We'd like to begin today's podcast synopsis with a congratulations to "friend of the show" Howard Megdal, who now has a podcast, Locked on WBB. We wish him luck with it.
On media days, such as the one recently held at ESPN, sometimes it is difficult to get extended one on one time with your subject, in this case, Tennessee's Diamond DeShields. So much like she'll see during the regular season, DeShields was double teamed by both Megdal and myself; you will hear both of us asking questions and talking to her.
This is a pivotal year for both DeShields and the Lady Vols program in general. As South Carolina, Mississippi State, and other have grown in the SEC, they are gaining ground on the Tennessee territory at the top of the conference.
DeShields came to Tennessee on the heels of a phenomenal freshman year at North Carolina, and brought high expectations. She was never fully healthy last season, and her desire to push through and lead the team led to some questionable decisions and shot selections, which she freely admits in the interview.
It was a difficult summer, with injury recovery time combined with the sorrow and difficulty of coach Pat Summitt's passing impacting the entire program. They are trying to embrace, but put behind them the legacy of Summitt at the same time, no easy endeavor, especially for young women in their late teens or early twenties. The championship won by former Lady Vol Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks, where she declared the victory for Summitt, helped them bring a bit of closure as well.
DeShields is healthy, and along with center Mercedes Russell, DeShields aspires to lead the Lady Vols to the top once again. The bench is not very long, and DeShields talks about not being able to take games off, and her teammates needing to realize they have roles and responsibilities that cannot be left behind either. Sounds like a leader if you ask me.
December includes games with Baylor, Texas a
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