Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Sports Columns

February 16, 2012

Rocky Top Beat: Will the real Lady Vols step forward?

We have seen the best and the worst of the current edition of the Lady Vols in the past two games.

In Nashville against Vandy, the Lady Vols looked totally out of sync and then looked very much like the team many expected against SEC leading Kentucky Monday night.

That leads to the next logical question – which is the real Lady Vols? The answer is probably both. 

Seniors have traveled a twisted road

This senior class started their time on Rocky Top with great expectations back in 2008. It didn’t take long until those lofty expectations faded. Starting the season as defending national champs and getting to Pat Summitt’s 1000 career victory put early pressure on the team.

They struggled to live up to the pre season hype and found themselves with no SEC Championships and a 22-11 record, which included a first game exit to Ball State in the NCAA Tournament. 

The next two seasons found the Lady Vols performing at a more Lady Vol like level with back to back SEC regular season and tournament championships. They went a combined 66-6 and suffered only one narrow loss to Georgia over those two years in the SEC. However, they ran into trouble against other elite teams in the post season, failing to advance to a Final Four. 

Multiple adversities for the 2011-'12 Season

This season the Lady Vols have dealt with Pat’s medical condition, injuries to key starters, and a different game day coaching situation. Just to make it even more interesting for them, they have welcomed a new starting point guard and two additional bench players into the mix. This has been a lot for these young ladies to deal with on the fly as the season has unfolded. Don’t forget that the team had two post players leave the program before the season started because of chronic injuries. 

This past Monday, with the injuries behind them, they showed exactly why this team was ranked so high entering the season. Perhaps it took that bad game at Vanderbilt to focus this team for a stretch run. Over the next two weeks, the Lady Vols will need some help if they are to secure another regular season championship. 

Welcoming the post season

 The Lady Vols look like they could be a handful for any opponent facing them in March. Having said that, they will need to stay healthy and keep their focus if they want to get to the “promised land” in Denver. They have the pieces of the puzzle and their overall talent matches any team they might play. For this core group of seniors, the time to live up to the potential is now!

The future for the Lady Vols and their head coach is full of uncertainty, but this team still has the opportunity to make this season special.

This team looks like they have started to have fun on the court and have finally learned to handle the difference in game day coaching.

Was Monday only a glimpse of what this team could have been or is it what they are? The next few weeks will go a long way into answering that question. 

Vols stock is rising

The Vols have started their own sprint towards March Madness. Pulling a dominating upset in Gatorland last weekend and a solid home win Wednesday over Arkansas certainly has the post season conversation picking up momentum. Coach Martin says they have a real shot at the NCAA Tournament, even though the NIT could be the more logical destination. He has done a great job with a team that was picked last in the SEC. 

Finishing strong

The Lady Vols and the Vols could not have picked a better time to start to peak. It now looks like both teams will be entering the critical time of the season playing their best basketball. Injuries and intangibles are always a concern but, at least for now, Tennessee fans have a lot to be excited about.

Go Vols and Lady Vols.

(Frank Gale is a Chronicle correspondent and his column appears regularly.)

 

1
Text Only
Sports Columns
  • All in the Game: Can things get much better for the 'Dores?

    I didn't really plan on writing any more columns about my favorite team, but I know how much all of us Tennesseans enjoy reading about winners. These past three years, and especially the last two, have been really exciting in terms of gridiron action. I'll have to admit that recent successes have exceeded my grandest expectations and now I expect things to get even better.

    July 31, 2014

  • Oh Good Grief: Get ready for fall sports

    To quote the late Bobby Denton, "It is football time in Tennessee," but there will be other sports going on this fall, as well.

    July 31, 2014

  • Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    Cheating has been part of college athletics probably for as long as people have bothered to keep score.

    July 24, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Vols begin preparations for season opener in eight days

    The start of fall practice is only a mere eight days away. Coach Butch Jones has to be ready to get Team #118 on the field and to start preparations for Utah State.

    July 24, 2014

  • Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Even when Tiger Woods finished just a few strokes from last place at the British Open, he was one of the  featured topics in stories coming out of Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

    July 23, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Vols focused on Utah

    The SEC media days have come and gone with no real news being generated. A successful media days appearance is usually defined as leaving Hoover, AL without giving a future opponent bulletin board material. Using that criteria, Tennessee left without any major gaffs.

    July 17, 2014

  • Oh Good Greif: Good things must come to an end

    The Dr. Pepper Classic, a long-time tradition at McKenzie Arena, affectively-known as the Round House, will seize, as a couple of teams dropped out, leaving the university in a "lurch," according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press Tuesday morning. Teams wanted a cash guarantee to play, which couldn't be provided (at this time).

    July 10, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Majors Invitational tees off Sunday at Lake Tansi

    It is the second weekend in July and that means Johnny Majors is at Lake Tansi this weekend to host his annual golf tournament. It is always a treat for the local UT fans to interact with those that have been a part of the Vol football program. They come to the plateau each year to renew old acquaintances and share the stories of gridiron prowess from past years. By the way, the stories sure seem to get better with time.

    July 10, 2014

  • Oh Good Greif: 'Dores make history with CWS win

    History was made at the College World Series in Omaha, NE, this week, as the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team won the school's  first national championship in any sport since the Vandy women's bowling team won the 2007 national crown.

    June 26, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Tyndall hire closes the book on Martin era

    The University of Tennessee was able to close the books on the Cuonzo Martin era of Vol basketball earlier this week when they hired Donnie Tyndall to lead their program. Athletic Director Dave Hart, who conducted the search and the hiring on his own, appears to have found the right coach for this team at the right time.

    April 24, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014