Next Up for the Lady Vols

Unlike ND teams prior to last year, this year's team has emphasized defense (before last year McGraw had a "we'll just outscore them" mentality). With a young team, this has resulted in a lot of low scoring games. The ND-UNM score didn't exactly come as a surprise to us.

Many teams have had to really work to get their shots to get open. ND tends to play a 2-3 zone (something McGraw and Foster have in common). ND has one of the best shot blockers in the country (Barksdale is 3rd in the country with 3.1 bpg). She might not be 6'5 (she's 6'3") but she has those long arms and knows when to jump and swat. I said earlier this year that Barksdale might be better on defense than Riley, but she doesn't have Riley's offense (she averages just 3.8 ppg, but she has been having some nice baskets later in the season).

Unlike previous seasons when ND would scrape just to get an 8-player rotation, they have a genuine 10-player rotation now (5 of them are freshmen and 2 are sophomores, so you can understand why I am optimistic about the future).

In the post-junior Amanda Barksdale starts at Center with freshmen Teresa Borton (6'3") coming in off the bench. Borton originally started at the beginning of the season because Barksdale had a "stress reaction" and didn't play for 6 games (she wasn't at full strength for Purdue, either, so she didn't really play for ND's first 3 losses). Freshman Katy Flecky (6'2"), from the same HS as Ann Strother, sometimes plays center in a "small lineup" situation but I don't expect that against UT. She usually plays PF, though.

At PF, there is Flecky, who has been playing well in Batteast's absence, and Jackie Batteast (6'1"). Darien here commented, after seeing her in person, that she reminds him of Tamika Catchings. She does amazing moves and makes shots that make you say, "How did she do that?" Hopefully she is now used to her injury and close to her old style of play.

At the SF spot, you sometimes have Ratay (she's a standard McGraw "SF" since McGraw likes 3 guard lineups with a SF shooting 3s (See Morgan and McMillen in the past), although she has been a SG most of this season). The likely starting SF is Senior Ericka Haney (6'0"). She's the lone captain and is ND's best defensive player. She has been coming on lately on offense, but has tended to come and go in games as far as scoring. Her strength is driving inside for the basket. Freshman Kelsey Wicks (6'2") fills in here a lot. She is rather athletic (Wyoming State Champion high jumper) and VERY scrappy (think WNBA's Debbie Black) in going after balls. She can hit the 3 and although the stats don't show it, she is also one of the team's top rebounders (she sometimes crashes inside from outside the arc to snag them). I mentioned her before the ND-UConn game and said to watch her. She ended up leading ND in that game with 16 points. BTW, I call her the "anti-Ratay" because unlike Alicia, Kelsey is always smiling. She just loves playing the game.

At SG, beside Ratay (who is more than just a 3 point shooter now, BTW), we have sophomore Jeneka Joyce (5'9") and freshman Allison Bustamante (6'0"). Both are great 3-point shooters and both have spent some time at PG (although Bustamante isn't really a PG type). Joyce is often at PG to either rest Severe or to "calm the team down" (Joyce isn't as flashy as Severe is at PG and isn't likely to have as many steals, but she also tends to have fewer TOs). Joyce hit some key 3s last year in the games against UConn. She's been having ankle problems this year, so she's been up and down and missed a few games.

Finally at PG is LeTania Severe (5'8"). She's really quick and strong on defense but sometimes can be turnover prone (although she has a better sophomore A/TO ratio than Ivey did). Basically, she is one who can make a great play, but can also be a "high risk" player (IMO, a lot of the great young PGs can be like that when they start out). She's settled down quite a bit as the season has progressed.

The last two players I haven't mentioned are Karen Swanson and Jill Krause. Swanson is a junior who is a former walk-on (she was given a scholarship in January). Jill Krause is a freshman PG who is the last person off the bench (her grandfather ("Moose" Krause) was a famous person in ND history. A two sport athlete, one of the last players to play for Rockne, a Football assistant coach, a Basketball head coach, and an AD at ND for about 30 years. Plus they have a statue of him outside the Joyce Center).

ND has had some interesting lineups in McGraw's experimentations. Four freshmen with a sophomore PG. Four freshman and Ratay. The positions I mentioned above are rather "fluid" because the players often play different spots depending on the personnel.

For those who haven't tabulated the class makeup, ND currently has 1 senior, 3 juniors (one a former walk-on), 2 sophomores, and 6 freshmen. Their future looks bright!

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