Lady Vols get back to practice

The Lady Vols practiced Wednesday at Pratt Pavilion to begin preparations for their Sweet 16 matchup with Kansas. Go inside with Inside Tennessee for the latest on the team.

The Lady Vols worked on their play Wednesday and also started getting ready for the Jayhawks after taking a day off Tuesday to recover from the sub-regional in Chicago.

Glory Johnson, who grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds in Monday's win over DePaul, was her usual energetic self on Wednesday, but she had visible scratches and bruises on her arms and shoulders after two physical showdowns in Rosemont, Ill at Allstate Arena.

The team's plane didn't arrive back in Knoxville until nearly 3 a.m. Tuesday, so the coaches gave the players a rest day and then got back in the gym Wednesday.

"Physical and late-night arrival, so both of those things," Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood said.

By waiting until Wednesday, the coaches also knew who the next opponent would be since Kansas didn't play until Tuesday evening.

"You can always work on yourself, but it does help when you can focus a little bit more, and you can tell them some specifics, especially this time of year," Lockwood said.

It is also the time of year when Lockwood loses his voice, which was raspy Wednesday and at considerably lower volume.

"After 30 years of coaching the vocal cords have gotten weak," Lockwood said. "It's like a bar of soap I think. This is all I've got."

Practice on Wednesday still focused on the Lady Vols with layup and shooting drills on the coaches' to-do list for the players, along with specific work on offenses and defenses.

"We did a lot of us," Lockwood said. "We slipped some Kansas in there, but it was still a lot of us defensively, transition stuff, breaking some things down, some components of breaking down our offense."

The Lady Vols will practice again Thursday and then depart for Iowa. The four teams in the regional have press conferences and practices scheduled for Friday at Wells Fargo Arena.

No. 2 seed Tennessee (26-8) will take on No. 11 seed Kansas (21-12) in Des Moines at Wells Fargo Arena. Tipoff is set for 12:04 p.m. Eastern (TV: ESPN).

Kansas earned the trip to Iowa by taking out No. 3 seed Delaware on Tuesday in Little Rock, Ark.

The other two teams to make it to Des Moines are overall No. 1 seed Baylor (36-0), which eliminated Florida, and No. 4 seed Georgia Tech (26-8), which took out Georgetown in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Tuesday. They will square off at approximately 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

The winners will meet Monday at 7 p.m. Eastern for the right to go to the Final Four in Denver.

There was some criticism in some quarters about whether or not Kansas deserved a bid to the Big Dance, but the Jayhawks answered it with wins over Nebraska and Delaware. A team that feels disrespected – and responds – can be a very dangerous one.

"Yes," Lockwood said. "Can anyone say VCU men's basketball? Same type of thing. Once you are in it, you are in it. It doesn't matter how you got there.

"We personally thought they were deserving. We knew they were on the bubble with 19 wins, like Florida was, but they play in a great conference. Florida plays in a great conference. Kansas plays in a great conference.

"I think they have more than proved that they belong in this tournament."

Lady Vol junior guard Taber Spani is from the Midwest – her hometown is Lee's Summit, Mo. – and it's a relatively short drive for family in the Kansas City area to head north for about 200 miles to get to Des Moines. She was beaming Wednesday when talking about Iowa.

"I can't wait to get on that plane and go," Spani said. "I am so excited."

PRACTICE PHOTOS: Inside Tennessee shot photos of Wednesday's session that can be viewed HERE on Facebook.

VIDEO COVERAGE

Lady Vols practice clips

Pat Summitt


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