On a night that was chosen to recognize and remember one of the greatest coaches at any level and in any sport, the Lady Vols took another loss. It was the 6th consecutive defeat for them and if the seat wasn’t already scalding hot for Holly Warlick, losing on a night set aside to remember the legendary Pat Summitt, has set both Vol Nation and that seat ablaze.
Scouring over the the Lady Vol fan pages and fan accounts on social media there seems to be a collective group of frustrated supporters. As each defeat has come over this six game streak, the growing angst amongst fans is at an all time high and there seems to be a unanimous, strong feeling that Holly Warlick has overstayed her welcome on Rocky Top.
The year started like one that many Tennessee fans have witnessed over the last few decades under the helm of Summitt. The Lady Vols got off to a stellar 12-1 start, and then the wheels fell completely off. Over the last handful of games there have been several questionable decisions, feelings of helplessness, and at times a total lack of effort from this team.
On what felt like an evening full of hope that things might turn back around, on a night dedicated to Pat Summitt and on the court named after her, you could almost feel a belief that some how the Lady Vols would provide fans with a storybook game that would lessen the pain of the historic losing streak this team has faced. On the outset of the game, this hope swelled as the Lady Vols took a 34-31 lead into halftime. Unfortunately, heartbreakingly, but ironically almost to be expected at this point—the evening ended in a loss and just provided more fuel to the fire under Warlick’s seat.
Tennessee knew this game was a tall order going in to tip off as they were without senior leader Meme Jackson. Being short one of their most experienced leaders was just too much in the second half as a veteran Notre Dame squad ran away from the Lady Vols. In a third quarter that would see Tennessee put up only 12 points, Notre Dame parlayed the Lady Vols lack of scoring and quick, meaningless possessions with 8 turnovers to the brink of a double digit lead entering the fourth quarter. Notre Dame would go on to win by 15 and leave Warlick again looking for moral victories rather than actual ones.
“Look, I thought they were very focused today,” Warlick said after the game. “They played hard. Did they make mistakes? Sure they did, but you’ve got to go with it because you can make a mistake and your effort can cover up for a lot of things, and I thought their effort was solid.”
Warlick would again, as she has seemed to do after every loss, praise the effort and fight put out by the Lady Vols while fans struggle to see it from the same perspective. With a string of important conference games on the horizon it is “do or die” time for Warlick and her program.
As the only team in NCAA women’s basketball history that has made every post season tournament, they still have a solid chance to do so, but the time is now to make something happen. With hosting LSU at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday, The Lady Vols look to turn it around and hopefully bring a positive twist to what some are calling the tragic ending of an era.
No matter how Sunday and the season ends, two things are very apparent on Rocky Top at this time in regards to their beloved Lady Vols — we will always back Pat, but it seems Vol Nation no longer backs Holly Warlick.