"We've gone five days in a row, and we're a little tired right now, but we've got to get better," Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick said after a practice that was flat at times as the players battled some leg fatigue. "A sign of a great team is working through being tired. You've got to push through that."
At the same time, practice this week tilted heavily to the defensive side of the ball in some demanding sessions. The Lady Vols worked quite a bit on their full court pressure schemes against the male practice team in game speed drills.
"We needed to," Warlick said.
The practice team included former Lady Vol Angie Bjorklund, who has worked out with the team periodically while coming back from a foot injury. Former Lady Vol Kelley Cain also is in town and stopped by practice to say hello to the team and watch the session.
Saturday's session is likely to focus more on the offensive side of the ball with a lot of shots being lofted.
"We need to get more shooting in," Warlick said.
Warlick missed the last two practice sessions after having surgery on her left hand this week. She broke her little finger and damaged her hand after the strap of her bag caught on a rail while disembarking from the plane after SEC Media Day in Alabama on Oct. 27. She had five screws put in her hand and will remain in a two-sided cast – part soft, part hard – for a few weeks while the bones heal.
Senior guard Briana Bass has been diagnosed with a wrist capsular sprain on the thumb side of her right hand. She sustained the injury at some point during this week's exhibition game against Carson-Newman. Bass has her lower arm and hand heavily wrapped and has not missed practice.
Fifth-year senior forward Vicki Baugh missed practice Thursday as a maintenance day for her left knee. Baugh was back on the court Friday and participated in all drills.
Freshman guard Ariel Massengale is making up for lost time after missing most of October to recover from a concussion.
"It made a huge difference," Warlick said of Massengale being on the court Friday. "We were limited at the point guard position. Bree has done a great job. I think having (Massengale) back and getting back in the flow will be good.
"She's been off awhile, but the sign of a great player is to pick right up where she left off, and I think she's done that."
The coaches have given the players several off days on the weekends for the past five weeks because once the regular season starts, off days usually fall during the week when they still have class. Weekend off days are coveted for the chance to get some extra sleep.
"After Union, our season basically starts," Warlick said.
The final exhibition game is this coming Tuesday against Union University at 7 p.m. Eastern at Thompson-Boling Arena. Union, which is located in Jackson, Tenn., is a powerhouse in the NAIA with five national titles and went 35-2 last season with a runner-up finish nationally.
Friday practice clips