Cain, Baugh 'ahead of schedule'

If Kelley Cain and Vicki Baugh – the centerpieces of Tennessee's post game next season – continue to progress as expected in their knee rehab, both players should be on the practice court from the beginning next fall with Cain likely released for basketball activity over the summer, according to Jenny Moshak, the team's chief of sports medicine.

The team held a workout Friday afternoon in the indoor football complex with Heather Mason – there will be just one more strength and conditioning session, and then they will be released to prepare for final exams and the end of the spring semester – and Jenny Moshak handled the rehab for Kelley Cain, a 6'6 rising redshirt sophomore, and Vicki Baugh, a 6'4 rising junior.

Both players were limited by injury this past season – Baugh re-tore the ACL in her left knee and missed the last two months, and Cain had two screws migrate out of her right knee after the kneecap had been surgically realigned more than a year ago.

Cain had surgery April 3 to remove the screws – the movement and multiple blows to the knee caused her tremendous pain this past season and limited her mobility and range of motion – and Moshak and the surgeons got the chance to peek at the remodeled kneecap while the screws were taken out of the bone.

"It went very well," Moshak said. "Her kneecap is lined up beautifully. The screws came out. What's limiting her pounding right now for six weeks is she's got those holes in her shinbone, and the bone has to heal. Once that bone heals she can start pounding activity."

Cain was able to shed her crutches relatively quickly after the surgery and is already performing strenuous rehab exercises such as pulling a grocery cart loaded with weights and using the handle of the cart to brace herself while doing leg raises with resistance bands.

"Before that it was wean her off her crutches when she didn't have a limp," Moshak said. "Now, we're not letting her walk for miles. We're already in the weight room so she's ahead of schedule."

Baugh, who had the ACL repaired Feb. 24, also is on pace to be on the court with the coaches for fall workouts.

"Vicki is ahead of schedule," Moshak said. "She was very impressive in her first couple of times in the weight room, and we're going to continue that. We're really in the bulk strengthening phase right now."

Baugh also was able to pull the carts with Cain, and both underwent side-to-side slides across the turf while using bands secured to their lower legs to provide resistance.

Vicki Baugh, with Kelley Cain in the background, pull carts across the turf Friday.

Baugh will remain under Moshak's care this summer and must pass her rehab assignments before she can be released to Mason for conditioning work.

"I'll probably put her on to Heather more towards the end of the summer, beginning of the fall," Moshak said. "If she stays on this pace maybe I'll be able to turn her over earlier."

Moshak anticipated being able to release Cain for conditioning workouts by June.

"I have no qualms about her being ready to go this summer," Moshak said. "She'll do all the things the team does this summer. When she comes back from mini-term (in May), she'll be released to Heather."

Cain has attended the May mini-terms and summer school sessions – she is an honor roll mathematics major – and that arrangement will allow to continue to get ahead in school and have access to Pratt Pavilion for basketball workouts. All 10 returning players are expected to be in place for the first summer session, along with the three incoming freshmen.

On Friday, only six players were cleared for workouts with Mason. Cain and Baugh, of course, are held out for medical reasons as they rehab their knees.

Amber Gray is still recovering from a left shoulder injury sustained in a court workout two weeks ago, but she has been cleared for some activity. She was able to participate in the team's Wednesday ramp run at Gate 10 at Neyland Stadium.

"Amber is doing well with her shoulder," Moshak said. "She is not cleared to do everything. She can't flip tires and do things like that, but she is getting cleared for more things each day."

Alyssia Brewer was held out of the workout for medical reasons and is another victim of East Tennessee seasonal allergies. It is not unusual for players who come to this region of the country to struggle with allergies in their first year until they adapt to the climate.

"We're going through allergy testing so she's off certain medications and with the pollen so high we're not working her out until they get going on making her serum for allergy shots and stuff like that," Moshak said.

On Friday, Mason put the six players through a series of workouts that included flipping tires, pulling weighted sleds, pushing weighted grocery carts and tug of war contests, amid other activities.

The players will hold a Monday session with Mason and then a Tuesday one with the coaches for individual court workouts. After that they are done with mandatory activities so as to concentrate on closing out in the classroom.

"After they're done on Tuesday they need to focus on academics so they can get through that part of their life," Moshak said.

The players can seek out Mason over the summer for guidance – incoming freshman Taber Spani already said she was looking forward to it – and Moshak and her staff are available if players need treatment, especially the rehabbing ones who remain under her care, but the players are on their own in terms of court work. The coaches can't be present by NCAA regulations until individual workouts begin in late August or early September.

Moshak's goal is to have the entire team ready for that date, including Cain and Baugh.

"That is the game plan," Moshak said.

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