Lady Vols Practice

Tennessee's head coach, Kellie Harper, watches her players during the Lady Vols practice on Thursday, October 24, 2019 at Pratt Pavilion.

Kellie Harper, Tennessee Lady Vols’ first-year head coach, met with media members to discuss the upcoming season on Tuesday.

Tennessee opened the season at ETSU on Wednesday.

The Lady Vols beat Carson-Newman, 70-44, last week in their exhibition game at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Harper opened up on the team’s first film session of the season.

"I thought the film session went really well,” Harper said. “We were really honest, but I think we are also using that as a teaching moment and teaching opportunity. We try to be positive, and although at times we are critical, we want to be positive.

“We really worked on talking about our urgency defensively and getting into position on defense a little quicker than what we did in our exhibition game.”

With a new system in place, along with a fresh coaching staff and a heavy mix of youth and experience, Harper continued by pointing out different areas of focus on the offense.

"Our offense needs to get better, period,” Harper explained. “But we know that is a work in progress. I think right now our spacing, timing and passing - all of those things - can improve, and that would improve our offense. When those things get a little bit better, I think our shooting percentage will go up. Hopefully our defense will help that by turning some plays into offense."

Harper specifically brought up the team’s three point shooting ability from last season and what she would like to do this year.

"I think if you pull the stats on this program from last year moving into this year, I think it is a concern on our three-point shooting percentage,” Harper said. “We have players that can make shots. I don't know yet what that percentage is going to be.

“We hope to continue to improve it. We have players in the gym getting extra shots up. Our staff has really been diligent in making sure that happens. I think we are going to put the work in, so hopefully you will see that pay off."

When asked if there was a specific number of perimeter shots that Harper would like see out of her team, she said it was not a priority.

“No. I am not really a coach that lives and dies by the three,” said Harper.

During their exhibition game, Harper gave everyone fairly equal minutes to see where the team stacks up.

"I think the biggest thing for us in terms of our rotation is just knowing the minute limitations for some of our players,” Harper said. “I think there are some of them that are maybe two-minute max or two-to-three minute max. And it is not that their conditioning is bad, it's just the level of focus that is required to be successful at this level is tough.

“Then there are some players I think can go for a stretch of six to eight minutes at a time, so just knowing who those people are and keeping our players on the court as fresh as possible is going to be really important for us."

Harper ended the presser by talking about what she is expecting from ETSU.

"I think the hardest part for preparing for them is that they have not played an exhibition game this year, so we don't have current film," Harper said. "Two of their leading scorers are back, but they lost several key players from last year beyond those two. They have several junior college players and some new folks.

“For us, it is a little bit of a guessing game in terms of what the personnel will look like, other than we feel like we know their go-to players. We anticipate we can see both a two-three zone, a press and man-to-man. We are trying to prepare for everything at this point.”

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