Practice gets specific for UT

The Lady Vols had eight players on the practice floor Sunday evening as they zero in on specific areas to emphasize. Defense was definitely the focus this weekend, and Monday's main topic will be screens. Two Tennessee players remain sidelined, but one appears to be getting closer to a comeback.

The possibility that Alberta Auguste will be able to play in next Sunday's exhibition game is diminishing day-by-day as her injured calf needs time to heal, and the calendar is starting to work against Tennessee.

Auguste, a senior wing player and key player off the bench during last postseason's championship run, is in a walking boot and making use of crutches because the injury can alter a person's gait. Both the use of the boot and crutches are considered precautionary and part of the protocol for the injury.

"We're trying to rest it a little bit. Still day to day," said Jenny Moshak, the Lady Vols assistant athletics director for sports medicine.

Auguste sustained a severe calf contusion in practice a week ago and that type of injury needs time to heal properly. The timeframe can be several days to several weeks. If an athlete tries to play with a severe contusion the healing process is compromised, and long-term damage to the calf muscle can occur.

"Time is not necessarily on our side right now for Alberta to be able to play," Coach Pat Summitt said. "Based on what we've seen to this point I think time is something that we have to understand we need to get her back. Same thing with Kelley. We're not rushing anything."

Freshman center Kelley Cain suffered a concussion on Oct. 19 and has not practiced since, except for a brief walk-through session a few days ago. But she was able to ride a stationary bicycle Sunday.

"Kelley had a good bike workout today and did fine," Summitt said. That's a good indicator right there."

The Lady Vols had eight players for practice Sunday and got a slight scare when senior guard Alexis Hornbuckle turned an ankle and junior forward Candace Parker fell on an already sore right shoulder. But both players returned to the floor.

"They're fine," Summitt said.

Before Sunday's practice the players watched film of Saturday's scrimmage.

"We're better than we were a week ago," Summitt said. "Transition defense we need more communication and we need to fan out in transition. Typically young players run straight to the paint, but we even had veterans doing it."

Instead of flooding the paint to guard the basket the players need to match up in transition across the floor.

We've got to get more discipline in transition – we've got to point and talk," Summitt said. "But I think we're better on the defensive end of the floor. You work on one thing and another thing breaks down. I think right now we've got to get back to focusing on our ball screens and screens off the ball, just becoming a better screening team. So (Monday) we'll spend some time on that."

Sunday's practice was once again oriented to defense.

"We worked a lot on our defense and then we would transition out of that so obviously they're still attacking in the open floor," Summitt said. "Worked on some half-court sets."

The Lady Vols often looked good with the ball in their hands both in the open floor attack and in the half-court offense. Freshman guard Angie Bjorklund once again displayed her shooting ability and some court savvy. During one possession she drove the lane, got stopped, passed to the wing and then continued without the ball and found an open seam in the zone. A teammate found her, and Bjorklund drained the shot.

Tennessee will return to practice Monday afternoon. This week will end with a Sunday afternoon visit from the USA national team. Summitt spent some time last month watching that team in New York. She also has tape of the USA's games in the Olympic qualifying tournament.

"I watched them practice and play, but I haven't broken the tape down that much (yet). This is obviously a quality opponent," Summitt said. "It's the real deal."


Inside Tennessee Top Stories