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University of Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer passes a jersey to Kellie Harper during a press conference announcing her as the new head coach of the Lady Vols, in the Ray and Lucy Hand Studio on University of Tennessee's campus Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in Knoxville, Tenn. (Caitie McMekin/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee women's 2018-19 basketball roster was relatively young.

The same could be said for Kellie Harper's first team as well.

Only two seniors are on the Lady Volunteers roster, neither of whom has played a significant role for the program. Sixth-year senior Lou Brown was a graduate transfer from Washington State who missed last season due to a preseason knee injury, while Kamera Harris has played in 36 of a possible 97 games during her Tennessee career.

Less than half of the team's scoring is back from last season's team, one that relied heavily on a pair of sophomores — forward Rennia Davis and guard Evina Westbrook — for leadership and production. With Westbrook transferring to Connecticut in the offseason, that leaves Davis to be one of the primary voices. But not the only one.

"In a sense, we expect everybody to be a leader," sophomore Jazmine Massengill from Chattanooga said last week. "Everybody has a certain role they have to play; everybody has to do everything in order for us to be where we need to be."

Harper said leadership is something the team "is still working on" but noted that the players have been pretty open to the changes. Harper and her staff were able to get an early start to forming relationships with the team on a three-game European tour in August, which allowed the Lady Vols to start working toward the level of chemistry necessary to compete.

After an 8-0 start to the 2018-19 season, the Lady Vols went 11-13 the rest of the way, including a disappointing 7-9 mark against Southeastern Conference competition.

The roster flip saw two seniors graduate, Westbrook transfer to UConn and promising freshman forward Mimi Collins go to Maryland. Five new players (plus Brown) will be in action for the team this year, but the combination of a newer roster with a newer coaching staff could be a bonus for the program.

"I feel like we (the coaches) know the players better now," Harper said last week. "We have been able to see the players interact together now. We have some big personalities on the team, and we have some that are quiet. We kind of see how those players work together in non-adversity situations.

"I think the chemistry is something that we are working on. We have not seen anything negative, but we still have to work on it. We have been working to build a positive atmosphere and positive environment for our players."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.

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