Dean Lockwood handles practice

With Pat Summitt and two of her assistants on the road recruiting, Dean Lockwood ran practice Thursday on his own, and the veteran coach, who noted the "big cat" was away, has plenty of experience keeping the proverbial mice in line.

"It was good; it was fun," Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood said. "We went up and down a lot, a lot of shooting. We tried to stay sharp."

According to Twitter reports, Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick were in Georgia to see 2013 standout Diamond DeShields, who plays for Norcross High School. Mickie DeMoss also was on the road.

That left Lockwood, who was recently out of town himself, to run practice before the Tennessee players were given two days off this Friday and Saturday.

The Lady Vols won't know who their next opponent is until Monday evening, when Summitt hosts the team and local media at her house for the NCAA tourney bracket announcement. That means this week was used to work on Tennessee.

"Sharpness, our execution, conditioning, getting a lot of shots, not losing our competitive edge," Lockwood said.

Drills included rebounding and defense – "not going away from our core values," Lockwood said – along with shot repetition.

Lockwood said there was one brief point where he noticed "the big cat's away" mentality, so he reestablished control with a few sprints and there were no further issues.

"I've done this before," said Lockwood, who was a head coach at Northwood and Saginaw Valley State universities, both in Michigan. "We can play that game."

Lockwood did note it was "human nature" to want to ease up a tad when the head coach was away – and the team went three straight days this week after three consecutive days in Nashville – so he was aware that the players were fatigued.

"It was all right," Lockwood said. "They just needed a little friendly nudge."

The team will return to practice Sunday and continue to work without a known opponent. Lockwood, like the other coaches can't even wager a guess where the Lady Vols could get sent.

"I have no clue," Lockwood said.

He also looks forward to Monday evening when the staff will see the brackets and then gather game film for scouting purposes. He thinks the two days off will benefit the players to give them a brief basketball break.

"I think it will help mentally and physically," Lockwood said.

CIERRA COMMITMENT: Cierra Burdick is a true gym rat – even as a freshman when the physical demands of Division I basketball, extensive travel and academic workload can wear down first-year players – and was lofting shots after practice with Dean Lockwood.

Burdick has been in the gym all season to get up extra shots and it shows as she has become instant offense when she enters a game. Burdick's ability to hit shots is a direct result of her willingness to get in the gym.

"No question," Dean Lockwood said. "She is a great example of the fruits of her labors paying off in games. She had about five or six games where she was close to 70, 75 percent (from the field).

"There is no magic in this game. There's no big secret. You work, and I use the phrase basketball gods, but it's like the law of the farm. If you work your farm, you are probably going to have a good crop. But, if you half work and sleep on the front porch, you're probably not going to yield a good crop.

"She is a great example of the law of the farm. She is in here working. She is doing the extra stuff and taking care of the crop. She is confident. We love her confidence right now."

BASHAARA BREAKOUT: Lady Vols 2012 signee Bashaara Graves, the state's Gatorade Player of the Year, scored 28 points and pulled 22 rebounds – one shy of the state playoff record – in Clarksville's quarterfinal win Thursday over Memphis Central in the Tennessee girls' tournament.

"Holy cow," Dean Lockwood said when told of the stat line.

His thoughts went to next season and how much Graves will be needed in the paint and on the glass with Tennessee's frontline departing and likely headed to pro basketball.

"Think of what is walking out the door," Lockwood said. "We've repeatedly told her, ‘Hey, you need to come and get ready, kid.' She has really taken a step up. Her game has elevated."

The high school season of Jasmine Jones, a forward from Alabama, ended in the state title game. Andraya Carter, a guard from Georgia, remains in the state tournament.

Both players are expected to bring a defensive intensity that is uncommon in freshman.

"All three of them have got to come in ready to fire," Lockwood said. "They've got to have their weapons loaded because we need their production."

PHOTOS, PLEASE: Add Dean Lockwood to the list of people who want visual evidence of Glory Johnson baiting her own hook while on a fishing expedition this weekend with avid angler Shekinna Stricklen.

"I am going to ask them what they catch," said Lockwood, who also enjoys to fish but hasn't done so in ages. "I love bass fishing. If they catch some, I am going to ask for the fishing spot.

"(Stricklen) could probably give me a real education on fishing spots around here."

He was surprised that Johnson would agree to bait the hook and not surprised that Stricklen would handle removal of any caught fish.

"That's Strick's job," said Lockwood, trying to envision Johnson handling that task. "Here's the paradox. Such a rough-and-tumble player, probably as physical a player as there is in the country, and she won't get near a fish. She won't unhook that thing to save her life.

"I want to see that moment captured."

VIDEO COVERAGE

Practice clips from Wednesday

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