Lady Vols make corrections on court

Pat Summitt and Mickie DeMoss handled practice Wednesday — Dean Lockwood was on the recruiting trail and Holly Warlick had surgery on her hand — and used the session to review the exhibition game film, clean up some defensive miscues and get some shots up in Pratt Pavilion.

Tennessee plays its second exhibition game next Tuesday against Union University and then will tip off the regular season Nov. 13 against Pepperdine. Between now and then the Lady Vols plan to get better on defense. The zone press could be a very effective weapon, and one-on-one defense needs to get up to speed.

Pat Summitt and Mickie DeMoss watched film with the team before practice and then took the court to address what they saw.

"I thought defensively we were at times a little confused in transition defense because we weren't getting our press set quick enough, so there was a little confusion in transition defense that we've got to clean up," DeMoss said.

"I thought half-court defense we got beat off the dribble too much right in the gut of our defense. We were helping up, and they were bouncing under us, so we gave them a few easy baskets like that. Our one-on-one defense we've got to continue to work on that.

"But other than that, our board play was pretty good. We had 29 offensive rebounds and (36) defensive rebounds. Our board play was good. Offensively, we got impatient at times. We took some quick shots. Quick shots are fine if they're falling, but if we come down two or three times, and we're taking those quick shots, and they're not falling, now we've got to have enough feel for the game to try to get some looks out of our offense.

"I thought we missed some easy shots. We got some good looks, but we missed too many paint shots in my opinion. We've got to hit those. And our three-point shooting (4-15) was dismal.

"Probably the bright spot of our offense was our transition game. We got a lot of points off of transition, and we created a lot of offense from our press."

The staff also wants to get freshman point guard Ariel Massengale acclimated to the team after she missed most of October's practice sessions because of a concussion. Massengale had not yet participated in any team scrimmages — she sustained the concussion Oct. 10 — and had been limited to non-contact drills for the past two weeks such as shooting and dribbling.

Massengale is full go now — she was just cleared Monday afternoon — and surprised the coaches by being able to play an effective 15 minutes in Tuesday's 105-40 win over Carson-Newman. Nearly all of her preseason knowledge has been gleaned from the sideline, not the court, because she was under the program's concussion protocol.

"You almost forget how effective she is and how talented she is," DeMoss said. "We hadn't seen her in a month. And then when she is out there she has such a settling effect on our team. I think she just gives them confidence. She is that true, true point guard that embraces that position."

Tennessee wants to be an up-tempo team, and Massengale, who has the build of a fullback but the speed of a running back, ensures that happens as she moves north-south with the ball, to put it in football terms.

Senior forward Alicia Manning also brought a gridiron mentality to the game with her board play and defense. But it was Manning's offense (23 points on 10-of-14 shooting) that really raised eyebrows as she hit midrange jumpers and got to the rim and the free-throw line.

"She had one of her best games," DeMoss said.

The coaches now want to see it consistently because Manning can change the game on the defensive end but has lacked the offensive balance in the past.

"Consistency — if she can just bring half of that every game," DeMoss said. "She has put together some good practices back to back. Her key is consistency. She took shots that she was capable of making. She got a lot of hustle plays. That is pretty normal for her."

The coaches had asked Manning to commit to her offense, play within herself and not hesitate to shoot when she was open to keep defenders honest.

"The difference was the fact that she made shots," DeMoss said. "When she was open she took the shots, and she made them."

After a Monday practice that focused solely on defense, the coaches let the players have the ball again at Wednesday's session.

"We got a lot of shots in today," DeMoss said.

Tennessee does have a veteran team with five seniors, but the Lady Vols also are incorporating three newcomers in Massengale, forward Cierra Burdick and post Isabelle Harrison.

Also, forward/center Vicki Baugh has been severely limited the past three years — including a long stretch of 20 months off the court to recover from her second ACL surgery — so she is getting used to her teammates and vice versa.

"She is still trying to get back in game mode," DeMoss said.

Baugh had 10 points and 14 rebounds – she has always wiped the glass clean – and showed the speed and agility that wowed the coaches during her freshman season in 2007-08.

The return of a healthy Baugh, and the addition of Harrison to go with the already athletic Glory Johnson in the paint, has allowed the coaches to ratchet up the defensive pressure.

Tennessee deployed healthy doses of its 1-2-2 zone press and swallowed Carson-Newman's guards in traps. The Lady Eagles lost the ball 34 times.

"We've moved that post up (from a 1-2-1-1 last season to a 1-2-2), which allows the post to be more involved in the pressing action," DeMoss said. "We used to always keep the post back (but now) we want to involve Vicki, Izzy and Glory. They can get steals so let's involve them in the trapping and rotating part."

The team will return to practice for the next three days in Pratt and then take an off day on Sunday.

Dean Lockwood and Holly Warlick missed Wednesday's session. Lockwood was on the road to recruit, and Warlick, who broke her hand in a mishap getting off the university plane, had surgery Wednesday. Warlick broke the little finger of her left hand – and the associate head coach is left-handed – last week after she returned from SEC Media Day in Alabama when the strap of her bag got caught in the railing of the plane steps.

VIDEO COVERAGE

Wednesday practice clips


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