Smallbone enjoying NCAA Tourney experience with Tennessee

There is nothing quite like playing in the NCAA Tournament as a freshman.

Well, maybe there is.

Playing in the NCAA Tournament as a freshman at Tennessee which is headed to its 27th straight Sweet 16 Sunday night against Notre Dame.

That freshman is Sydney Smallbone. The St. Joe grad isn't a starter and hasn't logged major minutes when the game was tight, but she is gaining tons of experience.

"It's awesome," Smallbone said after Tuesday's win over Purdue. "What I worked for was to come here to Tennessee."

"It's a dream come true for me."

In Sunday's opening round game against Oral Roberts, Smallbone scored 7 points, grabbed 3 rebounds and dished out 2 assists in 15 minutes of action.

In Tuesday's win over Purdue, Smallbone didn't score in 6 minutes of action.

"I just have to keep working and hopefully I'll get my playing time in the years to come," Smallbone explained.

She points out that she doesn't have to play to learn.

"I'm learning a lot on the bench. In the minutes I get, I learn. At practices, I learn.

"I'm learning from the best right now."

Smallbone will now face Notre Dame and former teammates Melissa Lechlitner and Becca Bruszewski in Sunday's Sweet 16 in Oklahoma City.

She says she can't wait.

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