After a grueling start to the season in which the women’s basketball team faced physically stressful practices and even traveled to other countries, it must now place all of their remaining energy into facing-off against tough opponents.
“We need to reenergize our batteries,” head coach Karen Aston said. “We’re a little tired, you can tell.”
Under the current circumstances, Aston is just concerned with taking the next couple of matchups one game at a time.
“The next few weeks are difficult for them as student athletes,” Aston said. “We need to get to Sunday and play as hard as we can possibly play and as good as we can possibly play, and then they need a break because academics are important.”
But the Longhorns certainly won’t catch a break Sunday when they take on third-ranked Tennessee.
“The energy level is going to need to be extremely high for us, because theirs will be,” Aston said.
After winning their first holiday tournament title since 2005 a week ago, the Lady Volunteers had the next week off to rest — something Texas desperately needs.
The Longhorns are already the underdogs in this game and exhaustion won’t help. But Texas already pulled an upset this season when they took down then No. 12 A&M, 69-58.
Also working against the Longhorns is playing on the road at Tennessee. The Lady Vols average 10,395 attendees per game, compared to Texas’s 3,010.
“Any time you go up there, it is a terrific environment for women’s basketball,” Aston said. “They have great fans.”
Although the Lady Vols don’t have any players that stand out significantly, they have a talented, balanced attack. Junior Ariel
Massengale is their leading scorer, averaging 13.7 points per game, and sophomore Bashaara Graves is their leading rebounder, averaging nine rebounds per game, but the other top six players aren’t far behind.
The Longhorns have three more non-conference games after Tennessee before starting Big 12 play in January. By the time winter break is over, they will have already competed against No. 14 Oklahoma State, Kansas State, No. 17 Oklahoma and West Virginia.