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What Impresses Rick Barnes About New Tennessee Lady Vols Coach Kim Caldwell

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

It’s been a chaotic first month on the job for new Lady Vols’ basketball coach Kim Caldwell. The former Marshall coach is adjusting to Tennessee and the rigors that come with a big time college basketball job while looking to fill out the roster for her first team in Knoxville.

One other adjustment for Caldwell is the media and obligations that come with being the Lady Vols’ head coach as opposed to Marshall and Glenville State. She experienced one of those obligations last week when she made her way across the state for the Big Orange Caravan.

Traveling with football coach Josh Heupel and men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes, Caldwell spent time with the Tennessee coaches while meeting many members of Tennessee’s fanbase.

Meeting with the media at the Big Orange Caravan in Chattanooga last week, Barnes discussed what advice he’d have for Caldwell while empathizing with the spot she’s at trying to build her program.

“I don’t know if she needs any words of wisdom from me, but I can tell you this,” Barnes said. “I know what she’s going through, coming into a program where she probably hasn’t stopped in terms of knowing that she has to get a roster together. … I think the biggest thing will be, like all of us this time of year, is getting a roster put together and really actually getting to practice. We were down to six guys, so it’s not like we’ve practiced this offseason.”

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Caldwell has added three players in the transfer portal since landing the Tennessee job— Syracuse forward Alyssa Latham, Miami forward Lazaria Spearman and Arkansas guard Samari Spencer. Spencer committed to Tennessee on Sunday and is the most notable transfer addition having averaged 13.9 points per game for the Razorbacks last season. The Lady Vols have lost one player, forward Karoline Striplin, to the transfer portal this offseason.

Barnes also touched on what’s most impressed about Caldwell from his interactions with her and her actions during her first month on the job.

“I think the biggest thing will be, like all of us this time of year, is getting a roster put together and really actually getting to practice,” Barnes said. “But I really admire Danny White for going out and he interviewed many people, but he said this is the one that he wants to lead. I think she’s handled everything great, but I can tell you, she’s still spinning, but you can tell she’s making progress.”

Caldwell’s style of play was one of the most intriguing things when Tennessee hired her. Her lone Marshall team set the program record by averaging 85.3 points per game— a mark that ranked fourth nationally. They ranked third nationally in made three-pointers and second nationally in turnovers forced per game.

The Big Orange Caravan rolls on with one more stop this Wednesday, May 8 in the Tri Cities. Caldwell and the Lady Vols still have three scholarships to work with in the transfer portal as she looks to fill out her first Tennessee roster.

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