Rocky Topics: Should Tennessee fire Holly Warlick?

Lead sports staff writer Sam Forman and staff writer Ben Woody debate whether Tennessee should fire Lady Vols’ basketball coach Holly Warlick.

Lady Vols

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This week on Rocky Topics, lead sports staff writer Sam Forman and staff writer Ben Woody discuss whether Tennessee should fire Lady Vols basketball coach Holly Warlick.

Woody: This overhyped team (12-7, 3-3 SEC) has been a disappointment so far this year. Currently, the Lady Vols have losses at home against Florida, at Arkansas, which at the time was 6-10, and most recently a one-point loss at Kentucky. Injuries, inexperience and coaching have all contributed to the Lady Vols’ struggle. When watching the Lady Vols, you can tell that they could be a really talented team. But after watching for a little longer, you can tell that they aren’t inspired to play as a team. Each player tries to do it all by themselves. Bad shot selections are made and there becomes a ridiculous amount of turnovers. In the previous game at Kentucky, Tennessee committed 21 turnovers and it was obvious that Warlick wasn’t coaching basic fundamentals. The team couldn’t make free throws to take the lead or a layup at the last second right underneath the basket. If Warlick can’t inspire this team to win and play its hardest, then she will be out of a job by the end of the season.

Forman: First off, everyone needs to just take a minute and breathe. This whole situation is being blown out of proportion. Is Warlick to blame for some of the problems? Yes, but she is not the one responsible for the whole problem. Ben, honestly, you are making my case for me. Turnovers… Is the head coach the one turning the ball over 19 times a game? No. Is she the one taking a bad shot early in the shot clock? No, she isn’t. The Players should be taking a lot more of the blame. Warlick has done a great job of shouldering the pressure for the players. Ten of the 12 players to see time this season have more turnovers than assists. You don’t win many games with those numbers. On top of that, when they do turn the ball over they don’t get back and play defense. Take the Notre Dame game for example. Tennessee lost by 13 points, had 20 turnovers and gave up 24 points off those turnovers. To think Warlick isn’t making them practice fundamentals is just crazy. They just don’t know how to play as a team and sometimes it takes a whole season to find that chemistry.

Woody: It’s not just the players’ fault that they are playing unmotivated. Just watching the team makes me think that Warlick doesn’t try to push them to their limits. She should make them practice and play as a team. Compared to what Pat Summitt did in the past, Warlick doesn’t have the same ability to take players and mold them to become all stars. In Warlick’s case, she’s done a great job at recruiting. However, she hasn’t been able to develop that talent and turn it into an NCAA Championship team. If Tennessee wants to become great again, Warlick is going to have to make some major changes.

Forman: While you make a few good points, the whole Pat Summitt thing is half the problem. I hate to break it to you and everyone else, but there will never be another Pat Summitt. Warlick, nor anyone else, even Tyler Summitt, will be able to fill those shoes. The argument that Warlick is not coaching them hard enough in practice only makes some sense. The players have to be able to carry it over to the game. You have six McDonald’s All-Americans on this team. They got those accolades because they made shots. The major problems are turnovers and a lack of chemistry. You were right earlier in saying they don’t know how to play together, but coaching can only help chemistry so much. Think back to 1999. Tennessee was coming off an undefeated season and a national championship. The Lady Vols also brought back every single player from the 1998 team. The 1999 season was one of the worst in Lady Vols’ history. The players were the same, and the coach was still Pat Summitt. However, the team had no chemistry and nobody said it was Summitt’s fault. Everyone needs to calm down and support the team and see where things are at in March.

Featured image by Ben Ozburn

Edited by Cody McClure

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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

15 thoughts on “Rocky Topics: Should Tennessee fire Holly Warlick?

  1. Holly, and her coaching staff, should be gone after this season. Probably won’t happen but this program, a once GREAT program, is now on life support. And it just gets worse each year. Holly is not Head Coach material, never was in fact. Great assistant to Pat, but that doesn’t mean she should have been GIVEN the Head Coach position. That position has to be EARNED. Please start the process to move this program forward and remove Coach Warlick from this position.

  2. She isn’t head coach material. How do you let one player beat you by herself (Victoria Vivins) after you have just beat the number 2 seed. Any good coach would have made the adjustment and not let one player beat them. Too many good players to have the record they have, also losing to teams in the SEC that they haven’t ever lost to or haven’t lost to in a very long time. Lady Vols simply need a coach or it will get worse because of recruiting.

  3. coach W has had enough time to get out from under Coach Summit’s shadow and now we see the results. warlick should be asked to resign to ease her out of the way or else FIRE her for incompetence!. and while we’re FIRING people let’s get rid of no-clue-boy Dave Hart and like-me because i’m a good guy who just has some thug-mentality players Butch Jones – take jimmy Cheek with you when you leave too. although always 2nd class to football, the UT women’s basketball program used to be the jewel of the athletic department – now it’s not even a “two stretch pay piece of colored glass”. reputations both on and off the court or field are very hard to build but so easy to damage. holly, butch, dave, and jimmy have done their worst – time to sweep clean and get some new leadership from the top down!

  4. Will someone ask all of the TN coaches who held the “pep rally” if they think rape and intimidation is acceptable? Start will Holly Warlick who would encourage her daughter to attend. If her daughter was raped, would she agree with Butch’s tactics?

  5. I appreciate what Holly has meant to the Lady Vols program but she is just not getting the job done. Her current team is not meeting expectations and recruiting has suffered. It is sad to see a program that was once the benchmark for women’s basketball in a free fall toward the bottom of the SEC. Sadly Holly must go.

  6. Number one and foremost, every good assistant does not a good head coach make. When you look at Holly’s demeanor during interviews and coaching it lacks the appearance of a confident person. She is constantly acting as if she is very uncomfortable. She lacks the ability to make major changes when the teams starts to go south. As a head coach you have to inspire confidence. She seems to get stressed when the team starts making mistakes or not playing inspired basketball, but just does not have the answer. Holly seems to lack that ability.

    Has she really recruited well? We have not recruited a ligit post since Russell. I think the donut for the 2016 recruiting year is a summation of the direction this program is headed. If you can’t inspire 7 five stars, how can you inspire top 100 players to come to your school?

    I believe that Holly is doing her best and that she bleeds orange, but that is not enough. The aim of any program must be to become a top five program. We need to stop trying to find ways to blame the players but fine ways how this program can be turned around. The head coach is responsible for the success of his/her team, no matter which way we cut the pie. If Holly can’t fix the problem then she needs to be shown the door.

  7. Good points by all . My biggest concern is she hasn’t signed a top 100 player in next years class. Holly has 2 problems she wants to be there friend and she doesn’t make good decisions during the game . She seldom has right combinations on the floor . However she is a Volunteer For Life and deserves a little extra time.

  8. 19 turnovers per game is a leading indicator that the team isn’t well coached. Not playing together as a team is an indication that the team isn’t well coached. By not well coached I mean not fundamentally sound. Fundamentally sound teams simply do not fumble and stumble the way we are. Sure, even a well coached team will lay an egg every now and again, but what we’re seeing is a fundamentally unsound team struggle with game basics. That means Holly and her staff aren’t doing their jobs well. She may be a dynamite assistant, but she doesn’t have the mojo to be a head coach at Tennessee. Two seasons are enough.

    The question is how much damage will she be allowed to do to the program before a change is made? We do have excellent talent. The right person in the head coach position will have an immediate positive impact. If a change isn’t made the proud Lady Vol tradition will quickly become a relic, a memory of what was.

  9. Remember when there was grumblings because Coach Summit’s teams couldn’t beat Geno? Remember how the season wasn’t acceptable unless the LadyVols made the Final 4? Nothing is ever good enough for you people. I can’t even believe Coach Warlick took this job. She had to know she was in a no-win situation. You people act like they sleep during practice and talk about how big they can blow the game in the locker room. Don’t you think if Coach Warlick could force team chemistry or make the passes herself she would? “Make them work harder so they find their potential…” Seriously? At this point in their careers the athletes shouldn’t need any external motivation. The ones that do, yeah, not being recruited by Div. I schools. Am I fond of the X’s and O’s Tennessee runs? Not so much. But at least that IS something in the coach’s ability to change. But Coach Warlick has been under unbelievable pressure since taking the head coach job. People need to back off, allow her to breathe, and just chill. Things will come around. Nobody wants Tennessee to succeed more than she does.

  10. Why can teams that aren’t loaded with top-10 recruits manage to play as a team, take good shots, and all other the other things the players on this team are being blamed for not being able to do? And if it is these particular players, what accounts for the fact that this mess has been getting worse for years? I like Holly Warlick. She was a great player and a great assistant coach, but she stinks as a head coach. Something is wrong with this program at a very fundamental level, and until they have a complete house-cleaning, it isn’t going to get any better.

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