Audio: Mickey's on the road?
Gametracker: what on earth is this
Tip's at 3 PM EST, by the way.
The "regular season or extended exhibition season?" portion of the Lady Vols schedule continues apace with the Lady Vols playing at Lipscomb. This won't be the UT-Chattanooga game; Lipscomb is is terrible, clocking in with a RPI of 324 and a record of 2-5. This game is in Nashville-I'm guessing here, mind-because Lipscomb head coach Greg Brown is an apple off the Patt Summitt coaching tree.
This is literally the only positive of this game, for the record. The early schedule has been binary in quality and I'm not sure what more Tennessee has to gain by playing yet another horrifically overmatched opponent. Let's try and figure out a couple of things to watch so we don't get incredibly bored watching what's likely to be a 40-point Lady Vol win.
- Nia Moore's playing time. Moore barely played against UT-Chattanooga and Texas, which were both teams with pulses and Lady Vols losses. Correlation isn't causation, and her defense may not be particularly good against stronger interior games; however, as long as she's leading the team in scoring, there's no reason for her to sit on the bench, especially so long as...
- Jasmine Jones is taking way too many shots. It's early, but I don't see any evidence that Jones' game has improved by percentages (42.9% from the floor vs. 44.5% last year, minimal change in rebound and assist rates, but small sample size to boot); her 11.5 PPG are strictly a function of more playing time. She might go hard in practice and work hard, but this is probably her ceiling. Opponents are more than happy to funnel the ball to her and let her shoot, which really should be a sign. Speaking of shooting:
- Maybe take a few of those open corner threes. Tennessee has strong enough ball rotation to get open corner threes, but take them instead of, well, dribbling inside the arc and taking a 15-footer. This is literally the exact wrong thing to do by efficiency, and trust your offensive rebounding crew. Related, but not as necessary: Tennessee will run this weird screen-handoff play behind the arc, and about half the time, the only person defending the handoff is the screener. Maybe take that shot instead of passing around?
- How's Harrison? Isabelle Harrison looked to be showing her knee against St. Francis, which isn't great. She'll need minutes in order to shake the rust off and get comfortable with her now brace-laden knee. For all the annoyance at yet another exhibition, she's the one player who could use it.
- Who's the long-term starting five? The likely starting five for this game are Jordan Reynolds, Andraya Carter, Jasmine Jones, Bashaara Graves, and Nia Moore. There is no way this will be the starting five in March unless things go really badly; Graves and Carter should start most of the rest of the year, but I'd expect Harrison to displace Moore once she's healthy enough to go 25+ minutes, Ariel Massengale to displace Reynolds (although Massengale's seemed to have reinvented herself as a shooting guard so far this year, which is worth following), and, um, anyone to displace Jones. Please. There isn't enough strong offense in this lineup to justify it; Graves is a board-sweeper, Carter isn't a primary option, and Reynolds just doesn't shoot. That means the Lady Vols shooters are Moore (which: fine, I guess) and Jones (which: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO). If the only way to fix the starting five is for someone to step up and take that spot, great: now just step up.
PREDICTION: 95-47 Lady Vols. I mean, none of this matters tonight, but if you're going to schedule like Baylor, you better blow opponents out like Baylor. Hooper's chiming in with 93-51 Lady Vols, but we're looking forward to actual opponents with a pulse we have to actually do research on. Speaking of: yes, I know there's no information on Lipscomb in here, but if the Lady Vols struggle against Lipscomb, they have far bigger problems on their hands than me ignoring their opponent.