Lady Vol Media Day signals season's start

The Lady Vols held their Media Day to answer questions about practice, leadership, opening the season and entering Holly Warlick's second year as head coach. InsideTennessee took the players and coaches a few bounces off the court to find out their must-have phone app, a class they could teach and a dreaded chore. Go inside for full coverage.

Tennessee opened its media day at Thompson-Boling Arena with second-year head coach Holly Warlick making opening remarks and then taking questions from the press. The event was live-streamed on the Internet and can be watched by clicking on Tennessee's website.

The transcript of Warlick's remarks can be read by CLICKING HERE.

Some of the Media Day highlights:

Holly Warlick said the starting lineup isn't set and the staff has been willing to experiment in practice with three posts on the floor with two guards and also five perimeter players.

Junior point guard Ariel Massengale has grown into the leader she was expected to be when Pat Summitt declared her the starter while Massengale was still in high school.

Warlick talked about all 10 players on the roster – reiterated that she needed each one with "everybody getting the opportunity to play" – and also discussed Jannah Tucker's arrival in January. Warlick emphasized that Tucker will be able to practice next semester without any pressure to return to basketball. A determination about playing again will come later. Tucker was an original member of the signing class of 2013 but didn't join Mercedes Russell and Jordan Reynolds, citing unspecified personal reasons.

It was later revealed to the coaches that Tucker was the alleged victim of domestic assault by a former boyfriend, who has been charged. Tucker and her family visited Tennessee earlier this month, and, after meeting with the staff and team, Tucker decided to enroll for the spring semester.

The players are wearing an MO patch on their jerseys. It honors former Lady Vol Mary Ostrowski, who died July 19 at the age of 51. Ostrowski, who was from West Virginia and played from 1980-84, was the first No. 1 recruit signed by Summitt. She had an All-American career at Tennessee and is recognized as one of the all-time greats in Lady Vol history. Ostrowski died of multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, that was diagnosed in 2007.

Nia Moore now wears No. 1 after letting Mercedes Russell take No. 21. The number is special to Russell because she has worn it since middle school. It became even more special when her grandfather, Roy Hill, died Dec. 21, 2008. The two were very close and wearing it makes Russell feel connected to Hill. Moore didn't even need to know that – she willingly let Russell have it. "I just asked if I could have it, and she was nice and she gave me her number," Russell said. Russell will be in uniform for the Lady Vols when No. 3 is raised to the rafters later this season (Jan. 2 home game vs. LSU) in honor of Candace Parker, who will be present for the ceremony. Parker is Russell's role model, and she let loose a huge smile when asked about that upcoming game. It could be a distraction for Russell – she likes Parker's game because "she can play basically any position" – but "I'll make sure I am focused," Russell added.

Warlick applauded the women's game adding the 10-second rule in the backcourt but wondered if its effect might be nullified by the tighter officiating applied to perimeter players, especially hand-checking. "To us as coaches, we have to adjust to how the officials are going to call the game," she said. "A lot of hand-checking calls and as coaches think, picky calls, but the officials are doing what they're told to do, which is to clean up the game … I am trying to get us more aggressive and play defense within the rules."

Look for Jasmine Jones' role to increase this season. Warlick cited her athleticism, improved offense and ability to be a defensive stopper. "We are going to have to have her on the floor with her defensive presence and how hard she plays. She goes one speed and that is fast and hard," the head coach said.

Warlick is aware that Tennessee is expected to be in Nashville for the Final Four. Warlick also is ready to end those three consecutive postseason exits in the Elite Eight. "If it doesn't bother any player on this team, then they don't need to have a Tennessee uniform on because we have gotten to the finals of the Elite Eight, and our standards are more than that."

INSIDE TENNESSEE VIDEO COVERAGE

InsideTennessee quizzed the players and coaches with random questions – something the returning players are used to by now – with questions ranging from what costume Holly Warlick should wear for Halloween to who is the toughest teammate and coach to score on.

We learned that Jordan Reynolds has a wonderful sense of humor, it is possible to stump Dean Lockwood, it's a wonder any dishes ever get washed, and Kyra Elzy fouls a lot.

Click on the videos to hear from each player and coach.

Ariel Massengale

Mercedes Russell

Bashaara Graves

Jasmine Jones

Isabelle Harrison

Jordan Reynolds

Cierra Burdick

Nia Moore

Andraya Carter

Meighan Simmons

Dean Lockwood, Jolette Law

Kyra Elzy

Holly Warlick


Inside Tennessee Top Stories