John Adams: Too little too late for Lady Vols

John Adams

The LSU lead, like the basketball, was slipping away in the face of Tennessee’s furious full-court pressure Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

And no one was more aware of it than Lady Tigers senior point guard Jeanne Kenney, who was relieved to see UT shift to a more conventional defense in the last minute.

“Well yes, when you’re turning over the ball about five times, it was a relief,” Kenney said.

Finally, the Lady Tigers were able to hold onto the basketball long enough for Raigyne Moncrief to draw a foul and make two free throws with 12.3 seconds to play.

LSU’s 80-77 lead held up when a 3-point try from Tennessee guard Andraya Carter bounced off the rim in the final seconds.

And just like that, the fifth-ranked Lady Vols began defense of their SEC championship with a conference-opening loss.

The loss was virtually assured when LSU hit five of six free throws following a pair of Tennessee technical fouls. That stretched the Lady Tigers’ lead to 75-59 with 4:37 to play.

It also brought to life a previously dormant Tennessee defense.

With the lead all but out of reach, the Lady Vols played with a sense of purpose that was so obviously lacking for most of the game. Six turnovers later, LSU was on the verge of losing a game that had been all but locked up.

This wasn’t foreign territory for the Lady Tigers.

“It wouldn’t be an LSU game if we didn’t almost blow a lead,” said Kenney, who had 14 points and five assists.

UT’s second loss of the season was as revealing as its first.

Just as the Lady Vols did in their loss to Stanford, they responded with clutch, determined play when confronted with a double-digit deficit in the final five minutes.

They rallied after being down 11 with 4:32 left before finally losing 76-70.

But that was against a top-five team on the road. This was at home against 16th-ranked LSU, which had lost by 21 points to Louisville and by 10 to North Carolina State.

Moreover, there was a large, energized crowd of 14,437, most of whom turned out early to honor former Lady Vols All-American Candace Parker, whose jersey was retired in a pregame ceremony.

Parker’s presence reminded those fans of better days. Tennessee hasn’t been to a Final Four since Parker led it to back-to-back national championships in 2007 and 2008.

The LSU game reminded you why.

As well as the Lady Vols played when LSU’s lead had been stretched almost beyond their reach, their attention was lacking earlier in the game, especially to start the second half when the Lady Tigers opened with an 11-2 run.

Even before that, UT coach Holly Warlick had cause for concern.

LSU guard Danielle Ballard scored 17 of her 25 points in the first half. And most of that came against an accommodating defense that parted way too easily at the point of attack.

“Our defense wasn’t very good,” said an obviously frustrated Warlick. “We weren’t very motivated to play defense until the last six minutes of the game.”

As casual as the Lady Vols were about their half-court defense, you might wonder if they think they’re better than they are.

You could draw the same conclusion from slow starts in earlier games, or the lackadaisical beginning to the second half against LSU.

In more prosperous times — when UT had the 6-foot-5 Parker to anchor its defense or ignite its offense, for example — lapses could be overcome.

But if UT hopes to repeat as SEC champion, it can’t expect to flip a switch and turn an apparent defeat into victory.

© 2014 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 9

magicbyswh#221420 writes:

Hey Holly lets play Lipscomb again. We beat that high school team by 60 and pumped out our chests because we were warriors. When Pat was coaching other teams feared Tennessee but not anymore. I really hate to say this but UCONN is now the Lady Vols of the past. You rode Pats coat tails. I thought when she retired we should have went after Nicki and now you can see why. Your team was outcoached and outplayed AT HOME.

grumpyman writes:

Very little effort until the last five min.

johnlg00 writes:

Gotta say, Adams wrote it just about the same way as I saw it last night. There will be time enough for postmortems, but maybe the LVs ought to have one of those "players-only" meetings. It seemed to have helped the men, it is said.

Bandit2 writes:

I don't think a "well-coached" team could play as poorly as the Lady Vols did most of the night. It is also worth noting that our two technical fouls resulted in four points for LSU and we lost by three. Enough said.

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Gotta say, Adams wrote it just about the same way as I saw it last night. There will be time enough for postmortems, but maybe the LVs ought to have one of those "players-only" meetings. It seemed to have helped the men, it is said.

I saw ..as did anyone watching the game..LSU simply played harder than the Lady Vols most of the game..I saw the Lady Vols open with a defense that was making LSU play faster than they wanted to until Carter was given a rest...I think this coaching staff is going in the right direction to use their depth and pressure the opponent..but when it is working to their advantage..they get away from it too early.. look at the last few minutes how LSU handled the pressure and look at who was on the floor..I also thought Russell grew up a lot in this game..the 2nd half she was giving the very physical inside LSU players more than they were dishing out..and the play of Harrison the 2nd half was All American stuff...

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

I saw ..as did anyone watching the game..LSU simply played harder than the Lady Vols most of the game..I saw the Lady Vols open with a defense that was making LSU play faster than they wanted to until Carter was given a rest...I think this coaching staff is going in the right direction to use their depth and pressure the opponent..but when it is working to their advantage..they get away from it too early.. look at the last few minutes how LSU handled the pressure and look at who was on the floor..I also thought Russell grew up a lot in this game..the 2nd half she was giving the very physical inside LSU players more than they were dishing out..and the play of Harrison the 2nd half was All American stuff...

Perhaps the most worrisome sign to me was the limited effectiveness of Bashaara Graves. She has seemed rather badly hobbled the last couple of games. Mercedes isn't yet capable of bringing what a healthy Graves can give. Some healthy, respectful discussion of this or that personnel and/or strategic/tactical decision is always interesting. Gonna be quite the roller-coaster ride of a season!

DroopyDrawers writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Perhaps the most worrisome sign to me was the limited effectiveness of Bashaara Graves. She has seemed rather badly hobbled the last couple of games. Mercedes isn't yet capable of bringing what a healthy Graves can give. Some healthy, respectful discussion of this or that personnel and/or strategic/tactical decision is always interesting. Gonna be quite the roller-coaster ride of a season!

be no better than 6th in SEC

ModelMaker writes:

I thought Nikki Caldwell really exploited Tennessee's week points. They took it right at Izzy inside, knowing that she would back off for fear of foul trouble. If you all remember the first few games of the season Izzy could not play more than a couple of minutes before picking up two fouls and had too go sit down for the half. Holly finally told her watch the foul's especially in the big games. I noticed that she had more blocks in those early games. Last night she did not have one block. It seems too me that Izzy can not play good defense without fouling and this does not apply just too Izzy. I can remember Kelly Cain doing the same thing that Izzy is doing a few years ago. I can remember her going out with two fouls and the game only a few minutes old many times. No I think we have a coaching problem here. It's the coaches job to teach these kids how to play defense without fouling and they are not getting it across. I noticed many times during the game the LSU guards took it right to the hoop with little or no resistance. I think the coaches have Holly's number. She better get that straightened out before the Georgia game or you can expect more of the same; they will take it inside, right at Izzy, and score. This also explains the 32 points Oqwumike scored in the Stanford game. I also did not like the intensity level that the Lady Vols played at until there were 4 min. left in the game and then it was much too late. They should have been playing at the "four min. mark" intensity level for the entire game especially with all the depth they have. Some kid's you have too yell at. I think this bunch needs to be yelled at or they would not have waited so long too pick it up. These are thing's that are all correctable and I hope Holly sees this and get's it turned around. I thought John Adam's hit it right on.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to DroopyDrawers:

be no better than 6th in SEC

Are you really saying you think the Lady Vols will "be no better than 6th in SEC?" Do you mean at the end, in the actual conference rankings? That's just nuts. They are going to have to get better in some key areas to win the conference as predicted, but that outcome along with every other post-season possibility is still out there to be grasped.

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features