On Thursday, Ariel Massengale was allowed to do some dribbling and passing and loft a few shots as part of her evaluation. She has to complete additional cognitive and physical exercises – and pass all those tests – before she will be full go at practice and especially before she would be allowed to participate in any drills that could involve contact.
Still, the coaching staff was happy to see Massengale back in a practice uniform and closer to being back.
Massengale watched practice and communicated with her teammates.
"Ease her in," Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick said after practice. "She did some ball handling, some shooting, and I am sure they will evaluate her and see how she feels. It's just great to have her around us and on the floor, even if it was for 10 minutes.
"She's been so removed from it. She's been missed."
While Massengale was on the court, the Lady Vols had 10 players available, a welcome sight for the coaches.
"Almost there," Warlick said. "We just keep getting better. Our freshmen keep improving. I have seen such an improvement from all of them, especially from Izzy (Isabelle Harrison). It's amazing how she has taken direction and instruction and put it to a game situation."
Junior guard Kamiko Williams did a lot of balance work on the sideline and remains out for ACL rehab.
The rest of the team – minus Massengale and Williams, of course – got up and down quite a bit at Thursday's session in full court action against the male practice team.
"We tried to do situational stuff today," Warlick said. "I thought they handled it well. We are trying to put it together and keep adding layers on."
The Lady Vols will practice Friday at Pratt Pavilion, the fifth session in a row.
"We'll do a lot of defensive breakdowns and try to scrimmage a little bit," Warlick said.
The players will then have the entire weekend off with several planning family visits. Having off days without classes – the chance to get extra sleep – is particularly pleasing for players.
"Absolutely," Warlick said. "Any kid wants the weekend off. They've been going for a week solid, and they didn't show any fatigue today. I was really proud of them."
Coach Pat Summitt