The Lady Vols have announced their schedule for the 2013-2014 basketball season. Head coach Holly Warlick made the announcement shortly after the SEC revealed the league's slate of games for the season.
The biggest date on the schedule is a home matchup against the LSU Lady Tigers on Jan. 2, and the reason is not just the fact that it is the first SEC matchup of the season.
On that night, former Lady Vol Candace Parker will have her number retired.
Parker averaged 19.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in her career here at UT to go along with her back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. She also won the John R. Wooden Player of the Year, the State Farm Player of the Year and the SEC Player of the Year in 2007.
The St. Louis native now plays for the Los Angeles Sparks, where she has won a Rookie of the Year Award and an MVP in the same year (2008), making her the first ever WNBA player to do so.
"Candace just exemplifies what it means to be a Lady Vol," Warlick said. "She plays hard, she's won championships, she's won awards, she's a great role model, she has her degree and she loves this program. She's what a Lady Vol should be."
As for the current Lady Vols, they will pop the top on the 2013-14 slate in Murfreesboro on Nov. 8 against Middle Tennessee, which the Lady Vols needed overtime to defeat last season, 88-81. A road trip to Chapel Hill comes next, as UT faces a talent-laden North Carolina squad in a contest that is slated to be televised on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Nov. 11 as part of the 24-hour "ESPN Tip-Off Marathon."
The defending SEC champion Lady Vols, who were 27-8 in 2012-13 and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight, will play 18 regular-season games vs. teams that saw postseason action a year ago. That group includes 11 teams that made the NCAA Tournament and five that played in the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
Warlick's squad, which enters the campaign ranked No. 3 in Charlie Creme's espnW 2013-14 preseason top 25, already has four games being televised by the ESPN family of networks, including a pair of "Big Monday" home tilts versus Notre Dame and Vanderbilt and an "ESPN Sunday" showdown versus Kentucky. The rest of the TV schedule and remaining start times will be announced at a later date.
The schedule also features a trip to the Bahamas for the Junkanoo Jam at Freeport/Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island over Thanksgiving. This is UT's first international travel since going to the Virgin Islands in 2010-11.
The Lady Vols, who went 14-2 in conference play a year ago, will welcome LSU (Jan. 2), Ole Miss (Jan. 9), Florida (Jan. 23), Arkansas (Jan. 30), Vanderbilt (Feb. 10, 9 p.m., "Big Monday"), Kentucky (Feb. 16, 1 p.m., "ESPN Sunday"), Auburn (Feb. 20) and South Carolina (March 2) to Thompson-Boling Arena. UK, USC, VU and LSU all were NCAA participants in 2012-13, while AU, ARK and UF competed in the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
Tennessee, of course, will have a road trip to Vanderbilt (Jan. 12), its permanent opponent. The Lady Vols also will travel to LSU (Feb. 27) and Ole Miss (Feb. 6), their two random opponents this season. Other SEC road trips include Georgia (Jan. 5), Mississippi State (Jan. 16), Texas A&M (Jan. 26), Alabama (Feb. 2) and Missouri (Feb. 23). UGA and A&M were NCAA teams last season, while Missouri played in the WNIT.
Postseason play will begin in Duluth, Ga., where Tennessee will try to win its fourth SEC Tournament title in seven seasons on March 5-9 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
While Tennessee has its focus squarely on making the NCAA Final Four in Nashville on April 6 and April 8, the available paths to Bridgestone Arena have not been revealed. The NCAA will announce the sites for the first and second rounds and Regionals no later than Oct. 1.