Scotty Hopson wants chance at game-winning shot

Tennessee's Scotty Hopson (32) drives around Florida' Chandler Parsons in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011. Florida defeated Tennessee 61-60.

Photo by Phil Sandlin, Associated Press

Tennessee's Scotty Hopson (32) drives around Florida' Chandler Parsons in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011. Florida defeated Tennessee 61-60.

Bruce Pearl on his team's ability to win close games

Scotty Hopson is on billboards, buses, press guides, posters and media passes.

But where the Tennessee junior shooting guard really wants to be is in position to hit a game-winning shot in the final seconds.

"When it comes down to it, I want the ball in my hands,'' said Hopson, who has not attempted a potential game-winning shot in the closing seconds of a loss this season. "I want that pressure.''

UT men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl is looking for ways to facilitate Hopson's request after the Vols lost at Florida, 61-60, on Saturday.

Pearl drew up a final play against the Gators designed to go to Hopson or Cameron Tatum, but the play broke down and senior point guard Melvin Goins launched a 3-pointer that missed at the buzzer.

"I have every confidence in Melvin to make that shot,'' Hopson, who is shooting a league-best 48.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in SEC games, said after Saturday's loss. "But at the same time we've got to be able to get it into our playmakers' hands when coach calls the play.''

Tennessee (15-10, 5-5 SEC) went to work refining the point guard position Monday in preparation for the contest against South Carolina (13-10, 4-6) at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday (TV: 7 p.m., CSS).

Goins was held out of practice while receiving treatment on his neck. He took a nasty fall in the first half at Florida but returned and played 31 minutes.

Pearl has said he's opening the point guard position for competition, and sophomore Skylar McBee split Monday's practice repetitions with freshman Trae Golden.

Golden, the Georgia high school player of the year last season, is a jet in transition and has flashed play-making abilities (55 assists, 28 turnovers) and poise at the free-throw line (29 of 36, 80.6 percent).

But like many freshmen across the country, he appears to be hitting the proverbial "wall." He has failed to make a field goal in the past three games in 33 minutes of play, and his 3-point field goal percentage has sunk to 22.2 percent.

McBee has proven a better defender and shooter, hitting 88.2 percent of his free throws and 30.4 percent of his shots from 3-point range.

McBee, who has been backing up Hopson at shooting guard, hasn't run the point guard position since Jan. 18 at Georgia.

The Vols are 4-0 with wins over Missouri State, Villanova, Vanderbilt and Georgia when McBee has backed up Goins at point guard, according to the UT coaches.

"I thought I played pretty decent there at the point,'' said McBee, who also played point guard at Grainger High School before turning down scholarship offers at Santa Clara, Winthrop and Marshall to begin his UT career as a walk-on. "I think I can bring some defensive energy, and I can get the ball where it needs to go on the offensive end.''

Goins leads the Vols with 15 steals in SEC play, but McBee has 14 in less than half as many minutes (287-130).

And while McBee is hitting 29 percent of his 3-point attempts in SEC games (9 of 31), he's 6-of-12 shooting the 3-pointer in the four games he has played the point guard position.

"There's no excuse for how poorly I have shot the 3 this year; I'm supposed to be a shooter and I pride myself on that,'' said McBee, who was placed on scholarship last fall. "For some reason I have shot the ball better at the point. I guess it's just knowing when I'm going to shoot it and being more relaxed.''

McBee played point guard on his trip to China with other collegiate players as part of Sports Reach ministries last summer, and Pearl also had him working with the UT point guards in fall drills.

"Coach did a smart thing putting him in the point guard drills at the end of summer and in the fall,'' Hopson said. "He's stepping into a role he's prepared for, and I think he's going to do a good job.''

Last-second shooters: Tatum had the final shot against Charlotte; Harris had the final shot in losses to Southern Cal and Arkansas; Brian Williams had the final shot in regulation in an overtime loss to Florida in Knoxville, Harris took a potential game-winner that Williams rebounded and put back in at Georgia, and Goins has had the final shots against Alabama (in regulation) and Florida.

Hopson was supposed to get the last shot in the OT loss to Florida in Knoxville and the win at Georgia, but on both occasions he was double-teamed and passed the ball.

On Point: Josh Bone hasn't played point guard since January of last season, and prior to this season he told the coaches he's more comfortable playing the two or the three, as he has of late.

"Obviously, I'm a competitor, and if coach comes to me and asks me to play the one, I will,'' Bone said Monday. "I'll play where the team needs me to play.''

Pearl hinted it's likely Goins will retain the starting role.

"Melvin is playing solid defense, and I love his toughness,'' Pearl said. "I'm not unhappy with Melvin and Trae, but we need better point guard play for us to win.''

On Tobias: Pearl said he believes Harris is still bothered by the ankle injury he has played through since hurting it on Jan. 29 at Ole Miss.

"He will tell you he's fine, and yet, I will tell you he's not fine,'' Pearl said. "He's not as quick, he's not quite as explosive. He won't be pleased to hear I commented on that - he's not an excuse maker.

Pearl said he wants Harris, as well as Hopson, to get more shot opportunities down the stretch.

Positive Pearl: "We did everything but win the game,'' Pearl said at his Monday news conference. "We missed some free throws, turned the ball over late, and we didn't execute on the last possession.''

So how did Pearl want the team to respond on Monday?

"First of all, don't panic - you can't go to Florida and play as well as we did most of that game and panic. You have to point to the positives and give the guys credit for the effort, energy and focus.''

Bracketology: Tennessee remains a No. 7 seed in Joe Lunardi's updated bracketology NCAA tournament projection on ESPN.com.

According to Lunardi, the SEC projects to have six teams in the NCAA tournament: Florida (No. 3 seed), Vanderbilt (No. 5 seed), Kentucky (No. 5 seed), Tennessee (No. 7 seed), Georgia (No. 10 seed) and Alabama (No. 12 seed).

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Comments » 53

RaineyVol writes:

We dont want to have to have a game winning shot!!

Down_The_Field writes:

i don't care who takes the last dam shot. i just wish we'd drive it to the basket for a 5 ft shot instead of 35 ft shot.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

in response to RaineyVol:

We dont want to have to have a game winning shot!!

My thoughts exactly, Blizake!

It'd be nice if we would take care of the ball (not make lazy passes that get converted by the other team to fast-break dunks), play consistent help defense (particularly, covering the options on the high perimter screen) and hit the free throws that we take.

Bottom line: if we'll play smart basketball for 40 minutes, we can win.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

And one more thing: Hopson would be wise to forget about the opposing team's crowd, the TV and the announcers. When he's hitting his shots, it's not uncommon for him to smile after each "make" and look at all the above. When he's missing, though, he drops his head as if he doesn't even want the camera panning on him.

Personally, I don't like it when guys to extra stuff to draw attention to themselves. Just play ball and forget about all that other stuff. Hit your shots, play D and rebound--folks will notice, but it'll mean more to the team than anything else.

texasvol73 writes:

Then his COACH should call a flippin timeout in order to set up a play to the basket with one of his top two players instead of shooting ANOTHER off balance ridiculous 3 pointer!!! Simple basketball BRUCE - get the ball in the hands of your top guns in critical situations! Guess he was watching LeBron passing the ball to Mike Miller and thought, "Hmmm..not bad!"

jumboliyah writes:

If you want it go out and get the ball!

Voluvr writes:

Let's just start with making a free throw.

copia69296 writes:

Hopson is a street baller. He has lost games for UT this year with his sloppy play. Kentucky really exposed his lack of 'skill'. I think they would be better off if Pearl quit telling everybody Hopson was a superstar. Williams has really pulled them out of holes

alabammervol writes:

in response to RaineyVol:

We dont want to have to have a game winning shot!!

Amen, Brother! Scotty proves again, he is not a team player. That's one good reason the Vols are 15-10.

tnvol4ever writes:

Hopson irritates the phooey out of me with his lack of effort and focus sometimes but we must have him to win. He is the best we got. I still think we can get on a roll like we did the 1st seven games of the season, but toilet paper is on a roll to and we know where it usually ends up.

VOLDoll writes:

Dear Scotty,

CBP will draw up the next play for you.
Please practice your half court shot.

VOL75ga writes:

Why not start hitting some during the game, then there won’t have to be a last second desperation shot. Scotty, you’ve had plenty of chances; sometimes too too many. And, why do you always say you’re going to step up after the fact?

rocky_topper writes:

Hopson will never get it from Goins' hands to hit the last shot. Goins is determined to dribble 20 seconds off the shot clock until 4 seconds remain, then dribbles, and then heeves it up to hopefully at least hit the backboard! He could always dish it off to Tatum----Oh wait, never mind. He ain't no good either!

iowavol writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

My thoughts exactly, Blizake!

It'd be nice if we would take care of the ball (not make lazy passes that get converted by the other team to fast-break dunks), play consistent help defense (particularly, covering the options on the high perimter screen) and hit the free throws that we take.

Bottom line: if we'll play smart basketball for 40 minutes, we can win.

BTW, who made those lazy passes? Was it Harris? And how many were there - two/three?

SpiritOfTheHill writes:

Facts:
-Hopson is averaging 16.5 points per game, up from 12.2 last season.
-Hopson is shooting 72% on his free throws, up from 58% last season.
-Hopson is shooting 40% on 3-pointers, up from 33% last season.

Many people simply see what they want to see.

I agree with Hopson. He should get the last shot in game-winning situations. It worked against the Gators last year, and I remember a big 3 to finish off Kentucky as well.

Ironcity writes:

in response to rocky_topper:

Hopson will never get it from Goins' hands to hit the last shot. Goins is determined to dribble 20 seconds off the shot clock until 4 seconds remain, then dribbles, and then heeves it up to hopefully at least hit the backboard! He could always dish it off to Tatum----Oh wait, never mind. He ain't no good either!

Thats not true. Sometimes Goins gives his shooters all of a 1/2 a second to load and launch the shot. I really hope Pearl makes the change. Goins will be better for it as will the Vols.

mac_b_from_tn writes:

in response to SpiritOfTheHill:

Facts:
-Hopson is averaging 16.5 points per game, up from 12.2 last season.
-Hopson is shooting 72% on his free throws, up from 58% last season.
-Hopson is shooting 40% on 3-pointers, up from 33% last season.

Many people simply see what they want to see.

I agree with Hopson. He should get the last shot in game-winning situations. It worked against the Gators last year, and I remember a big 3 to finish off Kentucky as well.

He's also up from 1.9 turnovers a game to 2.5. Get in his face and he's probably not even going to get a shot off.

Highlands_Whisky writes:

A lot of vitriol aimed at these college kids on the board today. The trolls are out of course, and some people are hades-bent on feeding them. This is akin to feeding the mogwai after midnight; it turns them into the gremlins they are today. One has to wonder about the psychological profile of a troll. They degrade kids who are 18-21 years old to play on the passions of fans who support those kids. Whatever gets your rocks off, I suppose.

Hopson has some of the worst handles of a top-10 McD's All American who is 3 years into his career. He has an elite offensive game, but his lack of control after the first step and dribble is holding him back. He could be averaging around 28 a game if he could maintain control through contact when driving in the lane. He's got the range on his J to get defenders up tight on him, which should allow him to blow by them and the help D that rotates over to him. If he could just maintain control, he would get many more 'easy' buckets or assists to the bigs inside the paint. His defense is lacking, but if he is aggressive on offense, his aggressiveness on D is noticeable.

I don't know what the answer is at PG. Pearl's offensive philosophy puts the ball in the hands of the 3 and 4 on the perimeter often, which is going to naturally bring down the number of chances for an assist from the PG.

Goins, Golden, McBee, whomever runs the point- PENETRATE AND CREATE. As long as the players are spacing correctly during a dribble drive, there will be open looks for the shooters.

GBO, VFL, V, B.

SwagVol writes:

Remarkable. You guys do realize Scotty plays for the Vols. Not the Gators or the Cats or Bammers or Dores, the Vols. The level of thinly veiled hate is beyond me. Sure, Scotty could improve in many areas, but it's hard to argue that he is UT's best chance if the game comes down to the wire. Haters. UGH!

CrankE writes:

As close as UT is playing their opponents, every shot could win or lose the game. (Even a missed free throw.)

Perhaps play with urgency and smarts for all 40 minutes instead of just the last 2. But what do I know?

brokendownoldvol writes:

Just don't let him dribble before the shot.

Bigger_Al writes:

Highlands Whiskey, nice work.

I like Scotty for what he is, a college kid playing hoops for Tennessee. I think we have a good shot at gelling down the stretch and getting the 2-seed in the East for the SEC tourney.

Futurecoach16 writes:

in response to mac_b_from_tn:

He's also up from 1.9 turnovers a game to 2.5. Get in his face and he's probably not even going to get a shot off.

When you start being more aggressive and attacking the rim, more turnovers are likely going to happen because you put yourself in more of a position to have a turnover. The other percentages/stats show a better understanding of how Hopson has improved.

tulelakevol writes:

What Highlands Whisky said. x2.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

I really just don't understand why in every last shot situation, the players feel like they have to shoot a three! We're probably going to have more opportunities since they don't seem to put teams away, so they better start setting some screens or doing something to get better execution at the end! The three is being hoisted up too early and too often during the whole game! WORK IT INSIDE! PLEASE!!

bevostern writes:

Go get the ball if you want it so bad. You do not see great basketball players waiting to receive a pass at the end of a game. Then when you get it, look to set someone up as much as throwing up some phooey.

eVOLved writes:

(didn't see it): Why didn't he get the ball?

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wilbekin wasn't on the court on the last play, Clod. Chandler was, thus why CBP didn't want to call a TO. You should pay attention sometimes.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to eVOLved:

(didn't see it): Why didn't he get the ball?

Because the Tennessee offense takes 30 seconds to cycle through twice before somebody makes a decision to shoot. Goins only had 15 seconds and panicked.

Bigger_Al writes:

Trolls are morons.

This improves Billy D to 3-8 against Pearl.

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to alabammervol:

Amen, Brother! Scotty proves again, he is not a team player. That's one good reason the Vols are 15-10.

Not trying to agitate anyone, but frankly I think a lot of this 'individualism and showboat' stuff comes from the head coach. Pearl is too much theatrics and putting on for the TV himself. It creates the attitude of showboating instead of team playing. Sorry, but just sayin'.

eVOLved writes:

in response to alabammervol:

Amen, Brother! Scotty proves again, he is not a team player. That's one good reason the Vols are 15-10.

Probably wasting my time on a troll, but Hopson probably didn't shout these words after the game. He was probably asked question after question by the media.

PeeEllthree writes:

This business about playing as a team v individuals is old. The pg had 0 assists in 31 minutes and has many games this year with 0-2 assists. He's not hogging the ball and shooting 20 shots a game. He's just not doing anything and Scotty doesn't help by standing still. If Scotty would move more without the ball, he would make more plays. Why won't he move? Is there any way BP has told him not to move or to stand around more? No way. He needs direction from a pg on the floor, as many players do.

AHoffman writes:

in response to Highlands_Whisky:

A lot of vitriol aimed at these college kids on the board today. The trolls are out of course, and some people are hades-bent on feeding them. This is akin to feeding the mogwai after midnight; it turns them into the gremlins they are today. One has to wonder about the psychological profile of a troll. They degrade kids who are 18-21 years old to play on the passions of fans who support those kids. Whatever gets your rocks off, I suppose.

Hopson has some of the worst handles of a top-10 McD's All American who is 3 years into his career. He has an elite offensive game, but his lack of control after the first step and dribble is holding him back. He could be averaging around 28 a game if he could maintain control through contact when driving in the lane. He's got the range on his J to get defenders up tight on him, which should allow him to blow by them and the help D that rotates over to him. If he could just maintain control, he would get many more 'easy' buckets or assists to the bigs inside the paint. His defense is lacking, but if he is aggressive on offense, his aggressiveness on D is noticeable.

I don't know what the answer is at PG. Pearl's offensive philosophy puts the ball in the hands of the 3 and 4 on the perimeter often, which is going to naturally bring down the number of chances for an assist from the PG.

Goins, Golden, McBee, whomever runs the point- PENETRATE AND CREATE. As long as the players are spacing correctly during a dribble drive, there will be open looks for the shooters.

GBO, VFL, V, B.

I prefer Islay whisky.

VolunteerLifer writes:

I got no problem with any of our best shooters taking the last shot. Goins, for example, has hit some big shots for us in the past. But whoever the shooter is, we must get a good shot. When we only need a 2 point basket to win or tie a game, we shouldn't be shooting a 3 point shot, unless maybe it is wide open. If we need a 3 pointer to tie, I've got no problem if Goins takes it as long as it isn't an off-balance 35 footer. Call a play designed to give us an open shot of the length we need, and then let any of our better shooters take it. If there's one guy who really wants it, let him have it.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

I don't get it. If Scotty just scores his average of 16 he's brutally crucified. If he scores less than his average he's ran out of town. So he goes on the road and scores 22 and....gets crucified.

I also find it funny that folks continue to harp on his dribbles. Does he have issues handling the ball? Yeah. So why do they CONTINUE to expect him to make plays off the dribble? That my friends is coaching. You take advantage of what your guys can do good. Let him come off screens without the ball. Hell, let him come off a screen with the ball. Quit expecting him to create off the dribble. Just because the coach screams a lot doesn't mean he's coaching anyone up. If he would set screens for Scotty he would score 25ppg.

lomas98 writes:

in response to Futurecoach16:

When you start being more aggressive and attacking the rim, more turnovers are likely going to happen because you put yourself in more of a position to have a turnover. The other percentages/stats show a better understanding of how Hopson has improved.

His overall scoring numbers had to improve with Maze, Chism, and Prince leaving. If they didn't go up we would have a major problem. The thing I am dissapointed in with Scotty is just leadership and overall basketball IQ. Maybe he is not a leader and is unfair to try to make him one? Maybe he leads in a different way, but I know he showed more emotion and support for other players while sitting on the bench against Alabama than in any game he has played. He needs to demand the ball and get in players faces when he doesn't get it when he has an advantage over another player. When he has players defending him in the air, jump into them and draw the foul. Good scorers find ways to get to the line when they are struggling and for some reason this isn't happening.

rbhobbs73#226545 writes:

I do think that Pearl is a good coach, overall. However, it is obvious that he needs some help on the offensive end. His scheme "the flex" is very simplistic and good teams defend it. It was/is a fine offense to run when your team is built to run and press....because the number of half court, base offensive possessions is smaller.

The last 3 years of having a long, not terribly quick, non-pressing, half court oriented team has exposed the simplistic nature of our offensive sets.

I cringe to watch our guys run around in circles on the offensive end, very few screens (and most of them are half a.s.s.e.d). We never try to set up a shooter like Hopson.

I would like to see some different offensive sets by the coaching staff over the next few games to try to free up Hopson and Harris more.

Harris has hit the freshman wall the last few games, but he will fight through and be fine.

Just make the dance at this point and then we will see who we match up with. If favorable, we could still make Sweet 16, if not....probably out in the first round.

SunshineVol writes:

Making the winning shot about 2 minutes into the second half would be nicer!

Highlands_Whisky writes:

in response to AHoffman:

I prefer Islay whisky.

Aye, the Islay whisky is good as well. I fell in love with Dalwhinnie at the distillery.

Highlands_Whisky writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

I don't get it. If Scotty just scores his average of 16 he's brutally crucified. If he scores less than his average he's ran out of town. So he goes on the road and scores 22 and....gets crucified.

I also find it funny that folks continue to harp on his dribbles. Does he have issues handling the ball? Yeah. So why do they CONTINUE to expect him to make plays off the dribble? That my friends is coaching. You take advantage of what your guys can do good. Let him come off screens without the ball. Hell, let him come off a screen with the ball. Quit expecting him to create off the dribble. Just because the coach screams a lot doesn't mean he's coaching anyone up. If he would set screens for Scotty he would score 25ppg.

I agree with you on the screens for Scotty. The issue I've seen with set screens is that Scotty doesn't force the issue, especially when he goes corner to corner and is supposed to guide his defender into 2 screens at the high/low post. Even a ball screen should enable him to drive inside and pull another defender to him and dish/create a shot.

It's never that easy, and I see a lot of standing around on offense while the ball gets rotated along the perimeter. BWill needs to be fed the ball in the low post when he fronts his man. Good movement will either let him go 1-on-1 or kick out to a shooter with good spacing.

If the Vols had someone like Erving Walker, this team could trounce people. While I'm on the topic of wishful thinking, I would also like John Jenkins.

murrayvol writes:

I'd be happy just to see somebody in orange dribble the clock away with a double digit lead.

hueypilot writes:

Lots of experts here, but clearly pt gd not dishing. Williams is probably best interior passer on team but not getting the ball much down low and was dominated by the big center at Florida. I am concerned by the lack of development of Maymon, Woolridge???

BTW, Florida's layup at the horn by the midget was greatly aided by the grabbing and pushing in the paint when the officials swallowed their whistles. And as for the freshman punk guarding Hopson, he got away with a couple of very questionable calls and frankly. Scotty doesn't bounce back too well from adversity.
But we all saw this team beat Pitt and Villanova on the road, so we know they can play. Hope Pearl's not just a few season wonder and the book is out on how to stop him.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Highlands_Whisky:

I agree with you on the screens for Scotty. The issue I've seen with set screens is that Scotty doesn't force the issue, especially when he goes corner to corner and is supposed to guide his defender into 2 screens at the high/low post. Even a ball screen should enable him to drive inside and pull another defender to him and dish/create a shot.

It's never that easy, and I see a lot of standing around on offense while the ball gets rotated along the perimeter. BWill needs to be fed the ball in the low post when he fronts his man. Good movement will either let him go 1-on-1 or kick out to a shooter with good spacing.

If the Vols had someone like Erving Walker, this team could trounce people. While I'm on the topic of wishful thinking, I would also like John Jenkins.

I pretty much agree. I've ALWAYS felt that we should work the ball inside out. But we don't do that. As for screens, when we set them we usually set an illegal screen. And thinking back, we always had a pretty lame offensive scheme IMO. But when you had Lofton and Smith we could pass it around until the shot clock ran out and chuck it up. We don't have anyone who can do that except Scotty. Cam might be the biggest disappointment in the Pearl era. He can get to the hoop with a great deal of ease, but would rather stand around lazy eyed.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Everybody wearing orange was a statue, not just Hopson. You are right about that, but you were wrong about Wilbekin.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Directed mainly to all those that posted Sat. night that we "won't even make the NIT" and "say goodbye to the NCAA tourney". Guess what, we are almost a lock for the tourney. We are just playing for seed now. We will finish anywhere from a 5 seed (not bad) to a 10 seed, depending on the rest of the season.

Scotty is the best we have, we should go to him when in the clutch. If a close game at the end, at least Skylar won't sit at the 3 pt line and dribble down to 3 sec. He will get the ball to Scotty or Brian, no question. He has the highest BB IQ on the team and is the best FT shooter on the team. I want him on the FT line to win the game every time.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

GREAT interview with Fulmer on The Sports Animal.

clvolfan writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Everybody wearing orange was a statue, not just Hopson. You are right about that, but you were wrong about Wilbekin.

It didn't matter,Goins had a mindset to show off his dribbling and launch an unnecessary 3.

wagee12 writes:

Hope when he gets it in his hands he doesn't try to dribble through four guys who are playing zone defense. He has perfected the dribble off the foot turnover!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nice cut-n-paste. Still, you were wrong. Is it that hard to say?

BTW, of the final 10 minutes Wilbekin was on the bench for 3 minutes and Hopson was on the bench for 2.5 meaning that of Hopson's 10 minute drought, Wilbekin contributed on 4.5 minutes to it. Further, it was while Wilbekin was on the bench that Florida came from 7 down to 2 ahead. When he came back in the Vols regained the lead. Wilbekin did a good job but he didn't win it on his own.

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