. Yet she seemed more motivated by failing to grab a rebound last Sunday at Florida.

"I just happened to be in the right position to get those rebounds," she said. "I knew there was something I needed to do besides score and to play defense and put ball pressure on them. It was one of those things. It was my goal today to have five rebounds. I ended up with seven so I'm proud of myself for that."

Alabama's four-guard lineup and aggressive approach required some adjustments. Daisha Simmons, a sophomore guard and transfer from Rutgers, had 12 of her team-high 19 points before the game was seven minutes old.

"When you get up on the ball, which we wanted to do, and you're guarding a great athlete, you have to run your help side defense to get the ball and the first four minutes we didn't do that," Warlick said. "We addressed some things and then our help side was a lot better. Alabama is one of the most athletic teams that we have played, throughout their whole team."

The Lady Vols couldn't have been much better than one first-half sequence during which they blocked two shots and swatted a pass out of bounds. Alabama's Shafontaye Myers salvaged the possession by literally throwing in a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock.

"Well, you watch this game long enough ..." Alabama coach Wendell Hudson said. "I was glad to see something go our way."

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Comments » 31

movinonup writes:

And the Lady Vols just keep rolling along ! Good job ladies---keep it going.

jt45 writes:

Would have been nice to honor Pat with a 100 point game and I dont think it would have took much effort with 5 minutes on the clock I think they must have turned it over or tossed up bricks at least 15 times.

Im glad they won but the last few minutes looked like a bad practice session. I know this sounds like some troll post but I wish Holly would push them to play hard until the final buzzer. If they make it into the top tier they are going to have to learn to not let up until the game is over and this includes coach Warlick as well. I would like to see her get after the refs now and then.

Congrats to the Lady Vols today, now get ready for Vandy. Dont let up next time.

orangecountyvols writes:

Congrats Lady Vols. Alabama played hard and hit a bunch of 3's but it was a team effort for U T, and they're doing pretty well even without Burdick. 15-3 in what some call a rebuilding year, losing to Stanford and Baylor really..........speaks volumns. Maybe down the road they'll get a rematch with the Lady Mocs.

Should be a war in the Kentucky game.

Football wise, how about Ryan for the Falcons in the 1st half? Unstopable.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to jt45:

Would have been nice to honor Pat with a 100 point game and I dont think it would have took much effort with 5 minutes on the clock I think they must have turned it over or tossed up bricks at least 15 times.

Im glad they won but the last few minutes looked like a bad practice session. I know this sounds like some troll post but I wish Holly would push them to play hard until the final buzzer. If they make it into the top tier they are going to have to learn to not let up until the game is over and this includes coach Warlick as well. I would like to see her get after the refs now and then.

Congrats to the Lady Vols today, now get ready for Vandy. Dont let up next time.

JT,

I hear ya'. Could be Holly just didn't want to embarrass Bama.......but yes,they did get careless at the end. I don't remember who was in the game then, but the Lady Vols were missing all their 3's and Alabama managing to hit theirs. But, the LV's were pretty tough on the boards, and those young players......... Graves, Jones, and Moore really looked good. Difference in talent did show up in this game all told.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

It's a shame they couldn't hit the century mark and rub bama's face in it..Sorry, my disdain for bammer got the best of me. Regardless, great win LV!

elbtenn#502977 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

It's a shame they couldn't hit the century mark and rub bama's face in it..Sorry, my disdain for bammer got the best of me. Regardless, great win LV!

I hear ya on the disdain!

ModelMaker writes:

I was suprised to see the mid-range jumper by Graves. She looked good. If she can continue to hit it when they play off her it will make it a lot tougher to defend her. I thought Jones looked good. Fourteen points and eight reabounds. Thats a good sign. The whole team played good on offense but defensively they are going to have to play a lot better if they hope to beat Vandy on their home court. Vandy will be a big test.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Never ceases to amaze who awful the average SEC women's basketball team is.....
the Deep South (Louisiana, Bama, Mississippi, and so on) is fertile ground for great women's sports if someone can "grow" it.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to jt45:

Would have been nice to honor Pat with a 100 point game and I dont think it would have took much effort with 5 minutes on the clock I think they must have turned it over or tossed up bricks at least 15 times.

Im glad they won but the last few minutes looked like a bad practice session. I know this sounds like some troll post but I wish Holly would push them to play hard until the final buzzer. If they make it into the top tier they are going to have to learn to not let up until the game is over and this includes coach Warlick as well. I would like to see her get after the refs now and then.

Congrats to the Lady Vols today, now get ready for Vandy. Dont let up next time.

You must have missed the fact that most of the starters were pulled.

SoddyVol writes:

My wife complains I am a perfectionist. I think I just want them to go undefeated and wouldn’t say anything if I didn’t think it possible.

I know the Vols play defense called for by the coaches and are young, but it seems to me when having trouble on defense, they require a little more coaching than some to correct the problem. They are very smart persons, just need to use their head. I appreciate the fact that at least they are talented enough to overcome any flaws when playing most anyone.

One other thing that concerns me, with some tougher games coming up, is the unforced turnovers caused by passing into traffic with no clear opening. This happens most often early in the game. Vols, please come out ready from the tip off

chaos001 writes:

Defensive intensity seemed to wain near the end. We also couldn't seem to stop a layup down the lane all day. Someone's gotta cut over and block the lane. Getting a charge or block isn't all that bad when you lay the other team out on the floor. They'll think twice before they do it again.

SummittsCourt writes:

Win by 27 and still the critics come out to complain.

Congrats Lady Vols for a great team win on "We Back Pat" day.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

27-point win....I'll take it.

jt45 writes:

in response to golfman1975:

You must have missed the fact that most of the starters were pulled.

Not at all, I think CW pulled back a bit. Im sure they could have put up 110 or more with all five starters in. They let up on those bama girls, simple as that.

SoddyVol writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Win by 27 and still the critics come out to complain.

Congrats Lady Vols for a great team win on "We Back Pat" day.

I've given plenty of praise lately. Guess their play in Fla & Aub makes me worry. Especially seeing Vandy, Ky, and ND just ahead.

Orange_Beach writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

It's a shame they couldn't hit the century mark and rub bama's face in it..Sorry, my disdain for bammer got the best of me. Regardless, great win LV!

It's a good thing Saban don't think like you do because he could hang 100 on us anytime he wants. I'm just glad he got class.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Good win Lady Vols now beat the Dorettes. Don't confused CW whistles with "The Whistler"

Theo writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

It's a good thing Saban don't think like you do because he could hang 100 on us anytime he wants. I'm just glad he got class.

There is no us in troll. And "Saban" and "class" should never be used in the same post.

madrigal writes:

in response to jt45:

Not at all, I think CW pulled back a bit. Im sure they could have put up 110 or more with all five starters in. They let up on those bama girls, simple as that.

You can't find anything else to complain about, so you whine about THAT? Who peed in your cornflakes?

So Holly let the end of the bench play the last few minutes when an already huge lead was safe....don't they deserve a chance now and then? They come out to practice every day and they have to work just as hard as the starters even though they don't play very often. I was thinking last night back to the days of Sarah Edwards and Amanda (old age is making me forget her last name) who were walk-ons for 3 years and still worked and practiced hard and rarely got to play. Remember how the crowd would start calling for them when the game looked like it was safely tucked away? Those players deserve a chance too. I guess you must not remember that. 100 points are just not that important unless the other team has scored 99.

romevol writes:

in response to SoddyVol:

My wife complains I am a perfectionist. I think I just want them to go undefeated and wouldn’t say anything if I didn’t think it possible.

I know the Vols play defense called for by the coaches and are young, but it seems to me when having trouble on defense, they require a little more coaching than some to correct the problem. They are very smart persons, just need to use their head. I appreciate the fact that at least they are talented enough to overcome any flaws when playing most anyone.

One other thing that concerns me, with some tougher games coming up, is the unforced turnovers caused by passing into traffic with no clear opening. This happens most often early in the game. Vols, please come out ready from the tip off

Hi SoddyVol - you wouldn't be from SD TN would you? Just curious as I grew up there and still have family up that way.

Anyhew - I was at the game yesterday you are correct in that early on there were a lot of unforced turnovers. I think that was mostly a condition of playing fast and trying to move the ball inside, but maybe not waiting for an open post. Also, their players Horn and Myers were ridiculously fast and nimble and were taking advantage of every mistake early on. Although they didn't kill us this time, those types of mistakes will come back to bite you in a more contested game.

I think they played with heart through most of the game, but I think towards the end of the second half the had it set on cruise control.

Overall, I give em an "A" for this one.

Volinflan writes:

in response to madrigal:

You can't find anything else to complain about, so you whine about THAT? Who peed in your cornflakes?

So Holly let the end of the bench play the last few minutes when an already huge lead was safe....don't they deserve a chance now and then? They come out to practice every day and they have to work just as hard as the starters even though they don't play very often. I was thinking last night back to the days of Sarah Edwards and Amanda (old age is making me forget her last name) who were walk-ons for 3 years and still worked and practiced hard and rarely got to play. Remember how the crowd would start calling for them when the game looked like it was safely tucked away? Those players deserve a chance too. I guess you must not remember that. 100 points are just not that important unless the other team has scored 99.

Good post. And lest we forget, one of these days, due to injury, cramps, fatigue, or fouls Nia and Jasmine P are going to have to play. I think I see some ball player in Nia but maybe some months of refining (and weight room) is still needed. She's got some elevation in her! I just haven't seen enough of Jasmine P to have an idea about her. She looked lost last night. Of course last night was about the most she has played. The more the better.

Ole JJ though is going to be a true jewel. I keep drooling thinking about Graves, Burdick, Jones, and Harrison, with the addition of a "big" post. Heck, maybe JJ can play point. Parker used to. So if Nia Moore comes along like Harrison did, the Lady Vols can be a really big, fast team and not have to worry about fouling out. Bring on UCONN.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Its hard to evaluate this game. I saw a lot of mistakes and this team has to develop a killer instinct early and learn how to score in streaks and play shutdown D. Too many times the Bama Simmons had too many easy layups. Our girls has to play stifling D if we will have a chance against ND or UK or even TAMU who is playing good ball right now. I think our team will be on top of the conference . I have a feeling UK will drop a game against USC and maybe TAMU. After ND our girls should have it easy until we meet UK. Just play it out I guess. The talent is there . We just need to harness it. GLV

r2d2 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Its hard to evaluate this game. I saw a lot of mistakes and this team has to develop a killer instinct early and learn how to score in streaks and play shutdown D. Too many times the Bama Simmons had too many easy layups. Our girls has to play stifling D if we will have a chance against ND or UK or even TAMU who is playing good ball right now. I think our team will be on top of the conference . I have a feeling UK will drop a game against USC and maybe TAMU. After ND our girls should have it easy until we meet UK. Just play it out I guess. The talent is there . We just need to harness it. GLV

I agree with your comments. I believe the defensive problems are caused by a young team trying to play too many complicated defensive schemes. Holly needs to simply the schemes. It is better to play one or two schemes well than to play many schemes poorly.

r2d2 writes:

I believe that Holly coaches more like Geno than Pat. She seems very offensive minded, just like Geno. She believes in playing 6 or 7 players only except for a blowout, just like Geno. Holly will pull a player out of the game to talk to them but she puts them back in the game after talking to them. This is very similar to Geno. She pats players on the back when they come out, just like Geno. I am not saying that she is a copycat of Geno but her coaching style is similar to his coaching style.

RLL59 writes:

in response to r2d2:

I believe that Holly coaches more like Geno than Pat. She seems very offensive minded, just like Geno. She believes in playing 6 or 7 players only except for a blowout, just like Geno. Holly will pull a player out of the game to talk to them but she puts them back in the game after talking to them. This is very similar to Geno. She pats players on the back when they come out, just like Geno. I am not saying that she is a copycat of Geno but her coaching style is similar to his coaching style.

I think you're right. Emphasizing encouragement over punishment is what she's doing and it's a better approach. Right now the players are not afraid to take some risks (other than the fear of what 2 fouls in the first half results in) and that's also a good thing. Who knows? We might just see some improvement year to year from individual players rather than what's been the experience for the last several.

RLL59 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Its hard to evaluate this game. I saw a lot of mistakes and this team has to develop a killer instinct early and learn how to score in streaks and play shutdown D. Too many times the Bama Simmons had too many easy layups. Our girls has to play stifling D if we will have a chance against ND or UK or even TAMU who is playing good ball right now. I think our team will be on top of the conference . I have a feeling UK will drop a game against USC and maybe TAMU. After ND our girls should have it easy until we meet UK. Just play it out I guess. The talent is there . We just need to harness it. GLV

Agreed, except that the Lady Vols play A&M just before Kentucky, and, as you point out, they will be a tough opponent.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

It's a good thing Saban don't think like you do because he could hang 100 on us anytime he wants. I'm just glad he got class.

What a bully..You mean Saban wants to hang 100 points on the lady tide?? For shame.

Volinflan writes:

in response to RLL59:

I think you're right. Emphasizing encouragement over punishment is what she's doing and it's a better approach. Right now the players are not afraid to take some risks (other than the fear of what 2 fouls in the first half results in) and that's also a good thing. Who knows? We might just see some improvement year to year from individual players rather than what's been the experience for the last several.

I think I understand what you are saying. About 40 years ago the budding educational theories of Special Education concentrated strongly on the concept of Positive reinforcement versus Negative reinforcement. I believe that a pat on the back when coming back to the bench is much more productive than a cold stare. The players this year seem to be happy when they do bad and don't get fried. They project "shoot I'm going to try much harder next opportunity".

ps11824 writes:

As I read comments that suggest, "Holly should... " To me it is almost disrespectful. Maybe it"s just me.

I do want us to improve and cut out the turnovers. I want us to be a smart team. To be effective with screens, passes, high percentage shots; capable of defeating the top 5-ranked teams. I'm sure Holly wants that and is working to get there.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

I think I understand what you are saying. About 40 years ago the budding educational theories of Special Education concentrated strongly on the concept of Positive reinforcement versus Negative reinforcement. I believe that a pat on the back when coming back to the bench is much more productive than a cold stare. The players this year seem to be happy when they do bad and don't get fried. They project "shoot I'm going to try much harder next opportunity".

The old saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar goes back much further than that. I've heard it said that a coaching essential is to know which players need a pat on the back and which ones need a kick in the butt. Along the same lines, a coach needs to understand the circumstances when EACH individual needs which kind of treatment.

SoddyVol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

The old saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar goes back much further than that. I've heard it said that a coaching essential is to know which players need a pat on the back and which ones need a kick in the butt. Along the same lines, a coach needs to understand the circumstances when EACH individual needs which kind of treatment.

Exactly! I had one son who tried that much harder to not disappoint when given a pat on the back. I had another who would take advantage of me if he thought the situation didn't bother me too awful much.

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