The Lady Vols will open up the 2014-15 season as the nation’s No. 4 team.
The road will not be an easy one, but Lady Vols should deliver big things this year. They will play their lone exhibition game on Sunday Nov. 9 vs. Carson-Newman and will tip off the regular season on Nov. 11 vs. Penn.
The Lady Vols will start the season with Ariel Massengale and Andraya Carter serving one game suspensions, and Cierra Burdick and Jannah Tucker serving two game suspensions. All four are being suspended by third year Head Coach Holly Warlick for academic violations.
It is normal to see the Lady Vols open as a top four team, but being a top four team and still not the highest ranked SEC team is new to the program.
That honor goes to the South Carolina Gamecocks, who will open up as the number two team in the country this season. Tennessee also sits behind No.1 UConn and No. 3 Notre Dame with Texas A&M rounding out the top five. The SEC having three top five teams is not that uncommon but shows it will be no easy task this year for the Lady Vols.
Tennessee is projected to finish second in SEC play to South Carolina with A&M picked to finish third. There is no question that the SEC has improved and will be much harder to win this year especially when Kentucky (No.10) and LSU (No.24) are thrown into the equation.
However this year’s team is more complete in ways and will be led by a lot of upperclassmen. So while it won’t be a walk in the park for the Lady Vols, they will be contenders this year and stand a good chance in the SEC.
The Lady Vols will be returning three starters from last year as well as three key players from last year’s bench. Ariel Massengale, who missed much of the end of last season with an injury, will return along with her replacement Andraya Carter, who got a lot of valuable playing time last year in Massengale’s absence.
The Lady Vols will rely heavily on senior Isabelle Harrison and junior Bashaara Graves, and there may be an increased presence from senior Cierra Burdick, junior Jasmine Jones and junior Nia Moore. Tennessee should also be one of the best rebounding teams once again.
Two areas of improvement the team will need to zone in on is three point shooting and consistent scoring. The additions of Kortney Dunbar and Alexa Middleton should help make the Lady Vols improve in three point shots and help to replace Meighan Simmons. The freshmen tandem will look to add a spark to the Lady Vols offense that was absent at times last year.
Edited by Maggie Jones
Sam Forman is the lead sports staff writer for the Tennessee Journalist and is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media with a focus on sports broadcasting and reporting. He has been with TNJN since the fall of 2014. He is also a DJ for WUTK 90.3 fm. and a member of the Rock Solid Sports team. Sam has spent six years marching in the Pride of The Southland Marching Band. When he is not covering or talking sports, you can find him outdoors, playing music or hanging out with friends. You can find him on twitter: @samWforman