Zolman snaps slump by simply having fun

Editor's note: Before the games tip off, ESPN's Beth Mowins takes a look at one player to watch from each of the No. 1 seeds. Here, she focuses on Tennessee's Shanna Zolman.

Back in December, Shanna Zolman was in a slump she couldn't get out of. So she went to her old high school coach and confidant for advice.

They happen to be the same guy. And Shanna's dad, Kem Zolman, had noticed that his daughter was not smiling out on the court and recommended she just relax and start having some fun.

Zolman took her dad's advice and soon after, hit the game-winning shot against Stanford right before Christmas. That put a smile back on Zolman's face, and she has been a different player since.

Zolman has led Tennessee back to the top of the SEC and possibly the NCAA. She has her confidence back and has developed into a good leader for Tennessee. And Zolman is hitting her stride at just the right time for the Lady Vols.

In the SEC tournament, Zolman averaged 12 points and shot 53 percent from 3-point range in guiding the Lady Vols to the championship. Last season, she was at her best in the NCAA Tournament, highlighted by a team-leading 19 points in a championship game loss against UConn. Tennessee is hoping for big things from Zolman again this time around.

In addition to the occasional smile, something else looks different about Zolman this season. She's wearing the No. 1 jersey instead of her usual No. 5, honoring injured friend and teammate Sidney Spencer, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

Zolman and Spencer spent part of the summer working together with underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic. It gave Zolman a greater appreciation of what she has at home and at Tennessee. And it helps her keep smiling, even during the tough times.

Zolman is happy, her teammates are happy, and Lady Vols fans are dreaming about the possibility of Knoxville's first national championship in seven years. Maybe father does know best.

Beth Mowins is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage.