Nov. 7, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- With two exhibition games under the team's belt, UT is ready to open the Holly Warlick era Friday night. The Lady Vols travel to Chattanooga to take on the Lady Mocs at 7 p.m. in McKenzie Arena, before continuing the trip down I-75 to Atlanta to go against Georgia Tech on Sunday at 2 p.m.
"I think any time you go on the road, communication becomes even more of a key," senior Taber Spani said. "We stress that every day in practice. We have to talk, we have to be on the same page going down there into a probably hostile environment. They're going to be loud and excited and that's going to be huge."
"Now they count. The intensity level, all of that gets amped up even more. I think these first two games were great preparation, especially for our freshmen to kind of get their feet wet and understand to be in their first college games. Kind of get the nerves calmed down a little bit. We're excited, Chattanooga is a great team, so we're going to have to go out and play well."
Freshman Andraya Carter started both exhibition games, grabbing a team-high eight steals combined in the two contests.
"I benefited because I knew they were just exhibition games," Carter said. "I knew I was going to make mistakes, but there wasn't that much pressure on me because they were just exhibition games. My teammates and my coaches were really supportive, and I just went out and tried to have fun."
Head coach Holly Warlick took some positives away from the first two games, emphasizing the team's great energy and effort.
"I like our energy," Warlick said. "We're not quite there defensively, but we're there in spurts. I think that's a good stepping stone for us. We have run the ball well and have had great offensive rebounding and I like that. Two things that I'd like to do are pushing the ball and making sure we rebound. We just have to fine tune on the defensive end."
Opening the regular season on the road will provide a good test for the young squad that lost all five starters from last year.
"They've said it's hard," Carter said. "You have to be able to focus on your schoolwork; you have to balance things. It's a true test of maturity and how focused you are. They've said that it's nothing that I can't handle. I think it will go well."
"It's about us," Warlick said. "We talk about being focused and making sure we understand our game plan and what we want to do. It's difficult to open on the road. We have to make sure that we're together and have great communication and make sure we play as a team. I don't care who we play, we have Tennessee across our chest and it's going to be a difficult game. UTC is very well coached. They play very well especially at home. I think we're in for a battle and I'm not going to shy away from that. I'm going to tell them you have to bring your best, have to bring your A-game and it's going to be a difficult place to play."