Isabelle Harrison needs surgery to address meniscus injury

Tamika Catchings' post-game talk impacts players

Tennessee's assistant coach Dean Lockwood helps Isabelle Harrison stand after she hurt her knee during the game against Notre Dame at Thompson-Boling Arena on Monday, January 28, 2013. Tennessee loses to Notre Dame 77-67. 
  
  
 (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2012 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee's assistant coach Dean Lockwood helps Isabelle Harrison stand after she hurt her knee during the game against Notre Dame at Thompson-Boling Arena on Monday, January 28, 2013. Tennessee loses to Notre Dame 77-67. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison was helped off the court Monday night after suffering a left knee injury. The Lady Vols sophomore center won't return for an undetermined period.

UT announced Wednesday night that Harrison will undergo surgery to address her lateral meniscus. She was re-evaluated by Dr. Greg Mathien, UT's orthopedic specialist. The procedure will take place Friday, said Jenny Moshak, Tennessee's assistant director of sports medicine. There was no mention of how long Harrison might be sidelined.

Harrison went down in the first half of a 77-67 women's basketball loss to Notre Dame. She had been diagnosed beforehand with a lateral meniscus injury to the knee but was cleared to play.

No. 9 Tennessee (16-4, 7-0 SEC) faces Mississippi State (9-11, 1-6) at Thompson-Boling Arena today (TV: CSS, 7 p.m.). The most pressing matter is filling Harrison's spot in the starting lineup and covering for her per-game averages of 10 points and 8.3 rebounds.

Freshman Jasmine Jones should be first up as a replacement starter. Her lone start was Dec. 28 against Davidson. Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick shook up the lineup for that game to shake up the team after a lackluster loss to Stanford before Christmas.

Sophomore Cierra Burdick, who's been out since New Year's Eve with a fractured right hand, is close to being an option again. At Wednesday's Big Orange TipOff Club, assistant coach Dean Lockwood said Burdick is expected back for Sunday's game at Missouri.

Burdick had her cast removed Monday. She was on the court Wednesday, testing the hand by taking shots from close range.

No matter who starts, Harrison's absence means more playing time for 6-foot-3 reserve Nia Moore, who's averaging 9.2 minutes per game.

"She's going to be thrown in the fire early," Warlick said. "I think Nia is very capable. The more practice time she has, the more game experience she has will help her. But when you've been playing behind Bashaara (Graves) and you've been playing behind (Harrison) your playing time has been limited. But I think Nia is very capable of stepping up and helping us."

Under the circumstances, rallying the troops is advisable. Former Lady Vols All-American Tamika Catchings got that process rolling by talking to the team after Monday's game.

"I didn't plan it," Catchings said. "I started talking. I don't remember verbatim what I said."

She arrived in time to watch the team's shooting practice Monday and made a talking point of its uneven quality.

"You look at the game," she said. "It was kind of the same thing."

Both senior Taber Spani and point guard Ariel Massengale mentioned the observation.

"It's not a physical thing, it's more of a mental thing," Spani said. "... Being able to tune in mentally and not have any lapses is going to be huge."

Catchings also left them with reason for optimism.

"I was impressed from the standpoint of what they can be," she said. "But from the outside looking in, sometimes you see more potential than they see."

Warlick was grateful that the players heard from someone other than the coaches, especially a player of Catchings' stature.

"Sometimes, they may think a coach, we're just harping on and on and on," Warlick said. "But to hear it from a former Lady Vol and their peers, I think it has a lot of meaning."

Guard Offered: Alexa Middleton, a junior guard at Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro, was offered a scholarship this week by Tennessee, according to Tom Kreager of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.

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Comments » 1

volfan60 writes:

I think a pre-game talk would have been better.

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