Practice scare for two Lady Vols

Two Lady Vols left practice Sunday after on-court collisions that tweaked their surgically repaired knees, but both initially appeared to be OK and the knees structurally fine. They did not return to practice but will be reevaluated today to determine their status.

The two players, Kelley Cain and Cait McMahan, were injured in separate incidents but similar fashion. Both collided with male practice players and needed assistance leaving the court.

Cain, a 6'6 redshirt freshman center, went down in the lane and spent the rest of practice getting treatment on her right knee.

"She collided with a practice player and the patellar tendon just pulled to try to protect her," said Jenny Moshak, the team's chief of sports medicine. "She's very sore on the tendon, but the knee itself is fine. I think she'll be fine by (Monday)."

The fact the tendon held – and functioned as it should – was a good sign since Cain had surgery a year ago to realign her right kneecap because it didn't track correctly due to a congenital condition.

McMahan, a 5'4 redshirt sophomore guard, went down near the top of the key and also was sidelined for the rest of the session for right knee treatment.

McMahan had ACL surgery on her right knee in high school and surgery in June 2007 at Tennessee to repair the femoral condyle in the same knee. She and Cain both missed last season as they rehabbed their knees.

"Everything is testing OK," Moshak said. "She's sore with the MCL, but it's solid. The whole knee is not happy because her knee is not happy all the time, so it's just hard to tell. We're going to try to calm everything down. Nothing big structurally happened."

McMahan has a chronically sore right knee that must be managed with periodic rest. Cain and McMahan spent a lot of time together on the sideline last season and after McMahan went down Sunday, Cain went to the training room to check on her teammate.

Moshak sent both players home Sunday with instructions to do some rehab exercises and apply ice.

"It's a question of getting the knee calmed down to where it can be functional," Moshak said. ""Hopefully we'll be all right. I'll see them both before practice (Monday). We've had a few escapes this year."

Redshirt senior Alex Fuller got hit in her surgically repaired left knee in October in practice but was OK. Vicki Baugh is coming back from ACL surgery last May and also must be monitored. She was pulled from practice as a precaution in an ongoing rehab protocol for the sophomore forward.

"Vicki's just really sore today, too," Moshak said.

Freshman forward Amber Gray remained out of practice Sunday because of a concussion sustained in Thursday's session.

"She's not there yet," Moshak said. "I couldn't exercise-challenge her yet."

Freshman guard Shekinna Stricklen participated in the entire practice. She had been limited because of an infection in her cheek after biting down on it in a collision in Tuesday's game at George Washington.

With four sidelined – Cain, McMahan, Gray and Baugh – the Lady Vols were down to eight available players by the end of practice. The injuries, combined with so much youth on the floor, have been a challenge for the coaches as practice performance has been inconsistent from day to day.

"I'm trying to pick and choose, not just stay on them the whole time, stop them when they need directing and try to give them some praise," Pat Summitt said. "I'm sure the freshmen they probably only hear the negative."

The team will reassemble Monday afternoon and then likely take off Tuesday. With two games this week – Thursday at home against Middle Tennessee and Sunday on the road at Texas – a day off will be needed to save their legs.

Meanwhile, on Monday the coaches will continue with an up-tempo pace. One of the newest drills is to have the five on the floor remain on defense both ways in a full-court setting to teach them to match up, find shooters and stop the ball.

"We need to keep going up and down," Summitt said. "The drill work we've been doing I think has really been beneficial for them because they're having to go on defense, so just making them so mindful of in transition picking up the ball and identifying. We'll (also) keep going over our sets and go over our presses."

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