Alberta Auguste injures shoulder

Alberta "Bird" Auguste injured her left shoulder Friday afternoon at practice, and her status for Sunday's game against Kentucky is uncertain, according to Jenny Moshak, the assistant athletics director for sports medicine.

The junior forward had dropped back into the paint on defense with her arms extended when her left arm was hit by another player. Alberta Auguste was pulled from the practice floor and was clearly in pain. She was treated on the sideline and later left for a late afternoon class with her arm in a sling.

"We don't know the prognosis yet," Moshak said. "She tried to sub-lux her shoulder. I don't think it did (dislocate). Everything did what it was supposed to do, but everything is very sore and upset right now. We just have to see what comes of it in the next day or two to see if she'll play Sunday."

Moshak was encouraged by the way the mishap occurred, given the various scenarios that can injure a shoulder.

"She said she reached and got hit down, which is a better situation than being pulled back," Moshak said.

The Lady Vols reassembled on the practice court the day after their 68-44 win over Ole Miss in Oxford on Thursday in a somewhat uneven performance that allowed Coach Pat Summitt to get her bench a lot of playing time.

"I wanted to play man to man first half and zone second half," Summitt said Friday. "We need a lot of work on our matchup and I thought we got better through the course of the game. We're just trying to emphasize the importance of being committed to possession by possession and 40 minutes of good basketball. Overall, I was pleased.

"I thought the first half we maintained our intensity. Second half when we went to our bench we had a stretch of about three minutes and that's when I called timeout. I had seen all I could stand to watch. We talked about it, and I thought they came back out and they picked up their intensity.

"Were they all sharp? No. Today the point I made to them is all five people that are on the court have to be committed to whatever defense we're in or whatever offense we're running."

Practice was intense and lengthy Friday with an emphasis on defense and free throws. Tennessee (19-1, 6-0) was an uncharacteristic 8-18 (44.4 percent) from the line.

"I feel pretty good about what we got out of them today," Summitt said.

The starters performed well Thursday and spotted the bench a 39-13 halftime lead.

"We really came out and put them away early," Candace Parker said. "Vicki Baugh and Sydney Smallbone got a lot of time, and we're going to need them in postseason."

Summitt saw some things to be encouraged about in the game, such as how the starters performed, and she also saw areas that need improvement, such as boxing out and ball security. Friday was about getting back to work.

"I think we're getting better because I think we're playing harder," Summitt said. "I think we're demanding more as a coaching staff, and they're giving more as a team. I want to make sure our staff does everything to have them prepared for postseason because ultimately we're a team that thinks postseason, and there's no reason why we shouldn't think it this season with the talent that we have.

"But we know we have to get better and the one place we have to get better is when we go to our bench."

By going to her subs early and often Summitt kept the score low against an overmatched Ole Miss team with a first-year head coach who got a team gutted by graduation.

"That's not ever been something that I've been about," Summitt said of running up the score. "It's out of respect."

For any opponent?

"Well, don't let me say any," Summitt said with a smile. "There may be one or two … ."

Summitt decided to give the team the day off Saturday – the players are delighted when they get a weekend day off – which is rare the day before a game. Tennessee plays Kentucky at 3 p.m. Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena. Summitt said her reasons were twofold.

"I felt like with three games this week we just really didn't have an opportunity to have the type of workout that we needed," Summitt said. "We needed a challenging workout. We got it today.

"I wanted to do that and then I wanted to give them a day of rest and then come in and do our walk-through on Sunday morning and then play. This is a challenging week for us. They love days off when they are not in class. This is the second time we've been able to do that. It not only brings back fresh legs but typically fresh minds."

Summitt's decision was made easier because the Lady Vols just played Kentucky two weeks ago on Jan. 17.

"If we hadn't played them at all we would have had a different format," Summitt said.

Practice concluded with shooting drills and Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood working with Nicky Anosike and Baugh on post moves, posting up and crashing the boards.

He was at the far end of the court, and it took Summitt two tries to summon him for the closing circle of players and staff. As Summitt smiled, observers could hear Lockwood imploring his two post players to "seal" their defenders.

"You almost have to pull him off the court," Summitt said.

"I love it," Lockwood said. "When the time comes that I'm not doing this anymore that's what I'll miss most – the teaching, the interaction, watching people grow and develop. There's a thrill and a satisfaction in that that's unlike any other.

"Don't get me wrong. You walk out here on game day and I love that. Our fans here are so special. To say at your core what you love the most if you had to choose, it's the teaching, the interaction, it's helping them be better, seeing carryover from a drill or practice, that's the real joy."

SATURDAY UPDATE: Alberta Auguste has been diagnosed with a left biceps strain. She will undergo rehab and has been cleared to play Sunday.

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