Don’t hit the picnic button yet Lady Vols fans! Tennessee started the season 1-1 after a nail biting, one point loss to #18 Florida State that saw Tennessee climb back from a 14 point deficit at the end of the first quarter. There is a lot to be excited about with this team, but also a lot to clean up if the Lady Vols are to reach their potential this season.
First Quarter Woes
The Lady Vols were punched hard in the first quarters of both games this week. They were able to correct things with about three minutes to go against Florida A&M, but against a sharp shooting Florida State team they weren’t so lucky, ending the quarter down by 14. The real dagger in the Florida State game was the three-point shooting as the Seminoles went 6-8 from beyond the arc, many of those being transition threes. Transition defense also seemed a bit shaky against FAMU and that is something Kelli Harper is going to have to correct moving forward this season.
Fear the Spear
Jewel Spear is living up to her hype as the number 4 nationally ranked transfer. Spear posted 20 points in the opener against FAMU and 18 against Florida State. She is shooting 50 percent from 3 and is contributing in every way offensively. If she keeps up this pace opposing defenses are going to have to give her more attention which should only open things up for everyone else on the floor.
Not Afraid to Take Contact
Tennessee played a total of three games this week, including an exhibition against a stacked team USA. There really wasn’t much to take away from that exhibition game, but it did prepare the team for the physical battle that is to come this season. The game against Florida State was a prime example. It was a battle the whole night and not one player backed down. Last year, particularly early in the season, it seemed like they shied away from contact, but this year the mantra seems to be “bring it on.”
Kaiya Wynn Playing a Bigger Role
Wynn has always been a spark of the bench, but in her first two seasons you didn’t always know what you were going to get. This season she has been the first substitute in both contests and it seems clear that her role is to be as aggressive as possible on both ends of the floor to give the team a much needed boost of energy.
Rickea is Ready to Play
Rickea Jackson is quickly asserting herself as one of the best in the country. For Lady Vols fans this was never in doubt, but she hasn’t been getting as much of the national attention as she arguably deserves. Well, if 31 points and 17 rebounds against a top 20 opponent doesn’t grab someone’s attention then I don’t know what will. She can do it all offensively, going 13-25 from the field and 3-6 from three as well as tallying 4 assists. Last year Jackson was learning her role, this year it is her team and she looks more than ready to take on the challenge.
Next week Tennessee will host Memphis on Monday at 6:30 and Troy on Sunday Nov 19 at 2:00.