Courtney McDaniel posts triple double

Former Lady Vol Courtney McDaniel took home the nightly MVP award on Tuesday after a triple double, but it was her defense and willingness to run the floor that really stood out in the Women's Pilot Rocky Top League. She has a very good reason to hustle – her players are in the stands watching their coach.

There may be air-conditioning in Catholic High School's gymnasium but Courtney McDaniel was drenched in sweat after the game. With just seven available on the roster, Smith & Hammaker's players logged a lot of minutes and were still able to hand Team Hustle its first league loss, 76-59.

The S&H team also benefited from the presence of Diamond Henderson and Briana Jordan, two guards bound for Tennessee Tech, who are speedy and willing to run the floor. Jordan is the daughter of former Atlanta Falcon/Braves standout Brian Jordan.

"I was just happy two of our players showed up from Tennessee Tech, more quickness, said Lady Vol Shekinna Stricklen, who poured in 21 points, including three long three-pointers. "They helped out big time."

The win left Smith & Hammaker and Team Hustle tied for second place in the league with records of 2-1.

"We played well together," McDaniel said. "We all worked very well together, and it helps when we have our Tennessee Tech girls here. They did a great job. We all did our part."

It was the overall play of McDaniel that particularly stood out with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

McDaniel was surprised by the rebounding total because she felt she needed to get on the boards more than she did. That's not just her old coach, Pat Summitt, rattling around in her head. McDaniel coaches a 14-and-under team and also coaches and trains children of all ages, several of whom were in attendance, and one in particular who sits on the front row ready to critique her teacher.

"I coach now and some of them come watch," McDaniel said. "I have to face my kids now if I don't bring it. I have to answer to them. I have to play hard for them and set an example."

McDaniel was particularly challenged by Lady Vol Glory Johnson, who plays a physical brand of basketball, and the two went at each other inside the paint. Johnson had 10 points and wowed the crowd with her leaping ability on one defensive rebound in which she was well over the rim.

"I had to guard Glory Johnson. I will be icing a lot," the 28-year-old McDaniel said with a hearty laugh after the game ended as she tucked her MVP plaque into her gym bag.

Neither the Smith & Hammaker team nor Team Hustle got the memo that defense and sprinting the floor are not required in summer league play. Lady Vol Sydney Smallbone chipped in with four points, as she focused on her perimeter defense and pushing the ball ahead in transition during her time on the court.

"That's just love of the game," McDaniel said. "You've got to compete and play hard."

Stricklen added, "I think we're just two competitive teams that play hard and just like to run. Both teams had quick point guards so we were pushing the ball in transition. You have to get back or they'll just get layups."

It was a layup by Alyssia Brewer that kept Team Adidas undefeated in league play at 3-0 with a 67-66 win over Duncan Automotive, which fell to 1-2.

"One of my shots finally went in," Brewer said with a wry look about the winning basket.

Brewer, who has a rib contusion, had struggled from the floor in the game – she didn't start or log as many minutes because of the bothersome condition – but she scored the go-ahead basket with a counter-move in the post and followed that up seconds later with a nifty pick of a pass at mid-court.

But as Brewer headed to the basket unguarded she left the layup short, the result of indecision on her way to the rim.

"I was going to do something a lot of people probably don't think I am capable of doing, possibly dunk," said Brewer, who heard the crowd's shouts to slam the ball on the breakaway. "I did it in high school. I haven't tried it since I've been in college. And then I thought, ‘You know, don't get hurt.' "

That thought came while "I was up in the air," said Brewer, who scored six points and left the layup short on the finger roll after changing her mind after she left her feet.

Brewer was in some discomfort during the game. She sustained the contusion in an earlier game and has taken repeated shots to the rib in subsequent pickup games, too. She was checked for a hairline fracture, which was not the case, and is treating the contusion with medication.

Lady Vol Faith Dupree had 20 points in the losing effort for Duncan Automotive and continued her approach of scoring inside and out. She also logged a lot of minutes while playing for her former Webb School coach, Shelley Sexton Collier, who is on the sideline for Duncan Automotive.

"I felt it," Dupree said. "I tell my coach I need a break and she won't take me out, which is fine because I used to do it in high school with Coach Collier."

Collier would call a timeout to get Dupree a breather and then send her right back in the game. Dupree said the extra conditioning is beneficial for her this summer.

"It's good for me to get back in the swing of the game because I was out for so long," Dupree said. "Conditioning-wise it helps me. I have to get back to where everyone else is. I talked to Coach (Summitt) in the spring, and we agreed that I have to get back in shape, get back where I was, in order to play for Tennessee.

"We can pick up some stuff as well – communication. It's harder to play with these girls because we don't know how they work, so communication is a big thing. And we can always work on defense."

Dupree and Brewer were often on the floor together in the second half and that gave the two post players a chance to guard each other. Dupree tweaked her back in one collision on her way to the rim, but she stretched and reentered the game within minutes.

"I am fine now," said Dupree, who moved well after her return.

It was a blocked shot by Brewer that really got Dupree going in the game. She followed the swat with seven consecutive points, including a three-pointer.

"What ticked me off is everybody out there laughing," Dupree said of the reaction of the crowd, which was larger on the first night the women's league games didn't coincide with the men's Pilot Rocky Top League. "I was like, ‘Calm down. I've got it. I'll show you.' "

Dupree stayed in motion on offense, setting up inside and out, and forced Brewer to cover some distance to guard her.

"I was trying to make her tired," said Dupree, who took a redshirt year last season to recover from the lower back injury. "I got tired trying to make her tired, but it worked itself out. I am trying to get her away from the basket, try and post her up, try and do different things in order to score against her.

"It definitely helps me because I haven't played against a good college post. It helps to play against her and Thursday night it's going to help to play against Glory. I am definitely going to benefit from it."

Duncan Automotive squares off against Team Hustle in the 9 p.m. game on Thursday, so that will pit Webb and Tennessee teammates against each other in league play, as Johnson and Dupree both played for Collier at Webb School of Knoxville.

Another Webb product, point guard Marjorie Butler, who will be a junior in high school this fall, continued to impress as she scored 11 points and often had to guard Stricklen inside and out. The 5'7 Butler, who is also a track standout, played football in middle school and has a GPA that exceeds 4.0 because of advanced placement college-prep coursework, gives up several inches to the 6'2 Stricklen, but she played tight defense with aggressive box-outs.

"She's pretty strong. She's good, though, (especially) for a high school player," Stricklen said.

Stricklen earned the admiration Tuesday of the public address announcer, who had an entertaining banter with the players and crowd during the games. When Stricklen drained one of her long-range threes, he announced that she was one of the best players in the country and he would be getting her autograph after the game.

"I heard it," Stricklen said with a smile.

The announcer also was impressed with the smooth jump-shooting of Lady Vol Kamiko Williams.

Williams had 15 points in the News Sentinel team's 65-61 loss to DeRoyal, which was without Alicia Manning, who suffered an ankle sprain over the weekend while working Tennessee's basketball camp.

Williams did her part by putting pressure on the defense and hitting an assortment of midrange jumpers. Williams also got inside for a post-up basket, as the team lacks a true post player.

"I figured I would use my size," Williams said.

Former Lady Vol Dominique Redding scored 23 points, but the News Sentinel team remains winless at 0-3 while DeRoyal, which will have Angie Bjorklund on Thursday to replace Manning, got its first win and is now 1-2.

"We should have won," said Williams, noting that her team had a one-point lead with about a minute left and she should have used more clock before attempting a shot.

"Dom blamed it on her. I blamed it on me. I took it as me and Dom's fault. I am still having fun, but losing … learn from it and know not to do it when I play for Pat."

Summitt is not in the gym – she and her staff can't be by NCAA rules – but she's still inside her player's heads.

"Certain things I do – like my passes in the beginning were horrible – I can hear her saying, ‘Miko, what are you doing?' " Williams said. "I think it would be a whole lot different if she was here. Probably more intense and less fun. She would give you that stare."

The summer league is a relaxed atmosphere as players interact with each other, smile after errant shots because of the crowd reaction and, the Team Hustle and Smith & Hammaker teams not withstanding, put considerable more emphasis on hoisting shots instead of stopping them.

The six Lady Vol players who participated Tuesday also had a busy day. Day camp for youngsters is ongoing at Tennessee – it ends Wednesday – and activities wrapped up at 5 p.m. on campus with a 6 p.m. tip for the first league game at the West Knoxville high school.

With camp responsibilities, summer school classes, homework, pickup games, conditioning sessions with Heather Mason and league play, it's been a full month for the Lady Vols.

"Very busy," Williams said. "I am more tired working camp than working out with Heather. It's fun with the little kids (at camp). They keep you going, but it's (exhausting)."

Stricklen added, "I am having fun, but I am not going to lie. I am tired. But it's fun, though, and it helps keep my body in shape."

"Camps, workout, school, Rocky Top League," Dupree said. "This brings a little fun into our summer."

McDaniel, who played at Tennessee from 2000 to 2004, is six years removed from collegiate basketball but enjoys the camaraderie of the league.

"It's a good experience for everybody, for women's basketball, people come out and these kids have fun, so whatever I can do for this community and give back," McDaniel said.

The way Williams sees it the entire summer is beneficial.

"Workouts (with Mason) are optional, but we go in there and get it done," Williams said. "If we don't we're just going to sit around and get fat and lazy.

"We might as well stay in shape now, and that is why I like this league. It helps us stay in shape, basketball shape."


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