Freshman Angie Bjorklund will fill the lone opening in Tennessee's women's basketball starting lineup, and UT coach Pat Summitt says the choice is based on merit not misfortune.
"She earned this, Summitt of the 6-foot wing player. "She absolutely earned this."
Senior Alberta Auguste also was a starting candidate, but she's sidelined with a right calf contusion. Auguste will miss Tennessee's exhibition game against the U.S. senior national team at 3 p.m. Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Bjorklund staked her claim to the spot with her scoring ability, her feel for the game and her work on defense.
"She's solid defensively,'' Summitt said. "That's the biggest surprise."
Cain Returns: Freshman center Kelley Cain, who's been recovering from a concussion, returned to practice Wednesday and lifted weights for the first time since being sidelined approximately 11 days ago.
Barring any setbacks, the 6-6 Cain is cleared to play Sunday.
"I'd like to see Kelley mix it up with some of the best players in the game,'' said Summitt, referring to the U.S. exhibition.
The game will offer Cain a chance to go against 6-5 Lisa Leslie, a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist.
Coaches' Poll: The players received a copy of the USA Today/ESPN top 25 coaches poll, which has UT ranked No. 1.
The Lady Vols, who return All-American Candace Parker and three other starters, received 26 of the 31 first-place votes and had 767 points.
Connecticut received four first-place votes and was second with 714 points.
LSU, which returns All-American Sylvia Fowles and the rest of its starters, received the other first-place vote and was ranked fifth.
"I think its important they realize who all we're playing,'' Summitt said.
Seven of the poll's other nine top 10 teams are on UT's schedule.
Wooden Watch List: Parker, who became the first Lady Vol last spring to win the Women's Wooden Award, is one of three Tennessee players on the preseason watch list.
Along with Parker, guard Alexis Hornbuckle and center Nicky Anosike are among the 30 preseason candidates.