Jimmy’s blog: Harper says season-opening tourney canceled

By Jimmy Hyams

Here are excerpts from comments Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper made today during a zoom interview with the media:

*Harper said she learned last night and the Lady Vols would not play in a Thanksgiving weekend tournament in Melbourne, Fla. The event was originally set for Cancun but was moved during the summer.

*Kellie Harper said workouts have gone well and players displaying `energy’ and `communication has been much better’ on the court. She said veterans have embraced newcomers. She likes progress of 3 freshmen and said all they lack is experience.

*Harper said there are many layers to try to put together a schedule: `One of the things we have to do is wait on information; that’s been one of the hardest things for me. – hurry up and wait.’ UT has contingent plans to add foes with an eye on strength of schedule. `It’s a complicated puzzle with moving parts.’

*Harper said she again plans to sub a lot and she’s `more comfortable with our depth. I like playing players. They come to practice every day. They want to play. When they earn playing time, I want to reward them.’ She wants to have a `liberal substitution pattern.’

* Harper said All-SEC Rennia Davis has improved yearly. `She had a really good junior year and we want to build on that’ and add diversity to her game, like ball-handling. `She can really shoot, really score. She’s a great athlete. I’m impressed with her defense on the ball, off the ball and she’s an excellent rebounder. She can continue to improve in almost all of those areas.’

*Harper said the upperclassmen are communicating well and are more confident. `When you have that confidence, it’s easier to speak and communicate on the court.’ She said the newcomers `are by nature, pretty vocal. They bring a lot of energy. They are wonderful additions.’

*Among the freshman, Harper said Tess Darby is an `excellent shooter’ and works hard. Destiny Salary `brings a lot of energy, lot of personality’ and can knock down shots. Marta Suarez is `very dynamic’ and has a `wide skill set’ and can play several positions.

*Harper said Jordan Horston is more mature, more consistent and is `doing what she needs to do to be successful. She looks amazing.’ She’s also bigger and stronger. `her strength and size should allow her to play more powerful this season.’

* Harper called wing Rae Burrell the `ultimate sixth man. `You want someone fearless who plays down hill … I thought that was the perfect role for us. .. The more she plays the better she will get.’

* Harper said grad transfer Keyen Green (Liberty University) has made a big impact with her maturity and leadership. She said Green took four charges in onepractice, which might be more than the entire team took last year. `This is a tough hard-nosed kid that wants the basketball. And if you don’t throw it to her, she will go get the rebound.’

*Harper said it’s important for team to have consistent scoring in the low post. `We’re definitely capable, the consistency was lacking last year.’ She added: `We’re talented enough and have the personnel to do it. For our offense to be as good as possible, we need great balance.’

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