Lady Vols hug Pat Summitt before their Alabama game
More variety has resulted in more scoring for Taber Spani.
Heading into Thursday's game at Vanderbilt, Tennessee's senior wing player is averaging 12.5 points per game in SEC play — nearly four points better than her season average of 8.8.
Spani said that her scoring doesn't signify major improvement with her back issues.
"I don't want to say there's a big difference physically," she said Tuesday. "It's just understanding it's crunch time. Every game counts. You just have to deal with it."
The increase does coincide with her becoming a starter after sophomore forward Cierra Burdick went down with a fractured right hand on New Year's Eve. Spani is averaging 31.5 minutes per game in the SEC, compared to 23.7 overall.
Above all, Spani attributes the scoring upgrade to an expanded mind-set.
"I've just understood that I have to step up my offensive game," she said, "and I've tried to do it in a variety of ways, because it hasn't necessarily been the three ball."
Since making four 3-pointers in the conference opener at South Carolina on Jan. 3, Spani is 4 for 18 (22.2 percent) from long range in the other five league games. Last Sunday, she missed both of her 3-point attempts. But she still managed to score 14 points against Alabama on an assortment of jumpers and layups, along with two free throws.
Spani, who's shooting 41.5 percent from the floor for the season, is shooting 49.2 percent (29 for 59) in conference play. Despite the recent cold snap from behind the arc, her 3-point shooting also is more accurate in conference play than overall (34.8-31.1).
"Just try to have a scorer's mentality and understand people are going play me to defend the three," she said.
Marciniak Speaking: Former Tennessee point guard Michelle Marciniak will be the guest speaker today at the Big Orange Tipoff Club at Calhoun's on the River.
Marciniak was named the most valuable player of the Women's Final Four in 1996 after helping lead the Lady Vols to the national championship.
Lunch will be served beginning at 11 a.m. and the program will begin at noon.
Burdick Update: After another examination on Monday, Burdick remains on schedule to return by early February from her hand injury.