Hornbuckle ready for 'coach' role on bench

Injured point guard Alexis Hornbuckle popped her head out of the Lady Vols training room Friday afternoon and flashed her trademark smile at the media waiting to talk to her. After spending one game away from her team as she recovered from wrist surgery, Hornbuckle was back on board and ready to step into her new role on the bench.

"I think it's going to help me out a lot just as far as seeing how our team is working and helping them out as a player-coach," sophomore guard Alexis Hornbuckle said.

She knows watching the game Sunday in Alabama will be "probably frustrating, but at the same time I'm going to be nothing but positive and motivating and telling them what I see out on the floor and what I think could happen and just going crazy on the bench kind of like Sybil was last night. It was hilarious on TV."

Sybil Dosty, a sophomore post player, is an enthusiastic teammate when she's not on the floor.

"Sybil's our best motivator when she's not in the game," Hornbuckle said. "When you see her and they get TV shots of her – all the time going crazy, yelling, swinging towels, jumping around. I can't clap. I'll be yelling and I'll have a towel in this (left) hand swinging it."

Hornbuckle, who had surgery Wednesday afternoon to insert a screw in her right wrist to aid in the healing of her broken navicular scaphoid bone, watched Thursday's 58-55 win over Georgia on television back in Knoxville.

"I wish I was there," Hornbuckle said of her thoughts during the game. "I wish I was at least in Georgia even if I couldn't play. I was proud of the effort. It didn't look too pretty in the first half, but overall they pulled it together. I was proud that they pulled out a win."

Hornbuckle, who broke her wrist last Sunday in the first half against Vanderbilt while diving out of bounds in pursuit of a loose ball, said she knew it was seriously hurt.

"I told Shanna (Zolman) in the second half, ‘I think I broke my wrist,' " said Hornbuckle, who laughed because she knew that was the last thing Zolman wanted to hear. "It hurt."

She played the rest of the game by telling herself "mind over matter," Hornbuckle said. "Just keep going but adrenalin helps, too."

A visit to Dr. Robert Ivy on Monday confirmed the break and then the news that her season was finished.

"I figured we could tape it up, brace it up, something. I don't sit out," said Hornbuckle, who missed a total of two games in high school because of a knee strain. "I figured we could work around it and get it fixed later after the season."

The screw placement is intended to help ensure that the broken bone fully heals. Hornbuckle said her chances of a full recovery increased tremendously with the insertion of the screw.

"When he went in there he was glad he did it," said Hornbuckle, who saw Ivy last fall after she suffered ligament damage in her left thumb. "I feel confident that it went well. Dr. Ivy is a great doctor. He helped me out on my thumb, and it's back. I trust his work and I'm very confident that what he did was correct. He's very meticulous when he works. He's down to the T; he wants everything to be perfect. As long as I do my part as far as rehab I should be 100 percent."

Hornbuckle compared seeing the game on TV to when she was in high school and used to watch Tennessee. Since she wasn't there, it wasn't as hard that she wasn't playing.

"It wasn't that frustrating because I wasn't there," she said.

However, she expects Sunday's game at Alabama to be much harder to sit and watch since she will be on the bench.

"When you're there you see people getting off the bench, and you want to be that sub," Hornbuckle said. "When you're watching on TV it's kind of like before I got here watching them in that aspect, except for knowing all the plays and seeing what they're running and getting frustrated (if someone was out of position)."

Tennessee went with a big lineup in the second half and stayed in its matchup zone to effectively shut down Georgia's attack.

"I think they played real well to their strengths," Hornbuckle said. "The defense was probably the best that I've seen it all year. They were playing that zone. They were matching up; they were talking. There were times they had breakdowns – they didn't box out – but overall I was proud of them. The tempo was a little bit slower, but that's going to come and go. That's just breaking out of your shell. Because most of the time I'm the one pushing; they're the ones filling. So now they'll be the ones pushing and filling. I'm very confident in my team and what they can do."

Hornbuckle watched film with her teammates Friday and despite having a bulky cast and blue sling on her right arm, she still lifted weights with her left arm and did some abdomen workouts.

"This is the first time I really have to sit out. Stay positive," she said with a smile. "If you're not positive nothing comes good out of that. Prayer and staying positive, surrounding myself with positive people and keeping my head up for my team, if not for me, then my team. If they see me down what is that saying about the point guard? Staying positive for them and cheering them on and in return it's making me happy. As long as they're winning and they're happy I'm going to be happy."

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