Randy Smith: Holly's Dilemma

Friday, January 18, 2019 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
When Holly Warlick took over as head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team in 2012 it capped a lifelong dream to be the one who replaced the legendary Pat Summitt. The only thing was, the scenario surrounding the hiring of Holly wasn't what anyone expected. Coach Summitt was forced to end her Hall of Fame career early because of early onset alzheimer's; the same disease that would take her life in 2016. It in no way was the ideal situation for Holly. She was forced to enter her first head coaching job while at the same time, watch her long-time friend and former coach die in a way that no one should ever have to experience.

I'm not making excuses at all for Holly Warlick.
She is a big girl and, even though this was her dream job, I believe she knew the kind of pressure that would be facing  her beginning with day one.  She has recruited well, and won a lot of games at Tennessee but she is no longer in the good graces of the fickle Tennessee fan base. As of today, the Lady Vols are in the midst of a three-game SEC losing streak, their first in more than 30 years. Despite getting off to a good start this season, the team has hit a major slump at the midway point and it remains to be seen if Holly can snap her team out of it.

In her defense, things have changed a lot since Coach Summitt's unequaled success. Schools were forced to improve their women's basketball program just to be able to simply stay close to Tennessee. Twenty years ago, there was Tennessee on top and then there was every other women's program in the country. UConn was the first program to challenge the Lady Vols and Coach Gino Auriemma won his second NCAA Championship in 2000. Since then the Lady Huskies have continually climbed the ladder and surpassed Tennessee as the standard bearer for women's basketball. Other schools have now caught up to UConn and parity in the game has become much more prominent.

Tennessee is still historically near the top of women's basketball but it's no longer the way it was. Coach Summitt created the game as we know it and Holly Warlick is now in charge. There will never be another Pat Summitt, we all know that, but I sincerely hope that Holly can turn things around and make the Lady Vols a championship contender again. It's not likely that athletic director Phillip Fulmer will make a coaching change as the university signed her to a three-year contract extension last year. However, knowing Holly as I do, she may decide to step down under pressure rather than watch her program continue to suffer. 

Following a legend is one of the most difficult things to do in sports. Holly has done admirably but her biggest mistake has been the fact that she is not Pat Summitt. When Tennessee fans accept that, things may get a lot better in Knoxville.
 
* * *

Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com


PREP TOURNAMENT SCHEDULES

PREP TOURNAMENT RESULTS

Covenant Men Advance To USA South Semifinal


PREP BASKETBALL All game times are 7:00 p.m.local, except where noted DII-A State Tournament Wednesday, February 20 Boys FACS vs. CCS (at Webb School/Bell Buckle) 6:00: Goodpasture ... (click for more)

Basketball Results District 6-AA Girls: Tuesday, February 19 Signal Mountain 47, Red Bank 37 (championship) Boys: Tuesday, February 19 Tyner 68, Brainerd 58 (championship) ... (click for more)

The Covenant men's basketball team held on for a narrow victory, 67-66, over Huntingdon on Tuesday night in a USA South Tournament first round game inside Barnes PE Center. With the win, ... (click for more)


Sports

PREP TOURNAMENT SCHEDULES

PREP BASKETBALL All game times are 7:00 p.m.local, except where noted DII-A State Tournament Wednesday, February 20 Boys FACS vs. CCS (at Webb School/Bell Buckle) 6:00: Goodpasture at Notre Dame Region 3-3A Tournament Girls Friday, February 22 White County at Bradley Central Cleveland at Cookeville McMinn County at Stone Memorial ... (click for more)

PREP TOURNAMENT RESULTS

Basketball Results District 6-AA Girls: Tuesday, February 19 Signal Mountain 47, Red Bank 37 (championship) Boys: Tuesday, February 19 Tyner 68, Brainerd 58 (championship) District 5-AAA Boys: Tuesday, Friday 19 Bradley Central 72, McMinn County 45 (consolation) Cleveland 56, East Hamilton 54 (OT) (championship) Division II-AA ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Waggoner Pleads Guilty To 2nd-Degree Murder In 2016 Death Of Bradley Aaron Powell, Whose Body Was Found On Lookout

The trial of the Chattanooga man accused of killing Bradley Aaron Powell in 2016 was supposed to begin Tuesday. Instead, 24-year-old Cody Waggoner entered the Marion County Courthouse in Jasper and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Mr. Powell’s death. He was sentenced to 38 years in prison, and taken immediately to the county jail to begin that incarceration. ... (click for more)

Man In His 20s In Critical Condition After Shooting At Hixson Apartment

A man in his 20s was in critical condition after a shooting at a Hixson apartment complex on Tuesday afternoon. The incident happened at River City North Apartments in the 3800 block of Hixson Pike. The victim was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. (click for more)

Opinion

Heavy Rains Are Coming In The Next Few Days

Please remember to check on folks that are vulnerable which includes the elderly and homebound. With expectations of up to 7 inches or more of rain, we may see flooding in areas that rival those of the past. As Chief Roddy told me this morning, be proactive, not reactive. Pack for an extended stay at work or someone's house. Be ready with extra food, water and blanket in your ... (click for more)

The $500,000 Tax Money Giveway

Mayor Berke, On September 5, 2017, you asked and were granted a 22-cent property tax increase for city government operations and a capital fund. At the meeting, the City Council approved your proposal for the property tax increase of 22 cents per $100 of property assessment. As a result, every business, home owner, and property owner had one-month notice that their local property ... (click for more)