Adams: Something to chew on for fans hungry for more

Tennessee's victory over UT Martin was virtually assured by halftime. But that didn't kill the suspense at Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday night.

As the Vols struggled down the stretch of a one-sided game, you could sense the tension in the hungry crowd.

"Chicken sandwich!" they chanted with a little more than two minutes to play. That yell quickly gave way to a desperate "shoot it!" in the final seconds.

UT starting point guard Bobby Maze didn't make the connection right away.

"I asked somebody on the bench why (the fans) kept saying 'shoot it.' ''

Meanwhile, back on the court, the rest of the Vols were more in sync with the crowd. Cameron Tatum's dunk pushed the Vols past the magical 90-point mark and guaranteed anyone with a ticket stub a free chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-A.

"They were as happy as if we won the SEC championship," UT center Brian Williams said after the 91-64 victory.

And Marshall Wilkins of Chick-fil-A was as happy as anyone.

"You have to cash in for it to be a good promotion," he said with a smile.

UT scored with such ridiculous ease in the first six minutes in building a 27-6 lead, you would never have guessed its fans would have to yell for food in the final minutes. But the Vols lost their edge in the second half, managing a paltry 34 points against an overmatched opponent.

"At halftime, I talked about the next 20 minutes as an opportunity to get better," UT coach Bruce Pearl said. "I didn't think we took advantage of it."

However, when you can win by 27 and feed the masses, how bad can it be?

Ironically, the player most responsible for the food giveaway is renowned for giving up food. Williams, a 6-foot-10, 267-pound sophomore, lost 103 pounds on his way to becoming a college basketball player.

He accomplished something else against the Skyhawks. He flashed his potential.

Williams made eight of 10 field-goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, while scoring a career-high 21 points and getting 12 rebounds in only 18 minutes.

"He played better today than I have ever seen him," said Maze, who is Williams' roommate. "Brian doesn't know how good he can be. It was good to see him come out and perform the way he did."

The performance was an about-face from the season opener.

"He said he should have played better than that (against Chattanooga)," Maze said. "He was down on himself. And Coach was hard on Brian this week."

That was by design.

"I don't think Brian pushes himself hard enough to put up these numbers," Pearl said. "He's not a role player. He's not. He could be a dominant player."

Williams admits to struggling with his confidence. And that's hardly surprising given his background. He didn't start playing organized basketball until he was 17, and that was at the insistence of his older brother, Darryl.

In his first year at Cincinnati's Harmony Community Prep, Williams said his coaches told him he would never be more than a Division III player. He also said he got more attention from football recruiters, even though he never played the sport.

"(Football coaches) used to come to my prep school, take me out of (basketball) practice and offer me scholarships," said Williams, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. "I could have gone anywhere in the nation. They liked my footwork."

Basketball coaches weren't nearly as enamored with a young player who had too many pounds and too little experience. But Williams caught Pearl's eye when the UT coach showed up at his game evaluating other players.

He got Pearl's attention again Tuesday night.

"It was good to see Brian Williams step up and play big," Pearl said. "That was really very, very positive."

Anyone with a ticket stub and a taste for chicken sandwiches would agree.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 40

I_Sweat_Orange writes:

Good story chicken licken !!!!

MrBamSeydu writes:

Adams is on point as always. Just like he was with his Fire Fulmer story way back when..... if only people had listened to him!!! He was right all along.

Hopson needs to play d and crash the boards more, J. Tabb needs to get more comfy with running the point so J.P. can stay at the 2/3 spot and keep getting those easy baseline alley oops, and B. Maze has been what Ramar Smith always wanted to be. Looking good so far fellas.... I won't give my full opinion until we play a couple of ranked opponents, or at least a school from a major conference.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to MrBamSeydu:

Adams is on point as always. Just like he was with his Fire Fulmer story way back when..... if only people had listened to him!!! He was right all along.

Hopson needs to play d and crash the boards more, J. Tabb needs to get more comfy with running the point so J.P. can stay at the 2/3 spot and keep getting those easy baseline alley oops, and B. Maze has been what Ramar Smith always wanted to be. Looking good so far fellas.... I won't give my full opinion until we play a couple of ranked opponents, or at least a school from a major conference.

You've got John pegged right. Fulmer needed to be fired. I think he voluntarily stepped down. I guess that John thinks a new coach will translate into more wins, more exciting games, so on and so forth. John really won't know if the fire Fulmer thing was right until he waits about 14 years or so to see just how it went. He he was a true prophet he would illuminate the blessed ignorant as to the next 10 years or so. I think Fulmer had 2 bad years? Right?? Personally I'd like to see some new fans, and sportswriters too, just to take the places of you and Adams. You guys have big mouths and little hands!

King53 writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

You've got John pegged right. Fulmer needed to be fired. I think he voluntarily stepped down. I guess that John thinks a new coach will translate into more wins, more exciting games, so on and so forth. John really won't know if the fire Fulmer thing was right until he waits about 14 years or so to see just how it went. He he was a true prophet he would illuminate the blessed ignorant as to the next 10 years or so. I think Fulmer had 2 bad years? Right?? Personally I'd like to see some new fans, and sportswriters too, just to take the places of you and Adams. You guys have big mouths and little hands!

give it a rest...please!

Madkels writes:

It's great to have a positive story about a young man working hard, overcoming adversity, and proving everyone wrong when they tell him he never will get past Div. III. Keep it up Brian. We love a winner and you are one! Go Vols!

WYLOVER writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

You've got John pegged right. Fulmer needed to be fired. I think he voluntarily stepped down. I guess that John thinks a new coach will translate into more wins, more exciting games, so on and so forth. John really won't know if the fire Fulmer thing was right until he waits about 14 years or so to see just how it went. He he was a true prophet he would illuminate the blessed ignorant as to the next 10 years or so. I think Fulmer had 2 bad years? Right?? Personally I'd like to see some new fans, and sportswriters too, just to take the places of you and Adams. You guys have big mouths and little hands!

We do need one more fan because you clearly are not a Tennessee fan.

vol88 writes:

Nice one, John.

burpee_von_rotweiler_IV writes:

Did the ushers get a Chik-Fil-A sandwich too?

steve22043#233791 writes:

Nick Stephens was never a Division IA quarterback. I think a lot of us thought Crompton would be, but that obviously didn't turn out to be the case. Give BJ a chance. You have to think about the future!

indianacurly writes:

winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!!

hotrodvol writes:

Brian, can you help our football team out.

blitzshoot writes:

Eat more beef.

1982_35_28 writes:

John...that was 12 rebounds not 9. Give the guy credit for his double double.

Cherokee writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

You've got John pegged right. Fulmer needed to be fired. I think he voluntarily stepped down. I guess that John thinks a new coach will translate into more wins, more exciting games, so on and so forth. John really won't know if the fire Fulmer thing was right until he waits about 14 years or so to see just how it went. He he was a true prophet he would illuminate the blessed ignorant as to the next 10 years or so. I think Fulmer had 2 bad years? Right?? Personally I'd like to see some new fans, and sportswriters too, just to take the places of you and Adams. You guys have big mouths and little hands!

There is no reason we need to wait 14 years to determine if it was right to make a change today. It doesn't MATTER if the next guy equals Fulmer's mark, though I certainly hope he does or even exceeds it. What matters is that the program is down and needs to be improved NOW. Fulmer's career mark is irrelevant - it is heavily weighted by the really good first 8-9 years, but the past 6-7 have not been so hot. He's had more than 2 bad years IMO. He's had 2 losing seasons in the past 4, other seasons that were not much more than mediocre, and UT is no longer competitive with the top teams in the SEC, much less nationally. The program needs new life now, and there is no need to wait to see future results to know that. If the next coach isn't doing better, we're allowed to try again.

CoverOrange writes:

"Adams is on point as always. Just like he was with his Fire Fulmer story way back when..... if only people had listened to him!!! He was right all along."

No. Adams' assertion was that Fulmer should be fired for lack of discipline of the team. But you look at the number of players in trouble at Bama, Georgia, Florida, Fla St, Penn St, etc., over the last year or so and you see that players in trouble does not equate to poor performance on the field. Nor is UT the worst of the bunch.

Adams was right for the wrong reason. Most of his articles have been superficial.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to burpee_von_rotweiler_IV:

Did the ushers get a Chik-Fil-A sandwich too?

They get a coupon and also a hot dog from the previous game.

blitzshoot writes:

All about footwork.

leedsvol2007 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

"Adams is on point as always. Just like he was with his Fire Fulmer story way back when..... if only people had listened to him!!! He was right all along."

No. Adams' assertion was that Fulmer should be fired for lack of discipline of the team. But you look at the number of players in trouble at Bama, Georgia, Florida, Fla St, Penn St, etc., over the last year or so and you see that players in trouble does not equate to poor performance on the field. Nor is UT the worst of the bunch.

Adams was right for the wrong reason. Most of his articles have been superficial.

And Adams, Bill King, and Duncan Stewart won't be called to task if they are wrong.

Stewart was calling for Fulmer to be replaced with Dave Clawson when the disciplinary problems cropped up last winter.Before he ever called a play in the SEC.

I wonder what he is saying now.

That's not to say they are not correct. I have long defended Fulmer and think he is underrated as a coach but I have been troubled by his offensive play calling particularly with the game on the line. I think many times he has played not to lose instead of playing to win.

But the fact is now Phil Fulmer won't be back. We have to concentrate on finding as good or better a coach.

And his biggest challenge will be developing or finding a competent quarterback.

Watching the Wyoming game replay its so obvious we don't have a quarterback that can deliver the ball with accuracy.

If you go back and look at the replay there are balls thrown behind open receivers, on the wrong shoulder, low when it should have been high, high when it should been low.

And he will need to recruit a receiver with speed and hands.

The disaster of this season has been mostly caused by not being able to make our opponents pay when they put 8 men in the box.

Its cost Fulmer his job lets just hope we get another outstanding coach that can get it back on track.

pms151 writes:

in response to burpee_von_rotweiler_IV:

Did the ushers get a Chik-Fil-A sandwich too?

Good job. You are the first poster to see JA's irony. Makes you wonder who else is on this thread day after day.

pms151 writes:

Cannot wait until they paint the cow on the outside of TB arena. EAT MORE CHICKEN DOME! HA HA HA HA. Bruce don't you have more class than that?

blitzshoot writes:

ESPN link. Check items 25 and 32.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/column...

mattlock writes:

WeLove, did you really just say Fulmer voluntarily stepped down?!?! LOL, that's rich...

mattlock writes:

in response to pms151:

Cannot wait until they paint the cow on the outside of TB arena. EAT MORE CHICKEN DOME! HA HA HA HA. Bruce don't you have more class than that?

Yeah, because Bruce personally negotiated that promotion with Chic-Fil-A...what are you talking about?!?!

shoalcreekvol writes:

THIS IS A BASKETBALL ARTICLE, FOLKS. Good grief, give us a chance to celebrate a good basketball story w/o all the John Adams and Fulmer stuff. There are forty-eleven actual football stories for you to post your drivel.

Brian, great game. As a fan I see what Pearl sees too - that you can be a dominant player in this league. Keep up the good work and know that we're behind you all the way.

indianacurly writes:

in response to volball09:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i'll eventually change it. i've had it since the florida game and thought i'd keep it til mike makes his announcement in the off-chance that it'll be him. my current position is - we could do worse, but think we need to do a little better.

Orange4life writes:

in response to MrBamSeydu:

Adams is on point as always. Just like he was with his Fire Fulmer story way back when..... if only people had listened to him!!! He was right all along.

Hopson needs to play d and crash the boards more, J. Tabb needs to get more comfy with running the point so J.P. can stay at the 2/3 spot and keep getting those easy baseline alley oops, and B. Maze has been what Ramar Smith always wanted to be. Looking good so far fellas.... I won't give my full opinion until we play a couple of ranked opponents, or at least a school from a major conference.

It's the 2nd game, and who needs yours or Adams opionion?

HamptonsVol writes:

in response to steve22043#233791:

Nick Stephens was never a Division IA quarterback. I think a lot of us thought Crompton would be, but that obviously didn't turn out to be the case. Give BJ a chance. You have to think about the future!

Give it a rest. This is a basketball article. Discussing who our quarterback should be at this point in the season is ridiculous!

TheVolMan writes:

Bingo MrBamSeydu. "Fans" such as TurboFan and WYLOVER are the ostriches who refused to see the writing on the wall. Then when John Adams read it to them, they couldn't hear because their heads were in the ground or elsewhere. If we listened to these types of "fans" then perhaps our program could sink even further than losing a homecoming game to Wyoming.

I think all UT supporters are "real fans." The difference is that some are ostriches who placed blind faith in a coach who had great success but was now clearly over-matched by the competition and was nowhere close to "turning it around." Sorry. Just stay out of the way and support the new coach.

OrangeRush writes:

Big Brian Williams did his part to feed the masses!

goeltzd#649642 writes:

John Aardvark

volguy41nlouisiana writes:

Did he say that the football coaches came and offered him scholarship.."because they liked his footwork"?

Cannot beleive Fulmer wasnt all over him. LOL..That is his forte afterall

Jeremy7679 writes:

John Adams sucks.

rusty_shackleford writes:

I got something tuscaloosa john can chew on! ;-)

indianacurly writes:

john adams for president!!!

wait, he already did that

AirForceVol2786 writes:

I agree with john. He is right on the money about Williams and Fulmer. Go John, your articles are interesting and insightful. Thank you Mike Hamilton!!!!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to TheVolMan:

Bingo MrBamSeydu. "Fans" such as TurboFan and WYLOVER are the ostriches who refused to see the writing on the wall. Then when John Adams read it to them, they couldn't hear because their heads were in the ground or elsewhere. If we listened to these types of "fans" then perhaps our program could sink even further than losing a homecoming game to Wyoming.

I think all UT supporters are "real fans." The difference is that some are ostriches who placed blind faith in a coach who had great success but was now clearly over-matched by the competition and was nowhere close to "turning it around." Sorry. Just stay out of the way and support the new coach.

I've been on the "fire Fulmer" bandwagon since the Alabama debacle in 2007. Nice try.

Not liking what JA writes does not equate to liking what CPF does and vice versa.

Like JA, you need to add some depth to your superficialness.

RockyTopVolFan writes:

Congratulations to Brian Williams for the best game I have ever seen him play!

Brian looked like a new and different player from last season, not only is his weight off, he is much more active and vastly improved!

Keep up the effort Brian, you are going to scale NEW heights for yourself and your team.

GO VOLS!

thepowert writes:

Brian Williams looked dominated last night. He has truly improved from last year. This team has the potential to be very special this year. They weren't on their game last night and still destroyed TN-Martin.

GO VOLS!!!

dopedawg writes:

1. What game are they giving ribs from Calhouns if they beat 90?

2. I still think they should consider the esteemed, dean of all coaches, Billy Joe Tom Bob Parker for the head football coach position....what could we loose???

3. Go Vols!!!!!!!!

Ralph_Crampton writes:

Vols according to some football experts have a long hard road ahead of them..First of all some say there is no way they can recruit comparable to Florida, Georgia and Bama...Oh, they might win Sec once or twice say in a dozen years...but a National title only once in say 25 years. This is what guys who are in the know are saying.

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