Lady Vols stress playing with passion to avoid another top-5 defeat

Warlick focuses on playing with passion

Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, left, and Tennessee guard Ariel Massengale chase after a loose ball in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

Photo by AP Photo/Joe Raymond

Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, left, and Tennessee guard Ariel Massengale chase after a loose ball in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

Tennessee's Holly Warlick previews the Notre Dame game

A detailed scouting report informs Tennessee's actions Monday night against Notre Dame.

A simple directive, meanwhile, serves as kindling.

One isn't more important than the other to Lady Vols head coach Holly Warlick, who has made playing with heart and passion a common theme this season. She might pile on the combustibles for a visit from the second-ranked Fighting Irish (18-1) for a women's basketball showdown at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.).

"I think they understand the importance of playing hard," Warlick said, "and having a passion for the game and each play."

If so, the Lady Vols have learned the hard way against the best teams.

No. 9 Tennessee (16-3) is 6-2 against ranked opponents this season. But the two losses have come against then-No. 3 Baylor (76-53) and then-No. 1 Stanford (73-60) in the span of four days in December.

At Baylor, Warlick thought that the Lady Vols played "totally scared" in the first half against the defending national champions, falling behind 17-0 at the outset.

Their play at home against Stanford was even less acceptable to her, spawning a harangue that continued once the team reconvened after Christmas break.

"For some reason, we didn't compete at all," said Warlick on Sunday, revisiting her disappointment.

"That's how I feel."

Like Baylor and Stanford, Notre Dame was a Final Four team last season. The Irish were one of three top 5 teams to beat UT last season. The 72-44 loss in South Bend, Ind., on Jan. 23, was noteworthy for two ignominious reasons. Tennessee's point total was the lowest in program history and the margin of defeat was the second worst of all time, trailing only a 31-point margin against Texas in 1984.

Warlick was Tennessee's associate head coach last season. She began her post-game remarks after the Notre Dame loss by apologizing for the team's play.

"We got beat by an outstanding basketball team and we didn't do anything about it," she said on Sunday. "We didn't fight. We just gave up. That's not a sign of a Tennessee team, not since I've been here. ...

"If you're going down, you go down swinging. We got pushed and we just fell straight down flat on our face and didn't care."

The Lady Vols ought to get a lift from tonight's atmosphere. Head coach emeritus Pat Summitt will be honored beforehand with a banner raised to the rafters of Thompson-Boling in honor of the former head coach with 1,098 career victories and eight national championships.

"I think it's going to be emotional for all of us, especially Pat," Warlick said. "It's well-deserved. I'm excited they're taking the time to do it."

So is Notre Dame. Irish coach Muffet McGraw said that her team is happy to be here and has made "We Back Pat" shirts for the occasion. All-American point guard Skylar Diggins should be inspired by the occasion.

"She loves to be in the spotlight, to play on the big stage," McGraw said. "Not every kid wants that."

Dealing with Diggins and an opponent that's ranked in the top 10 nationally in seven different statistical categories is addressed in UT's scouting report. The importance of more consistent defense and rebounding, along with minimizing turnovers undoubtedly is emphasized, too.

But simply competing deserves equal mention. So says Warlick.

"Playing hard," she said, "takes care of a lot of things."

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 38

SouthALVol writes:

Did anyone else notice Simmons' toe over the line in her last two free throws against Vandy? I'm glad the reef who is supposed to watch it didn't.

wigmeister writes:

Passion is a very strong positive in any sport. If you have it, you are ahead of the curve. Without it, you start a step behind. Everyone wants to beat UT, especially at home. Believe me, all teams playing us come in with passion, looking for that "we beat UT".

BruisedOrange writes:

Playing with passion... while minimizing turnovers.

Not the two most compatible swing-thoughts to ponder as you stand on the first tee. Easier in football than basketball.

Given this group's past performances in big games, I'd just go with the passion for Monday night.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

If Simmons makes that sideline bank shot to start the game. Watch out!

golfman1975 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

Playing with passion... while minimizing turnovers.

Not the two most compatible swing-thoughts to ponder as you stand on the first tee. Easier in football than basketball.

Given this group's past performances in big games, I'd just go with the passion for Monday night.

Did you say swing thoughts...first tee? Do you have a foursome?

BxVol writes:

I agree with Holly, and may I add play with composure.Play hard, play smart and it will be a close game that we can win.Notre Dame has shown how tough they are this season especially their win on the road at Ct.This is a great opportunity for our Lady Vols to demonstrate they once again are an elite team.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Is playing with passsion the same as playing confidence and hitting shots?

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to golfman1975:

Did you say swing thoughts...first tee? Do you have a foursome?

Hadn't thought about it, but it's been over 7 years since Hurricane Katrina took my clubs. I've played one round in a charity tourny since, and still miss it every time the thermometer broaches 70 degrees.

But that's what a great game it is... it sticks with you, and its lessons apply to any sport and all of life.

Using your brain, muscle memory, but mostly focus and attitude to synchronize small muscles with large muscles in a one-second recoil/explosion has legitimate carry-over to hoisting a 9.07" ball 20'9" into an 18" hole.

Main difference? We'd all rather hear Spani yelling "Three!" than me yelling "Fore!"

volfan2002 writes:

This would be a huge win for us gonna be tough very talented team. I think they are more talented than Stanford but not as good as Baylor. I hope were ready to play and not come out like we did against Stanford. We take this victory could move us into the top four in the nation.

SummittsCourt writes:

A win tonight would be a great signature win for the Lady Vols and Coach Warlick. It would also be a great thing to happen on the night the school is honoring Pat Summitt.

Let's go Lady Vols!

madrigal writes:

This is one of those years when, on any given night, any top 10 team can beat any other top 10 team. Nobody's undefeated. Whether tonight is one of those nights remains to be seen.

underthehill writes:

A win would surely be good to get..but not a must win..going undefeated in the conference would get a very good seed in the big show..I have a feeling the success.. or lack thereof.. of the Lady Vols will depend on the defense of Jones and Kamiko..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

Hadn't thought about it, but it's been over 7 years since Hurricane Katrina took my clubs. I've played one round in a charity tourny since, and still miss it every time the thermometer broaches 70 degrees.

But that's what a great game it is... it sticks with you, and its lessons apply to any sport and all of life.

Using your brain, muscle memory, but mostly focus and attitude to synchronize small muscles with large muscles in a one-second recoil/explosion has legitimate carry-over to hoisting a 9.07" ball 20'9" into an 18" hole.

Main difference? We'd all rather hear Spani yelling "Three!" than me yelling "Fore!"

All this golf talk is killing me right now. I try to play once a week year round, but my part of North Carolina has seen rain followed by snow followed by rain followed by sleet, etc., etc., all this year so far. When it isn't doing any of the above, the ground is soggy and the wind is going 25-30 mph. I keep telling myself that this would be GREAT golf weather in the British Isles, but I guess I'm spoiled in my old age. Unfortunately, the 7-day forecast doesn't look like any good opportunities for awhile yet.

On topic, the description of Skylar Diggins as a player who relishes the spotlight of a big game is the biggest difference between her and most of the LVs lately. The ones like Meighan who try to get up for a big game get out of control too easily, while some of the others just seem to shrink from the challenge. Maybe this is mostly because of relative youth and inexperience, but if these gals are to really make a mark this year, they have to find a way to play and win against the really good teams. I think they know how, and I think they want to do well, but they have yet to really come up with both effort and execution against an elite team. Maybe tonight will be the night. GLVs!!!

ljlongtimevolfan writes:

We must play not only with passion but play smart tonight to defeat the number two team in the country with the most popular and talented All American Skylar Diggins. The coaching staff decisions during the game will be as important as our player’s talents tonight for a victory. If we get raddled early and frustrated like last seasons game at Notre Dame we should use time outs to calm the players down and set the tempo. Coach Elzy must not let Simmons get out of control with shot selections. Our winning streak since the Baylor game should have built up a lot of confidence in our player’s. Taber’s recent offensive play has been great but her height and defensive play on defense has been important to our winning streak.

The player to watch tonight is future All American Bashaara Graves who reminds me of watching Tennessee great Ernie Grunfield playing for the men’s team his freshmen year long ago. Go to www.secdigitalnetwork.com to review her individual statistics within the SEC. She is hands down now the SEC Freshmen of the Year and should be First Team All SEC and Third Team All American at seasons end. The coaches should demand the guards get the ball inside first to Graves and Harrison and go outside if they don’t have an inside shot.

Should be a great game and ceremony honoring Coach Summitt tonight.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

Hadn't thought about it, but it's been over 7 years since Hurricane Katrina took my clubs. I've played one round in a charity tourny since, and still miss it every time the thermometer broaches 70 degrees.

But that's what a great game it is... it sticks with you, and its lessons apply to any sport and all of life.

Using your brain, muscle memory, but mostly focus and attitude to synchronize small muscles with large muscles in a one-second recoil/explosion has legitimate carry-over to hoisting a 9.07" ball 20'9" into an 18" hole.

Main difference? We'd all rather hear Spani yelling "Three!" than me yelling "Fore!"

Ar mate! Good point! It will be a great game tonight and I hope the game is called fairly and not give Skylar D everything. Part will be how Harrison and Graves are called underneath the basket..hope the don't pickup quick fouls...totally frustrating for them. It would also be nice to have Burdick back. If we play like we did against NC we will have a great chance...they played fast and relaxed. If/when we pull it off it will be on to the 19th hole!

Now...I don't brag much but last summer I shot may age...I then played the back nine and did it again!

romevol writes:

I certainly wish I were going. It's nice to see some positive energy surrounding a Tennessee team here lately. I hope the UT fans will be out in force. GO BIG ORANGE!!

Theo writes:

Well I see the bovine chucklehead has arrived this morning. Hating Coach Warlick as usual. So transparent.
BTW, I saw chucklehead's comment regarding Valentines Day. Note: it doesn't count if you have to call a service.
All this golf talk is killing me. Headed to warmer climes next week for five days of golf. Can't wait, cleaning the clubs tonight.
Agree with most of the above comments. It is going to come down to poise. I think you have to learn to win the big ones. Perhaps tonight this young team will figure it out. Even close is going to be a big bonus going into the second half of the season and tourney time. Got to believe in yourself - visualize the shot, take a waggle.... but I digress.

voloffaith writes:

in response to Theo:

Well I see the bovine chucklehead has arrived this morning. Hating Coach Warlick as usual. So transparent.
BTW, I saw chucklehead's comment regarding Valentines Day. Note: it doesn't count if you have to call a service.
All this golf talk is killing me. Headed to warmer climes next week for five days of golf. Can't wait, cleaning the clubs tonight.
Agree with most of the above comments. It is going to come down to poise. I think you have to learn to win the big ones. Perhaps tonight this young team will figure it out. Even close is going to be a big bonus going into the second half of the season and tourney time. Got to believe in yourself - visualize the shot, take a waggle.... but I digress.

Mister Huxtable is the favored shot chipping to the green or putting on the green? OOPs forgot the lovely tee shot or 2nd shot which may not be a chip shot on a 500 yd hole.

On topic, composure under pressure the most likely key as to how well the ladies favor tonight.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

CBs cast is off. Wish we had her for tonight's game.

Twitter news-

ModelMaker writes:

The Lady Vols have another injury. Harrison has problems with her knee. This could be why she has not been playing well lately. If she is worrying about her knee I do not look for her to play well. Lets hope she can play through it and stay healthy at the same time.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

The Lady Vols have another injury. Harrison has problems with her knee. This could be why she has not been playing well lately. If she is worrying about her knee I do not look for her to play well. Lets hope she can play through it and stay healthy at the same time.

It's because of the way she runs. They tried to change the way she runs in the past.

voloffaith writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

The Lady Vols have another injury. Harrison has problems with her knee. This could be why she has not been playing well lately. If she is worrying about her knee I do not look for her to play well. Lets hope she can play through it and stay healthy at the same time.

Careful observation or fact or assumption?

oldbasshead writes:

Can someone explain to me what the UT Lady Vols are missing when it comes to playing a top 5 teams. They have not had much success at that level for a while now. What has to happen to beat ND?

volboy81 writes:

in response to SouthALVol:

Did anyone else notice Simmons' toe over the line in her last two free throws against Vandy? I'm glad the reef who is supposed to watch it didn't.

as if an SEC ref would notice anything about the game going on around them!!!

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to oldbasshead:

Can someone explain to me what the UT Lady Vols are missing when it comes to playing a top 5 teams. They have not had much success at that level for a while now. What has to happen to beat ND?

Well let's face it. The top 5 teams has All Americans like Griner, Diggins, Dolson, Elizabeth Williams to name a few and we are playing Sophs and Freshmen and a Junior who is just getting recognized as a top tier player . The last class to graduate came in with high expectations to win it all and I think that pressure to win got to them but they did go through some major obstacles not to mention a 6'8 center that changed the womens game the past 4 years. We will be back . From what I see the way we past the ball around, finding the open player, and just playing smart will elevate our team to greatness.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Careful observation or fact or assumption?

I would think it would be fact. I heard it from Micky Deerstone.

voloffaith writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

I would think it would be fact. I heard it from Micky Deerstone.

Tanks for the clarification.

r2d2 writes:

in response to oldbasshead:

Can someone explain to me what the UT Lady Vols are missing when it comes to playing a top 5 teams. They have not had much success at that level for a while now. What has to happen to beat ND?

Coach Summitt won her 8 NCs with the formula of a great defense, a reasonable good offense, strong rebounding and an All-American go-to player. The present team has a reasonable good offense and an go-to player. They do not have strong defense and strong rebounding. That is why they do not fare well when playing top 5 teams.

Theo writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Mister Huxtable is the favored shot chipping to the green or putting on the green? OOPs forgot the lovely tee shot or 2nd shot which may not be a chip shot on a 500 yd hole.

On topic, composure under pressure the most likely key as to how well the ladies favor tonight.

Hmm, they can all be torture at any time. I have a relatively new 60 degree lob wedge which can be the bain of my existence. Guess I'll go with putting (today).
Scary news about Izzy, is it sore or a sprain or worse? We need her confident not worried about a knee.

golfman1975 writes:

Just like golf...ya got to get it in the hole. Hope we do it more than they do.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Theo:

Well I see the bovine chucklehead has arrived this morning. Hating Coach Warlick as usual. So transparent.
BTW, I saw chucklehead's comment regarding Valentines Day. Note: it doesn't count if you have to call a service.
All this golf talk is killing me. Headed to warmer climes next week for five days of golf. Can't wait, cleaning the clubs tonight.
Agree with most of the above comments. It is going to come down to poise. I think you have to learn to win the big ones. Perhaps tonight this young team will figure it out. Even close is going to be a big bonus going into the second half of the season and tourney time. Got to believe in yourself - visualize the shot, take a waggle.... but I digress.

Despite temps in the mid-40s and a bit more breeze than was comfortable, I went out for a round this afternoon. I hit the ball surprisingly well for the conditions, but couldn't make a putt. It's always something with me and golf, but I had fun and didn't freeze.

Now if only the LVs don't freeze tonight. This is another golden opportunity if they can play the way they know how and keep their wits about them. This is the kind of game they have to win if they are to make any real noise this year.

ps11824 writes:

as Holly said, we came out scared against Stanford & Baylor, intimidated, to say the least. They should come out like it's a game and we can beat anybody if we don't help them.we helped Stanford. We gave Baylor so many chances to beat the snot out of us.

ND plays with the mindset of "we are way better than you." Diggins knows she is good. She flaunts it. She is an intimidating factor if left to make plays. I dislike her - because she is the opposition, and she can make you look dumb. That's why. I want so much for my team to beat her. The only time I cheer for her is when she's playing against UConn.

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

Playing with passion... while minimizing turnovers.

Not the two most compatible swing-thoughts to ponder as you stand on the first tee. Easier in football than basketball.

Given this group's past performances in big games, I'd just go with the passion for Monday night.

Ummmm.... with 13:00 left to go in the game, I'm changing my earlier vote from "passion" to "minimizing turnovers"

vol98champ writes:

Should uh, could uh, would uh if not so much dribble uh and not enough believe uh.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

lll not happy but we will be there in the hunt. Just couldnt stop one player that was hot. Diggins....

oldbasshead writes:

They need much more than passion. They need to stop measuring themselves by SEC basketball standards. They need a couple of All-Americans and a coach who can prepare the team to play well in big games.

oldbasshead writes:

Lady Vols can't beat 1,2, or 3. Is there any team in the top 10 that Lady Vols can beat?

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to oldbasshead:

Lady Vols can't beat 1,2, or 3. Is there any team in the top 10 that Lady Vols can beat?

Oldasshead they can beat UK , Penn St, Cal maybe Duke. No they are not ready but no one expected them to be this good nimrod. They were picked to finish 5 in the SEC. So take your negative tone about the team somewhere else.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features