With a week off between tournaments, Tennessee’s Holly Warlick is staging a balancing act.
The Lady Vols coach began by giving her players three days off following a 66-62 loss to Texas A&M last Saturday in the SEC women’s basketball tournament semifinals. When they returned to the court, she changed the usual practice routine. Warlick has divided the players into smaller groups for shorter work sessions. The rest of their time has been devoted to conditioning.
The schedule enables them to address the shortcomings exhibited last weekend at Gwinnett Arena and stay in shape for next week’s NCAA tournament. But it doesn’t allow for any grueling workouts, which was by design.
“I wanted us to stay in shape but there was no way we could come back and have full-blown practice,” Warlick said. “We’re just banged up right now. I think it was important for us to get some time off right now and heal.”
Isabelle Harrison especially needs the time. The sophomore center has missed the last three games with a medial collateral ligament injury in her right knee. She was walking around at Pratt Pavilion on Thursday wearing a brace on the knee.
“I anticipate she probably will be back but I don’t know,” Warlick said. “She’s still rehabbing.”
UT assistant coach Dean Lockwood said “less is definitely more” this week. In particular, he was thinking of Lady Vols freshmen Bashaara Graves and Jasmine Jones.
“One of the things we have to be mindful of is some of our players — I’m referring to our current freshmen — they’ve never been this long in a season,” he said. “We want them to be fresh going into (next) week.”
Warlick’s Call: Warlick said that it was her decision to watch the NCAA selection show Monday night at Neyland Stadium’s East Club rather than Pat Summitt’s house.
“I didn’t want Pat to have the pressure of getting everything ready,” Warlick said, “and having everybody over at her house.”
Summitt stepped down as head coach last April to become the Lady Vols head coach emeritus.
Going No. 1: Summitt’s memoir “Sum It Up” will be No. 1 next week on the New York Times bestseller list. Warlick wants her players to read the book.
“I think it’s important for them to read it, to get to know a little bit more of the history and what all Pat did and what the program did to get to this point,” Warlick said. “I think it’s a history lesson for them and one they need to know.”
Notebook: Junior guard Meighan Simmons is on the final ballot for the Wooden Award. ... Graves is among the candidates on an ESPN.com poll for freshman of the year.