KNOXVILLE, Tenn. —
“She’s super, super fast,” Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins said of Simmons. “She has great speed. I think she can score in a variety of ways. She’s a very emotional player. She can score in bunches.”
The Lady Vols have also gotten an instant impact from freshman forward Bashaara Graves, who has 14.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. And Tennessee’s players say the coaching change hasn’t been that big of an adjustment.
Players already were accustomed to working with Warlick, who constantly preaches the importance of defense and rebounding by pointing out those traits were the hallmarks of Summitt’s best teams.
“You hired the assistant that was there (27) years, so they’re still going to respect the same qualities Pat instilled in Holly and in the program,” Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. “She built a program and a tradition. That just gets passed down. There’s a lot of generational leadership. It’s not like someone from the outside came in and is going to change a lot of things. I’m sure (Warlick) has her own way of doing some things, but there’s also going to be a lot of similarities to the way they’ve played in the past, absolutely.
“The one similarity right away is that they win.”
Now they’re looking for that signature victory.
Last season, Tennessee fell 72-44 at Notre Dame in the second-most lopsided loss of Summitt’s tenure. After that game, the coaching staff covered the walls of the Lady Vols’ locker room with pieces of paper showing the final score.
“They got after us and they by far were a better team than we were last year,” Warlick said. “We weren’t even close. Sure we’re going to use it to motivate us to see where we are, as a measuring stick for us.”