That has been the biggest challenge for the sophomore guard who has eye-popping physical ability but hadn't really been pushed on a basketball court until she arrived in Knoxville, and she struggled with the daily expectations on the court and off in the Lady Vols' strenuous conditioning sessions with Heather Mason.
Now, Williams is a key player for No. 5/6 Tennessee (15-2, 3-0), which takes on Florida (12-5, 2-1) tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern (CSS, Lady Vol Radio Network) at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.
The Gators are 8-0 this season at home, and Tennessee, after losing there in 2009, barely escaped with a win last season after Angie Bjorklund hit a reverse layup and then Florida, after executing a well-designed last-second play, missed a trey shot to win it.
"They play with more confidence," said Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood, who handled the scout for Thursday's game. "They shoot the ball better. They've got a little bit more of their mojo down there."
Tennessee's depth has been a benefit for the team this season – none more so than the road game against LSU to open SEC play when six players, including three starters, had two fouls in the first half – and it could come into play again in the second conference road game as Tennessee-Florida games have been physical clashes, especially of late.
Williams, a 5'11 guard who leaps like a post and is second on the team in blocks with 17, has gotten in excellent physical condition since she arrived on campus in the summer of 2009.
"I'm in shape," Williams said.
There is not much question about Williams' physical attributes as she has jumping ability, a fluidity to her game and the ability to play lockdown defense on the ball. The challenge has been getting her brain to override her impulses when the signals to the body's nerve center tell Williams that she is fatigued.
"Exactly," Williams said. "That is exactly what it is. I am in shape. Sometimes I have to say, ‘No, I really don't need a break. I just need to keep going.' "
Williams, who often drew Pat Summitt's wrath last season for defensive breakdowns, has made tremendous strides on that side of the ball, so much so that Summitt's ire is typically directed at the team this season, not so much individuals.
"Her defense is better, a lot better," Summitt said. "I think she is doing a better job off her the dribble drive getting a pull-up, she's getting to the rim, and her defense is a lot better."
When Summitt twice mentions a player's defense is better in one stream of thought that is high praise. That doesn't mean Williams has completely turned the corner, as she can still falter on that side of the ball.
"She gives in to fatigue still," Summitt said. "I am watching her like a hawk. It's (game slippage) still there."
With a deep bench Summitt can send messages "and not even have to talk" by sitting a player for extended minutes instead of letting her play them. Player rotation, especially the early entries in the first half, is an indicator of who the coaches have been pleased with consistently at practice.
Summitt's increased focus on the sophomore is, oddly enough, a compliment. It means her expectations for Williams are high.
"She could be one of the best guards to ever play here," Summitt said. "And you put her and Meighan together?"
Meighan Simmons, the freshman sensation from San Antonio, Texas, is one of the reasons for Williams' sense of purpose by the sophomore's own reckoning. She saw the first-year player get into the starting lineup by the second game, a feat accomplished as much by skill as daily effort in practice and games, and nodded when asked if Simmons' play pushed her.
"A lot," Williams said. "She is like the Energizer bunny. Pat is like, ‘This is what you need to be doing.' I am like, ‘OK, I gotcha Coach. I am going to get it done.' She is a tremendous player. She is helping this team out a lot."
It's easy to see why Summitt's eyes light up at the thought of the two young guards. Both can score in the paint by dribble penetration and from the perimeter – Simmons is the better 3-ball shooter right now but Williams has improved there, too – and both have the potential to become excellent defenders once they get the various schemes down pat.
"We have to talk," Williams said, explaining the most-common reason for breakdowns on defense.
Williams is more comfortable this season on the offensive side of ball at the wing and has expanded her repertoire from the point guard spot, too.
"As far as the guard position I am comfortable," Williams said. "I know the plays. It took me a year, but I know them. A couple of times Meighan asked me the plays, and I could explain them to her. I knew it like that, so I am real comfortable."
Williams played in Germany for years while her father was stationed there in the U.S. Army – the master sergeant is now serving in Afghanistan and his tour of duty isn't scheduled to be finished until next summer – and then in Clarksville when the family relocated Tennessee. Neither court experience was particularly challenging for the guard, and the pace of play with the Lady Vols put Williams on her heels. Williams also had never been pushed by a coach the way she has been at Tennessee.
"No I haven't, on top of playing a game that's faster so it's completely different from what I'm used to," Williams said. "Back in Clarksville it's a slower pace. I am getting used to it. It's getting there."
Williams' role in high school was to score, and defense was an afterthought. She also was used to having, and keeping, the ball in her hands. That changed when she got to college. Defense was a priority, and her basketball gifts now needed to fit within the structure of a team with other talented players.
"I am trying to use my athleticism within her frame of basketball," said Williams, who cited conversations with Daedra Charles-Furlow as helpful to her understanding of Summitt.
Charles-Furlow, who Williams has described as being like an aunt to her, played for Summitt and is now the team's development of character.
"It is something to learn because I am used to using my talent and playing by instincts but now you have to think the game," Williams said. "Before I was able to jump out of the gym and now I've got to actually box a girl out and then jump for the ball.
"I have to discipline myself with my athleticism, but I am getting the hang of it. It's getting better. I'm getting out of that street ball mentality and playing within a structured game."
Lockwood eschewed the street ball term – it carries a negative connotation at times, though Lockwood noted some playgrounds are ultra-competitive – but did agree that Williams had to grasp concepts within the framework of a team on both sides of the ball.
"She was given tremendous freedom (before college) to basically do her own thing and played it essentially the way she wanted to play it," Lockwood said. "(Now, she has to be) able to recognize concepts and take advantage of things. If they've got fundamentals and basketball sense they can play in any system and still find how to apply their strengths.
"She is so good off the dribble and so good attacking off penetration and dribble drive and penetration. But it means nothing if you can't plug that in to four other people. At any given time one person has the ball; four do not.
"You have to learn how to play without the ball as much as you know how to play with the ball. Those things are coming for her and as she learns them and gets more comfortable, she becomes more valuable."
Lockwood wasn't surprised to hear that Simmons provided an impetus for the sophomore to step up her game.
"This is maybe a bit of an oversimplification, but if I'm a player on a team and a freshman comes in here and is starting and they're getting great minutes and they're producing, they're our leading scorer, if I am a guard, I am going to say, ‘Time for me to buck up a little bit. I'm going to give this kid, in a good-natured way, a run for their money,' " Lockwood said.
"When you have somebody come in like Meighan who is performing well it kind of sends a little bell to the other guys saying, ‘Guess what? You can do some of the same, too.' "
The notion of having both guards playing at a high level is tantalizing to Summitt, who has had high praise for Simmons since she arrived.
"As a freshman probably in my career maybe the absolute best athlete," Summitt said. "She's got the speed and quickness, and she can elevate. She's just passionate about playing the game."
Simmons' engine was revved on high when she arrived – if she has gotten tired in practice or a game she has yet to let it show – and coaches deplore having to coach effort. That, as much as her skill set, got Simmons in the starting lineup and has kept her there.
"I think she has gained a lot more confidence," Summitt said. "She came in and never saw a shot she didn't like, so we have had to work on that. It was just a matter of her getting a lot of reps and convincing her that she can rebound the ball."
At the conclusion of out-of-conference play, Simmons was shooting 43.7 percent overall. In three SEC games, Simmons is shooting 55.2 percent overall, an indicator of improved shot selection. Her assists climbed from an average of 2.2 in non-conference games to 5.0 in SEC play.
Summitt wasn't surprised by the remarks of Ole Miss Coach Renee Ladner that Simmons was the difference for Tennessee this season.
"A lot of people have talked about that," Summitt said. "I think it's because of her energy and she's light on her feet. She can get to the rim. She can shoot the three ball."
As far as going forward Summitt wants Simmons to tweak her offensive game and, of course, become a better defender.
"Sometimes she'll try to get all the way to the hole, and she really needs to pull up," Summitt said. "Use all the weapons that she has. She's going to go right down and she's going to pull up free throw line, free throw line, free throw line. I said, ‘Get on the baseline. Pass, cut through, catch in the corner.'
"I think her just looking for opportunities on the court and expand those. And improve her defense."
Williams shot 52.6 percent in the first 14 games of the season but has dipped to 37.5 percent in the first three SEC games. She has plenty of time to raise her shooting percentage, and Summitt is more likely to notice her rebounding average jumped from 3.1 per game in non-conference play to 5.3 in SEC games. Williams also leads the team in SEC games with nine blocks. Kelley Cain is second with eight swats.
Williams just now seems to be realizing how athletic gifted she is and how good she could be.
"Heather told me how athletic I am," Williams said. "I knew I was athletic and I am like they're athletic, too, (referring to teammates) and then Heather put it in perspective for me. I am going to just try and use it for the good of my team and get out of the street ball mentality and just doing it. I should do it with a purpose."
A freshman playing a major role could have led to team dissension, but Summitt said potential issues were resolved.
"Initially, I was a little concerned there could be some jealousy and I think there probably was, but it never affected our team or the chemistry of our team or our staff," Summitt said of Simmons' major role. "I think what they want to do is win."
Williams' personality, in this case, is well suited for the situation, as she can be the type to roll with any situation – or at least she can come across that way, especially during her first season on campus.
"What you saw early is very happy-go-lucky, carefree," Lockwood said. "Off the court there is nothing wrong with that. On the court that makes all four of us (coaches) nervous. We're not wired like that so when you see a player like that you think they're one pass away, one movement away from hurting our team.
"That was the early Kamiko but now we're seeing somebody that can bear down for longer stretches. She is able to make it through a practice. There were times in her freshman year when she looked like she was absolutely going to stagger through the end of practice. She's able to do it better, she's able to do it longer, she's showing a little bit more grit.
"When she guards the ball now she is really capable of guarding the ball. I love it when she gets in that stance, and she's bothering the ball-handler. When you see that Kamiko, that personality, that's a thing to behold. That's a treat for us all. We want to see more of that."
Williams said her personality is not as laidback as her outward appearance can make it seem.
"I have emotions, but I am really good at hiding it," Williams said. "I've learned that from my dad, because he is really good at hiding his. There are times I am angry and there are times I am real happy but I keep the poker face going. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
"Sometimes it works in my favor. Sometimes it doesn't. That's when we (Summitt and player) bump heads, but it's getting better. Our relationship is getting a lot better. I think that is helping me a lot, too."
Williams' improved play has coincided with Tennessee's improvement as a whole. The prevailing notion is the players need to get in the slipstream of success or get left behind.
"That is exactly what is happening." Williams said. "It's good for our team because by us doing that nobody is able to hide. Everybody is putting their best foot forward, which makes us get closer and closer to getting one of those banners."
Williams was looking up in Thompson-Boling Arena when she made that remark and said a national championship would be significant for her.
"For me it means a lot," Williams said. "At Clarksville we never won state. We only went to state once. So I've never really won anything. I won something in Germany but the basketball talent over there was worse than it was over here (in high school).
"So really I haven't won anything. To win a national championship would probably be the highlight of my basketball life ever."
The LSU game – the first of 2011 for Tennessee – was a turning point for Williams. She played 15 minutes in the first half and logged 28 for the game, finishing with 13 points, four rebounds, one assist and no turnovers.
"I know I can do a whole lot better so I am not going to say I am satisfied, because I know I can give a lot more," Williams said. "I am just going to take it a game at a time and a day at a time."
Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt is expected to start: Meighan Simmons, 5'9 freshman guard, No. 10 (16.2 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game, 2.7 assists per game); Angie Bjorklund, 6'0 senior guard, No. 5 (11.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.5 apg); Taber Spani, 6'1 sophomore guard/forward, No. 13 (9.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.4 apg); Shekinna Stricklen, 6'2 junior forward, No. 40 (10.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.1 apg); and Kelley Cain, 6'6 redshirt junior forward, No. 52 (8.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.9 blocks per game).
In SEC play, Tennessee has four players averaging double digits – Glory Johnson, who comes off the bench, 16.0 ppg; Simmons, 14.0 ppg; Cain, 11.3 ppg, and Stricklen, 10.3. Spani is close at 9.7 and Bjorklund at 8.3.
Kamiko Williams (8.0 ppg) and Alicia Manning (7.0 ppg) in SEC play round out an eight-player rotation, but Summitt has been inclined to go as deep into the bench as she can. Briana Bass has played in two of three SEC games for an average of 13.5 minutes per contest and has entered in the first half in both.
Alyssia Brewer didn't make the Florida trip as she is still getting up to game speed after undergoing Achilles tendon surgery last September. She has played in four games this season and one SEC game – the opener against LSU for four minutes. Brewer remained in Knoxville so she could undergo extra conditioning to try to accelerate her return to action.
Redshirt junior forward Vicki Baugh has not played in the SEC games and is a game-day decision based on how her surgically repaired left knee feels.
"It's game by game. She's been frustrated, but she's coming through," said Summitt, who expects Baugh to log some minutes this season but has no timetable because of the day-to-day status of her knee.
"If there is any soreness at all in warm-ups, Pat is not going to do it," said Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood said. "If she's got a big ice bag after the first set of warm-ups or if she's limping, then the buzzer (sounds)."
Freshman guard Lauren Avant, who is making steady progress in practice after an injury-filled first half of the season, also is working to get into the rotation, even in limited minutes. Avant can especially help the Lady Vols on the defensive side of the ball because she can keep an opponent in front of her. The plan is to work Avant into games this season as often as possible.
"She'll get some minutes," Summitt said.
Johnson leads the team in points (16.0) and rebounds (9.0) in SEC play. Despite coming off the bench Johnson is tied for first with Bjorklund in minutes played at 24.3 in conference games.
The players, at least for now, seem to have followed the focus of Summitt, who has been lowering the boom and raising expectations on a daily basis since the loss to Baylor on Dec. 14. The margin of victory in the first three SEC games, a staggering 37.6 points – though skewed, as it was just eight against LSU and a whopping 65 against Alabama – hasn't caused any complacency.
"Focus on us and what we can do and what we're about to do this next game, next game, next game," Johnson said.
Florida Coach Amanda Butler is expected to start: Lanita Bartley, 5'6 junior guard, No. 3 (7.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.0 steals per game), hails from Jacksonville, Fla., only Gator to start all 17 games this season, stole the in-bounds pass and completed the three-point play with 16.7 seconds left in the 65-63 win at Soutj Carolina last Sunday, played last season at Santa Fe College and named honorable mention juco All-American, player of the year in the Mid-Florida Conference, was all-conference in high school on the flag football team, taking snaps at quarterback, wide receiver and running back; Jaterra Bonds, 5'7 freshman guard, No. 10 (8.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.3 apg), hails from Gainesville, Fla., can also slide over to the point position, has started the last eight games, tallied career-high nine assists against Alabama State, committed to the Gators as a junior in high school, led team to 2A state title in 2010, the first for P.K. Yonge since 1983; Jordan Jones, 5'9 redshirt junior guard, No. 33 (10.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg), hails from Suwanee, Ga., voted team captain this season, started 15 games this season, missed two games in December because of concussion, played in all 32 games last season and started 27 after sitting out 2008-09 after transferring from South Carolina, connected on at least one trey in 23 consecutive games last season and leads team this season with 34 makes from behind the arc, averaged 13.1 ppg as a freshman at South Carolina, fifth-highest for a Gamecock; Ndidi Madu, 6'1 redshirt junior forward, No. 14 (7.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg), hails from Antioch, Tenn., missed the 2007-08 season after ACL tear in right knee, played in all 32 games last season, has started 15 of 17 games this season, scored career-high 17 points against South Carolina, in three SEC games has averaged 11.0 ppg and connected on 68.2 percent of her shots; and Azania Stewart, 6'4 junior center, No. 13 (6.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.7 blocks per game), hails from Wood Green, England, voted team captain this season, has started 16 of 17 games, led the league in field goal percentage last season at 61.9 percent (91-147), one block shy of 100 for her career, spent the summer of 2009 and 2010 playing in Europe to boost her chances of making Great Britain's national team, had her left kidney removed in 2008 after it was determined to be non-functioning, started on the court playing netball (seven on seven, no dribbling, no backboard), graduated from Notre Dame Academy in the state of Virginia after coming to the United States to play high school basketball.
A key player off the bench for Florida is Jennifer George, a 6'0 sophomore forward from Orlando, Fla. George, who has started three games this season and is tied with Stewart for the team lead with 26 blocks, averages 5.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
George has connected on 52.0 percent (39-75) of her shots this season. George's SEC averages are 8.7 points and 7.0 boards per game. George grabbed a total of 16 rebounds in the last two matchups with Tennessee. George had nine blocks this season in the game against Alabama State.
Summitt had high praise for Butler, a Tennessee native from Mt. Juliet, during her media teleconference on Wednesday.
"I think Amanda and I – there are a lot of similarities," Summitt said. "You don't always get what you expect, you get what you demand. She demands a certain level of intensity every day. Just like we do."
Butler is the youngest head coach in the SEC with a birth date of March 6, 1972. Summitt won her first game at Tennessee on Jan. 10, 1975, three years after Butler was born.
SCOUTING REPORT: Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood handled the scouting report for the Tennessee-Florida game. Here is his assessment.
When Florida has the ball The Gators want a fast-paced basketball game.
"They are going to push tempo more so than any SEC team we have played so far," Lockwood said. "They will look to attack more in transition. They are very good off the dribble. They've got two very good creators. They will shoot quick threes. (Jordan) Jones is their best pure shooter, but they've got several other kids that will take shots."
Tennessee also must box out on defense.
"They are athletic," Lockwood said. "They go to the offensive boards. They are third in the conference right now in positive rebound margin. They're a team that will attack. They will try to beat you off the dribble drive. They're going to set a lot of ball screens, and then they'll go rebound."
Defensively, the Gators tend to bring pressure.
"They're going to man press and do some zone press," Lockwood said. "They like to pick up full court on makes. With them they're probably going to test us early to see if they can rattle us a little bit. I anticipate getting pressed there."
When Tennessee has the ball: The Lady Vols want to continue the theme of establishing Kelley Cain early and working from the inside-out. Tennessee also wants to continue its patterns of getting good ball movement.
"Get touches," Lockwood said. "We don't like the ball getting stuck in hands. Sometimes, we can have that happen where it gets stuck in hands too long. So we will want to get early ball movement and good spacing."
Although Tennessee wants the ball to move through the paint – "We want to establish post touches," Lockwood said – the Lady Vols also want a balance and to get the outside shooters involved, especially senior guard Angie Bjorklund, the program's all-time three-point shooter.
"We need the balance," Lockwood said. "For us to say we're going to do what happened at LSU every game (just seven trey attempts, no makes), that's not realistic. The posts aren't going to carry us all the time. And then to say we want to rely like we did the Alabama game where we shot ungodly (50 percent) from the arc that is not going to be realistic, either.
"So what we are trying to attain with this team right now is a sense of balance."
Tennessee wants to start by getting the ball inside, an approach Lockwood has compared to establishing the running game to open up the passing lanes in football.
"When I can run on you and crack four or five yards, now your defense has to pack in and all of sudden, we open up the field. If we start doing this right away," Lockwood said, pantomiming throwing the football, "it could be three and out.
"So one of the things we try to do to attain the balance is to play through our post game and then we can still space out and read what they're doing. Are they doubling (on Cain)? Is it one-on-one? Can we do more high-low? That kind of stuff."
Defensively, Tennessee has opened in man of late and switched to zone if needed. The Lady Vols also have brought pressure at selective times.
"Our man has been good to us," Lockwood said. "But this is a team that we want to feel them out a little bit and it depends on their lineups on the floor. At times they can put in three to four 3-point shooters. At times they might have one or two.
"One of the things we're going to play off of a little bit is what we're playing against and what we see and what we think can be most effective."
ALLEY FIGHT: Games between Tennessee and Florida can get hotly contested – especially the last two in Gainesville – and the Lady Vol coaches were looking forward to the challenge.
"It's good for us," said Assistant Coach Mickie DeMoss, who was the head coach for the Gators from 1979 to 1983. "It's good to be on the road and to play an opponent that is going to be scrappy. We need that.
"Being at home it's not our kids' fault that Alabama comes in here (by Coach Wendell Hudson's post-game admission) not ready to play, but I was proud that we still played our game regardless. Ole Miss, I thought we really did a nice job of taking them out of things they wanted to run. They had a plan and they countered some things we did. Her kids were just out-manned."
Pat Summitt intended to use the road trip to also meet one-on-one with as many players as she could.
"It's not uncommon for coaches to meet with individual players," DeMoss said. "It's quite common. It's making sure they are clear on what's expected out of them."
The talks are often accompanied by the coach and player looking at stats with the coach posing the question of whether or not the numbers are the best a player can do.
"Most competitors are going to say no," DeMoss said.
It was a perusal of the stats that led to Summitt chatting – rather one-sided in that case – with Shekinna Stricklen and demanding that she elevate her play after a rather quiet period, especially to open league play.
"I think Pat really got down and looked at stats and felt like she was kind of underachieving," DeMoss said. "She just really challenged her: We brought you here thinking you were going to be an All-American. I think Stricklen certainly responded to that particular talk. As a coach you just hope that they can sustain it, that that's not just a one-time thing."
DeMoss had suggested the player meetings a few weeks ago but Summitt wanted to wait until midway through the season when the players had more game reps for the coaches to evaluate.
"Not only does Pat have a better idea about what she expects, they ought to know now," DeMoss said. "They're starting to get it and it's been a process just since I've been here. This team did not start the season in my opinion thinking, ‘OK, we've got to kick it to the next level.' I think they were kind of satisfied with what they did last year. As coaches, we have to keep reminding them."
Summitt had a prior appointment that she had to keep Tuesday – it had been scheduled as an off day until Monday's snowstorm canceled practice – so DeMoss talked to the team afterwards because Summitt left shortly before the session ended. DeMoss delivered a lecture worthy of Summitt.
"We have to get them in a different mindset, and it's got to start with practice," DeMoss said. "That's what I've been preaching. That's what I told them when we huddled up. We're trying to make practice tougher than games. We are just like a professor. I am going to get you really prepared for your test.
"I think we're still fragile in some spots. We have more trust, but we are not where we need to be."
ON TAP:All 12 SEC teams are in action Thursday. The other matchups are: Vanderbilt at Alabama; Georgia at Arkansas; Ole Miss at Auburn; South Carolina at Kentucky; and LSU at Mississippi State.
ODDS AND ENDS
Tennessee leads the series with Florida, 40-3. The Lady Vols are 16-2 in Gainesville with the last loss, 67-56, coming in 2009. Prior to that Tennessee had not lost at Florida since a 71-62 defeat in 1997. The Lady Vols have won the past three games – the SEC tourney in 2009, in Gainesville in 2010 and at home last season a month later. The Gators come to Knoxville this season on Feb. 10. … Tennessee is 8-0 in games played on January 13.The last win on this date was against South Carolina, 71-48, in 2008. The first win on January 13 was against Marshall, 49-39, in 1973. … Tennessee is shooting 46.2 percent overall this season. But that marksmanship falls to 41.4 percent overall on the road. The Lady Vols have shot 35.6 percent behind the arc overall but just 26.3 percent on the road. Freshman Meighan Simmons, who has said she is more psyched on the road than at home, is the only Lady Vol averaging double digits, at 17.0 ppg, away from Knoxville. Three Lady Vols do have double-digit averages against the Gators – Angie Bjorklund, 14.7 ppg; Kelley Cain, 14.5 ppg; and Shekinna Stricklen, 12.8 ppg. This will be Simmons' first career game against the Gators. … The Lady Vols were picked in preseason by the media and coaches to finish first in the SEC. Florida was picked 10th by the coaches and tied for last place at 11th by the media. … Tennessee senior Angie Bjorklund was one of 20 midseason finalists for the John Wooden Award. The trimmed list was announced Tuesday by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Bjorklund is Tennessee's all-time three-point leader with 273 and counting. The other SEC player on the list was Kentucky's Victoria Dunlap. … The first 1,000 Florida and Santa Fe College students with a valid college ID will receive a free replica jersey. The promotion is sponsored by Gatorade. … Tennessee redshirt junior Vicki Baugh and Florida freshman Brittany Shine both played at Sacramento High School in California. Baugh graduated in December from Tennessee with a degree in psychology and will walk with her senior class this May. Florida's Ebonie Crawford, the lone Gator senior, graduated in December with a degree in criminology. Former Gator Sharielle Smith (2006-10) completed her bachelor's degree last month in telecommunications.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Tennessee is averaging 82.1 points a game while allowing opponents to score 56.4. Florida averages 67.1 points a game while allowing 59.3.
The Lady Vols are shooting 46.2 percent overall, 35.6 percent behind the arc and 66.9 percent from the free throw line. The Gators are shooting 42.1 percent overall, 31.8 percent from long range and 65.7 percent from the line.
Tennessee makes an average of 6.8 three-pointers a game while allowing 5.0. Florida makes 5.2 threes a game while allowing 4.5.
Tennessee averages 45.8 rebounds a game for a +11.1 margin. Florida averages 41.7 boards for a +6.5 margin.
The Lady Vols average 14.8 assists and 15.1 turnovers a game. Opponents lose the ball an average of 19.4 times a game. The Gators average 13.9 assists and 17.2 turnovers with foes losing the ball 17.2 times a game.
Tennessee averages 9.0 steals and 5.1 blocks a game. Florida averages 8.1 steals and 4.8 blocks.
Florida Coach Amanda Butler at SEC Media Days last October
During Butler's session with the media last October in Hoover, Ala., the head coach was excited about having two point guards in Lanita Bartley and Jaterra Bonds.
"We'll be able to throw different looks," Butler said.
That has proven to be true, as both Bartley and Bonds have played point guard for the Gators this season.
One theme during SEC Media Days was the number of teams that wanted to push tempo this season.
"That's our league most years because of the athleticism," Butler said. "We definitely feel like we're going to be one of those that can get up and down."
Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt after practice Wednesday