KNOXVILLE -- The pressure of replacing a basketball coaching legend facing Holly Warlick already is significant, yet it won't begin to ratchet through the roof for another few months.
For now, at least, Tennessee's new women's basketball coach is relaxing a little bit more.
Sunday marked the start of the Lady Volunteers' annual series of basketball camps, and unlike in previous years as Pat Summitt's assistant, Warlick includes a different perspective of camp in her new role as her mentor's replacement.
"I haven't had to be at a lot of different places and really run the camp," she said Monday, her 54th birthday. "I've been able to sit back and walk around and meet parents, which I always love to do, and go just literally sit down and watch kids play. Usually I'm trying to put out fires, or I'm getting the schedule and tweaking the schedule a little bit.
"It's been fun for me. I get to watch basketball, which I love, and visit with parents and see where they're from and thank them for bringing their daughter to camp."
It's been nearly two months since UT announced that Summitt -- after 38 seasons as head coach, more than 1,000 wins, eight national championships and an impact that goes beyond UT and basketball -- would be the program's head coach emeritus. Since then, the Lady Vols' coaching legend, who was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, last year, has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and made her first hole-in-one last weekend.
Warlick, handed the daunting task of replacing Summitt, has been busy. She's hired two assistant coaches and a new director of basketball operations and put the finishing touches on a five-player signing class.
There also were the three separate basketball camps to organize. Warlick said the planning began after Summitt made her choice.
"We've been doing this for so long ... we just kept our same format and went with it," she said. "It's been a tough transition, but the camp has been really smooth. We just had a couple of little hiccups along the way, [but] I'm very pleased with how it's been run.
"This is a fun time for us. We get to watch our players be coaches. They get to turn into coaches and see how they teach."
With Warlick now more of an overseer, UT's three assistant coaches get more involved. Dean Lockwood, Kyra Elzy and Jolette Law taught campers Monday morning, Warlick said. Elzy, formerly Kentucky's associate head coach and recruiting coordinator and a member of UT's 1997 and 1998 national-title teams, and Law, who was Illinois' coach for the past five seasons, are the new faces.
"They just reiterated what I thought: They're great coaches, great teachers," Warlick said.
Most of the organizational side of setting up camp fell to Mike Beaumont, Warlick's basketball operations hire, and graduate assistant Corinne Milien.
Warlick and her staff won't get much time to work with their team this summer due to NCAA rules. The Lady Vols lost five seniors and will rely on some new players when they open the season at UT-Chattanooga. Having lost their top two scorers and rebounders, they could need early contributions from junior college All-American forward Jasmine Philips, guard Andraya Carter and forwards Bashaara Graves, Jasmine Jones and Nia Moore.
"The biggest thing is get in the gym," Warlick said of the offseason message to her team. "Championships are made when they get in the gym on their own and work on their game. You cannot wait till you graduate here and are trying to find a job to be a professional.
"You've got to work now, and that's what we've been stressing. You've got to get in and get shots up and play pickup games. We can't make them, but we highly encourage them to work on their skills."
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...