#4 Tennessee Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Tennessee Volunteers

Overall Rank: #4
Conference Rank: #2 SEC
#4 Tennessee Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Tennessee Team Page


Heading into year four of the Holly Warlick era, I don’t think there is any question that Warlick was the right person to succeed Pat Summitt as head coach. Coach Warlick led the Lady Vols to a 30-win season and another trip to the Elite Eight along with a regular season SEC championship. It is only going to be a matter of time before Tennessee is back on the Final Four stage that its incredibly rabid fan base craves on an annual basis.

2014-15 Record: 30-6, 15-1
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Holly Warlick
Coach Record: 86-20 at Tennessee, 86-20 overall

Tennessee has always been tough to deal with defensively and this year should not be any different with the return of Mercedes Russell at center. She had an excellent summer playing for Team USA at the World University Games. Offensively, with the insertion of Diamond DeShields into the mix, this might finally be the year that the Lady Vols truly look like the dynamic offensive team that has been their trademark during their run of national championships. DeShields had an outstanding freshman season at North Carolina back in 2013-14, averaging 18.0 points per game prior to transferring to Tennessee and sitting out last season due to the NCAA transfer rules. Senior forward Bashaara Graves and junior guard Jordan Reynolds are also going to have increased roles offensively to replace the lost production of Isabelle Harrison, Ariel Massingale and Cierra Burdick. Their ability to increase their production offensively will only enhance Tennessee’s chances of a return to the Final Four.

In the loss to Maryland in the Elite Eight, the Lady Vols just were not consistent enough offensively. They only scored 48 points and shot 18.2 percent from the behind the three-point line against the Terrapins. Tennessee will never completely rely on the three point shot to win games, but they have to be able to average closer to seven made three- point shots per game if they are going to get to the Final Four. Improvement in this area will keep defenses more honest and not allow them to lay back and dare the Lady Vols to win a key NCAA Tournament game from the perimeter. It will be interesting to see if Kortney Dunbar and the two freshman, Te’a Cooper and Meme Jackson, will be able to chip in more productivity shooting the basketball from three-point range this season.

Final Projection:
The great thing about Tennessee is you know at the beginning of every season that they will play a great schedule in non-conference play. Penn State, Syracuse and Texas will all visit Knoxville in the first few weeks of the season to battle the Lady Vols.  It will be important for Tennessee to defend the home court in these three games to build momentum prior to a mid-December road trip to play Stanford and Oregon State. A potential Final Four preview against Notre Dame in mid-January will be the most difficult test for the Lady Vols outside of the SEC slate. South Carolina visits Knoxville on February 15th in what will be a statement game for Tennessee as it will be a battle of two teams playing for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. If the Lady Vols progress like they are capable of during the season to peak by March, they should finally get back to the Final Four this season without too much of a problem.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Jordan Reynolds, Junior, Guard, 7.3 points per game
Andraya Carter, Junior, Guard, 7.7 points per game
Diamond DeShields, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Basharra Graves, Senior, Forward, 10.6 points per game
Mercedes Russell, Sophomore, Center, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.3 (47th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 56.3 (24,5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.5 (67,4)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.4 (61,7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.8 (195,5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.9 (78, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.3(21,1)
Rebound Margin: 7.8 (20,2)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (65,2)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.1 (56,2)

Madness 2016 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#7 Bashaara Graves

Madness 2015 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#7 Te'a Cooper
#28 Jamesha Jackson


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