Despite the grueling practice - with 10 days between games the break in action is often called "Camp Summitt" - several players stayed after to work on their shooting, including Loree Moore, Alexis Hornbuckle, Sidney Spencer and Shanna Zolman. Sybil Dosty also remained to work on post drills with assistant coach Dean Lockwood.
Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood returned to the practice court Saturday a few days ahead of schedule, but she participated only in the half-court offensive drills. Wiley-Gatewood, a freshman guard who has been out since mid-October with patellar tendonitis, will participate in a full practice Thursday, Dec. 9.
"I'm going to get her out there every day" before Thursday, Summitt said of Wiley-Gatewood's limited work. "We could use some help at the point right now."
If Wiley-Gatewood can back up Moore at the point, that would free Hornbuckle to play and practice more at the wing. However, Hornbuckle also wants to learn the point, an attitude that has earned her points with her coach.
"She likes the responsibility," Summitt said. "I like that about her."
Putting Hornbuckle at the wing spot and letting Wiley-Gatewood learn the point behind Moore "would open up the running game," Summitt said, as both Moore and Hornbuckle are standouts in the open court.
During Saturday's practice, Moore and Hornbuckle created shots for themselves and their teammates in the transition offense by penetrating past the key or into the paint.
Another bright spot for Summitt was the attitude of Shyra Ely, who was very vocal at practice, called the players together for a pep talk after a lag in performance and reminded them that they are a team and will run as a team during sprints.
"I thought Shyra had a great practice," Summitt said. "She's a leader, and that's what I expect from a senior."
Saturday's practice was preceded Friday by a two-hour film session during which the team never picked up a basketball. Summitt saved that for Saturday.
"I wanted to watch film," Summitt said Friday. "We've got a long break so I just wanted them to watch tape and get some feedback."
Tennessee doesn't play again until Sunday, Dec. 12, when No. 17-ranked DePaul comes to Knoxville.
The tape showed Duke, which beat Tennessee, 59-57, last Thursday, to be "the most-competitive team possession for possession for 40 minutes," Summitt said. "We had some really good possessions and then we had some really bad possessions. We had a lot of good looks. We just didn't shoot the basketball to score, didn't shoot the ball with confidence."
The final seven seconds of the game illustrated that point when Spencer passed on an open shot. Zolman, who was draped by two defenders, missed a shot as time expired.
"She said she should have," Summitt said of Spencer. "Just not being aggressive, and she has to be more aggressive offensively."
Being aggressive was a focal point of Saturday's practice. The players divided into teams of five and took it at each other. Failure to be aggressive resulted in a "turnover" with the ball given to the other team. Moore stood out offensively in this drill.
Lockwood likened the team's drop in competitiveness to a theater show in which the accoutrements look awesome, but the cast of characters is lacking in attitude.
"We need to compete harder than what we're doing right now," Lockwood said. "It's kind of like a play or theater production. You can have the best carpenters in the union build a wonderful set for you. You can have the best playwright and screenwriters put together this wonderful script. But if you have actors that are not out there and just giving it passion and bringing light to that set, to the script, then it's just not the same thing.
"I love our competitiveness on some of the little things, but transition, the way Duke beat us in transition, we have to play with more passion in that area. Blocking out, the second shots, we have to do a better job there. Today that was a real focal point."
In one drill, the ball was placed on the floor. Players paired off with one goal: block out your player and don't allow her to even touch the ball for nine seconds. After several rounds of block-out wrestling, the players applied the lesson in a live scrimmage.
Another area of emphasis Saturday was post performance on defense and offense.
"We're extremely unproductive with our inside play," Lockwood said. "If we're going to be a team that is going to compete ultimately for a conference championship and then go on to a national tournament and go deep in that, we have to get some type of production.
"Are we going to have a 20-point scorer in there this year out of one person? Probably not. You know what we need? Productivity. We need points, fouls and rebounds. And we also need on the other end interior defense."
Lockwood drills the centers – Tye'sha Fluker, Nicky Anosike and Sybil Dosty – during practice in positioning, both offensive and defensive. They shoot dozens of lay-ups and jumpers. Lately, they perform fairly well in practice and then come up well short in games.
"I wish I had a good answer for you," Lockwood said. "That is one of the most frustrating things about coaching, this thing of carryover. Seeing what you drill and what we work on and spend so much time on" not come together in a game.
Lockwood said that indicates he has to keep drilling the fundamentals "until we see it in a game."
"I think that's the only answer," he said.
REHAB ROW: Freshman forward Candace Parker saw the team orthopedic doctor, Dr. William Youmans, this week. "I think he was very encouraged by what he's seeing," Summitt said. "We've got to get the swelling out before she can get back on the practice floor." Parker, who had knee surgery in September, still has mild swelling and continues to work on strengthening her left quadriceps muscle. Parker attends all practices and shoots on a side court, in addition to doing rehab exercises. She is rarely without a basketball in hand. ... Freshman forward Alex Fuller, who is out for the season after having reconstructive knee surgery, was off of her crutches Saturday and shot free throws on a side basket.