TV/STREAM: SECN+ (Online only)
RADIO: RETURN OF GOOD GRIEF
STATS: The not-totally-horrible-but-still-a-massive-downgrade UT Gametracker
Lady Vols season officially begins with a home game against the Central Arkansas Bears of the Southland Conference. Last year, the Bears finished 17-14 with a 215 RPI rating. (Wait, hold on ... checks ... no, they're not on Baylor's schedule. Huh. I guess they didn't want any Bear-on-Bear violence.) The game will serve as the official welcoming party for freshmen Te'a Cooper and Meme Jackson, and will give Tennessee their first regular season look at Mercedes Russell in over a year.
ABOUT THE BEARS
The team was led in scoring by then-sophomore Maggie Proffitt (13.4 PPG) who scored by volume shooting; her 392 FGA and 202 3FGA each led the team by about 100 shots. Now-senior Kendara Watts and now-junior Brianna Mullins were the only other double-figures scorers with 11.4 and 11.1, respectively. That leaves the Bears with a massive question mark as to scoring heading into the season.
As for rebounding: senior Brianna Mullins returns after having led the team with 5.5 boards/game. Overall, the team had 34 boards/game, identical to their opponents. The gaping problem for the Bears is that Mullins is 5'-6" tall and led the team in rebounds. (Read that again.) The tallest player this year is 6'-1" Raquel Logan, with only two other girls clearing the 6 foot mark. They'll be very hard-pressed to match Tennessee on the glass, barring some particularly lazy efforts by the Lady Vols.
ABOUT THE LADY VOLS
As it's the first game of the season, there's not a lot to discuss. The big concern, however, is the injury list. During the exhibition against Carson-Newman, Diamond DeShields was a DNP due to a recurring injury issue that seems to be a susceptibility to shin splits (note: not confirmed by the author). Jamie Nared was out with a broken left hand. Nia Moore and Te'a Cooper were likewise held out for health considerations, leaving the team with 8 players to record actual game minutes. The upside? 6'-6" Mercedes Russell played 34 minutes in her return from double foot surgery (feet surgery?) and appears to be fully healthy. Bashaara Graves also did Bashaara things, and the tandem should be completely unstoppable by Cent. Arky on both ends of the floor.
No predictions on this one. It'll be a Lady Vols blowout, barring total disaster. Enjoy the show.