Alex Fuller watched Tennessee’s practice on Monday.
She’s expected to do the same for the Lady Vols’ SEC women’s basketball game at Kentucky Thursday, rather than play her usual role of reserve forward.
The 6-foot-3 redshirt junior, who sat out her freshman season after undergoing multiple knee surgeries, is dealing with soreness and some swelling in her knees. With the season’s duration in mind, rest and medication has been prescribed. Hence, the decision to have Fuller sit out against the Wildcats.
“I didn’t want to play her (Sunday) but her family was there,’’ said UT coach Pat Summitt, referring to the game at South Carolina. “I said ‘Fine but you have to rest after this.’ ”
Fuller has been a valuable reserve, averaging 7.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. When Candace Parker was suspended for the first half of a Jan. 2 game at DePaul, Fuller stepped into the starting lineup and scored 17 of her career-high 19 points by halftime.
“She’s having the best year of her career,’’ Summitt said. “I think we’re doing the right thing to err on the side of caution.”
Fuller had company on the sidelines Monday. Freshman forward Vicki Baugh tweaked her left iliotibial band, the thick tendinous fascia that runs along the upper portion of the leg. She sat out the latter portion of practice but is expected to be fine.
Freshman center Kelley Cain, meanwhile, continued her rehabilitation from surgery last month to address the tracking of her right kneecap. Jenny Moshak, the Lady Vols assistant athletic director for sports medicine, said Cain is “way ahead’’ of schedule in the eight-month rehab process. Cain will be on crutches for another month.
Sophomore guard Cait McMahan, who is sitting out the season after undergoing offseason knee surgery, participated in Monday’s workout, playing with the scout team.
Talented Isn’t Enough: Sunday’s uneven effort against South Carolina served to underscore the point Summitt has been making recently about the Lady Vols. She thinks UT is the most talented team but not the best team, at least not now.
“In order for the most talented team to be the best team, they have to bring the best effort all the time,’’ she said.
“There’s a lot of teams in this country that are very talented. So you can have the best talent, but if you’re going against teams that are talented and play hard on every possession and play well together, I mean they can beat the most talented team if they’re not playing that way.”
Rebound Practice: Regarding UT’s inconsistent rebounding, Summitt is blaming herself for not incorporating it into the team’s shooting drills.
“I can’t believe it didn’t hit me until (Sunday) night,’’ she said. “We haven’t presented them with the type of drill work and emphasis to allow us to make it a habit. But we will, trust me.”
Notebook: Tennessee remained No. 2 behind Connecticut in the weekly Associated Press Top 25 poll. ... The SEC lost a team from the rankings with Arkansas dropping out after two losses. ... Point guard Shannon Bobbitt has reached 100 career 3-pointers in her second season with the Lady Vols. “It’s absolutely amazing,’’ Summitt said. “I keep saying she doesn’t get the respect.” ... Kentucky center Sarah Elliott suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s game against Mississippi State. The 6-6 senior is expected to play against Tennessee.