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Lady Vol Report: In-State Rivalry


Jan. 22, 2012

Here are a few of the most important quotes of the day from Coach Warlick and selected players:

HEAD COACH HOLLY WARLICK

Ariel has grown, and I think she's capable of calling offenses and defenses as she sees fit. I'm comfortable with her doing that. She's done that progressively each game, and I think we'll need to rely on her quite a bit to control what we want to run, both offensively and defensively.

I like Jasmine Jones anywhere on defense - she plays aggressively, she plays hard, she loves to play, she plays with passion and it shows.

SENIOR TABER SPANI

"When we are on that side, communication is huge, it is going to be loud in there and we are going to have to talk well and be one out on the floor. It is easy to get out of sync when you can't hear things, and know what is going on. I think Rel [Ariel] has grown a lot and matured a lot and knows that if she can't see Holly or get a play, she can call a play and she has that knowledge and wisdom of what needs to happen in what situation. I think she has grown a lot from her freshman year to now and that will show."

"It is great. When the shots go in, that is what you want, what you work for. SEC season I have just understood that I have to step up my offensive game and I have tried to do it in a variety of ways because it hasn't necessarily been the three ball. The last two games I think I have made one 3-pointer and not shot too many. I just have to try and have a scorers mentality, understand that people are going to play me to defend the three and so I have to find other ways to score for this team."

SOPHOMORE ISABELLE HARRISON

"It is crazy. It is an experience that can't be described. I used to go to basketball camp there when I was little so when I was little I imagined myself maybe playing there one day then I started branching out to other schools and decided I loved being here. It is definitely going to be a crazy atmosphere."

JUNIOR MEIGHAN SIMMONS

"After we played against Alabama, Holly (Warlick) mentioned it to us about how they will be a scrappy and messy team. They will try to get us in foul trouble early on in the game. It has already been mentioned and we are taking it on as a challenge. We come into practice mentally prepared and focus on the things that they do and the things we need to do out there on the court. We make some changes and learn from mistakes that we made last year. We have to continue to move forward and try not to think too much about last year and focus on the now making sure we work hard from here on out."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Lady Vols will travel west on I-40 as they take on Vanderbilt Thursday at 9 p.m. ET. Ninth-ranked Tennessee enters the contest undefeated in the SEC at 6-0 while Vanderbilt, who is receiving votes in both polls, is 3-2 in league play.

HARRISON'S HOMECOMING

The Tennessee-Vanderbilt rivalry is more than just that to Nashville native and daughter of a former Vanderbilt football player, Isabelle Harrison.

Harrison's father, Dennis, played for the Commodores from 1974 to 1977, picking up a first-team All-SEC selection his senior year. Because of her family history, Vanderbilt has a special meaning to her. Harrison's father didn't have any hard feelings for her coming to UT, however. She said "he understood."

Harrison, as well as her teammates, knows that Thursday's matchup will be nothing short of hostile.

"We just have to play under control," junior Meighan Simmons said. "[We] need to come in poised and patient. [We can't] let the fans or anyone else get to you."

Simmons says they need to bring a "bulldog defense" that was put into place in the Pat Summitt era in regards to defense and rebounding.

"We just [need to] take one game at a time, and make sure we stay focused," Simmons said. "Start doing the little things early on in the game and take care of business. We [have to] make sure we all know our roles on the court."

That `focus' that Simmons knows is crucial for a win carries over into Coach Holly Warlick's coaching style as her team looks to improve to 7-0 in the SEC.

"We're focusing on SEC opponents and playing Vanderbilt, which is a difficult task for us: a huge game for us," Warlick said. "I'm really concerned for Vanderbilt and their style of play."

Warlick said it was hard to lose to Vanderbilt the last time they visited Memorial Gymnasium. The Lady Vols lost 93-79 on Feburary 9, 2012.

"I'd prefer us to come out and play the way we're capable of playing," Warlick said.

As Harrison returns back home, her teammates have confidence that she can make those game-changing plays.

"I think [Harrison's] toughness, her confidence and understanding that everyone believes in her [will make her succeed]," senior Taber Spani said.

After their eight-game winning streak, this team is ready to bring back the Lady Vol fight to the other side of Tennessee and continue in their drive to be undefeated in the SEC.

AN UNORTHODOX ARENA

On Thursday night, the Lady Vols will head to Vanderbilt where many of them will truly experience Memorial Gymnasium for the first time.

The gym, built in 1952, is very different from most Division I facilities. This arena has its benches situated on the baseline and a playing court that sits above portions of the crowd, creating a tough place to play for visiting opponents.

And last season when the Lady Vols visited Nashville, the gym got the best of the team.

"You have to acknowledge that there's differences," said senior Taber Spani. "I think it's the only court in America like that. Also you can't focus too much on that. You have to look at it, it's still basketball. It's still a court. It's still the same intensity and atmosphere. We still have the same goals. You need to address it, but I don't think you need to harp on it too much."

"Going in this year, especially with young players, their gym is different, their fans are hostile," continued Spani. "This is a great rivalry game for us. Honestly, it's just about toughness and who wants it more on the defensive end and how tough can you be."

The Lady Vols defense sits at/near the top of the conference in the 2012-13 season. In SEC play the Lady Vols have allowed just 61.3 points per game holding their opponents to a .343 shooting percentage and .285 beyond the arc.

"We started SEC play with some really good defense in second halves of games," said Spani. "South Carolina, Georgia, were really good defensive spurts for us. We need to just do that for 40 minutes. Vandy has a ton of sets, they run them to perfection, we all know they are smart and can pick up stuff and run a lot of plays. We need to really be in tune on the defensive end on what we need to do and bring that defensive intensity right away."


 

 

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