Senior lineup to start against LSU for Lady Vols

Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt plans to use a senior-laden starting lineup against LSU and continued Monday to prepare for the game in anticipation of junior center Tye'sha Fluker not being available. <p> Seniors Loree Moore, Brittany Jackson and Shyra Ely are expected to open Thursday's game against No. 1-ranked LSU. Two youngsters will be inside in freshman Nicky Anosike and sophomore Sidney Spencer.

Waiting on the bench are freshman Alexis Hornbuckle and junior Shanna Zolman, both of who have started games this season and to whom Summitt wouldn't hesitate to call on.

Zolman has scored 49 points in her past two games, and Spencer and fellow sophomore Dominique Redding have put together back-to-back games that have pleased their coach.

Tye'sha Fluker has missed the past two games because of a death in her family. She left Knoxville last week to see her maternal grandmother Charlotte Creamer, who was gravely ill. Creamer died Feb. 2 in Pasadena, Calif., and will be buried Feb. 9. Fluker could fly to Baton Rouge on Thursday for that night's game, but Summitt is more concerned about her player's psychological condition.

"I told her not to feel any pressure whatsoever to play a basketball game right now," Pat Summitt said.

Shyra Ely said the team looked forward to seeing Fluker again, especially after her emotional ordeal. The team also would welcome her presence on the court Thursday against the Lady Tigers.

"We need her, but you have to put things in perspective," Ely said. "You've got to go with family and what they're going through right now. If she doesn't make it I totally understand."

"I talked to her this morning, and they haven't finalized everything," Summitt said after practice Monday, referring to the funeral plans. "We're going to talk tomorrow morning. I think she's just really very emotional right now. She's worried about her mom, as you would expect. We didn't even talk about her travel plans. We just discussed the specifics of what was going on there. She's been through so much emotion. We just have to wait and see – see if she feels like coming, see if she's up for playing."

For now Summitt is anticipating playing the LSU game without Fluker.

"We're preparing as if to play without her," Summitt said. "But if she wants to come back and play we would welcome her. She's never been through anything like this in her life. You don't know how she's going to be feeling."

Another player has missed practice time, but that is due to a physical problem with her knees. Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood was given another day of rest Monday because of patella tendonitis. She didn't practice Saturday and was held out of Sunday's game. The team is off Tuesday so that allows another day of rest. Summitt is confident that Wiley-Gatewood will be OK for Thursday's game and should be able to practice Wednesday before the team leaves for Louisiana.

"She has responded well (to rest)," Summitt said. "She watches things in practice. I told her to be sure and get a tape to watch. But I think – hers in a physical condition – but at least she's been in to watch practice and see the preparation. She has tomorrow off so that'll give her a good rest. She should be good to go."

Freshman forward Candace Parker participated in practice for about an hour Monday during half-court drills. She left the court when Tennessee practiced specifically for its game plan against LSU. Parker moved well in practice – both leaving her feet and making lateral moves – and didn't have any swelling issues.

"That's the plan. Let her do a little bit at a time," Summitt said. "She seems to be doing fine."

Parker needs to complete two weeks of practice without having recurrent swelling in her knee – Monday was her second session – before Summitt will play her this season.

Monday's practice was devoted to preparation for the game against LSU (7 p.m., ESPN2, Lady Vols Radio Network).

No. 5-ranked Tennessee hopes to use its depth to hold off the Lady Tigers on their home court. A key to that strategy is Zolman, who will continue to come off the bench.

"Well she's playing well so I don't want to change it," Summitt said. "She could easily be starting for us. I like what she brings to us off the bench. But when Brittany was coming off the bench I liked what she was bringing to us. The fact you have players that can shoot the basketball as well as they can, handling whatever role they're in, to me is a real plus. And that's something about this team. The chemistry has been really good. There doesn't appear to be any selfishness on our team. And I couldn't say that last year. But I can say it and feel good about it this year."

Another key reserve is Dominique Redding, who put together one of her best games against Ole Miss with 11 points and eight rebounds, both career highs. She also drew two charges and might have had a third, but the Ole Miss player traveled before impact. Redding was known as a scorer at Clearwater High School in Florida, but has begun to relish Summitt's concepts of defense and rebounding.

"I think I'm starting to enjoy taking charges and diving on the floor for balls," Redding said. "It's just totally changing, my whole game and what used to get me so excited. What used to get me excited in high school was going out there and score a bunch of points, but now here in college if I dive on the floor for a loose ball or get a charge I just light up. You have to buy into it. The lady is right. It's so much fun."

OOPS THERE IT IS: Tennessee had 24 assists in its 99-67 win over Ole Miss on Sunday, and none was prettier than Shyra Ely's 23-foot pass from the top of the key to a cutting Alexis Hornbuckle, who had slipped in behind the zone. Hornbuckle, a freshman from Dunbar, W.Va., said the play reminded her of high school days with point guard Renee Montgomery, who is bound for UConn next season.

Ely hesitated at first, and it threw off Hornbuckle's timing, but she still converted in one catch-and-shoot move before falling to the floor. The play was applauded by assistant coach Dean Lockwood and Summitt, who initially was peeved that Ely stopped dribbling.

"I was mad at her because she picked up her dribble," Summitt said. "Then I saw what she was getting ready to do. She took something bad and turned it into something good. That happens occasionally."

"It's easier to get alley-oops in zones and in high school that was my thing with Renee being the point guard," Hornbuckle said. "The back of the zone, if you send a cutter through, nine times out of 10, they pay attention to the post. The top of the zone is more concerned with the guard play. Shyra, she stops. So I stop. And then she threw it. It was just a matter of seeing a zone. Dean was like, ‘All day, all day.' "

Hornbuckle dunked as a 15-year-old in AAU ball and said the thought crossed her mind Sunday, especially with the Lady Vols so far ahead.

"If I had a few steps in a game like that I probably would have tried it," Hornbuckle said. "My vertical is horrible. I need two steps at least. They call me grandma because I need momentum."


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