In the context of the rest of the season, this past week was a relatively a good one for the Tennessee women’s basketball team. They played well against the No. 1 team in the nation, despite dropping the contest, and snapped a six-game losing skid against LSU.
Here are the grades from the past week:
Tennessee’s guards have stepped up their play in the past couple of games, and that has shown with results on the court. Freshman Zaay Green has been a particular standout, scoring in double-digits against both Notre Dame and LSU.
She had 19 points against the Irish, and followed that with another respectable 10-point performance against the Tigers. She has now cracked double-digits in scoring in four straight games.
The Lady Vols have lessened their turnovers as well, only giving it away 11 times against Notre Dame, and 16 times against LSU. However, the guards have been responsible for 11 of those turnovers.
The victory against the Tigers also marked a return to form for forward Rennia Davis. During her team’s slump, she entered a slump as well. She has been the go to player for Tennessee for her whole career, but she hadn’t delivered in week’s past.
Against LSU, she led all scorers with 24 points, 53.3-percent from the field. Her performance was part of a very solid one for the frontcourt in that game. Kasiyahna Kushkituah scored a career high 14 points, to go with eight boards.
Cheridene Green came away with 10 rebounds and eight points, her third straight game with 10-plus rebounds. Against Notre Dame, though, the frontcourt did not contribute much, scoring just 19 points total.
Tennessee’s offense has come under a lot of fire lately, and for good reason. At times, the players look almost lost, and there can be a lack of movement.
Those offensive struggles reared its ugly head again against the Irish, as the Lady Vols were only able to put 62 points on the board. They were also a measly 27-for-76 from the floor. The second half, in particular, was rough. They were only able to hit 12 field goals in the last 20 minutes of play.
Against LSU, they were unable to hit a single three-point shot. Generally, this is detrimental to a team’s offensive effort. Despite that, Tennessee managed to nab 44 points in the paint, and showcased some strong free throw shooting, at an 80-percent clip, to give the offense a bit of an uptick.
For about a half, Tennessee’s defense played well against Notre Dame. They held National Player of the Year candidate Arike Ogunbawale to just four points. After the first two stanzas, though, it began to unravel.
Ogunbawale scored 24 more points to lead her team’s offensive surge. The Irish hit almost 50-percent of their shots in the second half, allowing them to take a commanding lead.
Against LSU, the defense saw a revival. The Lady Vols were able to force 25 turnovers, and score 23 subsequent points off of those turnovers. The Tigers were also held to just 41-percent shooting from the field.
For a game and a half, Tennessee’s defense looked almost unbeatable.
With starter Meme Jackson suffering an ankle injury against Arkansas, the Lady Vols have had to rely heavily on their bench in the past two games, to varying degrees of success.
The reserve players were virtually non-existent against Notre Dame, scoring a combined 10 points. Jazmine Massengill and Mimi Collins did pull down four boards each, and Massengill was able to steal the ball away twice, the second highest mark for her team.
Massengill was the only bench player with a significant presence against LSU. She scored a career high 12 points in 28 minutes of action, and made six crucial free throws in crunch time to seal Tennessee’s victory.
The rest of the backups were held scoreless, shooting 0-for-6 from the field combined.
Head coach Holly Warlick has caught a lot of flack for her team’s losing streak, though the win against LSU may abate that. Her team has looked better in recent games, and marked improvements can be seen.
Though not all of her players have improved, Davis and Zaay Green have both played at a high level recently, showing their development through the season. Still, there’s a lot of areas that the team needs to work on.
The offense still stagnates at times, going scoreless for several minutes on end. The defense still has a few breakdowns, like the second half against Notre Dame. Tennessee’s coaching needs to continue to show improvement in the coming weeks.
Though they may have snapped the streak, the Lady Vols have some obvious issues they still need to adjust. Though the loss against Notre Dame wasn’t terrible, in the context of the whole game, they still got dominated in the second half.
They need to show the ability to consistently perform at a high level in the coming weeks.