The Lady Vols will close the regular season Sunday against Georgia and say good bye to three seniors in Bashaara Graves, Jasmine Jones and Nia Moore. Go inside with InsideTennessee for the latest on the Lady Vols.
Tennessee (16-12, 7-8) will take on longtime rival Georgia (21-7, 9-6) at 1 p.m. Eastern (TV: ESPN2). The Lady Vols need a win to finish at .500 in the league and take some degree of momentum into the tournament next week in Jacksonville, Florida.
Bashaara Graves and fellow seniors, Jasmine Jones and Nia Moore, deserve a much better ending to their careers than what has unfolded so far this season. Graves has explained to her teammates that they need to play Sunday for the seniors.
“I already told them that!” Graves said with a laugh. “This is me, Nia and Jas’ day. You are not playing for anything else. You’ve got to at least play for us, especially on this day.”
Graves and Jones are the last class signed by Pat Summitt – along with redshirt junior Andraya Carter who will return for a fifth year. Jones’ career was truncated by concussions. Graves has been a workhorse for the Lady Vols and needs just 21 rebounds to reach 1,000 for her career.
“That’s part of being the legacy, signing under Pat and knowing that she wanted me to play here and be a part of this program,” Graves said.
Both Warlick and Graves met with the media Saturday after practice.
Warlick said that Graves exemplifies what the meaning of being a Lady Vol. She noted the steadiness of Moore and the toughness of Jones.
“They came in as young kids, and they leave as mature women,” said Warlick, who added all three will depart with a college degree. “They’ve got big ambitions and hopefully they’ll get out there and make a great name for themselves.”
Georgia presents a challenge because the Lady Bulldogs are solid defensively, athletic, score in transition and get on the glass.
“They go to their strengths,” Warlick said. “They will come in and play hard.”
The staff is trying to get the players to “stay in the moment,” because one mistake seems to snowball into multiple ones and then the team unravels. Senior Day on Sunday should get the team focused on the trio, which might take off some of the pressure that individuals place on themselves.
Jones would give anything to be able to put on a uniform and play Sunday. The messages that the game can be taken away at any moment has been delivered.
“We do it on a continuous basis,” Warlick said. “We’ve got great kids. They work hard. We’ve got to stay in the moment.”