IF ANYBODY IN THIS PICTURE HAS ANY ELIGIBILITY REMAINING, PLEASE REPORT TO HOLLY WARLICK'S OFFICE. THANKS. - Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
As it turns out, Isabelle Harrison is pretty good and pretty needed. Add Kamiko Williams and Jasmine Jones injuries in and it's not totally surprising the Lady Vols lost to Missouri 80-63.
A step show, two players short. Sure, we knew Isabelle Harrison was (probably) out for the season, but losing Kamiko Williams to an ankle injury hurts. Losing Jasmine Jones late hurts. At the time, Williams had 14 points on 7-9 shooting, 6 boards, and 2 assists; after that, Tennessee just fell apart. Jones didn't really do a whole lot, it should be said - 1 point, 2 boards, defense in 24 minutes - but you what Tennessee needs right now? Bodies. Tennessee doesn't have bodies. This is not good by any stretch.
And yes, today was a "Must Improve: Everything" kind of game; ball control was completely non-existent, as was defense and rebounding . Tennessee can't win games when none of those things are happening. That can't continue, point blank, end sentence. That being said, they're not doing anything with a rotation that only goes 5 deep.
Credit Missouri for coming out with a solid game plan and even better ball movement and bench scoring. Sure, Morgan Eye's 24 points from off the bench is what you'd expect (although hopefully not quite that many, but you know she's shooting a bunch of threes), but the 23 assists is not. Lianna Doty gets credit for the line-stuffing box of the afternoon: 7 points, 1 board, 7 assists, 4 TO, 2 steals, 5 fouls, 23 minutes.
So now we look ahead to the specter of life without Harrison, Williams, and Jones. That specter isn't promising; it leaves the time with 5 players Holly Warlick trusts. This game was effectively decided with 5 minutes to go in the second half (yeah, that hurt to type), and neither Nia Moore nor Jasmine Phillips sniffed the lineup. Everyone else is injured. We should all be glad Cierra Burdick is back,. As it is, it's not much better now, and there's a month left to get Phillips and Moore into game shape and pray to whatever deity you choose that someone - everyone - comes back soon.
Seriously, take the idea of any titles off the board for now; the Lady Vols control their own fate, but they are not winning anything with this squad depth. They will make any and all tourneys without fanfare, but at this point even the Sweet 16 (assuming everyone's out for the season) may be a pipe dream. Moore and Phillips will have to play, even if it's to spell players. Better hope someone comes back soon, because this team is going to be devastating in all the wrong ways.
Some bullet points below:
- The POG would've been - and probably still is - Kamiko. She didn't play the second half and still lead the team in points, boards, and steals.
- Ye gods. When I said we could probably suffer Simmons having a bad game, I was not counting on a 5-16, 11-point, 2 TO massacre. That was disgusting. She wasn't the reason Tennessee lost the game, but holy moses, that didn't help that all.
- Bashaara Graves is finding it tougher going when she's constantly eating a double-team. On one hand, that's good for her (and she still got 11 on 5 shots (helps when you get 10 FTA) and 6 boards), but on the other, she isn't good enough yet to beat double-teams. You know, as you'd expect from a freshman. It bears watching, because while we didn't really expect the team to need her to throw up 25/15s every night, well, she might need to do that.
- Your Nia Moore and Jasmine Phillips lines for the night: DNP-CD. Uh-oh.