Team greeted by snow in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Lady Vols pelted each other with snowballs on the way into practice Saturday evening and then settled into a two-hour up-tempo session to work on transition on both sides of the ball. The team departed Knoxville on Saturday morning and arrived with a minimal of delays despite the heavy snowfall in the area.

"We got out of Knoxville pretty much on time and into Denver, not much delay there at all," Pat Summitt said of the team's commercial travel during a busy time of the year.

When the team arrived in Spokane the snow on the ground measured 52 inches with more forecast for the weekend, and the paved area around The McCarthey Center, where Gonzaga plays basketball, is a parking lot of snow piles, one-lane passes and open spaces.

However, the snow has been plowed from the roadways, and the team had no transportation issues to get to the center. The entrance area for the players had been freshly shoveled for a safe walk from the bus to the back door, but that didn't stop the players from tossing snow balls at each other, and Angie Bjorklund, a Spokane native, was a frequent target.

Members of the Bjorklund family, including her father, uncle and grandfather, were able to attend the Lady Vols practice, which was held on an auxiliary court. The Gonzaga women's team practiced on the same court after Tennessee completed its session. The Tennessee team will practice Sunday on the main court and then have dinner at the Bjorklund household that evening.

Pat Summitt was not a target of snowballs.

"I hope they know better," Summitt said. "I'm sure it's a first time for all of them to see this much snow. It is for me. It's neat. We're going to be it for a few days, but it's beautiful. This is a beautiful part of the country.

Summitt held the session despite the long day of travel to get the entire team assembled on the court – Bjorklund and Vicki Baugh, who lives in Sacramento, had missed Friday's practice to avoid having them fly cross-country on consecutive days and Sydney Smallbone was delayed getting back to Knoxville on Friday but made it in time to leave with the team Saturday.

"Angie and Vicki hadn't been with us so I wanted to get them back and Syd," Summitt said. "This is a great time to work and I think we had a good practice."

The team was at full strength Saturday with the return of sophomore point guard Cait McMahan. An MRI last week of McMahan's right knee showed no structural damage so the issues become pain management and swelling. McMahan had not played in the past two games and also had been pulled from practice to rest the knee.

"It's good to see her back," said Summitt, though it was too early to declare that McMahan would be game ready. "I think it's day to day to see how it is with this cold weather."

Part of the session was dedicated to specific drill work and instruction on full court pressure and the three-two matchup zone.

"I think we're going to have to be a multiple team defense, and a lot of that is the youth of our players so sometimes change is good for them and also with the teams we play and getting ready to go into conference play there are some teams we won't be able to play man for 40 minutes and be the most effective defensive team," Summitt said.

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