Dan Fleser: Vols, Lady Vols Reinventing Themselves

Thursday, December 2, 2021 - by Dan Fleser
Dan Fleser
Dan Fleser

The Tennessee Vols bounced back from a sputtering start in their previous game and routed Presbyterian on Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.


One night later, the Tennessee Lady Vols showed more scoring depth in beating Tennessee Tech.


Both teams made progress, which arguably is as important now as results. This portion of a basketball season is crucial for sorting through strengths and weaknesses and laying a competitive groundwork for what lies ahead.


The Vols are undertaking a noteworthy makeover of their offense.

According to statistics compiled by Will Warren, 40.2 percent of Tennessee’s shots through six games have been 3-pointers, an increase of nearly 11 percent over last season. The percentage of shots taken away from the rim and inside the arc, meanwhile, are down by more than eight percent. Their scoring has been primarily from long range or at the rim.


The Lady Vols have been reinventing themselves since their season opener, when top returnee Rae Burrell went down with a knee injury. In her absence, junior guard Jordan Horston played a huge role in victories over Texas and South Florida. She was named SEC player of the week on Monday after being named the most outstanding player of last weekend’s South Pointe Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas.


For both teams, these are major undertakings that will be fraught with challenges – almost on a game-by-game basis


The Vols, for example, shot a sizzling 14-for-27 from long range on Tuesday. Transfer Justin Powell hit all five of his 3-point attempts. Four days earlier, the Vols were 2-for-15 on the same shots in the first half against Tennessee Tech.


Forward Olivier Nkamhoua is one of UT’s most improved players. He hit all eight of his shots against Tech and scored 18 points. He had just two attempts against Presbyterian, however, and scored two points. Nkamhoua is OK with the disparity, as long as he’s touching the ball. He thinks that’s vital to Tennessee’s long-range marksmanship.


“I think it’s just understanding it doesn’t need to be a ball-dominant game for the post,” Nkamhoua said. “But there just needs to be an inside-out rhythm to how we play because our best 3s come inside-out. Our best shot selections come when we play inside out. Not that the bigs need to be shooting the ball too much more, but often just touching it, you know.”


For the Lady Vols, graduate transfer Alexus Dye scored a season-high 20 points Wednesday night. She also attempted a season-high 15 shots after coach Kellie Harper urged her to take more jumpers.


Making shots period is the Lady Vols biggest challenge. While they’ve averaged 78 points for the past two games, Harper still sounds like she’s looking between the couch cushions for more.


“Maybe we can get to the free throw line a little bit more; maybe we need to find a few more scores in transition,” she said. “So, there’s still concerns there. I don’t think after a couple of games of decent offense we’ve arrived.”


Harper said the Lady Vols would benefit from fewer turnovers, which would equate to more shots.

“You know, we have to eliminate the turnovers for no reason,” she said, “the just-hand-it-to-the-other-team turnovers.”


Horston could help there as well. She’s too good and too important to have committed 37 turnovers. Many have been unforced, too. Cutting back on them would be a good project for December.

 

-----

 

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at ddanfleser3@gmail.com.


UTC Women's Tennis Wins 4-3 Over MTSU

Lee Track Set Records At Vanderbilt, Samford

Covenant Men Win 93-66 Over Huntingdon


The Chattanooga Mocs women’s tennis team defeated in-state foe Middle Tennessee 4-3 in thrilling fashion its second match of the season on Sunday evening at the Strang-Voges Tennis Center on ... (click for more)

The Lee University men’s track & field team participated in the Vanderbilt Invitational and the Samford University Open this past weekend and came away with three Lee records. Caleb ... (click for more)

Will Crumly and Chris Barnette combined for 43 points and the Covenant men's basketball team bounced back from a tough loss on Friday night with a resounding, 93-66, win over Huntingdon on Saturday ... (click for more)



Sports

UTC Women's Tennis Wins 4-3 Over MTSU

The Chattanooga Mocs women’s tennis team defeated in-state foe Middle Tennessee 4-3 in thrilling fashion its second match of the season on Sunday evening at the Strang-Voges Tennis Center on the campus of The McCallie School. Following the victory, Chattanooga improves to 2-0 on the young season. MTSU falls to 1-4 overall following the defeat to the Mocs. After UTC went up ... (click for more)

Lee Track Set Records At Vanderbilt, Samford

The Lee University men’s track & field team participated in the Vanderbilt Invitational and the Samford University Open this past weekend and came away with three Lee records. Caleb Long and Christian Noble had record-breaking performances in the heptathlon and mile run, respectively. Long finished the heptathlon in seventh with 4,218 total points. His point total surpassed ... (click for more)

Breaking News

3 More County Schools Shift To Remote Learning Due To High COVID Numbers

Three more county schools have switched to remote learning due to high COVID-19 numbers. School officials said, "The health and well-being of all Hamilton County students and staff has and will always be our highest priority. We are monitoring the current wave of COVID-19 spreading across our community and schools. Current state law does not permit the entire school district ... (click for more)

Firefighters Battle 2 Sunday Morning Restaurant Fires

Several LongHorn Steakhouse employees acted fast Sunday morning when a fire in the kitchen got out of control, safely exiting the restaurant and calling 911 for help. Multiple CFD Red Shift companies responded to the business at 5771 Brainerd Road. The kitchen hood was on fire and flames were coming through the hood vent on the roof. A second alarm was called to bring additional ... (click for more)

Opinion

Earl Freudenberg: Johnny Haynes Overcome His Disability To Become A Police Department Fixture

Johnny Haynes was a special person. Under almost clear skies and 45 degree temperatures, he was buried Saturday afternoon when a small group of his friends gathered at Greenwood Cemetery off Wilcox Boulevard for the committal service. The retired Chattanooga Police Department employee has been my friend since 1962. The Central High School graduate was born with polio but was ... (click for more)

Employers Broke The Social Contract - And Response

Along with our trust, most employers are going to need to give those who participated in the great resignation something to hold onto. The cliché during the pandemic is that we’re all in the same storm, not the same boat. Some of you are in yachts while the rest of us are drowning, grasping at driftwood. For some it’s being deep in medical debt, for others they suffer from burnout ... (click for more)