Coach Kellie’s Fundamental Challenge

#1

krichunaka

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#1
Well, it’s over. It’s Stanford. Good for them. Good for Tara.

Our girls were better in 20-21 than 19-20. We beat a couple elite-eighters, one of them a semi-finalist, and played yet another number-one seed down to the bitter, losing end. We lost a few we should’ve won, and, we escaped with a few we could have easily lost.
We will lose a player whom most consider one of our best evers - Rennia Davis.
We lose a valuable 6’3” post player - Kasi Kushkituah.
And, we lose Jaiden McCoy, who fought the injury demons throughout her time with her hometown team. I think she and Keyan Green would have been the winning difference in a few of our close losses, but we’ll never know.

We battled covid, as did the other teams, and apparently, at least two of our players had to fight through to stay on the court. And nary a word of complaint from coaches or players.

I think I read every post about our season-ending loss to Michigan. Losses like that always bring out the best of the worst in those who never miss any opportunity to stick it in our faces, our every blemish dissected and microscoped ad nauseum. It’s worth noting, however, that Baylor thinks Michigan had a pretty good team. Of course, uconn thinks Baylor was a good team, and so on.

But, here’s the hard part. No matter how distasteful some of those opinions or criticisms, well, some of them are right. And while I was the happiest of the happies (that is a word, right?) when Kellie Jolly-Harper was hired, we were often a fundamentally flawed team. Those passes must become crisper, cleaner; those defensive lapses fewer and farther between. And all that dribbling! My Goodness! We should not see All-SEC upper-classmen dribbling with their heads down, or guards nonchalantly lobbing the ball across court, or taking up the dribble with no idea of what to do next. Surely these things will be major points of emphasis moving forward. Or we will not move forward.

So, yes, Coach Kellie has done well, but even with the improved play from last season, we’re a ways away from the kind of basketball team we can become. Regardless of recruiting ratings.
Because, with the players we had, and even with the double-digit turnovers in every big game, we still beat, or came very close to beating multiple, top-ten teams. So, I’m more concerned with our staff’s ability to fix what we have, than with which Top-Five Recruit we might sign. Though I’m sure we’d all welcome any surprise commitments.

And, I don’t want to lose any players. We (the institution) recruited them all. In fact, Coach Kellie then re-recruited four of them. Besides, we now have a couple open portal slots for those vital needs.

So, while I doubt 21-22 is the make or break season for Coach Kellie, it surely will be the season we begin to see a premium on fundamentals. Right?
 
#2
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#2
No doubt we need to improve our ball handling and passing skills. Holly did not do a good job of ensuring her teams were fundamentally strong and Kellie had to address that off the bat. She has made progress but still has a ways to go. I think we were one of the poorest passing and decision making teams in the conference during Hollies last couple of years. We played free lance ball and relied on talent. Not addressing offensive skills and fundamentals dug us a big hole we've been trying to climb out of the past 2 years.

Kellie has made a lot of improvements and players are getting better but the process is slower than some can tolerate. We've had difficulty shooting the ball consistently but we are now running plays and getting players into scoring position. Unfortunately, without consistent outside shooting, we're behind offensively where we would like them to be. Hopefully recruiting and player development will fix the shooting shortfall.

I'm convinced Kellie has a plan and will be able to fully execute it. Most of the fan base realizes how far we fell and how far that comeback actually is. I look for next years team to be better than this years. Yes, we lost our best player and another one with a lot of experience but that provides opportunities for others to step up and become doers. Keep getting better and the wins will come.
 
#3

Volfan2012

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#3
The plan looks to me and going into year three seems to be more physical players in the post with more quickness and ball handling skills on the perimeter. No doubt in my mind that Striplin is going to be a physical post with very refined mid-range and free throw shooting skills. Puckett is a physical 3-4 with excellent mid-range and decent three point shooting skills. She also is excellent at the free throw line. The guards in the next class are extremely quick and skilled ball handlers with Wynn also having some excellent offensive skills. Still a question mark on Miles offensive skills there is no question about her ability to break down a defense or her passing and quickness. Both can drive the basket and pass on the move.

I don't think this class really addressed the need for three point shooting to the level we need. It did elevate it some as three of these players have shot low 30's their senior season. Pissott certainly addressing that need as the first commit of 2022. I'm very interesting to see who will join her in that class and what their skill sets are. Thus far the variety in the 2021 class is exactly what you need to improve the roster.
 
#4

stllvf

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#4
in my not expert opinion I believe the LVs lack a dribble drive guard who can go to the hoop as well as hit the midrange jumper. My ideal is close to that guard from Arkansas who epitomized the perfection I would wish for. Dungee had my desired superlatives including playing offense under control. Although I never saw Jordon Walker before she hurt her knee I would expect she loss a step and shake with her knee injury.
 
#6

LasVegasBill23

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#6
in my not expert opinion I believe the LVs lack a dribble drive guard who can go to the hoop as well as hit the midrange jumper. My ideal is close to that guard from Arkansas who epitomized the perfection I would wish for. Dungee had my desired superlatives including playing offense under control. Although I never saw Jordon Walker before she hurt her knee I would expect she loss a step and shake with her knee injury.
whatever the particulars..... she needs a true PG who can safeguard the basketball.... hve heard her say that her team set the TO benchmark at 15.... below 15 a game was what they sought to achieve.... i think that bar has to be raised.... when playing at top level.... we need a guard to distribute and serve as catalyst for offense
 
#7

LadyVols_WBK

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#7
How many wins are necessary (next season) for Kellie to retain her job? It feels like we’re slipping into mediocrity.
we went 17-8 this season had a lot of great wins and I truly feel like we improved drastically from her 1st season... I dont think we are slipping to mediocrity the only thing slipping to mediocrity is our recruiting.
 
#8

creekdipper

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#8
How many wins are necessary (next season) for Kellie to retain her job? It feels like we’re slipping into mediocrity.
we went 17-8 this season had a lot of great wins and I truly feel like we improved drastically from her 1st season... I dont think we are slipping to mediocrity the only thing slipping to mediocrity is our recruiting.
Maybe we're slipping into greatness.
 
#9

Amb3096

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#9
we went 17-8 this season had a lot of great wins and I truly feel like we improved drastically from her 1st season... I dont think we are slipping to mediocrity the only thing slipping to mediocrity is our recruiting.
People here don't seem to like to hear it, but recruiting will be the key to getting Tennessee back to contender status. Kellie can improve the program to an extent without necessarily getting the very best recruits, but she needs to start landing some of them to regularly compete for SEC titles and Final Fours.
 
#13

VA_VOLFAN

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#13
People here don't seem to like to hear it, but recruiting will be the key to getting Tennessee back to contender status. Kellie can improve the program to an extent without necessarily getting the very best recruits, but she needs to start landing some of them to regularly compete for SEC titles and Final Fours.
So what do you say to those that bring up AZ as an example ? i think the job is made easier with the best recruits also. But you can get good recruits to be great don’t you agree ?
 
#14

Amb3096

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#14
So what do you say to those that bring up AZ as an example ? i think the job is made easier with the best recruits also. But you can get good recruits to be great don’t you agree ?
I say that Arizona is the exception, not the norm. Yes, it can be done, but you're more likely to be successful with a team of top notch recruits. In the absence of such recruits, then the best you can do is work with what you have. I'm sure most coaches would agree it's probably not the preferred recruiting strategy to assume you will be successful doing so and that elite recruits don't need to be aggressively pursued.
 
#15

VA_VOLFAN

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I say that Arizona is the exception, not the norm. Yes, it can be done, but you're more likely to be successful with a team of top notch recruits. In the absence of such recruits, then the best you can do is work with what you have. I'm sure most coaches would agree it's probably not the preferred recruiting strategy to assume you will be successful doing so and that elite recruits don't need to be aggressively pursued.
But we could typically think a team full of top 50 athletes can make a final four? This is not to be combative by any means. I just wonder if we had a roster full of top 50 kids how it would look? i guess it depends on how they produce on the court.
 
#16

Amb3096

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#16
But we could typically think a team full of top 50 athletes can make a final four? This is not to be combative by any means. I just wonder if we had a roster full of top 50 kids how it would look? i guess it depends on how they produce on the court.
In the absence of those top 10-15 players where the rest of your roster can play more of a supporting role, someone would have to rise above their pre college expectations the way that Aari did. And there's no guarantee that you ended up with the right mid-ranked recruit who has the potential to be that player. With a player like Paige Bueckers or Aliyah Boston, you have a good sense of what you're getting when they step on campus.

Three of the four teams in the FF this year were Super Teams. Same with the last tournament. The time before that, you had 3 teams full of top 10 recruits and then MSST (who had two of those "exceptions"). Odds to make the FF/NC are still heavily skewed towards those teams that have the top talent.
 
#17

VA_VOLFAN

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#17
In the absence of those top 10-15 players where the rest of your roster can play more of a supporting role, someone would have to rise above their pre college expectations the way that Aari did. And there's no guarantee that you ended up with the right mid-ranked recruit who has the potential to be that player. With a player like Paige Bueckers or Aliyah Boston, you have a good sense of what you're getting when they step on campus.

Three of the four teams in the FF this year were Super Teams. Same with the last tournament. The time before that, you had 3 teams full of top 10 recruits and then MSST (who had two of those "exceptions"). Odds to make the FF/NC are still heavily skewed towards those teams that have the top talent.
Interesting. Time will tell indeed.
 
#18

Nute Gunray

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#18
I say that Arizona is the exception, not the norm. Yes, it can be done, but you're more likely to be successful with a team of top notch recruits. In the absence of such recruits, then the best you can do is work with what you have. I'm sure most coaches would agree it's probably not the preferred recruiting strategy to assume you will be successful doing so and that elite recruits don't need to be aggressively pursued.
Good, tough and solid coaching was the difference that made Arizona. Adia Barnes coached her team to a top defensive team. Also, she coached up a good HS player to a superstar college player, Aari McDonald.
 
#20

LasVegasBill23

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#20
Well this stuff about we have to attract top talent.... i say you have to recruit with an eye to what you want to develop that player to be

Arizona had reese only as a McDonalds team member al others were lunch bucket players even Aari McDonald herself

Alabama beat us 4 or 5 times in a row.... with no stars on their team.... Missouri when they had cunningham had no stars.... Kentucky had no stars.....

Stars are nice, but as Holly proved, you have to develop them
 
#21

Amb3096

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#21
Good, tough and solid coaching was the difference that made Arizona. Adia Barnes coached her team to a top defensive team. Also, she coached up a good HS player to a superstar college player, Aari McDonald.
The question is how much of Aari's success was Adia's coaching and how much of it was Aari's own skill? Probably a combination of both, but the success doesn't happen without both in place. She's one of those players that was clearly better than her HS ranking. Aari also scored in double figures every game she played with Arizona. Statistically, her senior year was worse than her sophomore year. She came to Arizona ready to play. I don't think that one can look at her and say, "oh, I can do that with my own 5'6 player"...because alot of that was what Aari brought to the table to begin with. Her overall talent level was what made Adia's strategy successful as much as the other way around.
 
#22

Amb3096

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#22
Well this stuff about we have to attract top talent.... i say you have to recruit with an eye to what you want to develop that player to be

Arizona had reese only as a McDonalds team member al others were lunch bucket players even Aari McDonald herself

Alabama beat us 4 or 5 times in a row.... with no stars on their team.... Missouri when they had cunningham had no stars.... Kentucky had no stars.....

Stars are nice, but as Holly proved, you have to develop them
Sophie Cunningham was a top 20 recruit and McD AA. She was legit from the time she started playing for Missouri. As far as UK and Alabama, Holly had as much to do with them beating Tennessee as the teams themselves.

The winning combination is attracting the best players and being a good enough coach that you can maximize their potential. Any coach whose strategy is to recruit lower ranked players and expect to develop them into the next Aari McDonald will likely have a low success rate.
 
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#23

NeedOrange

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#23
There is a difference between a top 50 freshman and a top 50 as a senior. People on this board rave about HG#65 Chelsea Dungee who averaged 7 points a game her freshman year. Or HG #55 Aari McDonald who averaged 9 points per game her freshman year. The Players you have coming in can lead you to a final 4. Be honest with yourselves, unless you happen across an Aja Wilson situation where a top 5 wants to stay home, you are going to have to build a team to contend for national honors. Building is hard work and it takes time. Give it a rest. Support your team and your coaches and stop trying to act like you know all about WCBB because if we did the top of our paycheck would say "The University of ..."
 
#24

Voltopia

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#24
In the absence of those top 10-15 players where the rest of your roster can play more of a supporting role, someone would have to rise above their pre college expectations the way that Aari did. And there's no guarantee that you ended up with the right mid-ranked recruit who has the potential to be that player. With a player like Paige Bueckers or Aliyah Boston, you have a good sense of what you're getting when they step on campus.

Three of the four teams in the FF this year were Super Teams. Same with the last tournament. The time before that, you had 3 teams full of top 10 recruits and then MSST (who had two of those "exceptions"). Odds to make the FF/NC are still heavily skewed towards those teams that have the top talent.
This is the thing that drives me up a wall about this whole conversation. Some people seem hellbent on saying you don't have to have the Moores or Parkers or Griners to win titles, but I think that assertion misses the point. I think those of us who talk about recruiting rankings aren't saying "you have to have elite recruits or else you'll never win." We're saying "your odds of winning increase dramatically if you have elite recruits on your roster." Not to mention that every championship team in the past decade save one has had at least one top ten recruit on its starting lineup, and many had multiple such recruits. Those aren't coincidences.

Yes, you can coach up players, yes, you can assemble teams that are competitive, or you can score that "diamond in the rough" who turns out to be worth more than anyone knew - but the odds are against it. You can get an outlier like an Arizona or a Minnesota, but it's often a one off and it's not consistent. For every Arizona in the title game, you get Connecticut or Baylor or South Carolina winning the title. That's just how it shakes out in the sport.

Summitt's dad had it right. You don't take donkeys to the Kentucky Derby. And there's only so many racehorses to go around. That's just how it is.
 

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