The men had their turn at noon today; now the ladies get their crack at an in-state rivalry that had been very entertaining for both sets of squads. Can the Lady Dores slow down the Lady Vol steamroller that is running through the SEC? With Tennessee playing at home I'm inclined to say no, but Vanderbilt does have legitimate reason for hope. For the SEC's token private school, everything all hinges on Hannah Tuomi - one of the most Dennis Rodman-like players the women's game has seen in a while (good, early Rodman, not crazy, dirty Rodman). If any single SEC player can upturn the Lady Vols juggernaut, that player would most likely be her.
Despite being only 6'-1", Hannah Tuomi has had a remarkable career as Vanderbilt's de facto center. The Rodman comparison is quite apt; she's usually notably shorter than those she goes up against in the interior, but she has a way of turning leverage and position into her advantage. She's the one interior player who stands a chance of getting Cain or Johnson into foul trouble if they're not careful. On the outside, Jence Rhoads is the clear leader of the team. Manning the point, she is second to Tuomi for points per game and first in assists. These two will have to be the leaders of a squad of six freshmen, three sophomores, two juniors, and three seniors.
Vanderbilt is another SEC team in rebuilding mode due to the large number of underclassmen and the departure of Meredith Marsh (graduation). The freshman class does contain a lot of height (four players from 6'-3" to 6'-7"), but not a lot of cumulative playing time yet. Give them a couple years, and Vanderbilt may have an interior rotation that will give the SEC problems. Today, on paper, this game has the look of a learning experience for the young 'uns.
Both teams are facing the same two-day turnaround from the Thursday games for this ESPN-made tipoff time, but the Lady Vols appear to have the advantage at experience, talent, height, and overall cohesiveness. Games are played for a reason, but Tennessee has given little reason to doubt that the outcome won't be decisively in their favor.
Aside: at the men's game, Pat Summitt was the most prominent cheerleader in the building. I would be surprised if Pearl doesn't make an appearance and return the favor for the guys. (Since the late game has absolutely nothing to do with the men's team, I can't see the SEC having a problem with it.) Normally, alt-coach interviews are mere distractions in a game, but if this one goes as expected, Pearl may be the most intriguing thing in the building.
Getting-cocky prediction: 85-58.