Lady Vols prepare for Stanford

Holly Warlick

The Lady Vols got back to practice Thursday to prepare to face Stanford before breaking for the Christmas holidays. Go inside with Inside Tennessee for the latest on the team and video interviews.

The Lady Vol coaching staff was split in two Thursday – two coaches were in Arizona for the Tournament of Champions, a showcase event in girls' basketball, and two coaches were in Knoxville to run practice.

Head coach Holly Warlick and assistant Dean Lockwood, who prepared the scouting report on Stanford, handled the court work back home while assistants Kyra Elzy and Jolette Law evaluated high school talent in Phoenix.

The Lady Vols will be back on the practice court Friday and then host Stanford at Thompson-Boling Arena at 4 p.m. Eastern (SportSouth and MyVLT) on Saturday.

"Nell on Wheels," the traveling promotional show for women's basketball, will be on hand before the game. Info about the event can be found by CLICKING HERE.

The Lady Vols returned to Tennessee in the wee hours of Wednesday and were given a day off after a tough two-game stretch in the Lone Star State that began with a win over Texas and ended with a loss to Baylor.

Jenny Moshak, the team's chief of sports medicine, has had a busy week with freshman Bashaara Graves handling media interviews Thursday because she was one of the few players not in the treatment room for assorted aches and pains following the road trip.

Isabelle Harrison, who missed Tuesday's game against Baylor because of a right ankle sprain suffered against Texas, was held out of practice Thursday and spent the session with Moshak for rehab.

Warlick said she was hopeful that the sophomore center would be available for Saturday's game against Stanford, which rolls into town with the No. 1 ranking in the country.

"I think the chances of having her for Saturday are a lot better than for Baylor," Warlick said. "Baylor was a long shot. I'm very, very optimistic we will have her."

Tennessee will still be down two players in freshman Andraya Carter, who had shoulder surgery and is out for the season, and sophomore Jasmine Phillips, who used the month of December to catch up academically and is eligible to play.

Warlick has held Phillips out of the past two games and will do so again Saturday by coach's decision. Phillips also is ailing a bit physically – she injured a quad and also has some hip pain – so the off time is partly attributable to that, though she did return to practice late last week after two weeks away.

The Cardinal survived a close game at South Carolina on Wednesday with the Gamecocks within a point with less than a minute to play before falling to Stanford, 53-49. Tennessee opens the SEC season on the road against the Gamecocks on Jan. 3.

"It just gets worse," Lockwood said with a smile. "It goes from bad to worse."

Harrison's presence would bolster Tennessee's chances to defend its home court because the three other available posts are all freshmen in Bashaara Graves, Nia Moore and Jasmine Jones.

"I am a little tired but I think that's from lack of sleep than the actual game," Graves said. "I have got to get used to sleeping after really hard games. I am a little tired, but that's about it."

The dorms are closed so the freshmen have been living in hotels since Saturday. They will stay at a local hotel in Knoxville – minus the trip home for Christmas – until the dorms reopen in January for the spring semester. Ariel Massengale said at the beginning of the season that getting an apartment as a sophomore was the best part of being a second-year player.

All three freshmen held their own against Baylor and the 6-8 Brittney Griner as best they could – Warlick said Thursday she wants to get Moore more minutes going forward – despite being undersized and lacking experience.

Warlick cited a specific team-wide area that needs to be fixed before Saturday – defense, specifically chatter on that end of the court. As the shots continued to clang for Tennessee on the offensive end and Baylor swished the nets for a 17-0 start, the Lady Vols got quiet when the Bears had the ball, and their defense is predicated on communication.

"We didn't talk on defense a lot," Graves said. "That is what stood out to me a lot. We missed a lot of box-outs. That hurt us a lot. We need to fix a lot, actually. Talking will solve a lot of our problems."

INSIDE TENNESSEE VIDEO COVERAGE

Thursday practice clips

Bashaara Graves

Holly Warlick

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