Kellie Harper previews Lady Vols' 2022-23 season




 

Tennessee's first day for an official practice took place Tuesday ahead of the 2022-23 season.

Kellie Harper enters her fourth season as the Lady Vols' head coach.

Tennessee returns four starters and 10 letterwinners 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 tip-off its 2022-23 season Oct. 30 versus Carson-Newman at Thompson-Boling Arena in an exhibition contest.

Tennessee's men's and women's basketball teams will host Market Square Madness Oct. 13. The preseason fan event will begin at 7 p.m. EDT on Market Square.

Prior to Tennessee's first practice, Harper met with media and previewed the 2022-23 season. A transcript of Harper's media availability provided by the University of Tennessee is listed below.

Opening Statement

"Welcome back to what I feel like is basketball season. I know we have a lot of excitement with other sports going on right now, but with the start of basketball practice, officially, we feel like it's getting a lot closer to this upcoming season for us. Great to see you guys back here, hope you guys feel the energy on campus in a lot of different ways right now. We're excited. I think our team is feeling it. They are looking forward to this upcoming season and the challenges and the opportunities that we have in front of us. They've worked really hard this summer; they've had good practices. I've enjoyed coaching them. We have a lot of work to do still. We have a long way to go, but we're excited about the journey that we are on."

On how different the offseason was

"I think this offseason was different because we had so many new faces. Six new players reported this summer, so that's a big number. I think just working it into our practices and our workouts, it was only different because the number was so large. They've been great, they've come in and had great energy. Looking forward to it."

On which point guards have separated themselves

"Right now, everybody is bringing something. Honestly, bringing something a little bit different. Jordan Walker brings competitiveness and experience, and has really emerged as one of our leaders. Brooklynn Miles brings energy and toughness and really that selflessness. Jasmine Powell can really score the ball. She's tough; very physical. She is a terrific passer. Jordan Horston can play so many different positions; I almost forgot she can play point. We're really excited about how Jordan (Horston) has looked this summer. Physically she is, in my opinion, in the best shape of her life. She looks great out on the court. Kaiya Wynn has been playing some point and handling the basketball. Her motor is only on go. When it's on, she is playing so hard and making a difference. In terms of separating themselves, that's a hard question. They all bring something different, and I think that's important."

On dealing with the expectations of the season

"We've talked about it openly as a team. We talk about what is being said. I think we all understand that's excitement, but it's on paper. We have to go out and do a lot of things. I think just constant open dialogue (is good) with our team, because I don't ever want them feeling outside pressure. It's not about that; it's about let's be the best we can be today because if we are that, if we are the best we can be today, everything else will take care of itself. Everything will be just fine if you can dial in and focus on what you're doing in that moment."

On the new players and how to get them to buy into the team culture

"I think culture is constant work. What you stand for, you have to stand for it every day and also, I think you don't get there and check the box and move on. It's something you have to work on. I think the message has to be reiterated over and over, and that's from everyone in our program. It's the coaches, the managers, the trainers, the players, the teammates. Everyone has to be on the same page, and I think we all are. Those things take time, and the really cool thing is all the new players in the recruiting process, we explained what that is, and they get here and see it and they want to be a part of this. They are excited; that is why they are here."

On Marta Suárez's return and how she's grown

"I think sometimes with the 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 new player. She's had really good practices here recently and really good workouts. She's shooting the ball well. I think her versatility and her ability to play just about any position gives us a lot of options. I am happy for her. She is a basketball player. She wants to play, so her sitting on the sidelines (last season) has been very difficult for her. She is chomping at the bit to get back on the court and play."

On what Kellie Harper has seen out of Justine Pissott

"Justine is very willing, and she is playing hard. I think one of her biggest challenges will be the physicality of the game, which is very common for our incoming freshmen, but she's shooting the ball well, and she's picking things up. I think she's got a chance to rebound at a great level because of her size. She's versatile; we can play her on the wing or small forward position. We are really asking her to learn and feel comfortable in different positions."

On Jasmine Franklin's status and role for this season

"Jasmine Franklin has rehabbed all summer. She has recently been full-go in practice. I don't think she is a hundred percent herself, but she is still extremely explosive. She finishes so well around the basket, she is experienced, she knows what she's doing. You walk in there, and even though she is one of the smaller post players on our team, she stands out. She is impressive."

On going from exhibition games to tough away games

"I love the exhibition games so our players can put on a jersey and play in front of the lights. I think that is one of the most important things that the exhibitions do for you. We appreciate Carson-Newman coming over here. They will be well-coached, and they are going to play hard. We are excited about getting to that point. I think with the entire build up, we understand that first game is going to be extremely tough for us. We have to be ready on day one. That does not start at your exhibition game; that started this summer. That's the way our players have looked at this. We remind them when we need a little motivation. We remind them the schedule that we put for them, and that they have to be on top of things now to be successful in those games."

On Jillian Hollingshead and her impact on the team

"She is going to be able to bring size in addition to Tamari. Jillian is very skilled; our players love to call her 'Big Guard.' She can put the ball on the floor. She can shoot out on the floor. She can post up. Again, you will hear this recurring theme of versatility. We have a lot of versatility on this team. Jillian is a big piece of that. I think right now she is getting better everyday. Again, understanding the physicality. (She) played against Tamari in the paint everyday or played on perimeter against Sara Puckett. She is getting a lot of different looks, and it is really good for her. She's got a chance to be terrific, and I think what we are going to be able to see is improvement each and every day."

On how the team grew last year and how it will grow this season

"Our team last year really elevated our culture. I think they established it, they set it, and it's a big deal. I think our players that are returning still bring that and they still feel that. Again, it's always work; you're always working on building that, but they saw what it can be. I think that carry-over, that competitiveness that our players had, the grit and the toughness, they want to see that again; not just the coaches. They want it, and I think that's a big step for us."

On who do you see stepping up into the leader role this season after Keyen Green

"We don't have a Keyen Green on this current team. Keyen was very mature, a very strong, positive leader that everyone respected and everyone went to. She was elite, mentally, but we have leaders on this team. We have players that are respected, we have players that have a voice, we have players that do the right thing, we have players that lead by example. It might take more than one person to do all those things, and that's okay. We're going to figure that out. You have natural leaders with Jordan Horston and Tamari Key, because of their experiences. You have a toughness leader because she's been there in Jordan Waker. Then you're going to have other people emerge as different leaders for this basketball team. I think that's going to be important."

On the direction that Tennessee Athletics is heading

"Things on campus just feel good. You feel the excitement; not just your own team but for other teams. Honestly, just the university in general just feels so good and there's so much pride. This past week was so amazing, and I kept telling our players about when I was them, when I was a student, going to football games and how wonderful that was that they got to experience what I got to experience in my opinion this past week. That in particular was just terrific. I was in the Alumni Gala the other day and listened to former Vols, not just athletes but students as well, talking about this university and what it has done for them. I'm just on a high from all this; it's just been so, so good, and it's exciting. I love this place."

On Andraya Carter's media training session with the team and Lady Vol Leadership Summitt speech

"Andraya Carter is amazing. We've had a chance to media train with our players to talk to them about how to better represent themselves, and some really other good tips. She was on a panel with all of our Lady Vols last night, all student-athletes, and some of the things she talked about I thought were so relevant to them and how her transition looked from being a Lady Vol to where she is now, and what lessons she learned as an athlete. I think it just brings everything full-circle, when you see this successful person and she talks about when she was in their shoes. I think she has done a lot for this athletic department and this university. She is another person that loves Tennessee, and she took advantage of her time here."

On what message the team is rallying around this season

"We have had a few, but I think, for us, 'all for one, one for all.' That has been a recurring theme for us, and 'strength in numbers,' but the biggest number is one.

On Jordan Horston improving her left hand

"I'm telling you, she's looked really good. I think she had to use her left hand a little bit more when she was not able to practice. She could only do a few things; I do think she probably did work a little bit more and probably did get better with her left hand. Physically, right now she is jumping better than she has ever jumped before. This is somebody that was an unbelievable rebounder last year, but you watch her, and she stands out, and she stands out on a very athletic and impressive basketball team when she is in there jumping and rebounding."

On Jordan Horston's mental health

"She has been back out practicing for quite a bit now, so she feels really good; she is very motivated. She would have loved to have been in our NCAA run last year, there is no doubt about, so she probably does have an extra little motivation. She wants to be part of something really special."

On who stood out this summer

"We have had a lot of players. Jordan has had another good summer. I think she took more steps forward. I think Tamari [Key] has had a good summer. Rickea Jackson looks terrific. Sara [Puckett] has had a good summer. I probably need my roster, to be honest with you. I have just been really proud of them. There really is not anyone that I can say 'eh, I do not know if they have done well this summer.' I think everyone has taken advantage of the time that they have been given this summer."

Story originally appeared on Vols Wire

COMMENTS

More Related News

Alabama, Tennessee
Alabama, Tennessee's updated chances for CFP appearance after TCU's loss

Alabama and Tennessee's updated chances for a College Football Playoff appearance after TCU's loss.

Tennessee roads plan mulls toll lanes, electric car fee hike
Tennessee roads plan mulls toll lanes, electric car fee hike

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is considering allowing express toll lanes on highways and tripling a fee for electric car owners as he targets his first big push...

Updated New Year
Updated New Year's six bowl projections, game odds following USC's loss

Updated New Year's six bowl projections and game odds following USC's loss in the Pac-12 championship game.

Utility recommends natural gas plant despite objections
Utility recommends natural gas plant despite objections
  • US
  • 2022-12-02 21:26:29Z

The nation's largest public utility on Friday recommended replacing an aging coal burning power plant with natural gas, ignoring calls for the Tennessee...

A look at Tennessee players who entered transfer portal after regular-season finale
A look at Tennessee players who entered transfer portal after regular-season finale

A look at Tennessee football players who entered the NCAA transfer portal after the Vols' regular-season finale.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Basketball