The 6'1 forward's offense has never been in question. Dominique Redding can consistently hit from long and short range. In practice she is often the recipient of a pass under the basket where she has slipped in behind the defense. If she gets fouled, she more than likely will hit her free throws (9-11 for the season).
However, her defense has kept her from logging significant playing time in her Lady Vol career. But that seems to be changing. Redding is appearing sooner in games and staying longer on the court as the season progresses.
"I just worked so hard over the summer to get my body right, and last year I was miles and miles away, but now I'm only a couple of feet away," said Redding, a Clearwater Fla., native who stayed in Knoxville last summer to work out. "I just think I need to get basically an attitude. She (Summitt) tells me I'm too nice. I've just got to go out there and want to kick people's butt everyday, not let anyone get the boards."
Against Old Dominion on Sunday, Redding started the second half. She played 16 minutes for the game (she had been averaging 10.6) and scored seven points. At halftime against ODU, the post players – Tye'sha Fluker, Nicky Anosike and Sidney Spencer – were in foul trouble.
"We talked about it as a staff and looking at our foul situation and decided to go with her," Summitt said.
Also, Redding can create offense – something Tennessee needed in that game – and she is a solid perimeter player, thus allowing Shyra Ely to slip into the high post as she did against ODU when Redding was on the floor.
The other aspect of Redding's game that is not in question is her attitude. When she summons the wrath of Summitt for lapses on defense, Redding looks her coach in the eye, nods and promises to try harder. Redding can withstand even Summitt's most-wicked stare.
Redding said she got a lot of preparation for Summitt from her own mother, Mary Adams.
"I know she's on me because she sees something in me that she wants to bring out," Redding said of her head coach. "I'd rather her be on me than not say anything. It's just making me be stronger. Last year she used to get on me like this, and I'd get down a little bit. Now I just rebound and keep on going. I pray a lot and talk to my mom a lot. My mom's always on me, too, and they're good friends. She reminds me a lot of my mom because she's stern. I have a good background."
Redding is ready for any playing time that comes her way at Hartford and knows a raucous crowd awaits the Lady Vols.
"I'm going to be getting on the boards and doing all the little things," Redding said. "If I'm open I want to hit my open shots, give us a lift."
Redding will be playing for the first time at UConn, but she knows she will have other games against them in her career.
For Tennessee's seniors – unless UT and UConn meet again in the NCAA tournament, a likelihood in the opinion of senior Brittany Jackson – this game is the last one. And they've never beaten the Huskies.
Jackson, who started against ODU, isn't concerned about whether or not she starts Saturday.
"It's my last year. I'm just trying to help as much as I can whether it's coming off the bench or starting," Jackson said. "I definitely want to beat them, which I don't think is going to be the last chance. We've just got to go out there and play."
"It's definitely something that you want to do," senior Shyra Ely said of winning against UConn. "It's something that I do recognize."
"It really does eat at me," said senior Loree Moore, who just returned to practice this week after a tonsillectomy Dec. 10 but is expected to start Saturday. "I know we had plenty of opportunities where we could have beat them, but we just came up short.
"This time is really our best time and our best match-up with them because we have talent across the board. I see no reason why we shouldn't win, but we have to come in and follow the game plan and make sure we're focused. It's going to be a great environment, loud. We're not going to be able to hear anything. We'll have to be in tune with each other. We'll see."
INJURY UPDATE: Tye'sha Fluker, who suffered a scratched and bruised cornea after getting poked in the eye at practice Monday, was still wearing an eye patch Tuesday and was held out. The junior center will practice Wednesday, according to Jenny Moshak, associate athletics director for sports medicine. … Candace Parker was held out of Tuesday's morning and afternoon practice sessions because of swelling in her left knee. She remains day-to-day. She must have two consecutive practices without swelling issues before she will be cleared to play so that makes an appearance against UConn more unlikely. The original plan had Parker making her first game appearance Jan. 13 against Arkansas if all goes well. … Sybil Dosty, who missed the ODU game with a sore foot, has practiced this week and is expected to be fine. She has had two very good practices on both ends of the floor.
RECRUITING UPDATE: Jayne Appel is making an unofficial visit Wednesday and will be at Tennessee's practice session at Thompson-Boling Arena. The 6'4 junior center from Concord, Calif., is also being recruited by Stanford and UConn, among others. The standout for Carondelet High School has an 84-inch wingspan and is also a competitive swimmer and plays soccer and water polo. Last season she averaged 19 points and 15 rebounds. Summitt has been to California to watch her play. Appel's father, Joe Appel, is 6'8 and played basketball at St. Mary's College.