Lady Vols’ head coach Kellie Harper, spoke to the media on March 17 about the recent Covid-19 outbreak, and how it has impacted the women’s basketball team.
On the end of the season and their feeling if they could compete in the Tournament.
“It seems like a month ago now, but just last Wednesday we were practicing,” said Harper. “Thursday, we elected not to practice; we had a team meeting and needed to talk about logistics. Nothing at that point had been decided about the NCAA Tournament, but we felt like that’s where we were heading. Friday, we met with the team to talk about our season being over. It was very abrupt, and I felt like we didn’t get a lot of closure with our season because the most important thing we were talking about were the logistics, and making sure our players understood the importance of taking care of themselves and the gravity of this virus.”
On if players have made it home yet.
“For us, we have the majority of our team home, they are off campus now,” said Harper. “We have a couple that are finishing up some things and then they will head home, and our international student-athletes have now booked flights to go back home in a day or so.”
On how they told the seniors on the team.
“It was very difficult,” said Harper. “I am in our team meeting on Friday talking about the decision about the NCAA Tournament and talking about what is next and by the way, these are our seniors and this was their season. It was really difficult. Hard to put some closure on things when basketball takes a back seat, as it should. We were just trying to make sure that they understand our appreciation for them.”
On the players gaining a fifth year of eligibility.
“I would have to see what it would look like, and I can’t wrap my head around that at this point,” said Harper. “I know that they have been talking about it. I want to know how that affects scholarships and numbers and who that all impacts. I think we have a lot of questions that need to be answered before I feel comfortable commenting on it.”
On her final meetings with players.
“Well I think that due to the abruptness of our team meeting and it now being spring break, I have not had any meetings with our team, with our players,” said Harper. “I know that it is important to me and that now those meetings will need to happen via FaceTime.”
On how they will go about recruiting during the outbreak.
“Recruiting for us now is very simple, you do it with a phone,” said Harper. “There is no in-person, on-campus, or off-campus evaluations, and rightly so. I do think as a staff, that we do need to be organized, and we do need to be prepared for what we can do, through phone calls, FaceTime, e-mail, texts, and mail. I think that there is still a lot we can do to assist us in the recruiting world.”