KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee women’s basketball will be jostling for position in the SEC when the Lady Vols play host to Texas A&M, but that’s about where the pressure starts and ends for coach Holly Warlick.
Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer made it clear to SEC Country that he’s pleased with the job Warlick is doing in her sixth season as the Lady Vols coach.
“When you follow a legend like Pat Summitt, that’s a very difficult thing,” said Fulmer, who was working on his College Football Hall of Fame career at Tennessee at the same time Summitt was leading the women’s basketball program to unprecedented heights and national titles.
“I think she has worn it very well.”
Tennessee is 17-4 (5-3 SEC) and ranked No. 12 in the AP poll entering its clash Thursday with the No. 14 Aggies (17-6, 6-2) at 6:30 p.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena (SEC Network).
The Lady Vols opened the season 15-0, but they’ve gone 2-4 since, starting with a deflating 79-76 loss at Texas A&M on Jan. 11.
Fulmer coached 16 seasons of football at Tennessee, and his youngest daughter, Allison, was a member of Tennessee’s elite softball program. If anyone understands the dynamics of how seasons go, it’s Fulmer.
“They’ve kind of hit a freshman wall a little bit, and we have to get over that,” Fulmer said, offering his take on the Lady Vols’ recent struggles. “I think Holly will do fine.”
In just two months on the job, Fulmer has assessed all of the Vols sports programs. He granted contract extensions where appropriate while also making changes where needed.
Fulmer recognizes the importance of Tennessee women’s basketball, so it is not a program he’ll overlook.
But for now, the Tennessee athletic director feels good about Warlick and the Lady Vols, who are 10-1 at home.
“We have great attendance there, there’s always going to be someone not happy about everything,” Fulmer said. “Holly has done a nice job, and a really good job of recruiting.
“Last year chemistry wasn’t exactly beneficial to the success, and this group of freshmen has done really well early.”