Lady Vols fix defensive miscues

The Lady Vols hit the practice court running Monday afternoon to work on transition defense so as to correct some breakdowns that occurred in the season opening win against Chattanooga. Next up for No. 1 Tennessee is No. 9 Oklahoma in Tampa, and Tuesday's practice will be used for game preparation.

"Our defense in the open court, our transition defense, we thought it should be better," Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick said. "So that's what we focused on today trying to match up early, stop the ball early. That was our primary concern.

"We were setting ourselves up and playing five on four because we would take ourselves out of the play early and so we were having to scramble to play defense, and they were kicking out to open threes."

Warlick was pinch-hitting with the media after practice because Pat Summitt had to slip out a few minutes early to catch a flight to New York, where she was to receive a national leadership award.

A review of the game film of the 76-56 win over Chattanooga revealed what the coaches thought: offensive struggles to start, good effort on defense and some breakdowns getting back in transition.

"I thought we got good shots," Warlick said. "I thought we got open looks. We just didn't finish them, and it kind of snowballs when you don't hit them. Everybody started missing them. But I was proud of them. We didn't have to coach effort. They didn't let their offense affect their defense. We just weren't doing the right things on defense at times.

"I liked what they did as far as their effort. Usually when we go in the tank on the offensive end we just pout, and we don't get after it on the defensive end. I thought we did some good things on the defensive end."

The Lady Mocs acquitted themselves well in Thompson-Boling Arena and got significant help off the bench from post player Shanara Hollinquest, who scored 13 points. Her presence gives Chattanooga a double-pronged look in the paint with Alex Anderson to complement the sharpshooters from the outside.

"I thought his post players were good," Warlick said. "They turned and faced, they dribbled, they scored on our kids. We could have intimidated them early, but they hung tough, and they did not get intimidated. They stuck to their game plan."

Two Tennessee players missed practice Monday because of knee issues.

Freshman center Kelley Cain remains out after her kneecap sustained a subluxation in practice last week. Her right kneecap has genetic structural issues that will cause flare-ups.

Senior guard Alexis Hornbuckle sat out practice because of chronic tendonitis, a condition she has dealt with throughout college. She is expected to be OK and available this week.

"We listen to her because she knows when she can go and when she can't," Warlick said. "It kills her sitting out on the sidelines. She's coaching while she's getting treatment. That's a good sign."

Cain would come in handy this week with the double challenge of the Paris twins, Courtney and Ashley, in the post for Oklahoma, but her availability would appear to be doubtful at this point.

"Our goal is to get her back to practice, and then we'll see what happens," said Jenny Moshak, the Lady Vols assistant athletics director for sports medicine.

With Cain and Hornbuckle sidelined, the Lady Vols had eight players available for practice Monday.

"If we stay healthy we're a great basketball team, but if our numbers are low then it gets to be where it cuts in on what your game plan is," Warlick said. "When you have eight kids healthy, especially in practice, you don't want to go up and down with just eight people the whole practice so that can come into play."

Monday's practice focused on fixing defensive miscues from Sunday's game. The attention will turn at Tuesday's practice to Oklahoma.

"We'll focus on Oklahoma and what they do and what they like to do," said Warlick, who has watched game tape of last season and this season.

The Lady Vols will use Wednesday as a travel day to Tampa. Thursday's game is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. (TV: ESPNU) at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Summitt was in New York on Monday evening to accept a prestigious award at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center as one of "Americas Best Leaders for 2007." David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, hosted a conversation with all of the honorees on the broad topic of leadership.

The honorees were announced by U.S. News & World Report in the 2007 issue of America's Best Leaders.

"I am very humbled by my inclusion," Summitt said. "It is truly one of the great honors of my career."

Summitt, the only sports figure selected, joined such luminaries as James A. Baker III; actor Michael J. Fox; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma; and Dr. Harold Varmus, president and CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, among others.

"These leaders have taken bold steps and inspired others to address some of our more urgent national issues," said Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News & World Report. "Consider Nicholas Kristof's willingness to put himself in harm's way to give a voice and a face to the world's most threatened and exploited people; Dr. William Foege's work on the frontlines of the worldwide immunization battle; Pat Summitt's record as the all-time winningest coach in college basketball history – this group's conviction to lead in authentic and effective ways is truly remarkable."

In its November 19 issue (on newsstands now) and online at www.usnews.com/leaders, U.S. News & World Report has published America's Best Leaders, featuring 18 of the country's individuals who define leadership today.

The honorees are: James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, Chairmen, Iraq Study Group, 9/11 Commission (Washington, D.C.); Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and CEO, American Express Company (New York); Kenneth Fisher, Chairman and CEO, Fisher House Foundation Inc. (New York); Dr. William H. Foege, Senior Fellow, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Washington); Michael J. Fox, Founder, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (New York); Ron Grzywinski and Mary Houghton, Cofounders, ShoreBank Corporation (Illinois); Andrea Jung, Chairman and CEO, Avon Products Inc. (New York); Nicholas Kristof, Columnist, The New York Times (New York); Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense (New York); Yo-Yo Ma, Artistic Director and Founder, The Silk Road Project (Rhode Island); Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives (Washington, D.C.); Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor, State of California (California); Ruth J. Simmons, President, Brown University (Rhode Island); Pat Summitt, Head Coach, Women's Basketball, University of Tennessee (Tennessee); Shirley M. Tilghman, President, Princeton University (New Jersey); and Dr. Harold Varmus, President and CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York).

In a collaborative effort between Harvard's CPL and U.S. News, the leaders were chosen by a nonpartisan and independent selection committee, convened and organized by the Center, without the participation of U.S. News editors. The selection criteria used by the committee in choosing the honorees included the ability to set direction, achieve results and cultivate a culture of growth.

"It's very interesting because it's a leadership award, not a coaching award," Summitt said. "It's unique to any award that I can remember receiving. The company I'll be in I'll be in awe of a lot of these people."


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