The Lady Vols were knocked out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this season. It's just the second time in program history that Tennessee did not reach the Sweet Sixteen.
With the return of redshirt seniors Diamond DeShields and Mercedes Russell, plus the addition of the top-ranked recruiting class in the country, Holly Warlick's roster will be stacked for the 2017-18 season.
Many people think this will be a make or break year for Warlick.
She's not thinking in those terms.
"I'm not going into this year thinking, 'you know what, you'd better win cause you're going to lose your job,'" Warlick said Thursday afternoon at a press conference.
"I'm going into the season (thinking), 'how can I get this group better? How can I get this team more focused? How can we all get on the same page?'"
Conference rival South Carolina won the 2017 national championship, marking the first time an SEC school, other than Tennessee, won the title. The Lady Vols defeated both South Carolina and national runner-up Mississippi State during the regular season.
"I'm where I need to be and I'm where I want to be," Warlick said. "I knew what I was getting into and I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I'm doing it the way I think it's going to get done. We're going to move this program forward and it's going to be a great opportunity for these young ladies and that's what it should be."
"It shouldn't be about me, it should be about this program and where we're headed and the opportunities we're giving young ladies. That's how I focus on it, I get up every morning excited to make these kids better. Whether it's on the court, off the court, whatever I do, that's my job."
Tennessee's new athletic director John Currie officially started his tenure on April 1. He comes from the AD post at Kansas State and previously worked at UT in various athletic department roles for about a decade.
"He's coming in here and wanting our programs to be successful," Warlick said. "I don't think he's coming in here with the thought of, 'you know what, I'm going to run everybody out and get who I want in here.' I think he genuinely understands this program, this university, this athletic department, what he needs to do. He's not coming in here where this program is in dire needs of things."
Warlick has spent five seasons as the head coach of the Lady Vol program after taking over for the legendary Pat Summitt in 2012. Warlick coached on Summitt's staff for 27 seasons and played for her, too.
In those five seasons at the helm, Warlick has led the Lady Vols to three Elite Eight appearances and one Sweet Sixteen. Warlick and former Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore are the only coaches in women's basketball history to lead their teams to three Elite Eights in their first four seasons as head coach.
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