Lady Vol forward Alex Fuller returns

Lady Vol forward Alex Fuller returned to practice Monday after taking several days off the court to rest a sore right hip. The redshirt freshman strained her hip flexor in a game Nov. 21 and has tried to play through it on and off.

Coach Pat Summitt and Jenny Moshak, head of sports medicine, pulled her from the practice court last week. That, combined with two other off days and holding her out of the George Washington game, enabled Alex Fuller to give it a go Monday. So far, so good.

"I told Jenny, if she limps, she's out of practice," said Summitt, who added that Fuller was one of the "best post players on the floor today."

The team will practice Tuesday afternoon so the first test for Fuller's hip will be if she can play two days in a row. But on Monday she showed no signs of trouble.

"She looked good," Summitt said. "She's so efficient. She's got springs in her legs now."

Fuller was in Summitt's mix of possible starters when the season started. If she's available – Fuller plays mostly at the power forward position but also can step out on the perimeter – Summitt will have more options available in the paint. That would allow Candace Parker to be deployed more at the three, or small forward, spot.

"I think we can go a little bigger," Summitt said.

Parker would welcome her fellow redshirt freshman to the floor.

"She's really smart," Parker said. "She gets early position and makes it easy for the guards and the wings to throw it into her. She does the dirty work, the rebounding and blocking shots, things like that."

For now Summitt anticipates leaving her starting lineup intact – Parker and Nicky Anosike inside and three guards on the perimeter. Senior center Tye'sha Fluker would come off the bench.

"I think I'll probably leave them," Summitt said. "Fluker's playing really well off the bench, too. I'm really pleased with her. I want Anosike in the lineup because of what she brings on the defensive end. She's got to keep herself out of foul trouble the first four minutes."

Tennessee plays Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena. Monday's practice focused on getting ready for the Lady Techsters tempo.

"I expect them to press us and run," said Summitt, adding that Louisiana Tech looks to its transition game early to score points. "That's why today everything we did, we did back to transition. If we don't give them layups in the full court or easy shots in the full court, then I think we match up well with them in the half court."

With her team finally off the road and getting some rest, Summitt chose to link certain mistakes – lazy passes, not sprinting back on defense – to post-practice sprints for the players who make the error. The mistakes were relatively few Monday.

"I was pleased overall," Summitt said. "People are making mistakes, and some of the same people make them daily. They've got to get out of that."

It was the first time this season that Summitt felt the need to order any post-practice sprints.

"They've been a great group to get up and down," Summitt said.


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