This post has been a work in progress for 10 days or more - it is not an emotional knee-jerk reaction to the Texas loss. I have held my tongue and pen (keyboard) long enough. The sky has fallen on our beloved Lady Vol program. 

Even Michelle Voepal asks the question: It's past time to worry Michelle. 

“We will figure it out, go back to the drawing board and get this team off to a better start.”

REALLY?   Am I alone in my complete lack of confidence?

Maybe I'm just totally frustrated at the loss of one of my favorite past-times as a fan who has over 14,000 posts to this site and a weblog devoted to the LADY VOLS 

Looking back at just some of the pictures I took and posted over the years makes me nostalgic for what once was and is no more. Back on Nov 18 2007 Texas came to TBA and we celebrated with a through thrashing of Texas 

Tennessee was up 64 to 41 with 15 min left to play in a blowout with where it rained 3 point shots from the perimeter. Final score 92 to 67 with 9 of 18 made 3 point shots. 


link to LADY VOL excellence and tradition 
Banners will fade with time - A sad reminder of who we were. 

It was not that long ago that I spent countless hours making the case during MAYAGATE that there was no comparison between Pat's program and the travesty the was concocted by cheaters in New England who used Doris Burke and ESPN as a recruiting tool and put top recruits (Carolyn Doty) in the head coaches office with Sue Bird and Diana T and a Wendy's cheeseburger. link 
In those days the Lady Vols schedule put the XXXXX team to shame and (great link)  I posted the ranking of every opponent down to the many many 100 rank and MUCH lower ranked opponents on the XXXXX schedule in color coded posts to illustrate the disparity.  *this link is a fun link to remind us of what was. Sadly those days are gone.  I never print the name of that school and team because I believe Pat's boycott meant that we should boycott even the mention of the name. 

Born in Fort Sanders Hospital, first residence Aconda Court - later called Alumni Hall - torn down this year at the corner of the Student Center block; my TORCHBEARER mother made me a fan of the Lady Vols sitting in the arena keeping score on her own notebooks during games to keep herself from leaping out of the stands. 

This is prelude because many of you will consider this post negative heresy.  This lengthy discourse  has been under construction for a couple of weeks and is one shot at what could have been 20 posts.  I only have one question for all of you:


A missed Final Four was once the exception.

That is what was here built by Pat – great players – and the largest most dedicated fan base in the women’s game. The Lady Vols are KENTUCKY of the women’s game. It is our place in the cosmos and was won from exceptional effort by and exceptional individual assisted by great fans.

Understand this: Holly is a VFL and a fine person - but she is not the leader and coach this program should have. We should be taking our pick of TOP 10 recruits every year.  Absence from a FINAL FOUR should be a rarity - an exception to the rule.  This program deserves and should demand AN EXCEPTIONAL COACH - for a $665,000.00 a year this should be our demand. Don't settle for less - for just good - for someone who 'earned it' -  I want to see us with a coach who sees the LADY VOLS as superior to the XXXXX program and who considers absence from the FINAL FOUR a FAILURE.  We will not get that kind of coaching without DEMANDING IT.  As far as I'm concerned anyone who thinks this way of thinking is negative is an impediment to the ultimate goal "A LADY VOLS program that has no equal." 

The days of “We will figure it out, go back to the drawing board and get this team off to a better start.” are over and done. We don't have time to let this staff go back to the same drawing board where they drew up the plans that have seen the precipitous decline in player development, winning basketball, and ZERO recruiting. This is massive TOTAL DRAWING BOARD FAILURE and anyone who thinks this staff can fix what they have broken and not only failed to fix - but watched decline day after week after year. They have no idea how to fix this or how to "get better".  If we were seeing any improvement instead of decline we could wait and see but we are not seeing improvement. Even the D and rebounding are declining. Can you name one area or one player who has improved under the coaching of this staff? 

Any acceptance of ‘good’ and ‘adequate’ while being ‘nice’ and ‘positive’ about mediocrity is not what Lady Vol basketball is about. - and this is not "good" or "adequate". Pat would never settle for this – and as a fan of what Pat built I don’t think we should settle for it either.

A coach worthy of the Lady Vols has to be capable of putting together recruiting classes every year of 3 or 4 TOP 10 McDonald’s AAs. Tennessee has the facilities and the fan base. We have the tradition and the name brand. We have the The SUMMITT floor in an arena filled with eager fans and our coaching staff FAILS TO SIGN ANY RECRUIT IN 2015? How is that OK with anyone here – particularly you Kyra Elzy?

TOP 10 REASONS TO BECOME A LADY VOL  link to recruiting advantages of the SUMMITT at TBA. 
No better recruiting tool for women basketball was ever conceived 
Our current staff has grown stale and self-satisfied  – our All American post from Oregon has not improved her post game Dean Lockwood. Cedes was a distant second place in the race with her counterpart vs Texas. She looked weak, timid, and totally incapable of putting her body on the Texas post – and it was noticed by even Carolyn Peck.

Our guards Reynolds and Carter look worse now than they did as freshmen Holly Warlick.  How can you take capable guards who look good as Freshmen and turn them into ineffective nonentities as Juniors? Both Reynolds and Carter were capable of hitting the three and finishing layup prior to this season. 

As CP3 noted; we don’t seem to run any offense. When CP3 speaks we should listen. We can’t seem to develop shooters – and the long time staff of self satisfied highly paid former assistants to Pat have evidently lost touch with what it takes to mold excellent young women athletes into better players every day, week, month and year of their time at UT.  Women don’t do ONE AND DONE. Coaches have them for four years and have to be capable of improving their skills or they are simply a waste of time and money. A hungry young staff out to prove their mettle could be what is required to rekindle the fire and desire to excel. 


Listening to the Army game I learned that UT guard Kevin Punter was coached by Barnes to completely change his shot in the past 3 months. It took a couple of months but his arm positioning and release point were totally altered and the results have been near spectacular as he is leading the scorers on our undersized and barely rated men's team.  The early success of the men is a very good sign that we have a coach who knows how to get the most from a very depleted roster. I imagine what a coach like Barnes might get out of talent like we have in the Lady Vols program?

Isn't that amazing?  A coach who actually spends time with individual shooters showing them how to improve their shooting style and performance. Our men are undersized 2 and 3 star recruits who have suffered through 3 coaches in 3 years but Rick Barnes evidently gets it. He is making mediocre players (by comparison to the opponents) into better competitors. After 3 coaches in 3 years our men's program is a shambles but the coaching staff is actually improving what they have to work with. 

Compare that with out ALL STAR Lady Vols team picked to be one of the one seeds on the way to a Final Four. It seems to me that coaching offense and shooting is key to maximizing the performance of any basketball team but what do I know? I can only go on what we know about XXXXX and the men's team coached by Barnes and the statement made about how they teach offense in order to learn defense. 

Good shooting is a matter of good mechanics and above all confidence. A coach who threatens to remove the arms of shooters has doomed them to fail. 

We are at the point of crisis given recruiting results and the "product" we see on The SUMMITT.  We should not settle for "good" when this program has every advantage required to be GREAT and right now our program is not even “good”.  Our fans need to demand excellence and exceptional performance to get excellence and exceptional performance. 

Pat was and is an iconic coaching figure but even she went to great lengths in her tenure to go to Villanova and learn the offensive scheme of the coach there when she felt she might be failing the team by not keeping abreast of the latest greatest offensive schemes. I can also recall a changing offensive scheme for many specific games based on the player match-ups. Pat loved 3 point shooters who could open the middle because they made the opponent come out and guard them. It seems to be a part of the puzzle that is unknown at this time by the words of our coaching staff.  Shanna and Sidney are just two of the prolific 3 point artists we cultivated here at UT. I really miss that part of our game plan. A plan with a specific offensive purpose and perimeter threats that required opponents to stretch their defense. 

We can only judge the statement's of the head coach since she is very specific about her philosophy and her game plan.   

WARLICK: "Anybody that knows TN knows that we play inside out basketball."

WARLICK: "We've got to get the ball inside and penetrate, we'll get better."

WARLICK via Maria: "she threatened to cut off the arm of the next shooter who launched an ill-advised long-range shot"

These statements are a continuation of a theme that has made me believe that offense is an afterthought undiscovered and ignored. The staff seems to believe that shooting performance is the sole responsibility of the player - a skill to be honed during personal gym rat time.  The idea of creating open space for perimeter players to catch and shoot seems to be a foreign language with our women but Barnes believes that great defense starts with the ability to make baskets since a break out from a take out after a made goal is not possible as it is with a rebound of a missed shot.  The 3 point line is a gift of an extra point on each possession - a forced pass to the interior requires 3 things to happen for a positive result: - 1) An open passing lane 2) Great position and hands by the recipient post and 3) A non-telegraphed accurate pass to a position where the post can A) reach it and B) be in a good scoring position once it arrives.  In some ways a rebound from a near miss 3 is every bit as good an option since the post should be facing the rim after getting the rebound. 

Noting Dunbar's wonderful performance in the opener it seems our 2 best scorers both vie for minutes at the same position. One can hit the outside shots that might serve to open up the inside for penetration - the other has been a beast inside.  Since everybody knows the game plan is to force the ball inside (at the potential penalty of losing an arm), if I were scheming against the Lady Vols I would simply have my match up zone make passing into the interior a nightmare. No need to guard the guards is there? They either can't shoot or are not allowed to shoot - and our best outside (Sid Spencer/Shana Zolman) type shooter is sitting the season out on the bench because our best interior 4 player is required on the court. This seems all too simple to me.

How easy do we make it for opposing coaches to game plan? 1) Everybody knows what we are going to try to do 2) Everybody knows we don't spend much time on offensive schemes or shooting drills. 3) Everybody knows our best 3 point threat isn't on the court and nothing has changed at Tennessee - It's all about D and Rebounding as it MAINLY was with Pat - but Pat also knew the need for a fluid offensive flow with 3 point potential to open up the interior space for penetration. .

Now add playing 'inside out" with offense as an afterthought and no time spent trying to develop any strategy to get the guards involved in any offense outside of feeding the posts. Don't spend any time trying to teach  picks and screens to open perimeter shooters or a lane for penetration. The idea of a shot coach? heresy. Trying to develop an offensive scheme? really?   I can't say that I really see much improvement in lock down D even with all the emphasis and time. I guess things would be a disaster without it.  Is it the case that our players require so much practice on D and rebounding that we have no time to coach shooting and offense?  Against a zone we are lost because a zone attack requires fear of 3 point shooters. 

If I were a talented HS basketball player what would I think?  Do I want to play for a program that only values defense & rebounding? 
If I were a post player I might find that very appealing - but evidently the available post players out there this year did not. If I were an exceptional 3 point shooting guard I would look for a program where my talents were appreciated and developed.  

If I were Shana Zolman I would look elsewhere. In fact the quality and lack of improvement of Tennessee guard play is not an incentive to any HS guard prospect. I don't think Dawn Staley has that problem and I know the XXXXX coach does not. It's clear those coaches value scoring guards.  

Even if this oversimplifies the situation it seems to fit the rhetoric coming from the head coach. And if I were recruiting against Holly I would certainly have all those quotes that seem to say offense is not a part of the UT coaching ethos at hand for every talented shooting perimeter player to see.  I don't see as much of a problem actually coaching this way as I do broadcasting it almost every time a quote is required. Do coaches really think HS WCBB elites only want to play D and rebound? I think the women players are likely much like their male counter-parts - they dream of scoring and a well oiled offensive machine to go along with boards, stops and steals.   

This staff doesn't coach offense to open shots from the perimeter PERIOD. This staff doesn't coach shooting, screening, or perimeter spacing or movement. It's all get down to the offensive end and force the ball inside at all costs regardless of the  position of the post recipient of the ball. Do nothing to make that job easier by creating an outside threat requiring some defense on the perimeter.  

No wonder we suffer turnovers. Trying to force feed a tightly packed interior is an invitation for steals - and this staff advertises that sole scheme with every public comment  "EVERBODY KNOWS WE PLAY INSIDE OUT". Well we don't do that very well so I wouldn't advertise it. 

If boring ugly uninspired and totally predictable basketball that fails to take any advantage of any chance we could develop Dunbar, Reynolds, Middleton, Carter or Cooper as consistent 3 point threats is ok with you then fine. But is Dunbar a potential Zolman or Spencer? Can any shooting guard feel confident or comfortable shooting the 3 when her arm might be removed by the staff? Good perimeter shooting requires a plan to get open and complete confidence from the team and staff. Boost the confidence of a well prepared shooter who's shot has been evaluated and fine tuned by an expert coach and you turn the  perimeter threat into the key to open space in the lane.  

Why would a coach tell the WCBB world all an opponent needs to do is stop passes to the interior?

Why would a coach make statement and show by example that UT doesn’t value or coach 3 point shooting and thus discourage a talented 3 point shooter from considering the program while making it more likely that current guards will shoot with fear and a lack of confidence? How is that good coaching? We seem to miss layups like we miss threes so what's the difference? 

I can only hope there is something left for TYLER to come home to in 5 years. At the rate this is going he is in big trouble. NO RECRUITS and it's not all because Pat is gone - it's because players want to play offense with their rebounding and defense. They want to shoot and score and they want to go where the offensive schemes make the game a joy to watch and play.  At least that's how I would see it if I were a potential recruit or parent to one.  Has Tennessee developed a strong offensive shooter?  Have we had an offense that was fluid and intimidating - a threat to score from anywhere on the offensive end?  
The success of the program that Pat built is on the line. and it's got to be worth preserving and improving. Now I can't wait until it's TYLER TIME IN TENNESSEE given the current state of affairs.  If Coach Barnes can create a winning - fun to watch - team with what he has to work with shouldn't we expect great things from the talent that comprises The LADY VOLS? The team is the reflection of the coaching staff and despite all the excuses about Diamond's injury and T'ea's youth - every player on the Lady Vols team came with a higher recruiting rating than any of the men. 

EFFORT is given the highest priority - but effort must serve a plan and the only plan in BASKETBALL is to put the ball through the hoop - stop the other team from doing that and get the ball back so we can put it through the hoop again. We obviously don't have a staff capable of teaching how to put the ball through the hoop - that was painful to watch in the closing minutes of a Texas game where even layups were beyond the capability of our players. Watching the second half it was clear to me we were not capable of winning. The reason was obvious from out demeanor. We were never poised and confident and the play was frenetic and disjointed based on fear and a lack of confidence. Lost players giving effort as individuals without any focus or plan - A team that looked like they were not coached at all - certainly not a confident well-coached team. I wonder if they all harbor extreme doubts about their coaches even if they may like them. Do they believe in themselves and their game plan? 

Wonder why the team didn't help bring any new recruits to UT? 

TRUTH be told this staff is FAILING - it shows in the performance. We have effort but effort without a plan to score other than "go inside out" seems futile. That leaves 3 of 5 players on the court with only one offensive function - get the ball to the inside.  Only one can do that at a time so how much offensive effort does that require.  A team with only 2 offensive options is easy to stop and we need a coaching staff that intends to make every Lady Vol a threat to score every time they touch the ball.   If I didn't care about this program, my Alma Mater and the incredible young ladies who make the commitment to wear the Orange.  I believe they must desire success as defined by FINAL FOUR appearances more than I do.  If this staff cannot get us there with this team it's only going to get harder with recruiting like this year.  

Holly is the coach I feared she would be - a dutiful loyal assistant who could follow Pat's example and instructions - but who does not have the "IT" required to lead what should be the premier program in WCBB. 

Nobody knows what Nikki Caldwell could have done with this talent or how much it hurts her efforts to have potential recruits think she might be leaving LSU. I know those who recruit against her must float the idea that she could leave LSU for UT.  

Nobody knows if TYLER is the answer - as young as he may be - with DeMoss on his bench. But I would rather suffer growing pains with young Tyler than suffer this current situation. 

We can wonder what someone with the fire and desire of Tamika Catchings might do – or a Kara Lawson – I would take Kellie Jolly Harper in a heartbeat over the current stale and uninspired group of bench sitting caretakers. Who has Kyra recruited? What post has Dean developed lately? How come our guards are so inept at scoring with a guard as head coach?

All we can judge is what is done and what is said - the signs simply are all BAD - and no excuses make any sense.  It's what you do with what you have that matters and that's all that matters. 

I don’t know of a single coaching metric where this staff gets a passing grade. 

Recruiting?   NO
Player Development? NO
Offensive Game Schemes? NO

We did get 4 more rebounds than Texas due to 8 more offensive boards - of course we missed 48 shots (21 of 69 made FG) so we gave ourselves far more opportunities. To miss 48 shots - may of them chippies and layups - requires truly horrible shooting. I believe $20,000 spent on hiring the best shot coach we can find for a week and spending December doing nothing but practicing 3 point, mid-range and chip shots would do more to improve our chances to win than any other single activity.  

 We are not recruiting the right players – and those we do recruit are not developing into better players over time. If a staff cannot recruit and cannot make players show improvement, why are they being paid and given the reigns to the program with all the advantages:  TRADITION, FACILITIES, A MASSIVE FAN BASE, WNBA STARS, and NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS.  If you cannot recruit with those advantages you have no business in this business.  If you cannot improve the performance of players like Russell, Reynolds, Carter, Middleton, Dunbar and Graves how can we expect Cooper or any newcomers to develop into better players?  

This is a FAILING basketball program by PAT'S TENNESSEE standard. We are watching the destruction of what Pat built before our very eyes. Co-champs of a very down SEC seems ok but that isn't the Lady Vol standard of final fours and championships. And this is supposed to be the year Holly reaches the Final Four with her players?

I see no reason to mince words or dance around the issue with sympathy and compassion. Yes it's only a game played by kids and our good student athletes are a credit to themselves and UT and the community - So if that is what you think should become of a program once revered as the finest in the world then so be it. But it isn't what inspired the world. There are fine young student athletes all around the country.  The 'earned' position of $665,000 head coach has gone to a very nice VFL who stayed by Pat's side - she became the perfect loyal assistant and a credit to UT, but she is not capable of the leadership required to head coach the greatest program in WCBB history. 

Even with the shortcomings we can fade into a top tier SEC also ran with 20 win seasons and SEC tournament seeds and some Sweet 16 appearances. But we are out of the NC Final Four race with this staff and if that's what you desire then congratulations. 

And before you say it - I AM A HUGE FAN of LADY VOLS. A fan who cannot stand the idea that we will allow what Pat built to fall into the void of history without a fight to save this program from mediocrity and "nice" fans who support the successful mediocrity of sweet 16. Even that will decline with time. 

How about:
Head Coach Tyler Summitt  - $300,000 (currently paid $175,000 at LT) 
Associate Head Coach Kellie Jolly Harper - $250,000 ( now paid 145,000 at Mo St)
Associated Head Coach DeMoss - $150,000
Player development and recruiting coach - Tamika Catchings $150,000
or perhaps retain Kyra Elzy $230,000 
Total full time salaries $850,000 to $930,000

Off season perimeter & shooting coaches - Kyra Lawson and Shana Zolman 
devote 2 weeks to shooting in an extended camp to develop individual shooting 
Off season post coaches - Candace Parker and Nikki Anosiki 
devote 2 weeks to post player shot and position development in an extended camp
Put together 2 week camps with these former players and pros to key on shot mechanics like Peyton does with  Cutcliffe and his receivers. The mechanics once developed can be learned and practiced over time.  

Kellie is currently 5 and 4 with losses to OK state, Missouri, and Stanford and a win over Ol Miss.  La Tech is 3 and 2 losses coming to UCLA and Wisc.
Kellie didn't get a fair shake at NC State.