Lady vols vs indiana

No. 14 Jasmine Franklin and No. 53 Jillian Hollingshead get pumped up as the Lady Vols attempt to mount a comeback against Indiana at Thompson-Bowling Arena. Monday Nov. 14, 2022.

Tennessee (7-5) has yet to beat a ranked opponent, losing to the five ranked teams it has faced. The Lady Vols look to change that as they travel to No. 2 Stanford (10-1) on Sunday.

 

Stanford’s lone loss of the year came in overtime against No. 1 South Carolina. The Cardinal are good every year, and the Lady Vols will have their work cut out for them. 

 

“I think you got to start with the talent,” head coach Kellie Harper said. “Stanford's good and they're historically good. They're traditionally good. Every year it's a challenge to play them. So I think you gotta start with that… They do a great job obviously of defending their home court.”

 

The first half of the season has been a grind for Tennessee. Of the five ranked teams the Lady Vols have faced, four are currently ranked in the top 10. Three teams that Tennessee has faced off with sit in the top six. 

 

“I think it would give them a big boost of confidence,” Harper said about what a win would do for her squad. “I think we're okay in terms of our confidence level. I think they understand where we are and where we need to go. It kind of validates some of the things we've done.”

 

Rebounding has been a top concern for this year’s Tennessee team. The Lady Vols have lacked effort on the boards, giving up second-chance points and putting themselves in tough situations. 

 

A season ago, rebounding was one of Tennessee’s strengths. Even with the elite rebounding team Harper had last year, Stanford out-rebounded the Lady Vols. 

 

Tennessee has seen some growth on the boards recently, but it still isn’t where Harper wants it. 

 

“We practice it,” Harper said. “That's not anything out of the ordinary. It has to be on our players. We're not doing anything different than we did last year in terms of our practicing and our effort, our reps on the boards. It has to be a mindset by our players. We got to have discipline and effort. I think we're getting there. I think we're growing in that area.”

 

With 6-foot-6 center Tamari Key sidelined for the rest of the year, her help on the boards is gone. More importantly, Tennessee’s defense has a lot of adjustments to make. 

 

Against UCF, the Lady Vols struggled in the absence of Key. Driving lanes that Key often clogged were wide open for the Knights. 

 

“We don't have the eraser that Tamari Key was where we could make mistakes that she could clean up,” Harper said. “Now, we cannot make as many mistakes because we just don't have that behind us. So our team has to understand the system. We have to execute the system with urgency.”

 

Against a powerhouse like Stanford, Tennessee will miss Key even more. Cameron Brink, Stanford’s 6-4 forward, is averaging 12.4 points per game, and 7.6 rebounds per game. Her size in the paint will cause issues for Tennessee without the dominating presence that was Key. 

 

“Obviously she's talented, she's playing really well,” Harper said. “She's already put up some really good games this year. Having Tamari in gives you size to contest and make things a little bit more difficult for her or any of their other post players. We can't match that size now… Our matchups could be adjusted throughout the game.”

 

The Lady Vols and Stanford face off at 3 p.m ET at Maples Pavillion on ABC. A win against the Cardinal could be a monumental step for Tennessee. 

 

Regardless of the result, Harper has already seen growth from her squad.

“I've really been happy with some areas of growth, how they've competed in practice, how they've attacked practice,” Harper said. “They're starting to get it and they're understanding what the actual priorities are. it's not their priorities, it's our priorities. I think we're starting to see that. I also think they understand what we need to look like to play well, and I think they also understand the toughness that is necessary.”

UT Sponsored Content

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.