VU women picking up pace in pickup games

Summer pickup season, while not official by any means, doesn't mean that Vanderbilt's women's basketball players are taking a breather. In what is expected to be Nashville's hottest July on record, Vandy players are sweating it out indoors, sucking oxygen in those few minutes between contests with practice players. It's a heated and intense time, and great for developing skill sets.

It was immediately apparent that Jence Rhoads would not be jousting on court when the point guard walked in with a sling protecting her right forearm. On January 10, the First Team All SEC player broke her hand in a battle with Kentucky, playing with the injury for some minutes before sitting out just two games to heal.

She cracked bones further up the arm in a July 26 spill when she cut across court and stumbled over her feet or a defender's. The ulna and radius split around the wrist as she put her hand out in the fall. Jence minimized the injury, saying she is expected back in playing form when the fall term begins.

"I'll be able to run next week with a hard cast, but I'm taking off this week a little bit because it hurts to move. It obviously limits lifting. I don't think I'll get that out of shape. I won't be able to play but I'll be able to run and do other stuff soon."

Without a hint of irony and a smile on her face, she admits, "These pickups get pretty intense."

Keeping company with Jence on the sidelines were Stephanie Holzer, sans cast, but continuing ankle treatment to get fully ready for the season (she will be ready, she says: "Don't worry, I'm playing. You'll see.") Kacyi Ferris, the 6-8 freshman from Carthage, Tenn., remains in a boot from an injury suffered during her senior year. Stephanie, Kayci and Jordan Coleman arrived on campus before the mid-June summer camp to continue physical therapy.

Former Vandy standouts Carla Thomas, in town before returning to overseas play in France, and recently graduated Jessica Mooney mixed it up with Lipscomb and TSU players for a quality practice squad. Jessica will be returning to campus this fall to begin a Masters in Community Development and Action. Meanwhile, she's working in the office for the Charles S. Davis Foundation, the non-profit for disadvantaged youth that was founded by her cousin and former Vandy basketball legend.

Laughing about her diminishing muscles, Jessica said the pickup games were her conditioning this summer. "I've just been hanging out and enjoying summer, visiting with friends I didn't spend time with in four years of college. I had a great experience here at Vanderbilt, and I'm excited to see what comes next."

Rebecca Silinski, resting a few minutes between play, explained that the pickup games are one-hour long and a pair of teams play to 7 points, with a 3-pointer being 2 points and 2-pointer being 1 point. A winners' court and losers' court mixes up the play.

Regarding the action, newcomer Clair Watkins played a lot of "D" in trying to stop the bulldozer that was Hannah Tuomi, plowing through the lanes. The senior looked as fit and strong as any have seen. Freshman Tori Jarosz hit some terrific shots and was on the block against Tiffany Clarke, who was able to pop in jumpers and get some stops. Highly touted recruit Christina Foggie is quick on her feet and hits fadeaways with ease. Point guard Jasmine Lister was running offense on one side and dishes to the inside quite well.

Others making the most of the hour were Gabby Smith, Elan Brown, Angela Puleo, Rebecca Silinski and Jordan Coleman, who is nearly recovered from a torn ACL last December. She ran during the pickups more than she should have her teammates were heard to say, but desire is hard to quench in a competitor.

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Vandy's 2010 squad having a littler fun (Kayci Ferris not pictured).

Look at the height! 6-3 Tori Jarosz, 6-0 Tiffany Clarke and 6-4 Clair Watkins battling.

Shooting guard Christina Foggie takes the dribble around Gabby Smith.

Rebecca Silinski and Clair Watkins watch the ball through on Hannah Tuomi's layup.

Jessica Mooney gets a pair of helping hands from Tiffany Clarke. Top Stories