Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bjorklund gets her fill

Freshman's 19 points part of her variety show

Angie Bjorklund rearranged her priorities, much to the benefit of her stat line and Tennessee on Wednesday night.

"I went in focused on defensive rebounding,'' the Lady Vols freshman said. "The offense just came."

Everything came to Bjorklund in an 83-51 women's basketball victory over Old Dominion. She set season highs with 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals. She tied her previous best for assists with three.

Her 35.7 percent field-goal percentage also received a major makeover, courtesy of 6-for-7 accuracy before an announced crowd of 12,323 at Thompson-Boling Arena. She was 3-for-4 on 3 pointers.

Bjorklund was one of four double-figure scorers for No. 1 Tennessee (7-0), which next plays against Middle Tennessee State on Dec 13. Candace Parker scored 14, Nicky Anosike had 13 and Shannon Bobbitt 10.

Tiffany Green scored a team-high 14 for No. 24 Old Dominion (6-3). Jazzmin Walters and Shadasia Green each had 10.

The Lady Monarch, who shot 32.3 percent from the floor (20-for-62) and 42.1 percent from the foul line (8 for 19), missed leading scorer T.J. Jordan. The senior guard, who averages 16.9 points per game, was held out of the game with a stress reaction in her left foot.

"When you're on the road and you lose a player who you depend upon on both ends of the court, it handicaps you," UT coach Pat Summitt said. "I told (Old Dominion coach) Wendy (Larry) after the game that it was a shame. They didn't have time to adjust."

As far as adjustments, Bjorklund was more fortunate. She credited a video session with Summitt as being instrumental in her all-around play. The 6-foot forward's first priority was to scrutinize her shooting form. Summitt used the session, though, to emphasize rebounding and open Bjorklund's eyes to gaps on the floor where she could go to gather the basketball.

"She needs to play the way she played tonight when games are close,'' Summitt said. "Tonight she showed us what she can do and showed that she can help us. Her stat line was impressive."

Whether it was an individual session or a group meeting, all the Lady Vols got the message about rebounding. Every Lady Vol contributed at least one rebound to a 45-35 advantage. They managed to snag 13 offensive boards, which was no easy feat considering they shot better than 50 percent from the floor for most of the game before finishing at 49.2 percent (29 for 59).

"After the last game, we had a statement to make: We can rebound,'' said freshman Vicki Baugh, referring to the 57-39 deficit against North Carolina Sunday night. "We have to start now. We're going to need it later."

Baugh did her part with six rebounds. On the other hand, she highlighted other areas in need of improvement. One was personal in nature as the 6-foot-4 forward fouled out in just nine minutes.

At least she and Summitt were able to share a laugh about Baugh's plight after she left the game.

"She called me a hacker, I believe,'' Baugh said. "I had no choice but to laugh.

"I've never had more than three fouls in a game before. I have to learn to be smart. I shouldn't have reached. There is no excuse for the fouls."

Baugh also committed five of Tennessee's 23 turnovers, which amounted to a single-game season high for the Lady Vols. Fifteen came in the first half, when every player contributed at least one to the total.

"We didn't start out with a good rhythm on offense,'' Summitt said. "We weren't playing well together. The ball got stuck in people's hands. We tried to force some high-low (plays).

"Once we started reversing the ball, we opened up more options."

To the Lady Vols' credit, they limited their mistakes in the second half and still managed to get every player but Baugh at least 16 minutes of action. No one played more than Bjorklund's 33 minutes.

It was all too much for Old Dominion, especially without Jordan.

"I'd like to think there's enough fortitude on the team that we could pick up some of the pieces,'' Larry said. "Unfortunately that wasn't the case."

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