Lady Vols hold game scrimmage

The Lady Vols held a full game scrimmage Saturday with two officials, who also met with the players and staff to discuss points of emphasis this season and explain the new NCAA Women's Basketball Elbow Rule in which an elbow swung or moved above the shoulders that creates non-incidental contact will result in the minimum of an intentional foul.

A two-page explanation of the rule was made available at SEC Media Days last Thursday in Hoover, Ala. The rule has guidelines for live and dead ball situations. Any excessive swinging of elbows will result in a flagrant personal foul during live ball action and a flagrant technical foul in dead ball situations.

The rule also states that an elbow making contact above the shoulders is not automatically considered a foul. Officials will still determine what is incidental or legal contact, and they can use the monitor to determine if a foul was flagrant.

The Tennessee players listened intently to the instructions, and watched as the officials demonstrated what contact would and would not be allowed. Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood also demonstrated how to use elbows legally, especially when rebounding, to control the ball.

"That must be the Glory Johnson rule," Coach Pat Summitt said with a smile.

Points of emphasis for the 2010-11 season are contact on and by the ball handler/dribbler; sportsmanship; and traveling with the focus on the pivot foot.

"You can put your hand (on a player), but you've got to back off with it," Pat Summitt said. "You can't follow them through with your hand (on the player)."

The Lady Vols held a scrimmage after the discussion – two 20-minute halves – with an assortment of combinations against the male practice players. The start was inauspicious for Tennessee with turnovers, but the Lady Vols settled down, built a lead – Glory Johnson's presence on the floor was a very bright spot – and ultimately lost by one point.

"These guys were really good," Pat Summitt said. "I think it was good for us to go against them, but they were speeding us up so much."

Summitt started Meighan Simmons with senior Angie Bjorklund and junior Shekinna Stricklen – who remains a steady option at point guard – and the freshman was a tad overwhelmed at first.

"Meighan was … her body was like this," Summitt said, demonstrating a lot of swiveling, with a big smile. "Poor Meighan. Her head was spinning around. And we started her and you could tell she was like, ‘Oh, my goodness.' I don't want to say it blew her mind but it definitely shook her up a little bit. It's all right."

There were quite a few fans in attendance at Thompson-Boling Arena because it's a home football weekend, so it wasn't just a practice at Pratt Pavilion with the regular spectators of staff and media.

Simmons did settle down – she hit a deep three later off a Stricklen screen – and the coaches kept various rotations in the game to get a lot of film, which they will watch with the team before Sunday's practice.

"We'll watch tape," Summitt said.

The coaches' buzzword for Johnson in preseason has been composure, and the junior forward acquitted herself well on both ends of the court. The team was at its best defensively and on the boards when Johnson was on the floor.

"She played well, didn't try to do too much," Summitt said. "Her athleticism came through loud and clear, so that was good."

Four players got reps at point guard – Simmons, Stricklen, Briana Bass and Kamiko Williams. Freshman guard Lauren Avant remains out of practice because of an injury to her right hand and remains listed as day to day.

RECRUITING: Four recruits, including three from the state of Tennessee, were in attendance Saturday at practice.

Isabelle Harrison, a 6'3 post from Nashville was on her official visit to Tennessee. The class of 2011 prospect attended with her parents and other family members.

Two recruits from the class of 2012 attended practice on unofficial visits – Bashaara Graves, a 6'2 forward from Clarksville, and Chadarryl Clay, a 5'7 point guard from Chattanooga.

Also in attendance was Diamond DeShields, a 6'2 wing from Norcross, Ga., in the class of 2013 and expected to be one of the top prospects in that class, if not the top prospect, along with Tennessee commitment Kaela Davis, a 6'2 forward who visited last weekend.

DeShields' mother, Tisha (Milligan) DeShields, was an All-American in track and field at Tennessee and was decked out in orange with a sparkly Power T ball cap. Diamond DeShields wore a Lady Vol T-shirt and jacket with the national championship patches.

HOME COOKING: Glory Johnson explained during SEC Media Days that she had moved back home to live – she is from Knoxville – because one of her older sisters had relocated to the state of Kentucky for graduate school.

Johnson had been living in an off-campus apartment with her sister while both attended Tennessee, so she opted to move back home rather than live alone. A benefit has been the meals.

Johnson said her mother still cooks for five children, even though just three are at home, so she always has plenty to eat. Johnson has a lean build and is always trying to keep on weight.

"Now that I live at home with my parents I get home-cooked meals almost every night," Johnson said. "I love to eat. I use a lot of energy every day. I need a lot of energy."

Johnson said she struggles to maintain her weight but has met with a nutritionist and is making a conscious effort to eat even more, because she thought perhaps that contributed to her fatigue towards the end of the past two seasons.

During pre-game meals she piles food on her plate and is teased by her teammates.

"They're like, ‘Pat's not going to say anything to her.' Pat is like a mom, ‘Finish your food,' " said Johnson, explaining that Pat Summitt wants the players to not waste any food on their plates. "The food will be gone in a couple of minutes, and I'll go for seconds and they'll be like, ‘There she goes again.' They mess with me a lot. It's OK."

Johnson is the youngest of five children – the other two at home also are in school – but she wasn't treated like a typical baby of the family.

"I'm the second tallest so I don't get picked on," Johnson said.

Most of Johnson's teammates live in apartments close to campus, and she has an open invitation to stay with them if she ever doesn't want to make the drive home.

"But other times you want to get away and go home and sleep in your own bed," Johnson said.

QUEL EST VOTRE NOM?: Lauren Avant's teammates have turned her into a Frenchwoman by purposely mispronouncing her last name to sound more like that of a musical artist.

"We made her French," Glory Johnson said." Maybe she'll get comfortable with it. It flows a little better."

VIDEO COVERAGE: Video clips of Glory Johnson at SEC Media Days.


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