Sept. 28, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Lady Vol basketball team wrapped up its first week of team skill instruction Friday in Pratt Pavilion. The squad has been working hard to build up the stamina needed for the quick-tempo style of play that first-year head coach Holly Warlick would like to employ in 2012-13.
"It was good," said Warlick. "We did a lot of teaching and a lot of fundamentals. We're doing a lot of our offense and trying to understand passing, cutting and going to spots. I thought they did well."
Sophomore Isabelle Harrison is the lone returning post player from the 2011-12 squad that claimed the SEC Tournament Championship and made it to the Elite Eight. The Nashville native has improved and matured over the summer.
"Last year was such a learning process for her, and she was playing behind seniors," said Warlick. "I thought it was a great learning experience for her. Now Izzy has moved into that role. She's our lone post that has experience, and I think she's taken the younger players under her wing and has really matured. She's helping them understand the system, and I think now she understands the system as well."
Senior Taber Spani and junior Meighan Simmons are returnees with strong shooting skills. Simmons was third on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg.) last year, the best of any returnee (behind departed seniors Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson). Spani was sixth-best at 6.6 points per contest after averaging more than 12 per outing through nine games prior to injuries slowing her pace. The strong three-point shooting duo also accounted for 85 total treys last season.
"They're scorers," said Warlick. "They're the type that if they don't get their first four, they think the next one is going in and that's what you want. They're putting time in the gym. I think their shots look good, obviously we haven't played in a regular season game, but I'm pleased with the time they're putting in and the amount of shots they're getting up."
The season kicks off for the Big Orange on Nov. 1 at home with an exhibition game against Carson-Newman College.
Note: Some familiar faces graced Pratt Pavilion throughout this week, as Sydney Smallbone, Alicia Manning and Glory Johnson all stopped by. Johnson just finished her inaugural season with the Tulsa Shock after being drafted as the fourth-overall pick last April. The Knoxville, Tenn., product completed her rookie year first on the team in blocks (.59), steals (2.2) and rebounds (6.8) per game. She ranked third among Shock players at 11.5 points per contest.