Mike Strange: Vandy moving into state role

Mike Strange
Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins celebrates after hitting a three-point basket against Kentucky in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn.

Photo by AP Photo / Mark Humphrey

Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins celebrates after hitting a three-point basket against Kentucky in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn.

Pearl: Compete or get off the court

Tennessee and Memphis have been the headline acts in our state the past five men’s basketball seasons.

This might be the year that changes.

Sitting roughly halfway in between the Vols in the hills and Tigers on the river, Vanderbilt has been overshadowed but nevertheless successful.

Every year since Bruce Pearl arrived at Tennessee in 2005-06, the Vols have one-upped the Commodores.

If the Commodores won 26, UT won 31. If Vandy won 24, the Vols won 28.

If Vandy fell back to 19, the Vols fell back to 21, still enough to sneak into the NCAA bracket.

Pearl is 7-4 against Stallings. That’s counting the 67-64 win this year by Tony Jones when Pearl was suspended.

But when the two old rivals meet tonight in Nashville, momentum will be sitting at the Commodores’ end of Memorial Gym.

Tennessee has lost four of its past five games. Vanderbilt is riding a five-game winning streak.

“We feel good about the way we’re playing right now,’’ Stallings said Monday.

If you can find anyone who feels good about the way Tennessee is playing right now, let me know.

Pearl noted Monday that Vanderbilt’s offense has “so many dimensions” you have to account for.

Tennessee’s offense seems to have only two dimensions you have to account for on a regular basis, Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris.

Vanderbilt’s best dimension is sophomore guard John Jenkins, who in SEC play is averaging a league-best 22.2 points and is hitting 45.5 percent of his 3-point tries and 92.1 percent of his free throws.

Jenkins, who is from Middle Tennessee, would have been a worthy successor to Chris Lofton. Heaven knows UT needs a shooter.

Unlike Lofton, Jenkins was no sleeper on the recruiting circuit in 2009. He was ranked No. 15 nationally by rivals.com

“One of the things John looked at,’’ said Pearl, “was we had a young Scotty Hopson and they’re both shooting guards.

“(Vandy) just had a real opportunity for him to come in and play. And they did a good job of locking him up. We tried, but he was very much a Vanderbilt commitment.’’

But to shed further light on the current state of affairs go back one more recruiting class to 2008.

When the ‘08 rankings came in, Tennessee was No. 7 nationally and Vandy was No. 14. Advantage Vols.

However, in 2011 when the ‘08 recruits are juniors, advantage Vanderbilt.

UT’s 2008 class consisted of Hopson, Emmanuel Negedu, Renaldo Woolridge, Phillip Jurick, Bobby Maze and Daniel West.

Hopson was ranked No. 5 in the class and is, at the moment, playing like it.

Maze, a juco transfer, was a two-year contributor who helped the Vols reach the Elite Eight last March. He’s gone, though.

A cardiac issue prevented Negedu (No. 40) from realizing his potential. Woolridge (No. 53) has been tethered to the bench this season.

Jurick (No. 68) left after one invisible year. West never got eligible.

You’ll find Vandy’s 2008 class intact on the court tonight.

Jeffery Taylor (No. 52) starts at small forward, averages 14.2 points and is a terrific defender.

Brad Tinsley (No. 94) has done a nice job at point guard, averaging 10.8 points.

Lance Goulbourne (No. 72) and Steve Tchiengang (No. 87) share the power forward position, combining for 12 points and 10.1 rebounds.

To review, UT has Hopson but it’s four-on-one.

And that is one big reason why momentum is sitting on Vandy’s end of the floor tonight.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike 44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 18

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Good article by Mike Strange. I think he does the best job of anyone at KNS of accurately assessing the Vols.

He didn't say it in his article but, if you've seen Vandy play this year, it's clear that their team has a high basketball IQ. That goes a long way if you've got the talent that they have.

I'd like to see the Vols get more guys who have a better basketball IQ. We need something better than we're displaying right now.

knoxchatter writes:

in RESPONSE TO 'MAKEING_THE_CALL':

"Time for Bruce Pearl to go. And if Hamilton will not do it then time for Mike Hamilton to go. Might I say way past time.
....."

as for Pearl...not so sure about that....yet. But with Hamilton, I agree 100%!! What's it going to take??

bigdisbig writes:

I am sick of you morons calling for Pearl to go. I agree that he is having his worst year thus far. I agree that he has made some terrible mistakes last year in lying to NCAA and having recruits at his house. Its one strike and you are out with you idiots.

How quickly forget what he has done for the basketball program the past years. Last year HE took us to the Elite 8 for the first time in UT history. Now, because he is not winning the games he should, you want rid of him. IF he were winning and we were in the top 10 you would NOT want him gone.

IF he were winning he would be the media darling but because he and the Vols are struggling....like the worthless media across this land you want him gone.

We are going to have a down year. Write it down. This year is a bust but all schools have down years. Michigan State is down and they won the NCAA tourney last year.

You morons have forgotten the terrible years we had before Pearl arrived. I am with Pearl in weathering this year out and see what the NCAA punishment will be. I am with Pearl in staying the course and overcoming all this mess.

All you hillbilly idiots can run him out on a rail if you want but when you do.....get ready for the same ride our football team has had ever since you wanted Fulmer gone.

What a bunch of ungrateful chumps you fans are!

PeeEllthree writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have to fess up. When going to dinner last night, I told a manufacturer VP that I didn't have steak this weekend, but I did. God help me and my horrific lie. Don't think I'm going down to the old federal building, as you mention. All lies aren't equal and to say such shows bad judgement.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Then make the call and get a new team to root for. Your constant whinning is a pain in the >>>.

MikeInTN writes:

Very informative article. Poor, poor recruiting evaluations have resulted in our current situation. Players make the coach, and if that's the case Pearl might me on shaky ground in the near future. Especially if the NCAA comes down any further on the program.

lomas98 writes:

in response to MikeInTN:

Very informative article. Poor, poor recruiting evaluations have resulted in our current situation. Players make the coach, and if that's the case Pearl might me on shaky ground in the near future. Especially if the NCAA comes down any further on the program.

I don't think the recruiting evaluations were off that much in 08. Negedu was on track to be a producer for us last year and this year, you can't predict a health problem. West just couldn't get eligible. He is playing pretty well right now for a team I can't remember, somewhere in the northeast. Woolridge has never really been a contributor. I think his recruiting ranking was based on his dad. Good athlete, but clearly concentrating on his career in music which is fine. Hope he has success. Jurick was never really cut out to play in the SEC. I would give you poor evaluation on that one. Should have concentrated on getting another big man.

PeeEllthree writes:

in response to lomas98:

I don't think the recruiting evaluations were off that much in 08. Negedu was on track to be a producer for us last year and this year, you can't predict a health problem. West just couldn't get eligible. He is playing pretty well right now for a team I can't remember, somewhere in the northeast. Woolridge has never really been a contributor. I think his recruiting ranking was based on his dad. Good athlete, but clearly concentrating on his career in music which is fine. Hope he has success. Jurick was never really cut out to play in the SEC. I would give you poor evaluation on that one. Should have concentrated on getting another big man.

Woolridge was definitely a name grabber and if he was highly ranked it goes to show they hype involved. His basketball skill is minimal.

CrankE writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You can thank Lord Hamilton, The Indecisive for the mess we're in.

He terminated Pearl's contract, just not Pearl. WTF? Fish or cut bait please. Pearl has the NCAA hanging over his head. Lord Hamilton has Pearl hanging over his. (I maintain that if Pearl goes, Hamilton does too.) And since all of that extra drama hangs over the program. I guess their performance should be no surprise.

CrankE writes:

By the way, feel free to use my term, "Lord Hamilton, The Indecisive." I won't even charge you for it ;)

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

I am sick of you morons calling for Pearl to go. I agree that he is having his worst year thus far. I agree that he has made some terrible mistakes last year in lying to NCAA and having recruits at his house. Its one strike and you are out with you idiots.

How quickly forget what he has done for the basketball program the past years. Last year HE took us to the Elite 8 for the first time in UT history. Now, because he is not winning the games he should, you want rid of him. IF he were winning and we were in the top 10 you would NOT want him gone.

IF he were winning he would be the media darling but because he and the Vols are struggling....like the worthless media across this land you want him gone.

We are going to have a down year. Write it down. This year is a bust but all schools have down years. Michigan State is down and they won the NCAA tourney last year.

You morons have forgotten the terrible years we had before Pearl arrived. I am with Pearl in weathering this year out and see what the NCAA punishment will be. I am with Pearl in staying the course and overcoming all this mess.

All you hillbilly idiots can run him out on a rail if you want but when you do.....get ready for the same ride our football team has had ever since you wanted Fulmer gone.

What a bunch of ungrateful chumps you fans are!

well said my friend

murrayvol writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

I am sick of you morons calling for Pearl to go. I agree that he is having his worst year thus far. I agree that he has made some terrible mistakes last year in lying to NCAA and having recruits at his house. Its one strike and you are out with you idiots.

How quickly forget what he has done for the basketball program the past years. Last year HE took us to the Elite 8 for the first time in UT history. Now, because he is not winning the games he should, you want rid of him. IF he were winning and we were in the top 10 you would NOT want him gone.

IF he were winning he would be the media darling but because he and the Vols are struggling....like the worthless media across this land you want him gone.

We are going to have a down year. Write it down. This year is a bust but all schools have down years. Michigan State is down and they won the NCAA tourney last year.

You morons have forgotten the terrible years we had before Pearl arrived. I am with Pearl in weathering this year out and see what the NCAA punishment will be. I am with Pearl in staying the course and overcoming all this mess.

All you hillbilly idiots can run him out on a rail if you want but when you do.....get ready for the same ride our football team has had ever since you wanted Fulmer gone.

What a bunch of ungrateful chumps you fans are!

Actually Duke won the NCAA Tourney last year. MSU did beat us to advance to the Final Four.

Ungrateful chumps are what most fans are bigdis. Embrace the fact.

GerryOP writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

I am sick of you morons calling for Pearl to go. I agree that he is having his worst year thus far. I agree that he has made some terrible mistakes last year in lying to NCAA and having recruits at his house. Its one strike and you are out with you idiots.

How quickly forget what he has done for the basketball program the past years. Last year HE took us to the Elite 8 for the first time in UT history. Now, because he is not winning the games he should, you want rid of him. IF he were winning and we were in the top 10 you would NOT want him gone.

IF he were winning he would be the media darling but because he and the Vols are struggling....like the worthless media across this land you want him gone.

We are going to have a down year. Write it down. This year is a bust but all schools have down years. Michigan State is down and they won the NCAA tourney last year.

You morons have forgotten the terrible years we had before Pearl arrived. I am with Pearl in weathering this year out and see what the NCAA punishment will be. I am with Pearl in staying the course and overcoming all this mess.

All you hillbilly idiots can run him out on a rail if you want but when you do.....get ready for the same ride our football team has had ever since you wanted Fulmer gone.

What a bunch of ungrateful chumps you fans are!

Have you ever considered making a post without calling everyone who disagrees with you a moron, idiot, or chump? Try it some time!

BTW, rationalize Pearl's actions all you want, but the problem does not go away. Pearl's dilemma is not about his coaching strengths and weakness and it is not about how important he is to the program. You and I and the rest of the fans can minimize Pearl's "mistakes" off the court all we want. The NCAA may not be so forgiving.

murrayvol writes:

Excellent article Mike.

I like Bruce Pearl and all he's done to bring UT basketball back from the brink. Even if he leaves the coach that follows will know this program can compete at the highest level.

That said I'm having second thoughts about his ability to evaluate players.

lomas98 writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Excellent article Mike.

I like Bruce Pearl and all he's done to bring UT basketball back from the brink. Even if he leaves the coach that follows will know this program can compete at the highest level.

That said I'm having second thoughts about his ability to evaluate players.

I don't have any question about his evaluation of players, because the big name programs and coaches are recruiting a lot of the same players we are. If anything, I would question his ability to improve players through development and recruiting something other than a 2 or 3 spot. Hopson has improved this year but is nowhere near the expectation everyone had of him. I think Chism was the only player Bruce has had who got a lot better from his freshman year. Tatum isn't any better, neither is Woolridge or Hall. Of course a lot of the problem is he doesn't get a chance to develop some because they don't make it and get kicked off or leave the program (West, Crews, Ramar Smith, Negedu, Tabb, Jurick)

boroviathaochvolsfan writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

I am sick of you morons calling for Pearl to go. I agree that he is having his worst year thus far. I agree that he has made some terrible mistakes last year in lying to NCAA and having recruits at his house. Its one strike and you are out with you idiots.

How quickly forget what he has done for the basketball program the past years. Last year HE took us to the Elite 8 for the first time in UT history. Now, because he is not winning the games he should, you want rid of him. IF he were winning and we were in the top 10 you would NOT want him gone.

IF he were winning he would be the media darling but because he and the Vols are struggling....like the worthless media across this land you want him gone.

We are going to have a down year. Write it down. This year is a bust but all schools have down years. Michigan State is down and they won the NCAA tourney last year.

You morons have forgotten the terrible years we had before Pearl arrived. I am with Pearl in weathering this year out and see what the NCAA punishment will be. I am with Pearl in staying the course and overcoming all this mess.

All you hillbilly idiots can run him out on a rail if you want but when you do.....get ready for the same ride our football team has had ever since you wanted Fulmer gone.

What a bunch of ungrateful chumps you fans are!

Yes thank you! Great post! Agree 1000%

murrayvol writes:

in response to lomas98:

I don't have any question about his evaluation of players, because the big name programs and coaches are recruiting a lot of the same players we are. If anything, I would question his ability to improve players through development and recruiting something other than a 2 or 3 spot. Hopson has improved this year but is nowhere near the expectation everyone had of him. I think Chism was the only player Bruce has had who got a lot better from his freshman year. Tatum isn't any better, neither is Woolridge or Hall. Of course a lot of the problem is he doesn't get a chance to develop some because they don't make it and get kicked off or leave the program (West, Crews, Ramar Smith, Negedu, Tabb, Jurick)

Good points but I would point to Jurick as an evaluation problem. He's never played for anybody and never will.

I think Pearl is too focused on length and athleticism. We haven't had a pure shooter since Lofton left....and bball is about scoring.

the58vol writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

I am sick of you morons calling for Pearl to go. I agree that he is having his worst year thus far. I agree that he has made some terrible mistakes last year in lying to NCAA and having recruits at his house. Its one strike and you are out with you idiots.

How quickly forget what he has done for the basketball program the past years. Last year HE took us to the Elite 8 for the first time in UT history. Now, because he is not winning the games he should, you want rid of him. IF he were winning and we were in the top 10 you would NOT want him gone.

IF he were winning he would be the media darling but because he and the Vols are struggling....like the worthless media across this land you want him gone.

We are going to have a down year. Write it down. This year is a bust but all schools have down years. Michigan State is down and they won the NCAA tourney last year.

You morons have forgotten the terrible years we had before Pearl arrived. I am with Pearl in weathering this year out and see what the NCAA punishment will be. I am with Pearl in staying the course and overcoming all this mess.

All you hillbilly idiots can run him out on a rail if you want but when you do.....get ready for the same ride our football team has had ever since you wanted Fulmer gone.

What a bunch of ungrateful chumps you fans are!

I appreciate most of what Pearl has done to elevate the program. That being said, I wish it was only one strike... A look back in history suggests a sort of a pattern (ie his issue as an Iowa assistant). Perhaps it does not represent a pattern, but at the least he's in the box with an 0-2 count.... Hope he can hit the high fastball!!

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