The focus of the Lady Vols' basketball practice Thursday evening was defense. <p> Needless to say a certain coach had a lot to say to her team. It was a hands-on practice session as coach Pat Summitt demonstrated the proper defensive stance and assured her players that anyone not employing it would be sitting on the bench. <p> At the end of the three-hour session the players were soaked in sweat, and the coaches were pleased.

"Practice today was our best day since we started," assistant coach Holly Warlick said. "This is the first day we really got after it and worked on defense. They had a good day today. They played hard. They played through mistakes, and they played together, and we hadn't been doing that."

Summitt's voice boomed through Thompson-Boling Arena whenever there were any defensive lapses, either in stance or losing sight of the ball.

"You'd better be in a defensive stance, or you're coming out of the game," Summitt shouted. "Every time in practice (you) want to impress the coaches. Why? Because they determine who plays."

Warlick spoke specifically about Shyra Ely, Nicky Anosike and Alexis Hornbuckle, but added "we had good work out of everybody. Everybody played hard today."

Ely made some nifty passes and consistently hit her outside shot.

"When Shyra plays under control, and plays the way Shyra can play, she's awesome," Warlick said. "But when she gets out of control and plays one-on-one with herself, she doesn't play well. She's trying to be a leader as well as play her game, which has helped her."

Hornbuckle snared a lot of rebounds, and her long arms often got a piece of a ball that would have eluded most others.

"Alexis just has great athletic ability," Warlick said. "She just is a great rebounder."

It is easy to watch Anosike and forget she is a center.

"Anosike runs the floor so well. She runs like a guard," Warlick said. "Everywhere the ball is she seems to be around the ball, which is nice to see."

The players also looked more fluid on offense – thinking less and playing more.

"Our offense kind of came together," Warlick said. "We've struggled a little bit with it, but it came together. We've been trying to learn an offense and play within ourselves, but they got it together today."

ACHING KNEES: Freshman Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood was held out of practice Thursday and underwent rehab on the sidelines alongside fellow freshman Alex Fuller, who is out for the season after reconstructive knee surgery. Wiley-Gatewood has an injury to her patellar tendon and has battled through sore knees. "We've just got to take it easy with her," Warlick said. "I think she's going to be on a day-to-day basis."

WALKING FREE: Freshman Candace Parker is off her crutches. She rehabbed courtside – balance and stretching drills – and although walking stiffly, she was walking better. Her left knee also was noticeably less swollen than in days past.

VISIT FROM HOME: Shanna Zolman's parents were courtside Thursday after coming down from Syracuse, Indiana, for a visit. Lynette Zolman has made sure her daughter got some "home cooking" while they are in town. Shanna's father, Kem Zolman, is a high school coach so he was taking copious notes of the session. Shanna's superb off-season conditioning was the result of staying in Knoxville – she was in Indiana for only two weeks this past summer – and working out with Sidney Spencer and Loree Moore. Their focus was running, speed drills and agility work, Lynette Zolman said. "I think she's playing with more confidence than I've ever seen," Kem Zolman said. He gave a quick assessment of the team from a coach's perspective: "There's more talent out there than you can even imagine. (Tye'sha) Fluker looks really good. It's good to see Loree back. (Shanna) has really accepted the leadership role well."

FANS FROM SOUTH DAKOTA: The visitor who traveled the furthest distance to practice – at least so far this season – has to be Annette Moyer, 48, who lives in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Tennessee native was with her mother, Katie Bartholomew, 70, and stepfather Joe Bartholomew, 66, of Lexington, Tenn. Moyer's fiancé, Mark Aaron, 50, also was with the group. Moyer and her mother got Summitt's autograph. Moyer said she would give it to her daughter, Kate. Katie Bartholomew knows exactly where hers is going – the "Tennessee room." Moyer said her mother and stepfather have turned their bedroom into an orange shrine. "Everything is orange, even the walls. Even the bedspread is orange," Moyer said. Katie Bartholomew, who was visibly excited after meeting and chatting with Summitt and getting the autograph, said she will frame the signature and put it in her bedroom, which is filled with Vol and Lady Vol memorabilia. "It's my lucky day," she said. Summitt thanked the family for coming and wished them a safe trip home. Moyer said the next time she hopes to see the team is in Indianapolis for the Final Four. "I predict this team will win the Final Four," she said. "They have a lot of talent out there."

ODDS AND ENDS: The William Blount High School girl's basketball team was in attendance from Maryville, Tennessee. …. Senior walk-on Aubrey Guastalli missed practice because of a class conflict. …. Fluker soaked through one T-shirt and had to change before practice ended.


"THAT'S a seal!" -Always enthusiastic assistant coach Dean Lockwood during a transition game drill. The post player had to seal off her defender and receive an entry pass. Fluker and Nicky Anosike had some particularly nice seals. Ely got a shout-out for her entry pass.

"Get attitude. Let's go y'all." -Fluker imploring her teammates during a defensive drill that transitioned into an offensive fast break. Fluker, who is from Pasadena, Calif., has officially become an honorary Southerner with her use of ‘y'all.'

"C'mon Brit. Knock it down. That's your shot!" -Summitt to Brittany Jackson after she missed a jumper in a transition drill. She made the rest of them.

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