Dan Fleser: Lady Vols Sluggish At First In 1st Outing Without Zaay Green

Thursday, November 14, 2019 - by Dan Fleser

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee took its time in getting around to an encore on Thursday.

The Lady Vols’ follow-up to Monday’s upset of Notre Dame began in a sluggish manner against Tennessee State. A 73-43 victory before an announced crowd of 7,213 at Thompson-Boling Arena was achieved, to some extent, in spite of Tennessee’s energy and effort.

UT coach Kellie Harper summed up the performance with one of her initial post-game comments.

“To be sharp and the best team you can be,” Harper said. “You can’t take nights off.”

Rae Burrell came off the bench to score a game-high 14 points. Rennia Davis, who was named SEC player of the week after scoring 33 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in Monday’s 74-63 victory in South Bend, Ind., had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“We’re still working on the consistent (play) piece,” Davis said. “We still have to get that right.”

The Lady Vols (4-0) were at their best in the third quarter, when they held Tennessee State (1-1) to 1 for 17 shooting from the floor and outscored the Lady Tigers 16-5.

“I thought our defensive energy was good in the third quarter,” Harper said. “We were able to feed off our defense.”

The talk of energy, or lack thereof, was fitting since UT was playing its first home game without guard Zaay Green, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice last Saturday. Harper said UT’s biggest challenge on Monday was not the Fighting Irish but rather playing its first game without Green, who typically plays at a breakneck pace.

Her absence was more evident on Thursday as the Lady Vols played with a hangover from Monday’s victory and struggled to get up to speed.

“Obviously that throws a kink into things losing Zaay,” Harper said. “She always brings energy. I think that’s one of the things we’re going to miss from her.”

With one less guard, Harper hinted that forward Lou Brown, who had eight points and grabbed seven rebounds, might make some cameo appearances on the perimeter.

Burrell’s effort, which included seven rebounds and three assists, was noteworthy since she best approximates Green’s effort level. The challenge will be harnessing it properly.

“I think the thing you get with Rae is she’s going to come in and make a play,” Harper said. “Sometimes they’re negative. A lot of times they’re positive.”

On this night, she produced two of the game’s top highlights with post feeds to center Emily Saunders. On the first Burrell zipped a pass to her freshman teammate off a transition drive for a basket. The second was a difficult lob pass from deep in the corner that Burrell arched over a defender’s outstretched arms to Saunders for another layup.

UT’s environment: After the NCAA denied Tennessee transfer Evina Westbrook’s waiver request for immediate eligibility at Connecticut, Huskies coach Geno Auriemma ripped UT’s environment on Wednesday as being “not necessarily healthy.”

Harper has a different view of the situation.

“From my viewpoint, the 12 players that I work with are bought in,” she said. “They play hard. They practice hard. They have good team chemistry. Tennessee is a great place to be a student-athlete.”  

* * *

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri who covered University of Tennessee athletics for the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1988-2019. He may be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com.

    


UTC Women Drop To 1-9 With Road Loss To UT-Martin

Dan Fleser: Texas Fights Back; Lady Vols No Longer Undefeated

Dan Fleser: Vols To Head To Jacksonville For TaxSlayer Gator Bowl


The Chattanooga women’s basketball team got off to a hot start Sunday afternoon, but couldn’t hold off the Skyhawks as UT Martin defeated the Mocs 78-51 at the Elam Center. The Mocs got ... (click for more)

KNOXVILLE – Texas emerged from a timeout early in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon as a women’s basketball team chastened by four losses already this season and determined to avoid No. 5. ... (click for more)

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee will travel 547 miles to Jacksonville, Fla., on its first bowl trip in three years. The Vols were slotted to play in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl when college football’s ... (click for more)


Sports

UTC Women Drop To 1-9 With Road Loss To UT-Martin

The Chattanooga women’s basketball team got off to a hot start Sunday afternoon, but couldn’t hold off the Skyhawks as UT Martin defeated the Mocs 78-51 at the Elam Center. The Mocs got off to a 12-0 start, denying the UTM offense throughout much of the first quarter. Less than four minutes into the game Chattanooga was 4-of-5 from the field with 3-pointers from Bria Dial ... (click for more)

Dan Fleser: Texas Fights Back; Lady Vols No Longer Undefeated

KNOXVILLE – Texas emerged from a timeout early in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon as a women’s basketball team chastened by four losses already this season and determined to avoid No. 5. Down three points to Tennessee, Longhorns guard Sug Sutton described their mind-set as being “Let’s come out and punch back.” What transpired thereafter amounted to one punch too many ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Developer To Proceed With Controversial Walden Grocery Project After Planning Commission Declines To Intervene

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on Monday chose to take no action on the zoning ordinance previously approved last month by the Walden Town Council, clearing the developer to proceed with a controversial Walden Town Center. The development slated for Taft Highway on Signal Mountain will include a full-service grocery store, fuel station, retail, offices ... (click for more)

Erlanger Reports Significant Spike In Flu-like Illness In December

Officials with Erlanger reported a significant spike in flu-like illnesses the first week of December, compared to the same period last year. Last week, the hospital reported a total of 74 cases to the Hamilton County Health Department, compared to only 15 cases during the same week last year. 10 weeks into the flu season, Erlanger has reported 396 influenza-like illnesses ... (click for more)

Opinion

A Better Plan Is Needed For Quarry Golf Course At Mountain Creek

With regard to the ongoing saga of the old Quarry golf course and its proposed development, I reject the proposed plan endorsed by the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy (Chattanoogan - Breaking News 11/30/2019) and believe a better outcome can be achieved. There is a middle ground that involves all R-1 construction including preserving the tree, greenspace, streams and ponds. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Absolute Top 100

Several weeks ago one of my favorite websites, 24/7wallstreet.com, teased me by releasing its version of the “100 Absolute Best Songs in History” and anytime I see such a boast it's like trying to pick “The Best of All Your Girl Friends Who You Didn’t Marry,” or “My Best SEC Football Players In 50 Years Of Watching Close.” The easiest way to shut down any argument is to counter: ... (click for more)