In Sunday's 63-80 loss to the Missouri Tigers, the Lady Vols (17-5, 8-1 SEC) took more than just a loss to their record, they also took on more losses due to injury.
The Lady Vols have been battered by injuries this season, as three players have missed games due to injury, and senior guard Kamiko Williams (right ankle) and freshman forward Jasmine Jones (right knee) just joined the list as they will most likely be out for Thursday's game against the Louisiana State Lady Tigers (13-9, 4-5 SEC).
"I know it's part of the game, but we have three starters that are out with injuries," head coach Holly Warlick said. "I don't have an answer, and then when Jasmine and Kamiko got hurt I'm thinking, 'I hope we have five people to compete,' so it's an interesting thing and we're just going to have to deal with it, we're going to have to walk on eggshells during practice."
One player who isn't a stranger to injuries but has been able to avoid them this season is senior forward Taber Spani (she missed 11 games in 2011-2012 due to injuries). She knows what a player like Williams, who was starting to hit her stride scoring 24 points to go along with 19 rebounds and nine steals in the past two games, is going through.
"I talked a lot to her about that," Spani said. "It is frustrating just because you're so up and down and you finally feel like you're in a groove, and she's been playing fantastic the last two games and really stepped up and then for her to go down, but she's a fighter and she'll be back as soon as possible and we all expect her to play at a very high level when she gets back, so we have all the confidence in the world in her."
Even with all the injuries around them, the team's attitude seems to be pretty good heading into their matchup against LSU.
"We're just ready to go back to work and get better," Spani said. "We understand that what lies before us is hopefully holding up the SEC trophy at the end of this regular season and that's what we're after and so no matter what it looks like, no matter who's on the floor, no matter who can play, who can't, I don't think any goals have changed."
Sophomore forward Cierra Burdick knows that the Lady Vols will have to be ready defensively when they go to Baton Rouge, where the Lady Tigers are 10-2 and average 79.8 points per game.
"We need to make defense our priority," Burdick said. "We gotta play D and we gotta board the basketball, and that's something that Pat (Summitt) has instilled in this program, and that's why we've won championships so we just really gotta make that our priority."
The Lady Vols tip-off against the Lady Tigers in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at 9 p.m.