Lady Vols hold morning session

When Pat Summitt walked onto the court Monday morning – the same one that bears her name – she jokingly asked who scheduled practice before the sun even came up in East Tennessee.

The culprit was Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick, who looked at the full schedule – a media interview for all four coaches, Photo Day for the entire team and staff, the players' class schedule and the need to practice after an off day – and decided 6 a.m. was a good time to get on the court Monday.

"We wanted to see if Coach Summitt could get up this early," Warlick said within earshot of Summitt, who laughed.

Warlick called Pat Summitt as she has for years nearly every day during the season.

"I called her this morning," Warlick said. "I always do. And she said, ‘Who called this practice?' I said, ‘I kind of did.' "

"I said, ‘I thought I was the head coach,' " Summitt said, while Warlick busted out laughing.

"She walked in and looked at me and I said, ‘Good morning, Coach Summitt,' and she said, ‘I wouldn't be calling this practice this early,' " Warlick said. "But we had to. We're trying to give them off next weekend."

The players are used to early wake-up calls as they have crack-of-dawn conditioning sessions with Heather Mason in the preseason. Mason was on the court before 6 a.m. to get the players warmed up and was her usual cheerful and vocal self.

"I thought the focus was good," Warlick said. "I thought they worked hard, good energy. We got a lot in an hour and 20 minutes."

Junior forward Taber Spani, who is still recovering from left elbow surgery, again did some passing, ball-handling, lay-up and shooting drills with her right hand.

The session ended by 7:30 a.m. so that players with 8 a.m. classes would have time to get there on time. The five seniors are past those days of early morning classes and stayed after practice to get in some extra shots.

It was the beginning of a long day for the team as the players reported back to the arena after morning and early afternoon classes for Photo Day.

Freshman guard Ariel Massengale remains off the court – not a surprise since the session was early in the morning and she must undergo tests and see a physician before she can be cleared to return under the program's concussion protocol – but she was present for the photo session.

The players had an off day Sunday, and the coaches wanted to get back on the court Monday. They will practice for the next four days and intend to give the players off the entire upcoming weekend. That will allow some players to make a quick trip home before the season starts.

Weekend days also are coveted off days because the players can sleep in because they don't have workouts or class.

The start of the season seemed far off when preseason workouts began in late August, but the first exhibition game is now two weeks away against Carson-Newman on Nov. 1.

This week will be used to underscore what has already been taught and also shift to more detailed instruction.

"We've got to continue to put in game-type situations – our out-of-bounds, sideline," Assistant Coach Mickie DeMoss said.

"We've got to go up and down more," Summitt said.

Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood also said the coaches would deploy the zone defense, especially for the benefit of the freshmen, and also install and refine offenses to go against zone defenses.

"We've got a good little progression," Warlick said.

VIDEO COVERAGE

Pat Summitt interview with the Lady Vols website

Practice clips


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