"Holly has it."
Senior Lady Volunteer Kamiko Williams said nothing was lost when first year head coach Holly Warlick took the reigns from Tennessee coaching legend Pat Summitt. Williams said Warlick's years of experience under Summitt has made the transition a seamless ordeal.
"Really I haven't seen that much of a change," Williams said. "Holly's been involved in the program for a long time and a lot of the principles and concepts have been the same."
Warlick played basketball under Summitt from 1976-1980 and worked with Summitt as assistant coach for 27 years. For Warlick, there is no place she'd rather be.
"It is personal. It is something I have always wanted to do," Warlick said.
To her fans and friends who question her ability to follow in Summitt's footsteps, Warlick said the thought never crossed her mind. Warlick said she doesn't feel any pressure to live up to Summitt's accomplishments.
"I don't see it as that. I was taught by the best to be put in this position," Warlkick said. "I think I am prepared. Mistakes along the way? Absolutely. As long as I keep learning from them."
Warlick said Summitt had spent years preparing her for the moment when the head coach emeritus would pass the torch. She said it's been an honor to sit back and watch Summitt perform, but she's ready for the task.
"I have never said I am scared to do this, I don't want to do this," Warlick said. "I love the challenge and I love the opportunity to be here. It is in my blood. It is all I know."
For senior Taber Spani, this is an opportunity to take on a leadership role and show her teammates what it means to support a coach like Warlick.
"I really want to be an extension of Holly out on the floor," Spani said. "I want to do everything I can to help her be successful and in turn help the team be successful."
As far as coaching differences go, Warlick said her style of coaching might differ slightly from Summitt's, but that the objectives are the same. She said they both understand the importance of good defense and Summitt's philosophy is her philosophy.
"I don't have a stare. I'm probably a little more active on the sideline," Warlick said. "I don't know if that's good or bad — I haven't coached a game yet, but I'm going to do what I think is best for these young ladies and if I see that my game plan isn't working, then I'm okay to change it and say we have to change directions."
She expects just as much out of her players and herself as Summitt ever did.
"As far as Pat, my expectations haven't changed," Warlick said. "We're still going to class, we're still going to graduate kids. That foundation has not changed. My expectation is that they play 100 percent on the court and I know that was Pat's as well."
But some things will change. The Lady Vols were issued a preseason rank at No. 20, the lowest ranking the team has had since Warlick first stepped on the court in 1976.
"For us, I think it's low, but it is what it is and we're not there, but it's serving as a motivation for us," Warlick said. "When you lose five starters, you lose the winningest coach in the country, (and) I understand that the expectations for this team will be lowered. But they aren't lowered for me, they're not lowered for this program, for these fans. We don't like being ranked 20th, but it's preseason and we're using it as a motivation factor."
Players, fans and coaches all agree that Warlick is the best fit for the job and Warlick said she's not going anywhere.
"I think the country and women's basketball would be shocked if I didn't have on orange and white," Warlick said. "They would think something was wrong with me, sick or something. It is just who I am and what I think I was chosen to do."