Lady Vols rest, prepare to depart

Tennessee returned to Knoxville for one day after a successful East Coast road trip before embarking for the West Coast. Go inside with Inside Tennessee for the latest on the Lady Vols.

The Lady Vols landed in Knoxville in the wee hours, but the entire team reported to the training room later Wednesday morning to get treatment before heading west.

Tennessee (6-2) had a successful road swing across New York and New Jersey with wins over DePaul and Rutgers, both ranked teams, and arrived back home early Wednesday morning.

The win over Rutgers, a rugged team, was physical and two players went the distance in Shekinna Stricklen and Meighan Simmons. Stricklen, who led Tennessee with 22 points and drew the assignment later in the game on Rutgers' April Sykes, who had been torching everyone, was fine Wednesday after suffering leg cramps late in Tuesday's game.

In addition, Glory Johnson seemingly spent as much time picking herself up off the court as running down it – bodies on both teams had their share of floor burns – and Coach Pat Summitt canceled practice and instead told the team to rest.

The Lady Vols will depart Thursday morning for Los Angeles with the UCLA game scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. Eastern (UCLA website webcast) and then head to Northern California on Sunday for a Dec. 20 matchup with Stanford (10 p.m. Eastern, Comcast Sports Net).

"They've had two hard games, and they were physically and mentally tired, so we thought it would be best if we took off," Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick said Wednesday during an interview with local media in the Lady Vols basketball offices.

The coaching staff was thrilled to be departing Knoxville with a 2-0 record in the past two games.

"It's fantastic," Warlick said. "It makes you be able to get up a little bit easier (Thursday) morning. We are in a great place, proud of our effort, and we've got two big games ahead of us, and our last game is probably the hardest of all four games.

"So just continue to take one game at a time and just play to our ability and play hard. Great things happen to this team when we play hard. We are a little bit more consistent."

Stricklen and Simmons, with a little help from Taber Spani, tag-teamed the point guard duties against Rutgers and will do so for the next two games while Ariel Massengale recovers from a dislocated finger.

Stricklen smiled when asked about the relief of departing for the Golden State with a 2-0 record in the Big Apple and Garden State.

"That really helps out a lot," Stricklen said.

Even better Wednesday was the day off the court. Summitt often implores her players to get extra shots in the gym, but she encouraged rest in this case.

"We are able to get our legs back," Stricklen said. "We really needed this day, and I think everybody has been taking this day off.

"We were all in treatment this morning. It was great to see the whole team there. We know we need to get our bodies back. Everyone is committed and knows that we've got two more hard games on the road."

Stricklen was looking forward to landing in Los Angeles.

"We are ready to go to Cali for the weather, totally different than New York," Stricklen said.


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