Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tamika Catchings speaks to team

Catchings' post-game talk impacts players

Tamika Catchings sat in Tennessee's locker room after Monday night's loss to Notre Dame with a choice to make.

Should the former Lady Vols All-American remain silent or should she stand up and speak her mind? She chose the latter.

"I didn't plan it," she said. "I started talking. I don't remember verbatim what I said."

She said enough to make a strong impression. Two Lady Vols referenced the impact as the team prepared to face SEC women's basketball rival Mississippi State.

"We needed to not only be challenged but also be encouraged and she did both," senior Taber Spani said.

Under the circumstances, rallying the troops is advisable. With her impromptu talk, Catchings got that process rolling. She arrived in time to watch the team's shooting practice Monday and made a talking point of its uneven quality.

"You look at the game," she said. "It was kind of the same thing."

Both Spani and point guard Ariel Massengale mentioned the observation.

"It's not a physical thing, it's more of a mental thing," Spani said. "... Being able to tune in mentally and not have any lapses is going to be huge."

Catchings also left them with reason for optimism.

"I was impressed from the standpoint of what they can be," she said. "But from the outside looking in, sometimes you see more potential than they see."

Warlick was grateful that the players heard from someone other than the coaches, especially a player of Catchings' stature.

"Sometimes, they may think a coach, we're just harping on and on and on," Warlick said. "But to hear it from a former Lady Vol and their peers, I think it has a lot of meaning."

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