Candace Parker might practice this weekend

Candace Parker might make it back to practice this weekend, Dominique Redding won't travel with the team for two weeks, and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood is playing with a very heavy heart. <p> That's the news out of Knoxville as the Tennessee Lady Vols returned to the practice court Monday after a scintillating win Sunday over SEC rival Vanderbilt to go 12-3 on the season and 2-0 in the conference.

Coach Pat Summitt has had to patch together her team on more than one occasion this season due to injury or disciplinary action. Add academic priorities to her list of player absences.

Dominique Redding didn't participate in the parts of practice Monday in which Tennessee was specifically working on game preparation for Auburn, where the Lady Vols will play Thursday (9 p.m. EST, CSS, Lady Vol Radio Network).

Redding won't travel on weekdays for two weeks so that she won't miss class, Summitt said Monday. That means she also will miss the Jan. 27 game at South Carolina. The team usually leaves on Wednesday afternoons for a Thursday evening road game and returns in the wee hours on Friday. That means they miss Thursday classes.

"She's going to class," said Summitt, who added that Redding needs to extend more effort to the classroom. "I told her I was not pleased with Dom's academic performance last semester. Dom wasn't pleased (with her performance). She can't miss class right now. I'm sending her a message. Get your grades up. Get serious about your academics. She's a better student. Dom is a solid student."

Summitt will evaluate Redding's academic commitment in two weeks – she probably will be allowed to travel to Florida for the Feb. 3 game since that's her home state, and her family will be there from Clearwater – and decide on the next course of action. But Summitt said she had the full support of Redding's mother.

"Her mom is super," Summitt said. "I've not had in my coaching career a mother any more supportive than her mother – some as supportive but not any more. We were on the phone talking last week. She stays in touch with me. She says, ‘You take care of the basketball, but you inform me on the academics.' "

Redding is academically qualified and has not missed any class – except for excused absences when traveling with the team – but Summitt expects more when grades are issued. Redding has said Summitt and her mother are just alike – very demanding and very committed to academics.

Candace Parker, the highly touted freshman forward from Naperville, Ill., remains off the practice court while she tries to recover from knee surgery in September. Parker was cleared to practice Dec. 26 but experienced severe swelling after a lengthy practice Jan. 3, and hasn't been back on the court since.

"Probably not until the weekend," Summitt said when asked when Parker might give it a go again. "It just depends on the swelling. She actually had swelling this weekend just from the rehab stuff."

A date to shut down Parker for the season might be looming with only two weeks left in January.

"It has, but I don't have a fixed date," Summitt said when asked if a decision on Parker taking a redshirt year might be on her mind.

Jenny Moshak, associate athletics director for sports medicine, said Parker remains "day by day," and the swelling remains a concern.

If Parker is allowed to return, her practice sessions would be limited to 30 minutes "and build it up from there," and "that swelling has to be gone," Moshak said. "It's never really gone away."

The swelling – which must be nonexistent for several days – could push Parker's return to practice into next week.

"I'm really excited," Parker said about her possible return to practice. "I'm trying to do all I can to get it (the swelling) out. "It's one last shot at it. We'll know."

Parker has handled an emotional roller coaster of a season. The knee surgery was completly unexpected, but in December she thought she would be fine.

"It's better than it was," Parker said. "It was hard. It's a process. There's denial, then there's finally coping with it and then finally looking forward. Each day in rehab I look at it as a day. You can't cheat yourself."

Another freshman is playing but with her thoughts often at home in California. Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood battled through a severe case of tendonitis in her left knee and finally made it onto the court in mid-December. Before the season even started she learned that her mother, Denise Gatewood, might have breast cancer. The diagnosis was confirmed later in the fall, and her mother is undergoing surgery Tuesday in California.

Wiley-Gatewood, who hit a three point shot as time expired at halftime to tie Vanderbilt, 37-37 (en route to a 79-65 win), started off with three consecutive turnovers. She admitted to being a little nervous and then added "I had too much going through my mind."

Her mother has started chemotherapy, and Tuesday's surgery will determine how much the cancer has spread. Wiley-Gatewood said she wants to go home, but her mother told her to "stay here and take care of business," especially in the classroom since school has resumed.

"I'm just going to keep her in my prayers," Wiley-Gatewood said. "I'm just hoping everything goes well, hopefully they don't find anything else."


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