Lady Vol Media Day

Halloween was definitely a treat for Pat Summitt – Monday's practice was all defense with just five free throws attempted – and, in keeping with the holiday theme, it's beginning to look a lot like basketball from the Lady Vols holding media day to the arena being prepared for game day.

Coach Pat Summitt and her three assistants, Holly Warlick, Dean Lockwood and Mickie DeMoss, answered questions from the local media Monday, the day before the first exhibition game of the 2011-12 season.

It wasn't the mob scene that occurred last week at SEC Media Day in Alabama when Summitt was swarmed by the press in her first major media appearance since she revealed last August that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia. Local media have had access to practice and Summitt throughout the month of October.


Dean Lockwood recently celebrated his birthday, which Pat Summitt noted in her opening remarks.

Tennessee opens its exhibition season this evening against Carson-Newman at 7 p.m. Eastern at Thompson-Boling Arena with a webcast being streamed on the Lady Vols website.

Sunday was an off day for the Tennessee players after a scrimmage on Saturday afternoon, and the film from that session led the staff to decide to devote Monday's practice to defense.

"We, as a staff, had the opportunity to watch our scrimmage and weren't very pleased with our defensive effort," Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick said. "It was pretty glaring so we decided to make it strictly a defensive practice. We didn't even want them to touch the ball on offense."

The five free throws were lofted just so that the Lady Vols could set their full court pressure after a made free throw.

"I think Mickie had a weak moment and wanted to set them up in a press so she let them shoot the free throw," Warlick joked.

While practice was underway, crews got the arena ready for tonight's game from setting up chairs courtside to checking the overhead scoreboard to testing an electronic ribbon of ads and game stats that now encircles the arena between the upper and lower levels.

It was a practice tailor-made for Summitt, who has preached defense for nearly four decades and has watched her team slip on that side of the ball for three seasons and subsequently has whiffed on the Final Four over the same time period.

Monday's practice brought the thunder from Summitt that is more typical of some sessions – and which also signaled that the start of the season is approaching.

"What's her whole thing?" Lockwood said. "That fired her up. I saw her eyes light up about seven minutes into practice, and she was so fired up seeing that today. For somebody that loves horses that's like telling them you're going to take them to Churchill Downs for the day."

Players had been doing post-practice push-ups for miscues such as turnovers and missed layups. Monday's extracurricular activities included defensive slide drills and ball denial exercises for mixed box-outs or defensive errors.

"Blue collar," Lockwood said.

"We wanted to send a message," Warlick said. "If we're going to preach defense and rebounding then we need to practice it with a lot more effort than we have (in the scrimmages)."

Summitt wasn't the only coach who was noticeably animated in practice.

"A whole day devoted," Lockwood said after the session ended.

"I loved it," Warlick said.

"I loved it, too," said Lockwood, who added such sessions needed to be slipped in all season during which the practice guys get the ball, and the Lady Vols don't touch it unless they take it away.

"I think we need to," Lockwood said. "This team tells us stuff. That scrimmage told us something. They communicated to us. We've got to go back to that."


Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt is expected to start: Meighan Simmons, 5'6 sophomore guard, No. 10; Shekinna Stricklen, 6'2 senior guard/forward, No. 40; Taber Spani, 6'1 junior guard/forward, No. 13; Glory Johnson , 6'3 senior forward, No. 25; and Vicki Baugh, 6'4 redshirt senior forward/center, No. 21.

Freshman Ariel Massengale, who has been under the program's concussion protocol since a practice collision on Oct. 10, will be a game day decision in terms of availability. Massengale participated Monday in contact-type situations for the first time since her head injury and will be evaluated again Tuesday.

Massengale, a 5'6 point guard from Bolingbrook, Ill., has been able to practice for the past 10 days in non-contact drills such as shooting, passing and dribbling but was not on the court against the male practice team until Monday. She was not present for media day but arrived in time for practice.

Two other freshmen, Cierra Burdick, a 6'2 forward from Matthews, N.C., and Isabelle Harrison, a 6'3 forward from Nashville, Tenn., are expected to make their debuts Tuesday.

Carson-Newman Coach Mike Mincey is expected to start: Rechelle Dye, 5'6 sophomore guard, No. 23, hails from Greeneville, Tenn.; Megan Hunter, 5'8 senior guard, No. 24, hails from Ashland City, Tenn.; Whitney Moody, 5'10 junior forward, No. 25, hails from Blountville, Tenn.;Zoriah Williams, 5'10 senior forward, No. 12, hails from Calera, Ala.; and Shannon Depew, 6'0 sophomore forward, No. 35, hails from Newport, Tenn.

Mincey is in his first year as head coach after serving as an assistant under former coach Dean Walsh for three years. Walsh, the fourth-winningest coach in conference history, stepped down last spring for personal reasons.

Of the 15 players on Carson-Newman's roster, 11 are from the state of Tennessee. The school is located in nearby Jefferson City, Tenn., and began competing in intercollegiate athletes 112 years ago. The first contest was in baseball, a 4-3 win for Carson-Newman over Tennessee.

The school now competes in the South Atlantic Conference. The Lady Eagles went 14-16 last season and were picked to finish fifth in the conference this season. Depew was the 2011 SAC Rookie of the Year.

AP POLL: Tennessee is No. 3 in AP's preseason poll behind No. 1 Baylor and Notre Dame.

"They deserve it," Pat Summitt said of the teams ahead of the Lady Vols.

Tennessee missed the Final Four in 2011, as did Baylor, but the Lady Bears have Brittney Griner, a preseason favorite for national player of the year, and Notre Dame made it to the title game before falling to Texas A&M, the team that eliminated Baylor in the Elite Eight and went on to win the national title.

The Lady Vols do have a senior-laden team, and Summitt figured that the roster likely factored into the vote to put Tennessee at number three.

Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick also pointed out the good health of Vicki Baugh would provide a boost.

"She's had a whole summer to work out and prepare," Warlick said.

The ranking will barely get a mention with the team.

"We're not going to focus on that," Summitt said.


The players spend most of media day answering questions about basketball. They also are willing to field some off-beat queries.



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