John Adams: Kentucky guards trump UT's posts in the clutch

John Adams
Kentucky point guard Jennifer O'Neill (0) drives between Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons (10) and Tennessee guard Jordan Reynolds (0) during the first half at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Kentucky point guard Jennifer O'Neill (0) drives between Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons (10) and Tennessee guard Jordan Reynolds (0) during the first half at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee overcame adversity Sunday afternoon. But it couldn’t overcome Kentucky.

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Comments » 18

wigmeister writes:

Another new low. First time we have lost to that team, at home, in 30 years. Like Dooley! We are supposed to have too much talent for that to happen. Lack of desire, coaching, whatever, this is sad!

digthevols writes:

The Lady Vols play great defense, in fact they exhaust themselves . . . up until the other team gets ready to take a shot . . . then there's no one around. It's hectic, helter-skelter, then the shot comes and the Lady Vols take a stomp toward the shooter or push their hand forward toward their body . . . maybe. No hand in the face, nothing. It's really a shame . . . tough defense for 90% of the play, then the last 10% it disappears.

jrichas#214845 writes:

EVERY player on this team was a high school all-american. When is the UT admin gonna wake up and understand that Holly Warlick can't cut it as a head coach? This team has ZERO physicality- plays "dainty." Holly offers the same old explanations after each loss. Simmons was better as a freshman than she is now. With the exception of Harrison our players haven't improved since they arrived. We all hate the evil genius Geno but watch his teams play with great passion and physicality. They are well-coached. It's time to move on. Dump Holly & Cuonzo.

RockyTop1 writes:

in response to jrichas#214845:

EVERY player on this team was a high school all-american. When is the UT admin gonna wake up and understand that Holly Warlick can't cut it as a head coach? This team has ZERO physicality- plays "dainty." Holly offers the same old explanations after each loss. Simmons was better as a freshman than she is now. With the exception of Harrison our players haven't improved since they arrived. We all hate the evil genius Geno but watch his teams play with great passion and physicality. They are well-coached. It's time to move on. Dump Holly & Cuonzo.

Plus one to your comments, cut bait and get life back into the program. Our next Women's Coach should be our Lady Vol that is currently at LSU....

francoeur_g#1426591 writes:

This job was handed down to Holly Warlick. She didn't have to apply or compete for it, so, technically she has nothing to prove. If you ask her does she know why she's getting outcoached? Her answer will most likely be "I don't know."

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RockyTop1:

Plus one to your comments, cut bait and get life back into the program. Our next Women's Coach should be our Lady Vol that is currently at LSU....

I like Nikki Caldwell as much as any long-time LV fan, but I shudder to contemplate the emotional consequences if Holly is fired and Nikki is hired. They have been the best of friends ever since Nikki played at UT. They join every year to promote charity events, most notably on motorcycle rides. All that might not be a deal-breaker since, if Holly is let go, the rest of the staff would probably follow and none of the current players have had any real relationship with Nikki. However, it would be a bittersweet moment at best for Nikki to benefit at her friend's expense. Some might say that such considerations shouldn't enter into such a decision, but since UT is the alma mater for both and both have many friends in and around the athletic department, it would be pretty awkward for everybody.

I don't really see any likelihood, though, that Holly will be fired. The only player they lose is Simmons, and she has often been the reason why they lose games like this. They will be adding Jannah Tucker and Alexis Middleton next year, so the backcourt should be much sounder in fundamentals if perhaps slightly less explosive. Russell will hopefully be stronger and have better moves, hopefully Izzy and Bashaara can continue to play at a high level, and Reynolds and Jones will improve in some respects. I could surely agree that Holly could be on the hot seat next year if the team isn't better.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I like Nikki Caldwell as much as any long-time LV fan, but I shudder to contemplate the emotional consequences if Holly is fired and Nikki is hired. They have been the best of friends ever since Nikki played at UT. They join every year to promote charity events, most notably on motorcycle rides. All that might not be a deal-breaker since, if Holly is let go, the rest of the staff would probably follow and none of the current players have had any real relationship with Nikki. However, it would be a bittersweet moment at best for Nikki to benefit at her friend's expense. Some might say that such considerations shouldn't enter into such a decision, but since UT is the alma mater for both and both have many friends in and around the athletic department, it would be pretty awkward for everybody.

I don't really see any likelihood, though, that Holly will be fired. The only player they lose is Simmons, and she has often been the reason why they lose games like this. They will be adding Jannah Tucker and Alexis Middleton next year, so the backcourt should be much sounder in fundamentals if perhaps slightly less explosive. Russell will hopefully be stronger and have better moves, hopefully Izzy and Bashaara can continue to play at a high level, and Reynolds and Jones will improve in some respects. I could surely agree that Holly could be on the hot seat next year if the team isn't better.

I don't think Hart will fire Holly at the end of the season either. I don't think Hart has the guts nor the foresight to make such a move, and that's what it would take, guts and foresight. Personally I think it would be for the betterment of the team to get a top notch first class coach in here for next year. I think it would give us a chance for a national championship if he would make such a move. It is very obvious to me and a lot of other people that Holly is not head coaching material. The longer Hart wait's two make such a move the more damage it will do to the program. Hart's number one priority is the LV basketball program and he shouldn't be concerned about anything else. Like you I like Nikki Caldwell also but I would be satisfied with any coach that they think has the "sand" and the "coaching smarts" to beat Geno Auriemma and that little leprechaun at ND. If Hart is playing to win he will make the move, but I think he is playing "not to lose" and that's one of the big thing's wrong with the athletic program at UT.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

I don't think Hart will fire Holly at the end of the season either. I don't think Hart has the guts nor the foresight to make such a move, and that's what it would take, guts and foresight. Personally I think it would be for the betterment of the team to get a top notch first class coach in here for next year. I think it would give us a chance for a national championship if he would make such a move. It is very obvious to me and a lot of other people that Holly is not head coaching material. The longer Hart wait's two make such a move the more damage it will do to the program. Hart's number one priority is the LV basketball program and he shouldn't be concerned about anything else. Like you I like Nikki Caldwell also but I would be satisfied with any coach that they think has the "sand" and the "coaching smarts" to beat Geno Auriemma and that little leprechaun at ND. If Hart is playing to win he will make the move, but I think he is playing "not to lose" and that's one of the big thing's wrong with the athletic program at UT.

Some interesting points here. There are indeed many elements to be considered in making such a change, especially when making it as soon as the end of this season. I will only mention a couple of these.

Anyone would have to grant that Holly was highly instrumental in recruiting, signing, and training all of these players and the ones coming in. We all know the litany of complaints about the LVs play this year, but we seem to forget that there is only ONE SENIOR on this whole team. Players don't routinely leave women's basketball teams early the way men do, so the better teams are most often the more experienced ones. It is hard to imagine that there is anyone who is reasonably "available" who has both played at an All-American level and coached for so long in such a talent-rich and successful environment. It only stands to reason, IMHO, that Holly should have the chance to see what she can do with next year's deeper and overall more-experienced team.

I agee with many on here that perhaps she hasn't done as much as possible with the high-quality tools she had at her disposal this year, but as we all know, she doesn't have a lot of experience as a head coach. I think she is smart enough to know what she doesn't know, and will take steps to remedy those things, both by continuing to educate herself and perhaps by shuffling the staff.

Some may argue that this was exactly the argument made to give Martin the opportunity to see what he could do with a "better" squad, and that hasn't worked out all that well so far this year. Which brings me to my next point.

Some parallels might be drawn to the Phillip Fulmer episode. The Vols were sorta winning, but losing to traditonal rivals, national powers, and increasingly to the occasional upstart. There was a feeling that recruiting, game management, S&C, pace and effectiveness of practice, etc., were lagging, not only behind rivals, but below the program's own previous standards. Gradually, the momentum built until--rightly or wrongly; only history can judge--Fulmer was fired. You know the rest of the story. How much confidence do you have that the current administration will get the right person to "save the program"?

For a variety of reasons, I will continue to believe in Holly. I just think she has too much invested in UT to let the program fall if she has anything to do with it. For another reason that might seem frivolous to some, it could be seen as faintly disrespectful to Pat to fire her longest-serving assistant coach and designated heir. Of course, Dean Smith tried to that for Bill Guthridge at UNC and that didn't work out so well.

As Mark Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." There are many confusing signposts ahead. Let's not leap too quickly into a future fraught with known and unknown consequences.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Some interesting points here. There are indeed many elements to be considered in making such a change, especially when making it as soon as the end of this season. I will only mention a couple of these.

Anyone would have to grant that Holly was highly instrumental in recruiting, signing, and training all of these players and the ones coming in. We all know the litany of complaints about the LVs play this year, but we seem to forget that there is only ONE SENIOR on this whole team. Players don't routinely leave women's basketball teams early the way men do, so the better teams are most often the more experienced ones. It is hard to imagine that there is anyone who is reasonably "available" who has both played at an All-American level and coached for so long in such a talent-rich and successful environment. It only stands to reason, IMHO, that Holly should have the chance to see what she can do with next year's deeper and overall more-experienced team.

I agee with many on here that perhaps she hasn't done as much as possible with the high-quality tools she had at her disposal this year, but as we all know, she doesn't have a lot of experience as a head coach. I think she is smart enough to know what she doesn't know, and will take steps to remedy those things, both by continuing to educate herself and perhaps by shuffling the staff.

Some may argue that this was exactly the argument made to give Martin the opportunity to see what he could do with a "better" squad, and that hasn't worked out all that well so far this year. Which brings me to my next point.

Some parallels might be drawn to the Phillip Fulmer episode. The Vols were sorta winning, but losing to traditonal rivals, national powers, and increasingly to the occasional upstart. There was a feeling that recruiting, game management, S&C, pace and effectiveness of practice, etc., were lagging, not only behind rivals, but below the program's own previous standards. Gradually, the momentum built until--rightly or wrongly; only history can judge--Fulmer was fired. You know the rest of the story. How much confidence do you have that the current administration will get the right person to "save the program"?

For a variety of reasons, I will continue to believe in Holly. I just think she has too much invested in UT to let the program fall if she has anything to do with it. For another reason that might seem frivolous to some, it could be seen as faintly disrespectful to Pat to fire her longest-serving assistant coach and designated heir. Of course, Dean Smith tried to that for Bill Guthridge at UNC and that didn't work out so well.

As Mark Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." There are many confusing signposts ahead. Let's not leap too quickly into a future fraught with known and unknown consequences.

Well I hope you're right. I think time is going to be the judge, but ultimately the fans will have the final say in the matter. Holly needs to convince the fans that she can lead them to bigger and better things and one way to do that is to lead them to the final four. So far she has not done a very good job of it.

Theo writes:

This silly overreaction regarding Holly is ridiculous and harmful to the program. The team took a step back against KY certainly but the previous few games looked better than it has the last 3-4 years. I don't care how long you have been an assistant being the head coach is a change. You have to have a learning curve. Holly and her staff are putting together back to back great classes(come on A'ja, put the bow on next years class) and are really developing this young team. Remember we had freshmen running the team against a guard-centric team. Also, why don't any of these Holly haters give her credit for winning the cof last year with a team picked 5 th preseason. I just don't get it. Some of this vitrol just does not seem basketball related. Weird and sad.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

Well I hope you're right. I think time is going to be the judge, but ultimately the fans will have the final say in the matter. Holly needs to convince the fans that she can lead them to bigger and better things and one way to do that is to lead them to the final four. So far she has not done a very good job of it.

I'm sure we can all agree that everybody associated with the team has to do a better job if the program is to regain its previous stature. I'm pretty sure they all feel that way, too. All I'm saying is that the simplistic answer suggested by some--i.e., fire the coach--then requires that the administration manages to actually get somebody who WOULD do better. That would be a much harder task than merely getting rid of the one who is there, since I doubt anybody would argue that just ANYBODY could do better than Holly. There are lots of great coaches out there, but not too many of them would be great just anywhere, and you would have to wonder who would want the job if the school could fire someone with Holly's proven loyalty to the program just because the program hasn't won a national championship lately.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to Theo:

This silly overreaction regarding Holly is ridiculous and harmful to the program. The team took a step back against KY certainly but the previous few games looked better than it has the last 3-4 years. I don't care how long you have been an assistant being the head coach is a change. You have to have a learning curve. Holly and her staff are putting together back to back great classes(come on A'ja, put the bow on next years class) and are really developing this young team. Remember we had freshmen running the team against a guard-centric team. Also, why don't any of these Holly haters give her credit for winning the cof last year with a team picked 5 th preseason. I just don't get it. Some of this vitrol just does not seem basketball related. Weird and sad.

Ya know its amazing to me how two people can look at the very same thing and see entirely two different things. You look at anybody that criticizes Holly as a Holly hater. I look at them as people with high standards, that won't settle for anything less than the Final four. And as for hurting the program, the way I see it the main thing that can hurt the program the most is the coach, the players, and the fans not going to the games. I also think that the thing that can help the program the most is having the right coach, the right players and lots of fans going to the game's. There were well over 15,000 fans at the Ky. game, yelling their guts out going down the home stretch and I was one of them. The way I see it, it's the coaches job to teach these kids how to pass the ball, improve their shooting skills, play great defense, instill confidence and be able to get inside a player and motivate that player to do her best. I'm sorry but so far I haven't seen it. Oh, and another thing, Williams (in particular) and Spani had allot to do with us winning the conference championship last year. You might want to roll that around a little bit. As far as recruiting, I think there is a possibility that Holly is riding Pats coattails on that one. If the Lady Vols don't make the final four this year I look for the recruiting to drop off. I don't hate Holly. I hope she makes me look bad and gets us to the final four. It would make my whole year.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I'm sure we can all agree that everybody associated with the team has to do a better job if the program is to regain its previous stature. I'm pretty sure they all feel that way, too. All I'm saying is that the simplistic answer suggested by some--i.e., fire the coach--then requires that the administration manages to actually get somebody who WOULD do better. That would be a much harder task than merely getting rid of the one who is there, since I doubt anybody would argue that just ANYBODY could do better than Holly. There are lots of great coaches out there, but not too many of them would be great just anywhere, and you would have to wonder who would want the job if the school could fire someone with Holly's proven loyalty to the program just because the program hasn't won a national championship lately.

I think you took the word (ANYBODY) out of context. I also said, "that has the sand and coaching smarts that can beat Geno and the little leprechaun at ND). I would think that would eliminate just anybody; and as far as us being able to get a great coach. If this University with the reputation that Pat has created can't find a top of the line coach that can't do better than what Holly has done so far then I would say the University of Tennessee is in a lot of trouble. I hope Holly makes me look bad and turns it around. It would make my year.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

I think you took the word (ANYBODY) out of context. I also said, "that has the sand and coaching smarts that can beat Geno and the little leprechaun at ND). I would think that would eliminate just anybody; and as far as us being able to get a great coach. If this University with the reputation that Pat has created can't find a top of the line coach that can't do better than what Holly has done so far then I would say the University of Tennessee is in a lot of trouble. I hope Holly makes me look bad and turns it around. It would make my year.

Well, again, I would just have to ask WHO could beat Geno and Muffet, since there don't seem be any of those around right now, at any price. I surely join you in hoping that Holly can get it done. Goodness knows, the university doesn't really need to finance any more buyouts right now, and it would probably take a lot more than Holly is making right now to get somebody "better", even if there was a consensus on who that should be.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Well, again, I would just have to ask WHO could beat Geno and Muffet, since there don't seem be any of those around right now, at any price. I surely join you in hoping that Holly can get it done. Goodness knows, the university doesn't really need to finance any more buyouts right now, and it would probably take a lot more than Holly is making right now to get somebody "better", even if there was a consensus on who that should be.

Rick Insell that coaches MTSU. You give him UT's players and I guarantee you he could beat UConn right now. I have been following that guy around for years and you won't find a better coach around. My wife and I follow great coaches. That's what we like to do. We have been following George Quarles around for years. We not only go to all the Maryville home games but we go to all the away games also. We have been following Rick Insell since Tiffany Woosley played for him at Shelbyville. I think he won at least six state titles at Shelbyville. Look at Rick Insell's record at MTSU. He would do the same at Tennessee. Now you ask how are we able to follow Rick Insell in Middle Tennessee and George Quarles in Maryville? I have a house in Middle Tennessee and one in Maryville, that's how we do it. You might call us a couple of weirdos. This all said, why do I get the felling that you are going to argue about this also. Why do I get the feeling that you would argue about anything that I said. Maybe it's because you think your the smartest guy on the face of the earth and nobody can tell you anything.

johnlg00 writes:

I'm sorry if I have given the impression that I have nothing to learn from anybody else on here. If I am perhaps a bit emphatic about my views, surely I am not alone in this. You may be right about Insell; he is building an excellent career. Another to consider might be Wes Moore, formerly of UT-Chattanooga and currently at NC State, where he took a team assembled largely by former coach Kellie Jolly Harper from the bottom half of the ACC to one of the best records in the conference. I didn't mean to imply that there were no decent alternatives to Holly, just that there was no certainty that anybody else could do better OR that the current administration would necessarily make the best hire. Even in the cases cited, those coaches have not yet excelled to the level of the LV program, so they would be gambles, albeit probably fairly good ones.

I appreciate your commentary on here. I don't mean to argue for the sake of arguing, I discuss for the sake of discussing, and it would be a dull world indeed if everybody agreed about everything all the time.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I'm sorry if I have given the impression that I have nothing to learn from anybody else on here. If I am perhaps a bit emphatic about my views, surely I am not alone in this. You may be right about Insell; he is building an excellent career. Another to consider might be Wes Moore, formerly of UT-Chattanooga and currently at NC State, where he took a team assembled largely by former coach Kellie Jolly Harper from the bottom half of the ACC to one of the best records in the conference. I didn't mean to imply that there were no decent alternatives to Holly, just that there was no certainty that anybody else could do better OR that the current administration would necessarily make the best hire. Even in the cases cited, those coaches have not yet excelled to the level of the LV program, so they would be gambles, albeit probably fairly good ones.

I appreciate your commentary on here. I don't mean to argue for the sake of arguing, I discuss for the sake of discussing, and it would be a dull world indeed if everybody agreed about everything all the time.

I was also thinking of Wes Moore. I also think he would make a good choice. I think it's a shame that Hart didn't see one or the other when Pat retired. The LV's I think would be mixing it up with the best. I still have hope that Holly can turn this thing around. Like I have said it would make my year.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

I was also thinking of Wes Moore. I also think he would make a good choice. I think it's a shame that Hart didn't see one or the other when Pat retired. The LV's I think would be mixing it up with the best. I still have hope that Holly can turn this thing around. Like I have said it would make my year.

I surely do agree with you on all this.

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