The first day of official training in Tennessee took place on the Tuesday before the 2022-23 season.
Kelly Harper enters her fourth season as head coach of the Lady Vols.
Tennessee is returning four starters and 10 winners for the upcoming season. The Lady Vols started 18-1 and finished 25-9 overall (11-5 SEC), advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen last season.
The Lady Vols will open their 2022-23 season on October 30 against Carson-Newman at the Thompson Boling Arena in an exhibition event.
On October 13, the Tennessee men’s and women’s basketball teams will host Market Square Madness. The pre-season fan event will begin at 7:00 pm EST at the Market Square.
Before the first practice in Tennessee, Harper met with the media and announced the 2022–2023 season. Harper’s media transcript provided by the University of Tennessee is below.
“Welcome back to what I consider basketball season. I know that we are very passionate about other sports right now, but with the start of official basketball training, we feel that this upcoming season is getting much closer for us. Good to see you guys here again, hope you guys are feeling the energy differently on campus right now. We are excited. I think our team feels it. They are looking forward to this upcoming season and the challenges and opportunities we have in front of us. They worked very hard this summer; they had good practice. I enjoyed training them. We still have a lot of work to do. We have a long way to go, but we are excited about the journey we are on.”
On how different the offseason was
“I think this off-season was different because we had so many new faces. Six new players were reported this summer, so that’s a big number. I think just by incorporating it into our practices and our training, they were different only because there were so many of them. They were great, they came and had great energy. Looking forward to it.”
On what point guards parted
“Now everyone brings something. To be honest, bringing something a little different. Jordan Walker brings competitiveness and experience with him and he has truly become one of our leaders. Brooklynn Miles brings energy, resilience and truly dedication. Jasmine Powell can really score. She is tough; very physical. She is an amazing walker. Jordan Horston can play a wide variety of positions; I almost forgot that she knows how to play point. We are very happy with how Jordan (Horston) looked this summer. Physically, I think she is in the best shape of her life. She looks great on the court. Kaia Wynn played at some points and played basketball. Her motor is just running. When it’s on, she plays so hard and makes a difference. In terms of dividing yourself, this is a difficult question. They all bring something different and I think that’s important.”
On expectations for the season
“We talked about it openly as a team. We talk about what is being said. I think we all understand that this is excitement, but it’s on paper. We have to go out and do a lot of things. I think a constant open dialogue (which is good) with our team because I don’t want them to ever feel outside pressure. That’s not the point; it is about being the best we can be today, because if we are, if we are the best we can be today, everything else will take care of itself. Everything will be fine if you can connect and focus on what you are doing at the moment.”
About new players and how to get them into the culture of the team
“I think culture is a permanent job. What you stand for, you have to stand up for every day, and also, I think you will not get there, tick the box and move on. This is what you need to work on. I think the message needs to be repeated over and over again, and it comes from everyone involved in our program. These are coaches, managers, instructors, players, teammates. Everyone should be on the same wavelength, and I think we are all like that. These things take time and it’s really great that all the new players are in the recruiting process, we’ve explained what it is and they come here and see it and want to be a part of it. They are excited; that’s why they’re here.”
On the return of Marta Suarez and how she has grown
“I think sometimes with new additions, with six new players on our roster, you forget about Marta. [Suárez] who didn’t play last year, so she almost feels like a rookie. She recently had very good training here and really good training. She throws the ball well. I think her versatility and ability to play almost any position gives us a lot of options. I’m happy for her. She is a basketball player. She wants to play, so it was very hard for her to sit on the sidelines (last season). She can’t wait to get back on the court and play.”
On what Kelly Harper saw in Justine Pissott
“Justine is very eager and she plays hard. I think one of her biggest challenges will be physical play, which is very common with our new freshmen, but she’s good at throwing balls and grabbing things. I think she has a chance to play at a great level because of her size. It is universal; we can play it on the wing or as a small forward. We really ask her to learn and be comfortable in different positions.”
On the status and role of Jasmine Franklin this season
“Jasmine Franklin rehabilitated all summer. Recently, she has completely immersed herself in the practice. I don’t think she’s 100% herself, but she’s still very explosive. She finishes so well at the basket, she’s experienced, she knows what she’s doing. You walk in there and even though she’s one of the smallest forwards on our team, she stands out. She’s impressive.”
On the transition from exhibition games to tough away games
“I love exhibition games where our players can put on a jersey and play in the light. I think this is one of the most important things exhibitions do for you. We are grateful to Carson-Newman for coming here. They will be well trained and they will play hard. We are excited to have reached this point. I think with all the preparation we understand that the first game will be extremely difficult for us. We must be ready on the first day. It doesn’t start in your exhibition game; that started this summer. That’s how our players looked at it. We remind them when we need a little motivation. We’re reminding them of the schedule we’ve put in place for them and that they need to be on top right now to be successful in these games.”
On Gillian Hollingshead and her impact on the team
“She will be able to go up in size in addition to Tamari. Gillian is very experienced; our players like to call it the “Big Guard”. She can put the ball on the floor. She can shoot at the floor. She can post. You will hear that recurring theme of universality again. We have a lot of diversity in this team. Gillian is a big part of it. I think she’s getting better every day now. Again, understanding the physical. (She) played against Tamari in the paint every day or played on the perimeter against Sarah Puckett. She gets a lot of different looks and it’s really good for her. She has a chance to be amazing and I think we can see improvements every day.”
On how the team grew last year and how it will grow this season
“Our team really lifted our culture last year. I think they fixed it, they fixed it and it’s a big deal. I think our players who are coming back still bring it and they still feel it. Again, this is always work; you’re always working on creating it, but they saw what it could be. I think that this transfer, the competitiveness that our players had, the courage and firmness, they want to see it again; not only coaches. They want it and I think it’s a big step for us.”
On who you see as the leader this season after Cayenne Green
“We don’t have Cayenne Green on the current team. Kayen was a very mature, very strong, positive leader who was respected by everyone and to whom everyone went. She was mentally elite, but we have leaders on this team. We have players who are respected, we have players who have a voice, we have players who do the right thing, we have players who lead by example. It may take more than one person to complete all of these steps, and that’s fine. We’re going to find out. You have natural born leaders like Jordan Horston and Tamari Key because of their experience. You have a stiffness leader because she was there in the Jordan Waker. Then you will have other people who will become other leaders of this basketball team. I think it will be important.”
Where is the Tennessee Athletics heading?
“Everything is just fine on campus. You feel aroused; not only for his team, but also for other teams. To be honest, it’s just that the university as a whole just feels so good and has so much pride. The past week has been so amazing and I kept telling our players about when I was them, when I was a student going to football matches and how great it was that they experienced what I thought I experienced last week. . This in particular was amazing. The other day I was at the Alumni Gala and listened to former Wolves, not only athletes but also students, who were talking about this university and what it has done for them. I’m just high on all this; it was so, so good, and it’s exciting. I like this place.”
About Andrea Carter’s media training with the team and her speech at the Lady Vol Leadership Summit
Andrea Carter is amazing. We had the opportunity to practice with our players to talk to them about how to improve…