Tennessee: functional

This story about Tennessee’s road game against Alabama tonight is cause to blink on a few levels. First, center Kelley Cain will miss the trip to stay home and go to class:

Cain won’t be there for the Lady Vols’ SEC women’s basketball game Thursday against Alabama (10-15, 2-10 SEC) in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (TV: CSS, 9 p.m.) Tennessee’s starting center will stay in Knoxville to attend classes. The 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore, an honor-roll student who’s scheduled to graduate in December, is a marketing/logistics major and has a busy class schedule on Thursday. Road games have cost her class time three of the last four Thursdays.

“I talked to her about it and I said ‘Would it help you if you worked out with us (Wednesday) and then (Thursday) you would be here to go to your classes?’ ” Summitt said. “She was like, ‘Coach, that would be awesome.’ ”

Glory Johnson is trying to figure out her mistakes. And this:

Summitt has been especially critical of her players lately. She ripped them at halftime of last Sunday’s game and tossed freshman Kamiko Williams from practice on Monday. Yet she sounds more like a concerned mother after perceiving a dip in Johnson’s usual level of effort.

“I ask her even during the game; I say ‘you seem to give into fatigue, are you eating, are you eating healthy,” Summitt said. “Everything I ask her, she says, ‘No, I feel OK.’ I don’t think she’s quite aware of it, but we’ll keep emphasizing what she needs to do.”

Critical but caring don’t sometimes go hand in hand like that.

And then Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood’s role as a translator is illuminated:

Lest anything else get lost or garbled in translation, assistant coach Dean Lockwood follows up with Johnson after she’s been yanked. As he said, “I’ve tried to keep a little bit of what it felt like as a player. I know how I felt when that happened. I think I would want someone to talk to me.”

Sounds like a Final Four team to me.

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