Nov. 27, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- As the Lady Vols get settled into the season, the competition begins to heat up. Tennessee continues its three-game home stand, as the Lady Vols welcome Middle Tennessee Wednesday and No. 22 North Carolina on Sunday to Thompson-Boling Arena.
"It is not going to be too much of a piece of cake, you could say," junior guard Meighan Simmons said. "It is going to be a lot more intense. We have to make sure we don't just wear Tennessee across out chest and (make sure to) give it our all in order to win."
"That is one thing as upperclassmen we have been trying to do is encourage the younger girls that it is not going to get easier as the season goes on. It is going to get more and more difficult and you are going to feel drained every once in a while but you have to push through everything."
"We are definitely looking forward to these games," freshman Bashaara Graves said. "We are just taking them one by one with MTSU tomorrow."
Graves is currently second in the SEC in scoring, averaging 16.0 points per game. The Clarksville, Tenn., native also is leading all freshmen in the league in rebounding, averaging seven boards per game.
"I would consider Bashaara as a silent assassin," Simmons said. "She is one of those girls who doesn't speak as much but she does put her best foot forward and she gives 100 percent whether it be a workout with Heather (strength coach Heather Mason), in the classroom, on the floor or off the floor, she is just an all-around person. I think her dedication to the program and her dedication to want to work hard made her stand out more than anything."
"I expected her to come out and play the way she is doing. I always joke with her that she is another Glory (Johnson). Glory did put her best foot forward, and she was just like that. It just reminds her that she could be an All-American just as Glory Johnson was, and I think that is why she is putting up better numbers is because she believes in herself and knows we need her out there on the floor."
Tennessee has moved up in the rankings and now sits in 16th in the AP Poll and 14th in USA Today Coaches Poll.
"It is a challenge, it is about competing, getting mentally and physically ready and that is up to our staff to do that," head coach Holly Warlick said. "Get our kids ready to play in all of these different environments. These different skilled kids, whether they (the teams) are ranked one or 20 we have to come out and compete every game. It is one game at a time. That is how we have to look at it. Our schedule does not get any easier. After we get through this tough (non-conference) part of our schedule, we get to start the SEC. We understand what it is and we are trying to compete in every game."