LADY VOLS MONDAY PRACTICE REPORT

Before the Lady Vols took the practice court Monday, they watched their defensive possessions against Connecticut. <p> The 68-67 victory Saturday in Hartford put a bounce in their step during practice, but the film session reminded them there's a lot of work to do.

"They felt good about winning on the road and winning in that environment," coach Pat Summitt said Monday after practice. "But we watched our defensive possessions, and it wasn't a lot to celebrate. We had a lot of breakdowns. But I thought when we got on the floor we did a better job."

Summitt said the players didn't follow the scouting report on UConn.

"When you let Ann Strother shoot as many threes as she did (3-8), you're not committed to where she is and being aware," Summitt said. "We just didn't do a good job. I told them there was defensive confusion. And sometimes our defense, while we were confused, it was probably confusing for them."

Summitt told the team they were "fortunate" to win after disregarding the scouting report, and "your full-court defense bailed you out. But you cannot continue to go on the road or to expect to win at home against an opponent of our caliber if you don't use your scouting report. That's our focus right now."

Monday's practice covered a little bit of everything – full-court defense, half-court defense, transition offense and half-court offense

No.8-ranked Tennessee, 10-3, will open SEC play at home Thursday when Arkansas, 10-4, comes to Knoxville. The Lady Razorbacks have already played three conference games and lost to Georgia, Florida and Ole Miss.

One of their starting post players, Kristin Moore, a 6'1 junior forward from Chicago, tore a knee ligament in the Jan. 2 game against Cincinnati, and is out for the year. She was replaced in the lineup by Ruby Vaden, a 6'3 junior from Osceola, Ark. She played only four minutes against Ole Miss because of foul trouble. Forward Danielle Allen, a 6-foot sophomore from Harrison, Ark., had 22 points and 10 rebounds against Ole Miss.

"I don't know what to expect from Arkansas," Summitt said Monday. "Obviously the record is good. I'll watch them tonight."

Summitt will start the same five that opened up at UConn – Loree Moore at the point, Brittany Jackson on the wing, Shyra Ely at small forward, Nicky Anosike in the high post and Tye'sha Fluker at center.

One of the most-effective lineups at UConn was the three-guard one of Moore, Alexis Hornbuckle and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, because of their ability to pick up in a full-court defense.

"I think it's one of our better pressing lineups," Summitt said. "And I think when we're in our full-court pressure, those guards can really bring the heat. I like how they managed the offense. All three of them ran the point. They had a better rhythm. They flowed well."

Summitt obviously liked that lineup, but she wants an effective half-court defense, too.

"Our (half-court) defense has to get better," Summitt said. "And while our defense was key in winning that game (against UConn), just the number of poor possessions defensively concerns me."

On Sunday, the Lady Vols travel to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt.

"Sometimes you can get away with it at home; sometimes you can't," Summitt said. "But then when you go on the road more times than not that will cost you."

Offensively, Tennessee is waiting for junior Shanna Zolman to rediscover her shooting stroke. She has been replaced in the starting lineup by Jackson, but both players struggled against UConn and combined for an 0-7 box score.

"If you had asked me if those two don't score, do you still think you have a chance, I'd have probably said doubtful," Summitt said. "Obviously it went to the wire. I expect more from both them, a lot more.

"As disappointed as I might have been I'm sure they were probably more disappointed because they want to help this team, and they're very committed to this team. Brittany was obviously just not really in a rhythm at all. It was forced and uncharacteristic because she's played well for us."

Zolman performed well in shooting drills during Monday's practice and looked to be in a much-better shooting rhythm than in previous sessions.

"She shot the ball well today," Summitt said.

The storyline out of Connecticut, of course, was the play of the freshmen, including Hornbuckle, Wiley-Gatewood and Anosike.

"The thing that Nicky does she makes us immediately better because of her energy and intensity on the defensive end and her rebounding," Summitt said. "Look at her transition defense. She ran the length of the floor and took a charge. She runs like a guard. She's got the quickness and mobility of a guard in a 6'4 body."

Summitt said it's too soon to call the game a turning point for Tennessee's season – those matters are best determined in retrospect – but it was clearly a moment of truth for the freshmen.

"A lot of people grew up in that game – Anosike, Alexis, Sa'de," Summitt said. "I think that they grew up a lot. And if we had not been at Texas and at Rutgers I'm not sure we would have been ready for that environment. That was pretty loud."

Fellow freshman post player Sybil Dosty saw little action against UConn – two minutes – but still managed to tally an offensive rebound and a steal. She has been limited by a sore foot, but Summitt said it's time to get her more minutes.

"That was a game in which we wanted to push tempo and press, and I think with Sybil what's important for her is to get her tempo up, and hopefully the foot will allow her to do it," Summitt said. "I wanted to get Sybil more minutes, but the game just didn't allow it for what we wanted to do inside and the pressing."

Another key player for Tennessee's continued post development is Fluker, who Summitt told during the UConn game to find some attitude. The speech worked, and Fluker responded in the second half with some of her most-inspired play of the season. She finished with six rebounds, and none more important than the last one when she grabbed Strother's miss of a free throw with 3.9 seconds left and Tennessee up by one.

"I think with Tye, you look at how she played, for example, in the Stanford game," Summitt said. "That was a different mindset. I told her they were picking on her defensively. I had flashbacks of the national championship game. I couldn't get her out of the game fast enough. I said you've got to compete. But I told her going into that game that they were going to pick on her.

"My biggest concern going into that game was whether or not we could compete with their frontline. Coming away from it I was very encouraged. You look at the stats, and I was really pleased."

When Summitt was asked if this was the first time in which she felt good about UT's frontline play after the game she said, "Absolutely. It's the only. There's not even a contest out there. I just kept watching tape (before the game) and saying I just don't know if we can match their intensity, their aggressiveness and the board play and defense and score on them. I'll say this. I'm really pleased about the progress we've made inside, and I think we stand to get better. I have to believe we can get better there."

Going into the game, Summitt said she thought, "It's a must-win for both teams."

UConn coach Geno Auriemma told Summitt it was the best 30 minutes of basketball that he had seen his team play this season, and "he's handling this (like) a win game."

Summitt said she wasn't at all surprised by the play of Husky freshman Charde Houston (19 points, six rebounds), and figured all she needed to do was get in shape to handle the collegiate pace.

Summitt said before the game that she expected both teams to work out their lineup issues, find an offensive groove and be ready to roar into March.

Nothing that happened Saturday should change her mind.

INJURY UPDATE: Freshman forward Candace Parker remains unable to practice because of swelling in her left knee and is continuing to rehab on the sideline. She had surgery in September and was finally able to practice in late December, but she has had problems with swelling. She hasn't practiced since Jan. 3. Her rehab also is limited because the knee remains swollen.

"There's no clock on this," said Jenny Moshak, associate athletics director for sports medicine. "She has to have no swelling, and she's got to rehab for awhile without swelling. Then we can look at slowly progressing her back in."

At this point it's premature to rule out Parker for the season, and it premature to say she would play.

"Absolutely correct," Moshak said.

Junior center Tye'sha Fluker had her left wrist wrapped Monday, but it's only sore, and she's OK. Two players and one assistant coach are ill. Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood was held out of practice with an infected throat, and Shyra Ely had to leave practice early because of a sinus infection. Ely was to see the team doctor Tuesday to determine if she could practice.

Assistant coach Holly Warlick also was fighting a cold and sinus problems but made it through practice.

"She's goes sick; they don't," coach Pat Summitt said of Warlick and the players. "As long as she doesn't give it to the rest of us."

PRACTICE JERSEYS: After what Summitt saw as uninspired defensive play against Rutgers (a loss) and Old Dominion (a win), she ordered the players to turn around their practice shirts until they earned the right to wear Tennessee on their chests. They wore the shirts inside out all last week at practice.

After the win over UConn the shirts were right-side out on Monday at practice. The players had asked Summitt for permission to turn them around.

"I told them they could," Summitt said.


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