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Happy Birthday - March 17

We've got five Big Orange birthdays to celebrate on this St. Patrick's Day 2015! Today, we're wishing a happy birthday to football linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen as well as VFLs Cordarrelle Patterson and Robert Lee Suffridge. Also, today is the birthday of women's basketball's Bashaara Graves and soccer's Carlyn Baldwin

Coach Thigpen is heading into his third year at linebackers coach at the University of Tennessee. He has played and coached in seven bowl games over his career, including the Vols' 2015 Tax Slayer Bowl victory back in January. He has been considered one of the top recruiters in the country on multiple occasions, named National Recruiter of the Year by back in 2013. 

Tommy Thigpen

A current wideout for the Minnesota Vikings, Patterson played just one season for Tennessee back in 2012 but made an immediate and memorable impact. In 12 starts, he racked up a school-record 1,858 all-purpose yards and ranked first in the SEC. He notched 10 total touchdowns on the year, doing so in four different ways: receiving, rushing, kick return, and punt return. He was selected as the 29th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. 

Bob Suffridge played football at UT from 1938-40 and collected All-America honors in all three years. A two-way player, "Suff" was dominant on both sides of the ball and helped the Volunteers to a 30-0 record during his time on Rocky Top. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1941, but his professional career was shortened due to his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Suffridge was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1961.

Bob Suffridge

A junior from Clarksville, Tennessee, Graves and her Lady Vol teammates are gearing up for another NCAA Tournament run when they face Boise State at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday. This season, Graves is averaging 10.1 points per game to go along with 6.8 boards per contest. She has seven double-doubles to her  name in 2014-15 and became the 40th Lady Vol to surpass 1,000 career points when she scored 17 in a win over Mississippi State.

Bashaara  Graves

A midfielder from Oakton, Virginia, Baldwin played in 21 games and saw 20 starts as a true freshman in 2014. She scored one goal and notched two assists on the season. Prior to arriving at UT, she traveled with the U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team to the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup -- one of three incoming college freshmen to be named to the team.

Carlyn Baldwin

Lady Vol Hoops Update

Today's Lady Vol Hoops update brings you a variety of news from the past couple of weeks. Clips include topics involving current players Bashaara Graves, Ariel Massengale and Meighan Simmons; head coach Holly Warlick; head coach emeritus Pat Summitt; former players Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings and Kara Lawson; and even former Vol football player Peyton Manning.

-- Knoxville News Sentinel: Bashaara Graves, Ariel Massengale have golden moments for U.S. hoops
-- The Oklahoman: Competitive family, including sister Meighan, spurs Ryan Simmons to success at OSU

Lady Vol Hoops Update

On Saturday, much of the sports world was focused on men's basketball and the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta. Still, there was very much a Tennessee presence surrounding the game's coverage.

CBS aired an interview with Pat and Tyler Summitt by Lesley Visser during the pregame show. To watch, click on the link below.

CBS Interview: Pat and Tyler Summitt fight Alzheimer's together


ABC News' Robin Roberts conducted an interview with legendary Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt last month. Watch as they discuss her career, family, and battle with early onset dementia. Watch at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 7.

WatchESPN Interview: One On One With Pat Summitt


Peyton and Ashley Manning made a special announcement on Saturday, making a $500,000 donation to the Pat Summitt Foundation. To read about that, click on the link below.

Associated Press: Peyton Manning to give $500,000 to Pat Summitt Foundation to help fight Alzheimer's disease


In New Orleans, UT junior guard Meighan Simmons and freshman forward/center Bashaara Graves were honorable mention selections for the WBCA All-America Team. Those honors were announced on Saturday.

WBCA: WBCA Announces All-America Team


Also in New Orleans, a future Lady Vol was in action in the WBCA All-America Game. After helping her West squad to victory at the McDonald's All-American Game earlier this week, Mercedes Russell helped the Black defeated the Purple, 74-70, at New Orleans Arena.

While Russell didn't earn MVP honors as she did in Chicago at the "Mickey D's" game, she pulled down seven rebounds and two assists to contribute to her squad's victory on Saturday.


Happy Birthday - March 17: Graves, Patterson, Suffridge

On St. Patrick's Day, March 17, we wish Happy Birthday to women's basketball SEC Freshman of the Year Bashaara Graves.

Also celebrating All-SEC football player and probable NFL First-Round Draft Pick Cordarrelle Patterson.

From the archives, the Vols only three-time football All-American Bob Suffridge was born 97 years ago on March 17, 1916.

SEC Tournament Bound

With their 17th SEC regular season title, the Lady Vols head to Duluth, Ga., as the No. 1 seed in the 2013 SEC Tournament. En route to the Peach State, the Lady Vols swept the league yearly honors as head coach Holly Warlick was recognized as SEC Coach of the Year, junior Meighan Simmons earned SEC Co-Player of the Year, and rookie Bashaara Graves picked up SEC Freshman of the Year accolades. Both Simmons and Graves were named the All-SEC First Team, while Graves also headlined the SEC All-Freshman Team.

Tennessee has won the last three tournament titles and carries a nine-game league tournament win-streak heading into this year's event. Through the years, UT has amassed a 69-17 record in postseason league play while claiming 16 conference tournament crowns.

See what media had to say about the Lady Vols' yearly honors and this weekend's conference tournament.

SEC Tournament Previews Lady Vol Hoops Central
Knox News Sentinel: Holly Warlick says Isabelle Harrison 'doubtful' for SEC tournament
Inside Tennessee (subscription): Dean Lockwood: 'Humble and hungry'
espnW: Tennessee is No. 1 seed in SEC tourney
Clarksville Online: Clarksville's Bashaara Graves and Kamiko Williams prepare to lead UT Lady Vols in SEC Tournament Friday
Daily Beacon: Lady Vols chase conference tournament title

SEC Yearly Honors
Knox News Sentinel: SEC sweep for Lady Vols: Warlick (coach), Simmons (co-player), Graves (freshman)
Daily Beacon: Lady Vols honored, focused on SEC Tournament
Rocky Top Talk: Titles and Trophies: Tennessee Lady Vols Sweep POY, Coach of the Year
Chattanooga Times Free Press: Tradition transition: Tennessee Lady Vols' top spot earns Holly Warlick honor

Graves Burying the Competition

Lady Vol freshman standout Bashaara Graves has been a dominant factor in Tennessee's success this season. The 6-foot-2 Clarksville native has racked up a team-best nine double-doubles, which is third overall in the SEC,  and leads all freshmen in the league in scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.7 rpg). She has been honored as SEC Freshman of the Week on four occasions this year, the most any player has been recognized this season.

Among Division I freshmen, Graves is fourth in scoring, sixth in rebounds, and second in field goal percentage (51.2 percent). Her field goal percentage is 35th overall in the nation.

Division I Freshmen Scoring (overall national rank at beginning)

118. Briahanna Jackson, UCF


141. Talia Walton, Washington


160. Lia Galdeira, Washington State


163. Bashaara Graves, Tennessee


Division I Freshman Rebounding (overall national rank at beginning)

7. Jillian Alleyne, Oregon


27. Schaquilla Nunn, Winthrop


31. Riana Byrd, San Jose State


59. Joy Adams, Iona


69. Imani McGee-Stafford, Texas


91. Bashaara Graves, Tennessee


Division I Freshman Field Goal Percentage (overall national rank at beginning)

34. Breanna Stewart, Connecticut


35. Bashaara Graves, Tennessee


Graves has scored in double figures in 21 of 24 games this season, and 14 of those instances were more than 15 points. She's also led the team in rebounding 13 times, more than half of the games this season.

Aside from her standout statistics, Graves has came up big for UT in close match ups this season, including making needed free throws in UT's overtime victory at Florida, and scoring the game-winning shot at LSU with .8 seconds left in the game.

Check out what media are saying about the Tennessee newcomer.

-Swish Appeal: Bashaara Graves: The fire within
-The Daily Beacon: Graves brings more than skill to Lady Vols
-WBIR: Rapid Fire: Bashaara Graves
-Associated Press: Freshman Graves emerges as force for Lady Vols
-Associated Press: Injuries leave Lady Vols weak at post;Freshmen must step forward vs. Bulldogs
-Knox News Sentinel: Responsibility is growing for Lady Vols' Bashaara Graves
-espnW: Tenn Questions with Graves

Lady Vol Hoops in the News (Sept. 24, 2012)