So the Lady Vols take on Ole Miss in Knoxville. Ole Miss is ...um, not good, and I don't mean that in the usual semi-dismissive "hey, this team isn't in the top 10" way; I learned my lesson on that last week. No, Ole Miss is 8-14 (1-8 in the SEC) and hasn't played a ranked team yet. Even a 7-deep Tennessee squad is a step up from what they're used to dealing with.
As far as their team? Well, it's a change from the four-guard downtown threat that I remember from previous Ole Miss teams. This team actually has forwards, although nobody's taller than 6'1" (which would've mattered more if Isabelle Harrison was going to play; she isn't, for the record). Tia Faleru is their leading scorer (12.2 ppg on 10.5 shots, 4.5 reb). Their best player, however, is Victoria McFarland (11.2 ppg on 11.6 shots, 4.4 reb, 5.1 A / 2 TO), who ...should probably stick to ball distribution. Really, there aren't any good shooters in the lot - Faleru is the best, and that's probably coming down to interior D - and nobody is a particularly dominant rebounder. (FWIW, Faleru and Courtney Mabria are most likely to suffer from foul trouble, which is a touchy subject none of us want to talk about, for obvious reasons.)
When we last saw the Lady Vols, Bashaara Graves was sneaking out a 64-62 win in Baton Rouge thanks to a late steal and bucket. Tennessee is still, for all intents and purposes, seven deep, with Jasmine Jones and Kamiko Williams as your bench players. The hope - as always, and by always I mean since last week - is that Tennessee gets far enough ahead to give Nia Moore and Jasmine Phillips some minutes.
Abbreviated bullet points, because these are all the same now:
- Avoid foul trouble. You want to find out if Nia Moore can play? Put Graves on three fouls in the first half and we'll find out. Let's not do that. Same goes for putting the guards - Ariel Massengale, Meighan Simmons mostly - and Jasmine Phillips.
- Jones' D. If we think Jasmine Jones can do a good job shutting down opponents, she'll get a lot of PT against Faleru.
- No weak spots. Look, this sucks, but with a seven deep rotation, if somebody's off, that's now a big deal. Alternatively, if Simmons puts up a 5-17 performance or something like that, this team is now in trouble regardless. I'm not sure I like this, but ....hey, that's how it goes.
Predictions: I'll go with [something], the UT media guide will go with 59-58 (oops!), and Hooper's going with 83-58 (reasoning: it's Mississippi).