Vicki Baugh to take court break

Vicki Baugh will spend the next two weeks off the basketball court and entrenched in knee rehab in a move that Jenny Moshak thinks will help ensure the sophomore forward has the matter behind her by midseason. Baugh had plenty of company on the sideline Monday – the Lady Vols finished the session with a handful of players – but the mood remained one of optimism.

The session followed Sunday's 85-50 exhibition win over Love & Basketball and just like the resounding victory over Carson-Newman the youngsters weren't all up to speed on how to practice after a game.

It didn't help that two veteran players were out from the beginning and were steadily joined by the walking wounded, as Jenny Moshak's sideline nearly needed a receptionist to handle the check-ins.

"I said, ‘Sorry Pat, I've got another," said Moshak, the chief of sports medicine for the Lady Vols, who lets Pat Summitt know throughout practice the status of anyone sidelined. "And she said, ‘That's OK. These are going to get more reps.' "

Sophomore guard Angie Bjorklund remained out for treatment of back spasms but could return Tuesday afternoon.

"Angie did very well on the bike today so (Tuesday) I'll probably put her through some basketball drills myself and see how she does that before we let her mix it up," Moshak said. "If she passes those with me I'll probably let her do shooting drills and non-contact things. We're just playing it day by day."

Senior forward Alex Fuller remained out. She took a blow to the upper body in Sunday's game and was not able to return to the court.

"Alex will be back (Tuesday)," Moshak said.

A few minutes into practice redshirt freshman center Kelley Cain had to be pulled after taking a head shot from a male practice player in the first drill of the day.

"Kelley got a good hit in the jaw, which had some resounding head sounds and symptoms," Moshak said. "Everybody said it was a pretty good hit. I was working on somebody else (when it happened). I have a feeling she will not practice (Tuesday)."

Because Cain's injury involves her head, Moshak has a prescribed protocol to follow. She also will take into account that Cain sustained a concussion in preseason a year ago.

"She's got to be symptom-free, passing all the tests, and then we work her out on a bike," Moshak said. "If she's symptom-free after that, we test her again. We take the head seriously and unfortunately with the head you can't do anything to make it go faster. You can't rehab harder. It's a time element, and everybody is on a different timeframe."

Vicki Baugh participated in part of practice but pulled herself because of some pain and discomfort. Moshak and Summitt talked after the session and made the decision to take the two-week break.

Freshman forward Alyssia Brewer got hit in the left thumb during a post shooting drill and also needed medical attention.

"She's going to be OK," Moshak said. "It's a thumb sprain. She's now in a splint. If she can pass some things (Tuesday) I'll tape her, and she can practice."

Summitt and her staff have been discussing how to set the starters and rotation, but that decision is influenced by who is healthy and available. At least Summitt's sense of humor remains intact.

"There're a few other teams in the past we wouldn't even have five to start, would we?" Summitt said.

The youngsters have been a solid practice team to date, but for the second time they followed a big win with a less-than-inspired practice, though Summitt noted freshmen Briana Bass and Shekinna Stricklen were pretty much up to par.

"That's unfortunate because we didn't make as much progress today as we needed to," Summitt said. "I thought Shekinna looked like an upperclassman. Bri did a decent job. But it's all about them having the frame of mind to come here (focused). They know you're going to practice so why not invest in it and try to get better?"

That was partly influenced by the low numbers and lack of returning players. They also looked like true freshmen on the floor.

"At best," Summitt said,

That is bound to happen sometimes for the simple reason that they are first-year players. A young team hasn't yet developed the maturity to know how to practice after a win – they are still a little giddy over the outcome and haven't turned their attention fully to the next task.

"I would say that would be a good way to explain it," said Summitt, who is in her 35th season at Tennessee. "When you've been doing it as long as I have they seem younger every day. I'll be surprised if they aren't better (Tuesday)."

That last line was delivered calmly because Summitt has confidence in her young team.

"We're a little shorthanded right now but that's a time where you get your freshmen more reps," she said. "Obviously that was a little overload of some of their minds, not their bodies, but their minds."

It is a compliment to the freshmen that a portion of Monday's session was devoted to putting in a matchup zone. The fact they are ready for that level of instruction, in addition to everything else they have absorbed to date, speaks to the faith that Summitt and the staff have in them.

"They played man or they played zone (in high school), and this is a matchup zone, which takes the shape of the offense and it's got more man-to-man principles than most zones would have so that was a little overwhelming for them," Summitt said.

"And I put this in fairly early for a team this young, but that was by design because I think we're going to need that. While we can match up pretty well we're going to have teams that we need the change to keep them off-balance."

Baugh participated in the defensive drills and did a small amount of full-court work, but Moshak decided its time to change the game plan.

"We're playing the game, and we're not winning the game, partly with her frustration as well, and so we're going to pull her for two weeks, forget playing and practicing," Moshak said. "She's going to be weight room-rehab, weight room-rehab, weight room-rehab and get a good two-week foundation to where then we're going to try and practice again.

"We've been playing a game, she's been hitting the weight room hard, but we're trying to practice her and not doing a lot of rehab because the volume was too high. So now we're going to take away the practice and play."

Baugh has said she has never been seriously injured before and her frustration with not being 100 percent yet is common.

"That often plays a role having not been injured," Moshak said. "This is what I find with anybody who goes through a long injury, they get tired of dealing with it and they just want it to be over. But it's not over until it's over. You can't compare yourself to somebody else. It's an individual thing. Your body will tell you.

"In the big scope of things this is nothing big. And in the big scope of things she will get over this and not even remember this come halfway through the season. We're just at the phase right now where we need to get the leg stronger so we can handle the forces that are out there.

"When she's out there she's moving very well. That's the good thing. It's just she's still dealing with some pain and discomfort. We deal with occasional swelling, though that's really down now."

Baugh tore the ACL in her left knee in the national championship game in Tampa and had surgery in May. She is six months into rehab and has made remarkable strides so far. And while six months is a short period of time for an ACL recovery it's an eternity for a young player wanting back on the court.

"Six months in her lifetime feels like a lifetime and a half when you've got youth," Moshak said. "But I think she'll be not even remembering this come February."

Moshak is confident about Baugh and all the players being rehabbed and treated for assorted matters.

"We'll get them back," Moshak said.


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