Jackson, when asked about both her and the team's performance, said: "As far as me, I'm trying to step up my leadership, and as a senior, work on my defense and taking care of the ball. I'm trying to stop somebody. … As a team, I think we're working hard. We've got the little things, like boxing out, rebounding, defense, we've really got to work on our defense."
Jackson, a forward from Cleveland, Tenn., in Bradley County, said she spent the summer working on ball handling, defense and her long-range shot, which has looked near perfect in the preseason.
Caldwell praised the team for its execution of the offense, defensive traps and ball screens. "We still need work on defending one-on-one, and also making sure we can trust our teammates," Caldwell said. " We want to be the best rebounding team in the country," she said. "We're focusing on our board play. It's getting better, but there's always room for improvement."
Caldwell noted two aspects of the program: conditioning, a credit to Heather Mason, and senior leadership. "They are in very, very good shape," Caldwell said.
She added, "We're seeing some players step up in the leadership category. Shyra is accepting that leadership role." Shyra Ely, a senior All-American from Indianapolis, has been noticeably vocal at practice and has implored her teammates to focus and to perform.
PARKERS' PARENTS: Sitting courtside Saturday were Candace Parker's parents, Larry and Sara Parker of Naperville, Ill. They drove to Knoxville late Friday night – and were delayed hours after a wreck on Interstate 75 – but were excited about seeing their freshman daughter, who has been out so far this year while rehabbing from surgery to repair cartilage in her left knee. After learning about the injury, Candace Parker "felt sorry for herself for about two hours," said her mother. Then she focused on getting healed. Both parents are optimistic that Parker could return this season, but both said they have "complete confidence" in Summitt and head athletic trainer Jenny Moshak about when a compete date would be cleared. "She works really hard," said Sara Parker of her daughter, who worked up a serious sweat Saturday while rehabbing her knee. "I think there's a chance." They were guardedly optimistic and noted that that Candace was "making a lot of progress," her father said.