Shots, shots and more shots

The Lady Vols made use of multiple baskets Friday – each player had one to herself – to get in one hour of nothing but shooting. They put up all kinds of shots – midrange, three-pointers, spot-up, in the paint and off the dribble. They finished with free throws in an offensive-focused practice session that accomplished exactly what Pat Summitt wanted.

The session may have been short in duration, but the players were pretty sweat-soaked at its conclusion and still had a weight-lifting workout on the schedule. It was in stark contrast to a week ago when the focus was off the court and on coaches and players' meetings to address the crushing loss to LSU. That seemed a distant memory this Friday, but Pat Summitt is still preaching a cautionary tone.

"I'm not ready to jump up and down and be a cheerleader," Summitt said. "I'm just waiting to see how we finish out. I'm encouraged. I'm encouraged by the energy that we played with. Shared the ball better. You can tell a lot about a team just with the number of passes they make on a possession, particularly in the half-court."

Tennessee (24-2, 10-1) was coming off an 85-58 win at Alabama that saw production throughout the box score with four players in double figures – including two off the bench – and 21 assists on 32 baskets.

The Lady Vols shot 54.3 percent in the first half, but that dropped to 34.2 percent in the second half – they opened the second half shooting 15 percent in the first five minutes – so Friday's session was moved to Pratt Pavilion, where Summitt could spread her players out among 12 baskets.

"I told them (Thursday) night we were coming in, we were going to get shots in and do a lift," Summitt said.

Nicky Anosike crossed a threshold with her third shot attempt of the game – a putback basket off an offensive rebound from a teammate's miss. The two points pushed her to 1,001 for her career. She finished the game with 12 points on 5-9 shooting and now has 1,011 for her career.

Four years ago it seemed like an unlikely milestone for Anosike, who arrived at Tennessee with size but from a high school system in which she played wing and ran the floor. Tennessee moved her into the paint, and Anosike had to start from scratch.

"You look at how she's changed since she's come in," Summitt said. "I thought watching her in high school that she would have to really work on her offensive skills. She's worked hard. She has invested time.

"Aside from Candace she's probably been in the gym the second most. She's doing a better job now of not rushing around the basket. Sometimes it's almost like she'll hesitate and then hesitate but the composure (is there). She's got a little bit better package now in terms of scoring. She's never going to be the one who's going to play at the rim, but she figures out a way to get there."

Summitt has lauded Candace Parker for her work ethic in terms of getting in the gym on her own. The NCAA allows school 20 hours a week to work with athletes – and that includes games – so practice is limited by bylaws. Summitt used Friday's practice specifically to ensure that everyone got in enough shots.

"At the same time we did ball handling combined with our shooting," Summitt said. "We need more of that. You hope players will go and get in the gym on their own, but Candace has been the main one to do that. I respect the fact that she has been in the gym.

"Some people have gone in here and there. But now we're going in the gym. We're getting in the gym with her. She's looking for Dean (Lockwood) constantly. She's calling Dean. She's setting up when they can get shots in."

Parker's days of getting in shots at Tennessee are numbered. She officially announced what nearly everyone in Knoxville knew – that she would graduate with her class and not return for a fifth year.

"I talked to my family and my friends and my coaches and the best thing for me is to move on," Parker said. "I want to say it's not me deciding to leave early, it's me leaving on time. If I decided to stay it would be me staying later. I've got my degree and my time here at Tennessee has been great."

Parker said the team didn't have any reaction to the news.

"We're living in the moment right now," Parker said. "We're not talking about next year. We have five seniors this year. We're working hard and playing and excited to get into postseason. Tournament time is the best time of the year, and I'm really looking forward to that.

"Another trip to Tampa would be great. The Final Four is indescribable. To be there amongst the best four teams and to actually come away and win was something that I will remember forever. We want to do it again. I'm living in the moment. I'm not looking forward to anything. I'm just trying to live out my time here at Tennessee."

Parker's class includes Anosike and Alexis Hornbuckle, along with Shannon Bobbitt and Alberta Auguste, who arrived as juniors as much-needed replenishments to the ranks.

Hornbuckle also left Alabama with a milestone. She passed Bridgette Gordon and is now the career steals leader at Tennessee with 335 and counting. Gordon, a frontline player who had 333, held the record for 19 years.

Freshman Vicki Baugh, another frontline player, teased Hornbuckle by saying that she would take the record next.

"She might could do that," Summitt said with a smile of the athletic forward.

But Hornbuckle has some time left to add to her tally.

"I'm going to try to put it out of reach, but I'm just honored and blessed to be able to break it period," Hornbuckle said. "Obviously I don't want to it to be broken too soon. I told Vicki jokingly – she said she was going to break it – I told her I wouldn't talk to her.

"If a post breaks it I need to give her mad props. Typically nowadays it's going to be from guard play."

The Lady Vols will practice Saturday to go over the scouting report for the rematch with Mississippi State. Game time is 2:30 p.m. Sunday, and gates open at 1 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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