Glory Johnson to stay in starting lineup

Glory Johnson made her way slowly to a row of chairs for her media interviews Friday afternoon before practice, the pounding she had taken in the previous game having left her body sore but her smile intact. With Angie Bjorklund still nursing a foot injury and out for the Arkansas game, Johnson will remain in the starting lineup for Tennessee.

Glory Johnson made an emphatic case to stay there anyway with her 22-point, 18-rebound performance Thursday evening in the win over Mississippi State.

With senior guard Angie Bjorklund out for the second consecutive game with a right foot injury and officially listed as day-to-day, junior forward Shekinna Stricklen will move from the paint to the perimeter and redshirt junior center Kelley Cain, who missed Thursday's game with an illness, will be in the post with Johnson in all likelihood.

Cain was back at practice Friday, though not completely healthy yet. Freshman guard Lauren Avant, who also has been ill this week, tried to practice but had to head to the sidelines. Vicki Baugh, who didn't play Thursday because of her knee, practiced but was limited.

Bjorklund underwent rehab for her foot, remains in a walking boot and won't play Sunday so she can get some additional rest. The Lady Vols have eight days between games, as they won't play again until Monday, Feb. 7, at Kentucky.

"As much as we want to win I just want her healthy," Coach Pat Summitt said. "I don't know what the timetable is. It's kind of just day by day and wait and see how she's responding."

It has been the state of Lady Vol basketball all season as players have dealt with various injuries, making a team strength – its depth – tenuous from game to game. It did show up Thursday, when despite the absence of two starters in Bjorklund and Cain, the Lady Vols overcame a two-point halftime deficit and outscored Mississippi State, 46-18, in the second half for the 81-55 win that kept Tennessee perfect in SEC play at 8-0 and the Lady Bulldogs winless at 0-7.

Johnson said in the pantheon of Pat Summitt's halftime tirades, Thursday's was rather tame.

"A lot of people thought she was ready to rip our head off, but at the same time she was really positive," Johnson said. "To me I felt like she sounded really positive. She was telling us she's knows what we are capable of and she knows the type of game that we play and she doesn't want us to lose to this team."

Summitt smiled and said that was probably because her remarks weren't directed at Johnson, who had a double-double – 10 points, 11 rebounds – by halftime. The rest of the players got an earful.

"I just took their heads off. Ask the rest of them. Glory was feeling good about Glory," Summit said with a laugh.

Johnson's performance was not entirely a surprise. The uber-athletic junior forward has had breakout games. Her issues had been consistency and composure, and she had been coming off the bench in the SEC – although she logs starter minutes – because waiting a little while to play seemed to settle her down.

On Thursday, the staff didn't have that option with both Cain and Bjorklund out, and Johnson made quite a statement to remain a starter.

She also performed on very little sleep. Johnson's homework, which included finishing a paper and a lengthy reading assignment, had kept her up overnight until 4 a.m. Thursday, and then she awoke three hours later at 7 a.m. for an 8 a.m. class and never found time for a nap between shoot-around and tipoff.

"You have to do what you have to do," said Johnson, an honor roll student at Tennessee who is on schedule to graduate a year early this May and will enroll in a master's program next season. "Sometimes with classes you have a lot of work to do, and you have assignments in a lot of classes. You've got to do what it takes to get your work done.

"That's one thing that I was a little worried about and I was wondering when I was going to get a nap during the day, and I had back-to-back-to-back-to back classes and shoot-around and pre-game," Johnson said. "I knew that let's get this game over with, let's take care of business so I can get home and get in the bed and go to sleep."

It didn't affect Johnson's play but she said she had no intention of making lack of sleep part of her game day routine.

"I definitely won't try that strategy again because I was worried about dozing off in class," Johnson said. "Surprisingly I wasn't even tired in any of my classes. I don't want to ever try that again. I don't like being tired."

She made up for the loss of slumber after Thursday's game, an easier feat because Johnson's classes are all scheduled on Tuesday and Thursday so she could sleep in Friday.

"I slept really good," said Johnson, who awakened after her usual eight hours. "I made sure to get a good meal and once I got in my bed I was knocked out after a couple of minutes."

With Cain and Baugh out and Alyssia Brewer still slowly making her way back from an Achilles tendon injury, Johnson, a slender 6'3 forward, logged the majority of her 33 minutes in a brutally physical game in the paint.

Johnson didn't just miss Cain in the paint. She missed her on the sidelines to help restore her hairdo. Johnson was mauled so much, including blows to the head, that her headband kept slipping and large strands of hair got loose.

"It was bad," Johnson said. "It was so bad. Kelley is normally one, ‘OK, you've got to fix your hair. They messed up your hair. OK, this side, over here.' Kelley always does it for me. Vicki tried to step in a little bit. I had to fix my ponytail four or five times."

Summitt said after practice Friday that she was likely to keep Johnson in the starting lineup with Cain and have Stricklen on the perimeter with Spani and Simmons.

"I think that's a good lineup," Summitt said.

Johnson is also a mature defender who can guard on the perimeter if needed, and Arkansas presents another challenge with quick penetrators.

"We can always put her on the point guard for that matter and make a difference," Summitt said.

The Lady Vols will travel Saturday to Fayetteville and practice at Arkansas with Sunday's game set to tip at 2 p.m. Eastern (SEC Network).

Friday's practice focused on defense, especially after Summitt watched the game tape against Mississippi State and saw hands down on defense far more than they were up.

"It's ridiculous," Summitt said. "We're not as deep as I thought we were going to be, and the reason we're not as deep is because they're not invested in every possession. It's wait and see, and I'm tired of that."

SHANNA CROSSLEY: Shanna Crossley, known as Shanna Zolman when she played at Tennessee, was courtside Friday getting rehab from Jenny Moshak, the program's chief of sports medicine, after tearing her left ACL again.

The injury occurred while Crossley was playing professionally in Turkey, and she came to Tennessee to have the surgery, which was done Jan. 26.

Crossley played last season for the WNBA's Tulsa Shock and averaged 9.7 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists a game while shooting a team-best 42.2 percent from the arc.

"Shanna was a leader both on and off the court for the Shock and she will be sorely missed this upcoming season," Tulsa Coach Nolan Richardson said. "We will assist her on her road to recovery in any way we can and look forward to seeing her healthy and ready to play in 2012."

Crossley, who tore the ACL three years ago and missed the 2008 season, will be out for the 2011 season this summer.

Pat Summitt met with Crossley before the surgery this week, and the staff and the players all spoke to her on Friday when she arrived for rehab. Her parents also are in town from Indiana.

"We visited when she came in," Summitt said. "I knew she was headed for surgery. I am proud that she's here and letting Jenny and her staff take care of her. It's a tough road. She's going to be here awhile. I think it's the respect that they have for Jenny and the wealth of knowledge that she has and all the experience that she's been through with ACLs."


Practice clips from Friday

Interview with Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood


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