"I call her one of those X factors," Lockwood said. "A kid like Dominique Redding could take this basketball team and make it significantly better than what it might be."
It's a nickname that Redding could get used to.
"To be called the X factor, yeah, I come off the bench, I just want to give us a big burst and just give us some energy and whatever I do out there I hope it helps the team," Redding said.
Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt has moved Redding from the perimeter to the post to take advantage of her skills.
"She moved me last week to the 4 so I've been working with that, trying to get more physical and not trying to be finesse, getting more offensive rebounds and posting up real hard on the smaller guards," Redding said after practice Wednesday. "Anywhere she wants to put me I'll play. I just want to help this team so much."
So far both Summitt and Lockwood have liked what they've seen.
"Dom seems to be gaining more confidence in what we're doing offensively and how she fits into it," Lockwood said. "I think if that happens, oh my gosh, can she be a player that can help this team. Dom has some very good skills. She can shoot the ball. Her shooting stroke, she has a beautiful stroke. Offensively she has a game that she can shoot, she can drive and finish, she's able to post up little bit better now so she's multidimensional. She's not limited to just one thing."
Lockwood noted that the notoriously tough Summitt complimented Redding on Monday for her defensive intensity.
"I'm seeing a different player," Summitt said. "She's one of our most-improved. Granted she had the longest way to go of all of our returning players, but I think she had a good off-season. But now as she's gaining more confidence, getting more reps, she's starting to really make some good reads for us. And I'm not having to coach her effort. That's the one thing you just don't want to have to do."
The self-deprecating Redding appreciates the accolades, but she knows she's only as good as her last practice. It was that realization that pushed her last summer.
"I stayed here over the summer, to get quicker, slim down some, stay in shape," Redding said. "I worked on my offensive moves. Defensively, I played one-on-one with (guard) Loree (Moore). My defense is coming along. It's a big improvement from last year to this year, but you always can improve on things. Offensively, I've got to slow down and read the defense so I can make the correct option offensively – shoot it, pass it, cut."
On Wednesday, Summitt had Redding practice with the "bigs" – the centers at the 5 low-post position. Redding and Sidney Spencer rotate at the 4 and 5 positions in shooting drills.
"She's playing actually at the 4 but the shooting drills, I've put her with the posts," Summitt said. "She's done I think a good job of posting. She has the body to be more physical. I'm going to just flip-flop Sid and Dom when we go into those position shooting (drills)."
Said Redding, "She does that to make me bang. Because she knows I'd rather shoot a 3 pointer. But I'm starting to actually like banging."
THE BIGS: Lockwood spends a lot of time with the centers at practice and emphasizes sealing and "physicality." He was asked to assess the play of the centers after the exhibition game.
"I thought Tye really gave us initially – early a lot of our players we were just not in sync; we weren't clicking – as the game wore on I thought Tye did a much better job of keeping her game simple. Again for Tye she has to continue to increase her physicality and her post defense. But I like her attention to what was going on; her awareness level was good. She's aware of things. And now it's a matter of putting the knowledge with the carry over."
"Nicky came in and gave us some real energy. I thought, just in terms of the effort level and energy on the floor, we just lifted. She's active. You look at her numbers and say, ‘Well, she's one for three from the field and two of five from the free throw line.' Not spectacular but just (great) in terms of her energy and her defensive presence. She made two beautiful passes. Like any young player there're some areas she needs to clean up and shore up on. (Being physical) that is what has enabled Nicky to be where she is right now. Nicky is where she is – in the thick of the playing mix – because of her physicality. All we have to do is keep honing and smoothing those edges out so her total game has a polish and shine we envision. But certainly physicality is not an issue with her. And that's one of the things you love about her game."
"Sybil came in and early first half I think she was a little unsure of herself. In the second half – again I'll use this phrase a lot – she kept the game simple. She sealed, she tried to play in the paint, she offensive-rebounded. She did some things I think she can really do for this basketball team. And in our scheme post players don't have to do six or seven things. If they do two or three things very well they're going to be just fine. And what we've got to do is make those two or three things the bedrock of our post game. So I think all three of them, there are definitely some really bright spots and then there's some things we want to go back and clean up."
OVERALL: "I think it was a good first outing. As first outings go you're going to see things you're pleased with, and then you're going to see areas for improvement. I think we can be more physical from start to finish. I saw it in pockets, but we can certainly be more physical in our basic sealing and our screen setting and in our post defense. I think we can become much more physical than we are now. I think it was good for them to get some competition. They could kind of see that. That's something we're certainly going to work for, especially here in the next week. I like the way our kids worked. I think they had a consciousness about getting into the paint and sealing. Once again as we become more physical that's only going to help us with that. Those are the things that we're really looking at: being more physical and being more technically sound in some of the fundamental things that we do."
PRACTICE CYCLES: The Lady Vols are irking their coach with their practice routine so far this season. Good Monday, day off, bad Wednesday. Good Monday, day off, good Wednesday. And then the reverse.
"The first day off, they came back, and they did not bring the same intensity," Summitt said. "Next time we had a day off, they brought it. Now we had a day off, back to square one. It depends on if our leaders decide to step up and get the attention of everyone."
During practice Wednesday – a bad day in the cycle – a perturbed Summitt called the team together at center court and asked for some defensive intensity. Did she like the effort then?
"I did, but I don't want to be the leader," Summitt said. "Our veterans, they've got to take some ownership."
On Monday – a good day in the cycle – Lockwood was asked how the team did in its first practice post-game.
"Solid," he said. "Here's the thing I liked today. We concentrated on being more physical defensively, and I thought our kids responded. It'd be very easy to say, ‘Wow we put 105 points on the board, and we held them to 47.' What I liked about our team today? That game's over now. We watched some tape before practice. Coach Summitt addressed the need to become more physical and to become a little bit more defense-oriented, and this team responded. They didn't kind of mope through or walk through. They came out here and responded and worked at it. Now what we can't do is say, ‘OK, that was great for Monday and come in Wednesday. We've got to put four great practices together just like that."
That's still a work in progress. But it's early in the season cycle.
SENIOR PERFORMANCE: Brittany Jackson, a senior from a Cleveland, Tenn., had an outstanding game Sunday. She scored 14 points in 19 minutes, including a 3-4 performance from the 3-point line.
"We love to have her be that type of weapon," Lockwood said. "She's on the floor? You've got to be aware of where she is, because she can make shots. People sometimes don't fully understand how much that opens the middle. Our posts should be the first ones high-fivin' her when she makes a three, because it just opens the game up so much when you have a player like that on the floor. If she continues to shoot the way she did in the Carson-Newman game, that's another weapon. At any given point in time you put her on the floor she's a threat to not only make shots but to open up options for other people."
PARKER UPDATE: Freshman Candace Parker is now leaving her feet when she shoots jumpers on a side basket during practice. Add that to her lower-body weight lifting, and it's one more step to returning to the court. Parker, the all-everything player from Naperville, Ill., sees Tennessee's orthopedic doctor in a few days. Summitt has said she was "ahead of schedule." She further explained that Wednesday by saying Parker's progress was reflective of someone three months post-surgery, instead of the two months since her surgery to repair cartilage in her left knee. "I think where she is right now, hopefully she'll be allowed to do more drills," Summitt said. "That will be determined by Dr. (Bill) Youmans. Jenny (Moshak, the head trainer) feels confident that she is ready to progress." That could mean more activity in terms of rehab, drill work, shooting, running and lateral movement.
BACK HOME: Former Lady Vol Lisa Harrison was in Knoxville on Wednesday. Harrison is rehabbing in hopes of a comeback with the WNBA. "She says she wants to give it another shot," Summitt said. Harrison was a coach last season for the Phoenix Mercury and hopes to return as a player for the team next year. … Tasha Butts, a former Lady Vol now working as a graduate assistant for the Lady Vols, is back in Knoxville after a stint with EASports, a team of former collegians that plays exhibition games against college teams in the preseason. Butts, who plays for the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, played this fall with former Lady Vol Courtney McDaniel on the EASports team.
SEAT COUNT: The official turnstile attendance for Sunday's game was 7,637. Paid attendance was 10,643. According to the 2004-05 Lady Vols media guide, more than five million people have watched the team over the past 26 years: 2,917,717 at home and 2,564,432 on the road or at neutral sites.
"Amen to that – success, winning, making shots. … You've got a little bounce in your step." -Assistant coach Dean Lockwood on the attitude of Dominique Redding in practice Monday after a standout performance in Sunday's exhibition game.
"We need more time in the gym outside of practice. You look at a structured practice – we allot time for it – but you can only do so much simply because you have a limited timeframe in which you're allowed to practice, and you've got so much to cover. We need to find some time outside of that where we can come in. Even if it's 50 or 75 extra free throws, you can't believe how much that helps your muscle memory. So we're going to do that. We're going to find some time to get to the free throw line." -Lockwood, after Tennessee's abysmal performance at the free-throw line, 11-23, in the exhibition game last Sunday against Carson-Newman.
"This is the best shape I've ever been in. I can run and not get tired. I'm working on my mental game, slowing down, taking everything in." –Lady Vol sophomore forward Dominique Redding, who stayed in Knoxville this past summer and worked out with Sidney Spencer, Shanna Zolman and Loree Moore. She credited strength and conditioning coach Heather Mason with her physical condition and thus allowing her to focus on her mental approach to the game.
"I think he's great, so much energy, I love him to death. He's really hands-on. If he wants you to seal someone he'll actually show you first. He gets really low whenever he shows us anything so I just try to match that, and I try to take everything in." –Redding on Lockwood's coaching technique.