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How to Make a Lady Vols Exhibition Interesting

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No seriously, this one will be more entertaining than most.

Say hello to your starting point guard.
Say hello to your starting point guard.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

EDIT: Carson-Newman Game Info

Gametracker: looks like the one from last year, boo

Watch: on the trey (no, not that one)

Listen: ...for Mickey to find a new guard to fall in love with

In the previews, we took a look at the roster, breaking it into guards/wings, and forwards/posts.  The front court is, well, loaded: Harrison and Graves will continue to do their thing, with Moore as backup center and Burdick likely to spell Graves at the 4 from time to time.  If you're a worrier, then yes, that does mean the team is going to have a lot of post turnover over the next couple years.   But we'll burn that bridge when we get there; in the meantime, we'll just hang our hat on having Russell around for an extra year (and hoping the surgery doesn't portend future problems).

The guards?  Well, there's Massengale, Carter, and Reynolds; those three should have the point guard position covered just fine, thankyouverymuch, which is really nice to say when you remember having to choose between Shekinna Stricklen or Brianna Bass.  Carter in particular should slot well at the shooting guard when not spelling Massengale, but then things get interesting.  Tucker might be the best shooter they've seen in a long time, to hear some of the hype, and Middleton stole the show at the McDonald's game.

At wing, we'll probably see Burdick start there this season, with Nared and Dunbar working their way into the rotation as they progress.  Well, that's the way the plan should go on Sunday, ...

... but Burdick is one of four who will get to keep the bench warm to start the season, thanks to "violation of academic rules" suspensions handed out by Warlick.  Quoth WBIR:

Senior forward Cierra Burdick and redshirt freshman guard Jannah Tucker are both suspended for two games.

...

In addition guards Ariel Massengale and Andraya Carter will be suspended for one game each, serving the suspension against Penn.

The suspension will also keep them out of the exhibition game against Carson-Newman.  With all due respect to Carson-Newman, that's not a big deal; Tennessee's going to have it won sometime between the time they toss the ball for the opening tipoff and the time Isabelle Harrison tips it back to Jordan Reynolds.  This is the point in time I would have proposed a few lineups to watch for, but there's not much point in that quite yet.  Still, we will  see a lot of, well, unique lineups on the floor. So now we arrive at our beloved bullet points...

THINGS WE'LL SEE ON SUNDAY

  • 40 minute guards. No Massengale and no Carter (and no Tucker, even, for what it's worth in this context, since she's going to miss due to injury anyhow) means that the guards are Reynolds, Middleton, and lolNOPE.  With DeShields ineligible for the year, Tennessee will be down to two guards for C-N, as well as against Penn.  Disregard the photo caption above; Reynolds will be point and Middleton the 2.
    No, we won't actually see them play 40 minutes; Nared and Dunbar will get some time there, and maybe even Jasmine Jones, just to keep the guards from imploding.  Still, don't expect Warlick to leave any timeouts behind on Sunday.
  • We'll call it the Pendley lineup if it happens. Once the game is truly out of control, you could see something like: Nared, Jones, Dunbar, Graves, Harrison on the floor.  Certainly not ideal, but it'd be hilarious and I therefore hope it happens.  (The shortest girl in that lineup is 6'-2", and Carson-Newman's tallest girl is 6'-1", just to put it into perspective.)
  • Just lob it inside. We know that Harrison and Graves are the Konami Code in this game; it's a great time for the new girls to learn to just let them do their work.    Once that lesson is learned, they can focus on "running plays" and "three point shooting" and anything else that Pendley's pillow doesn't recognize.
  • But seriously, how good can the new girls play? It'll actually be a lot of fun to see them in a college environment for the first time.
  • Gameplan on Sunday: I will probably head to the game to watch.  Exhibitions are low-stress fun, and it'll be good to see them live and get an idea how the new girls fit into the team.  Everybody else will likely be watching the NFL.

The suspensions really throw a wrench into everything to start this year.  Fortunately, though, Tennessee isn't facing a Virginia or North Carolina in the first couple of games like they've done in the past.  But on the upside, we'll really have a good idea what we have in the freshmen by the time a major program comes up on the docket.  And probably a few laughs along the way.

Bonus videos!

(I missed this earlier, but better late than never.)