Lady Vols hold scrimmage

The Lady Vols scrimmaged Saturday afternoon and saw considerable improvement in their transition defense, which was a weak spot a week ago. The team will watch scrimmage film with the coaches and then return to the practice floor Sunday evening.

"We looked better than we did last week," Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick said Saturday after practice. "We got the ball in quicker. We got up and down the floor better. Our transition defense was better. It's not quite there yet, but it was better.

"We gave up too many threes today. That was probably our biggest weakness on defense was guarding the three-point shot consistently. We're not having to rotate our defense as much so we're not getting beat on the penetration, but we gave up too many threes. A lot of them were contested, but the guys shot over us."

In the last scrimmage, the male practice players were penetrating to the basket without sufficient resistance and were beating the Lady Vols in transition. That didn't happen Saturday.

"We were setting our D and guarding the ball a little bit better," Warlick said. "Our press has to get better. We're not quite up to our caliber yet. We're still playing different combinations."

Tennessee had eight players available for the scrimmage, including junior forward Candace Parker, who has performed fine since slightly injuring her shoulder earlier this week. The coaches have been using different combinations on the floor with Parker playing both inside and on the perimeter.

Senior wing player Alberta Auguste and freshman center Kelley Cain remained out of practice. Auguste is recovering from a severe calf contusion. Cain sustained a concussion eight days ago but is doing better.

"I think they're being cautious and making sure everything is good with her," Warlick said of Cain's head injury. "I'll think she'll be fine. She'll be a little bit behind, but she's a quick learner. She picks up on things really quick."

The season tips off a week from today with an exhibition match against the USA national team at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, in Thompson-Boling Arena. The national team last made a visit to Knoxville on Nov. 7, 1999, and the Lady Vols shocked that squad with a 65-64 win. The personnel has changed considerably since that time – for one thing former Lady Vol Kara Lawson hit the game-winning shot in 1999, and she now plays for the United States – but the UT coaches know that loss is still memorable for the USA program.

"Last time they were in here we beat them so I'm sure they've got a lot to prove," Warlick said. "They're physical. They're quick. They're tall. They're quick at every position. That's going to be a big challenge."

Former Lady Vol Loree Moore also is on the USA squad. The roster for the college tour can change, but Moore and Lawson, who have been in Russia with the USA team, should be in Knoxville.

"I know Kara and Loree are coming because they texted me from Russia," Warlick said. "They said, ‘Get ready for us.' They were talking smack to me."

The talk was friendly, and Warlick was laughing as she relayed the story. But the players and coaches are anticipating next Sunday both because of the change in competition and a chance to see where they stand so early in the 2007-08 season.

"When the lights go on they're going to be so much thrilled than practice," Warlick said. "That's typical for players. I think they're ready to see the season start. The coaches are, too. I'm anxious to see us play against different people besides our guys. Just kind of a measuring stick as to where we are."

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