Vols ahead of projections, behind predecessors

Cuonzo Martin feels team has 'pieces' it needs

UT's Cuonzo Martin talks about the home win over Georgia

Tennessee finds itself ahead of October projections at the midway point of the SEC men's basketball season, yet the Vols are far from where coach Cuonzo Martin would like them to be.

UT, picked to finish 11th in the league at SEC Basketball Media Day, is tied for eighth place in the SEC race with LSU after beating Georgia 73-62 Saturday night.

Tennessee improved to 11-12 overall and 3-5 in the league with a home game against cellar dweller South Carolina (9-13, 1-7) coming up on Wednesday (TV: MyVLT, 8 p.m.).

"For us, it's taking one game at a time; I tell the guys, 'It's never too late,' '' said Martin, who in his first season at the helm and still harbors hope of building on the Vols' school-record six consecutive NCAA appearances.

"If we take care of the basketball, we've got a chance to be successful, because we have the necessary pieces.''

Martin has shown he's not shy about shuffling those pieces, either, changing the starting lineup for the third time this season prior to Saturday's win over Georgia.

Martin started junior Skylar McBee at point guard and brought sophomore Trae Golden off the bench, and both players responded.

McBee scored 10 points and turned the ball over just once, while Golden came off the bench to score a team-high 16 points in his 28 minutes, dishing out five assists while committing three turnovers.

Tennessee's 10 turnovers against Georgia represented its fewest in SEC action. They also were half as many turnovers as the Vols committed in a 57-53 overtime loss in Athens on Jan. 18.

Golden said he feels good about the second half of the season, whether he returns to the starting lineup, or not.

"We have a lot of games under our belt, and I think going on the road, we've learned a lot of lessons, losing by 20 back-to-back times,'' Golden said, referring to setbacks of 69-44 at No. 1 Kentucky last Tuesday and 65-47 at Vanderbilt on Jan. 24.

"I think we're gonna be fine. We have a run in us, and we'll continue to work hard.''

UT junior Jeronne Maymon, who had 15 points and eight rebounds against the Bulldogs, said the team is ready to play well and finish strong.

"We're just trying to get these wins and see where we are come SEC tournament time,'' said Maymon, who joins senior Cam Tatum as the only player to start every game this season.

"I think we trust each other a little more on the defensive end than at the start of the year,'' Maymon said. "When one guy gets beat, he knows someone will be there to challenge the shot or take the charge.''

The Decision: Golden said Martin told him on Friday that he wouldn't be starting.

"I'd be lying if I said I was cool with it or happy — I was down, but I didn't hang my head,'' said Golden, who started the first 22 games this season. "I just wanted to work harder and get minutes back tonight. I'll continue to come off the bench if that's what Coach Martin wants me to do. Whatever helps the team.

"Personally, I didn't know it was going to happen. I don't think anybody ever knows what Coach Martin is gonna do except Coach Martin.''

Golden said that, looking back, he could see what probably led to his benching.

"I didn't have one of my best practices on Thursday; I could have played much better in practice.''

Martin said he was pleased with how Golden responded to the situation.

"I thought Trae did his best job of being vocal tonight,'' Martin said. "More than anything, it's his defensive fire and intensity. I don't care how much he shoots or scores, for him it's defensive intensity.''

More Changes?: Although Martin said at the beginning of the season that he's not a proponent of multiple lineup changes or token benching to send a message, he admits he's somewhat surprised UT has only used four different lineups at this juncture of the season.

"I would have thought it probably would have been more,''said Martin, asked if he would have predicted three lineup changes after the opener. "When you have a new team, a new coach, and you didn't come in with any star power, with Tobias (Harris) or Scotty (Hopson).

"You have five new guys trying to find their way and learn the system and learn their new coach.''

Martin suggested Tatum figures to stay in the starting lineup, but not necessarily on the strength of his 2-of-9 shooting performance against Georgia.

"Cam Tatum struggled with his shot, but if he plays hard and approaches the game in the right way, and continues to work on his game, I have no problem with that,'' Martin said. "In Trae's case, it's approaching the game from a high level from a work ethic standpoint, more than anything.''

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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Comments » 54

wildmed writes:

Looks to me like Martin's methods are building the Vols into a program of the future. Another successful recruiting class should go a long way toward restoring pride in Thompson Boling.

wigmeister writes:

Making progress.

ivyvol writes:

This is a good coach and a steady hand on the tiller.

taylorsvolfan writes:

My family and I enjoyed our basketball weekend on Rocky Top watching two good wins from the men and women. Go Vols !

Ironcity writes:

I bet Tyler Summit plays harder then everyone but I don't think he should start. I have always been a fan of Tatum but keeping him in the starting line up is crazy. He can be just as effective of a leader coming off the bench.

He is 3-30 his last 4 games and 2-9 against UGA and we act like he had a good game because he played hard and took some shots in the gym the other day.

BigHornBuckShot writes:

Most are holding out hope for the NIT, and Coach is still talking about the NCAA....Now I know why he doesn't live in the real world and doesn't play some zone. A losing record at this time of the year with half their remaining games on the road (where they can't win) The very best they can finish is 17-14 and baby that does not qualify for the NCAAs.

BrassMonkey writes:

They can barely score over 50 points. I know they got over 70 Saturday, but that is a rarity. Expect the losing to continue until they can find a way to consistently score more than 50. They say they hang their hat on defense, but unless they can hold their opponents to less than 50 as well it won't matter if they played the flute instead of defense.

ClemCash writes:

I feel alot better about the basketball situation and Coach Martin than I do about football. Martin needs to get that record back to .500 and then with a late season push, anything is possible.

FanNotSheep writes:

So far it looks like progress. I was not sure we would win any SEC games after the Austin Peay debacle but if Martin can get this team to 8-8 and win a first round SEC tournament game, they might make the NIT.

txvolsfan writes:

in response to BigHornBuckShot:

Most are holding out hope for the NIT, and Coach is still talking about the NCAA....Now I know why he doesn't live in the real world and doesn't play some zone. A losing record at this time of the year with half their remaining games on the road (where they can't win) The very best they can finish is 17-14 and baby that does not qualify for the NCAAs.

would not be the first time a team got hot and won the SEC tourney!!! but I would much rather my coach be saying yea the NIT will be OK and I'm good with losing?
Nice post, NOT!!!
Dude get a clue
GO VOLS
TXVOLSFAN

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Ironcity:

I bet Tyler Summit plays harder then everyone but I don't think he should start. I have always been a fan of Tatum but keeping him in the starting line up is crazy. He can be just as effective of a leader coming off the bench.

He is 3-30 his last 4 games and 2-9 against UGA and we act like he had a good game because he played hard and took some shots in the gym the other day.

Hardwork doesn't equate to success. I could work really hard at outrunning Usain Bolt but that ain't gonna happen. Michael Jordan, half-a'd doggin it, would still start on this team just from natural talent.

GreeneVol writes:

Ahead of preseason projection of 11th is good, but I will temper the enthusiasm with the fact that the projection did not factor in a mid-season Jarnell Stokes addition. But I must give credit to Martin for bringing him in to the program.

I see a patient coach who continues to nurture and shift the focus with timely line-up changes to take pressure off the different players of a growing team. It's encouraging to see these signs of positive player development.

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to txvolsfan:

would not be the first time a team got hot and won the SEC tourney!!! but I would much rather my coach be saying yea the NIT will be OK and I'm good with losing?
Nice post, NOT!!!
Dude get a clue
GO VOLS
TXVOLSFAN

I agree, Texas Vol. Win the tourney and you are in the NCAA no matter what your record is. Also, who would want a coach that is Mr. Negativity? You've got to feed your team positive energy if you want them to believe in themselves and improve their game. GBO!!

How bout them Giants!!

carbonzip writes:

They will have win away games to prove they are tournament worthy. I hope McCrae countinues to mature and develop his game.

dcap8424 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Hardwork doesn't equate to success. I could work really hard at outrunning Usain Bolt but that ain't gonna happen. Michael Jordan, half-a'd doggin it, would still start on this team just from natural talent.

Yes, Michael Jordan would start for this team... clever observation.

eb502us#225637 writes:

Martin suggested Tatum figures to stay in the starting lineup, but not necessarily on the strength of his 2-of-9 shooting performance against Georgia.

"Cam Tatum struggled with his shot, but if he plays hard and approaches the game in the right way, and continues to work on his game, I have no problem with that,'' Martin said.

This is exactly why this team continues to struggle. Any fan with a good pair of eyes can see that Tatum brings little if any to the table and that there are much better options sitting on the bench. Pearl figured it out toward the end of last season that Tatum is the ultimate tease (shooting and atletic ability) but rarely shows up on game days.

Martin, half way through the season, still doesn't see it in a season where Tatum has done virtually nothing to deserve even 10 minutes of playing time. I'm sure others like myself cringe every time he touches the ball and tries to drive to the basket. It's never a good outcome.

voloffaith writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Martin suggested Tatum figures to stay in the starting lineup, but not necessarily on the strength of his 2-of-9 shooting performance against Georgia.

"Cam Tatum struggled with his shot, but if he plays hard and approaches the game in the right way, and continues to work on his game, I have no problem with that,'' Martin said.

This is exactly why this team continues to struggle. Any fan with a good pair of eyes can see that Tatum brings little if any to the table and that there are much better options sitting on the bench. Pearl figured it out toward the end of last season that Tatum is the ultimate tease (shooting and atletic ability) but rarely shows up on game days.

Martin, half way through the season, still doesn't see it in a season where Tatum has done virtually nothing to deserve even 10 minutes of playing time. I'm sure others like myself cringe every time he touches the ball and tries to drive to the basket. It's never a good outcome.

Please call/write him and inform him of the keen insight that you have and he missed. I get tickled with many of us posters when we type things that are so silly at times. This post I am responding to fills that bill. I mean c'mon do you really think Coach Martin's basketball acumen is that poor/low? Just sayin' sometimes we need to reread our postings before we send them and possibly regret them.....

Bubba_Knows writes:

Regarding Tatum - Once a shooter starts thinking about his shot not falling, it is all over. Confidence is huge for a shooter.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Martin suggested Tatum figures to stay in the starting lineup, but not necessarily on the strength of his 2-of-9 shooting performance against Georgia.

"Cam Tatum struggled with his shot, but if he plays hard and approaches the game in the right way, and continues to work on his game, I have no problem with that,'' Martin said.

This is exactly why this team continues to struggle. Any fan with a good pair of eyes can see that Tatum brings little if any to the table and that there are much better options sitting on the bench. Pearl figured it out toward the end of last season that Tatum is the ultimate tease (shooting and atletic ability) but rarely shows up on game days.

Martin, half way through the season, still doesn't see it in a season where Tatum has done virtually nothing to deserve even 10 minutes of playing time. I'm sure others like myself cringe every time he touches the ball and tries to drive to the basket. It's never a good outcome.

Coach Martin knows that Tatum could elevate this team to new heights but he is struggling with a confidence issue. It is painful to watch, but we are a better team when Tatum gets his MoJo back. The only way we take it to another level is if our Senior can get it together. So far, he has been all head case, but he does have more talent than many of the guys that you would rather play in his place.

GerryOP writes:

Most important sentence in the entire article:

"You have five new guys trying to find their way and learn the system and learn their new coach."

If Coach 'Zo can get and keep this team above 0.500 and in the upper half of the SEC, he will have worked a miracle. He is proving that with the right attitude and hard work anything is possible ... even the NCAA Tournament.

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." Thomas Jefferson

GerryOP writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Please call/write him and inform him of the keen insight that you have and he missed. I get tickled with many of us posters when we type things that are so silly at times. This post I am responding to fills that bill. I mean c'mon do you really think Coach Martin's basketball acumen is that poor/low? Just sayin' sometimes we need to reread our postings before we send them and possibly regret them.....

The posts you refer to cause a continuous sense of amusement and wonderment in my life. Believe it or not, many of these posters actually believe that they are providing a service to our coaches!

underthehill writes:

Martin has been a class act since day one and I strongly admire the job he has done..however..as all fans do I like to observe and agree or disagree with what I see..I do not agree with playing a 5th year senior like Tatum and having a talented soph like McRae playing behind him..although it does seem to have made McRae wake up and play with more intensity on defense...so I'm willing to concede the unlikely possiblity I could be wrong...

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to amyinsparta:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm with you Amy. I doubt this team, which has not shown they know how to win on the road, will go very far in the postseason even if they get there,so I don't see it as a must-have goal either. It would be nice to get a couple of extra games under our belt for learning curve purposes, and it is nice for the program resume, but I don't see it as a must. I'm more concerned about setting the stage properly for next season than squeaking in to a post season tournament this year.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to dcap8424:

Yes, Michael Jordan would start for this team... clever observation.

I'll assume you were being sarcastic, which is okay. I meant Jordan at age 50 not at age 25 would start, not from working hard but from knowing how to work.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

I'm with you Amy. I doubt this team, which has not shown they know how to win on the road, will go very far in the postseason even if they get there,so I don't see it as a must-have goal either. It would be nice to get a couple of extra games under our belt for learning curve purposes, and it is nice for the program resume, but I don't see it as a must. I'm more concerned about setting the stage properly for next season than squeaking in to a post season tournament this year.

It would be important to recruits to see a first coach overcoming adversity and developing inexperienced players enough to make the post-season. That would set the stage for the seasons beyond next season.

lomas98 writes:

in response to jakethevolguy:

I agree, Texas Vol. Win the tourney and you are in the NCAA no matter what your record is. Also, who would want a coach that is Mr. Negativity? You've got to feed your team positive energy if you want them to believe in themselves and improve their game. GBO!!

How bout them Giants!!

We already have a Mr. Negativity on the football side, glad to see Cuonzo is still trying to put confidence in the players. Realistically they are not making the NCAA tourney and I think that ended with the loss at GA, but these guys are competitors and think they can win every game left. Luckily us fans don't have to play the game because most would be beat before the tip. We need to hold serve at home which would include good wins over Ark, Ole Miss, and Vandy. Hopefully we can win one on the road and secure a NIT spot. Get to SECT and who knows what can happen, although honestly I believe our guard play is too inconsistent to run off 3 or 4 straight wins.

Ironcity writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Martin suggested Tatum figures to stay in the starting lineup, but not necessarily on the strength of his 2-of-9 shooting performance against Georgia.

"Cam Tatum struggled with his shot, but if he plays hard and approaches the game in the right way, and continues to work on his game, I have no problem with that,'' Martin said.

This is exactly why this team continues to struggle. Any fan with a good pair of eyes can see that Tatum brings little if any to the table and that there are much better options sitting on the bench. Pearl figured it out toward the end of last season that Tatum is the ultimate tease (shooting and atletic ability) but rarely shows up on game days.

Martin, half way through the season, still doesn't see it in a season where Tatum has done virtually nothing to deserve even 10 minutes of playing time. I'm sure others like myself cringe every time he touches the ball and tries to drive to the basket. It's never a good outcome.

Your so right. Not sure whats worse watching the Tatum drive to the hoop or watching him initiate zero offense for 35 seconds.

SeminaryVol writes:

1. This is as good as could have reasonably been expected at this point.

2. We have only one really ugly loss (Austin Peay).

3. We have beaten 2 teams we had no business beating (Florida, UConn) and took UK to the wire.

4. We still have a realistic chance to finish 8-8 in conference play and win 2-4 post season games in the SECT and NIT, a finish most would have taken at the beginning of the season.

5. If someone upset the 'Cats in the SECT it would turn into a free for all and anything could happen. Bring on March!

GBO

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BigHornBuckShot:

Most are holding out hope for the NIT, and Coach is still talking about the NCAA....Now I know why he doesn't live in the real world and doesn't play some zone. A losing record at this time of the year with half their remaining games on the road (where they can't win) The very best they can finish is 17-14 and baby that does not qualify for the NCAAs.

You say all this as if it were an accomplished fact, when it is just your own opinion. What would you have Martin say? "Hey guys, there's no point in continuing to work and play hard since BigHornBuckShot assures me that we have no chance." I'll bet you were a real inspiration to your team if you showed them an attitude like that.

Besides, there have been years when teams with records no better than 17-14 HAVE made the NCAAs as at-large teams. Also, the NCAA in most years pays particular attention to teams that are playing well late even if their overall records aren't that great. It never hurts to have a major new addition to the team like Stokes, either. As Yogi says, "It ain't over 'til it's over." Negativity before the fact doesn't impress anybody.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Hardwork doesn't equate to success. I could work really hard at outrunning Usain Bolt but that ain't gonna happen. Michael Jordan, half-a'd doggin it, would still start on this team just from natural talent.

Yeah, it really is too bad Michael Jordan isn't on the team. Guess the guys we do have should just give up. Way to boost the team morale.

givehim6 writes:

in response to BigHornBuckShot:

Most are holding out hope for the NIT, and Coach is still talking about the NCAA....Now I know why he doesn't live in the real world and doesn't play some zone. A losing record at this time of the year with half their remaining games on the road (where they can't win) The very best they can finish is 17-14 and baby that does not qualify for the NCAAs.

Maybe he is dreaming of winning the SEC tournament, other than that I agree, UT my be NIT bound.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to givehim6:

Maybe he is dreaming of winning the SEC tournament, other than that I agree, UT my be NIT bound.

There is a difference between saying that a thing is extremely difficult and deciding IN ADVANCE that a thing is impossible. Remember that UGA team a few years ago that came into the SEC tourney with an overall losing record and won the darn thing? Maybe they didn't win--I don't follow UGA that close and it has been a few years--but they DID win two games in the SAME DAY, and they only had about six guys who played regularly. So just because a thing seems unlikely doesn't mean it CAN'T happen. Of course, most real fans would already know that.

They may not make the NCAAs, but if they aim for it and fail to make it, they still might make the NIT. If they just say, "Oh, what the heck; we can't make the NCAA, so we'll just try to make it to the NIT", then they may fall short of even THAT goal. Besides, making the NIT would be a lot better than most were predicting in the preseason. As the poet says, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

Your comment wasn't nearly as negative as many I've seen in a similar vein, so forgive me if I seem to be beating up on you unfairly.

johnlg00 writes:

Looking closely at the remaining eight games, this is the way I see it. The Vols will be solid underdogs at Alabama and at Florida, but both of these games are winnable. Alabama has trouble scoring sometimes and their big men have a tendency to foul a lot. Florida has to shoot well from outside to win. Also, the Vols beat Florida before Stokes came on board.

The games at LSU and at home against Arkansas will be tough to win, but again neither of them has had to contend with Stokes. Ole Miss may be tougher than I thought at the beginning of the season, but again the Vols get them at home. Vandy will also be tough at TBA, but it is unlikely the Vols will play as poorly against them at home as they did at Vandy. Also, since the Vandy game is the last one of the season and may well determine the Vols' seeding in the SEC tourney as well as their chances for an NCAA bid, I think they will give it their best effort so far.

So as I see it, their best-case scenario is to win either at Bama or Florida, pull out the toss-ups against Arky, Ole Miss, and LSU, and otherwise hold serve at home. IF--granted, a HUGE if--they can do this, they will finish 7-1 for an overall SEC record of--gasp!--10-6, and have a GREAT chance of making the NCAAs with an overall record of 18-13, especially since they would have won 9 of their last 11 regular-season games with two of those on the road, and at least one as a solid underdog.

Don't bother telling me it CAN'T happen. I agree that it likely WON'T happen, but I am saying that there is absolutely no reason for the Vols or UT fans to think RIGHT NOW that they have NO shot for what I think almost anyone would agree would be a very good season indeed.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to johnlg00:

You say all this as if it were an accomplished fact, when it is just your own opinion. What would you have Martin say? "Hey guys, there's no point in continuing to work and play hard since BigHornBuckShot assures me that we have no chance." I'll bet you were a real inspiration to your team if you showed them an attitude like that.

Besides, there have been years when teams with records no better than 17-14 HAVE made the NCAAs as at-large teams. Also, the NCAA in most years pays particular attention to teams that are playing well late even if their overall records aren't that great. It never hurts to have a major new addition to the team like Stokes, either. As Yogi says, "It ain't over 'til it's over." Negativity before the fact doesn't impress anybody.

The NCAA stopped using the last 10 games as a criteria for tourney selection. That's why Alabama didn't get in last year and we did.

orangecountyvols writes:

Johnlg, and Vols,

Another excellent post/posts and it's good to see some positives on the site such as these.

We have a tall order in front of us but they do scrap and fight and that's a good beginning.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Yeah, it really is too bad Michael Jordan isn't on the team. Guess the guys we do have should just give up. Way to boost the team morale.

Come on John, that's not what I meant and you know it. Tatum doesn't beat out Tyler Summitt just because his butt has more natural talent and nothing else. Tatum beats out Tyler, et al, because he is more successful at defending even if his effort may not be the most it could be. Success is the criteria not how hard you work. Michael Jordan could start for any team in the SEC (although he would have to put in some effort for Kentucky maybe).

GerryOP writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Looking closely at the remaining eight games, this is the way I see it. The Vols will be solid underdogs at Alabama and at Florida, but both of these games are winnable. Alabama has trouble scoring sometimes and their big men have a tendency to foul a lot. Florida has to shoot well from outside to win. Also, the Vols beat Florida before Stokes came on board.

The games at LSU and at home against Arkansas will be tough to win, but again neither of them has had to contend with Stokes. Ole Miss may be tougher than I thought at the beginning of the season, but again the Vols get them at home. Vandy will also be tough at TBA, but it is unlikely the Vols will play as poorly against them at home as they did at Vandy. Also, since the Vandy game is the last one of the season and may well determine the Vols' seeding in the SEC tourney as well as their chances for an NCAA bid, I think they will give it their best effort so far.

So as I see it, their best-case scenario is to win either at Bama or Florida, pull out the toss-ups against Arky, Ole Miss, and LSU, and otherwise hold serve at home. IF--granted, a HUGE if--they can do this, they will finish 7-1 for an overall SEC record of--gasp!--10-6, and have a GREAT chance of making the NCAAs with an overall record of 18-13, especially since they would have won 9 of their last 11 regular-season games with two of those on the road, and at least one as a solid underdog.

Don't bother telling me it CAN'T happen. I agree that it likely WON'T happen, but I am saying that there is absolutely no reason for the Vols or UT fans to think RIGHT NOW that they have NO shot for what I think almost anyone would agree would be a very good season indeed.

As usual, what john says makes a lot of sense. Great post and yes ... your scenario is totally possible.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mike, we lose one barely contributing (on offense) starter and a third string benchwarmer. How is the talent level dropping for next year? There is talent out there now, they just don't play as a team.

Ironcity writes:

Not to sound picky but I don't like that we are touting that we are ahead of projections when we are 3-5 in the SEC and 11-12 overall. Thats like Towson State celebrating that they have one one more win this year then last when they are 1-21. Back when Pearl came we were predicted to come in 5 place in the east and we won the East (ahead of UF who won the NC that year) and came in second in the SEC. It bothers me that we are applauding mediocrity even if its better then projected.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

The NCAA stopped using the last 10 games as a criteria for tourney selection. That's why Alabama didn't get in last year and we did.

I said "in most years". The committee is different each year, and last year's caught a LOT of grief across the country for abandoning the emphasis on who is playing well late. I don't know whether they will use that criterion this year or not, but the Vols CERTAINLY won't make the tourney if they DON'T finish strong.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Come on John, that's not what I meant and you know it. Tatum doesn't beat out Tyler Summitt just because his butt has more natural talent and nothing else. Tatum beats out Tyler, et al, because he is more successful at defending even if his effort may not be the most it could be. Success is the criteria not how hard you work. Michael Jordan could start for any team in the SEC (although he would have to put in some effort for Kentucky maybe).

I have been as hard on Tatum as anyone on this board this year, and in some previous years, IIRC. In fact, I said just recently that it might be time to just tell Tatum "thanks for your service" and basically sit him to let the younger guys get experience. However, that is Martin's call and he has to take responsibility for how that decision turns out, just like all the rest of his decisions. The team seems to think well of Tatum. Martin may think it is more important to establish habits of hard work in the team than it is to win right away, and that is why he rewards it. He seems to think that Tatum makes enough contributions in other areas that the team can live with his offensive slump. We fans may disagree, as is our right. That still doesn't mean that Martin is WRONG, it may just mean that he doesn't agree with us, which may be smart of him. It is often said that if a coach listens to the fans too much, he is likely to soon be sitting with them.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Not to sound picky but I don't like that we are touting that we are ahead of projections when we are 3-5 in the SEC and 11-12 overall. Thats like Towson State celebrating that they have one one more win this year then last when they are 1-21. Back when Pearl came we were predicted to come in 5 place in the east and we won the East (ahead of UF who won the NC that year) and came in second in the SEC. It bothers me that we are applauding mediocrity even if its better then projected.

Oh, come on, Iron. Don't start sounding like Westknoxrepub, comparing this year's Vols to the best of Pearl's teams. A comparison to the preseason projections at this time is quite apt. For one thing, they ARE right now ahead of the projections. For another, they have already played UK twice and Vandy at their place, so the second half of the season is almost by definition easier than the first half. You are usually pretty perceptive, so it somewhat puzzles me why you would even imagine that this team was ever going to come close to what they did last year--I should say "what the team with 'Tennessee' on their jerseys did", since all the guys WEARING those jerseys are different and hardly played before this year--with a new team and a new coach.

johnlg00 writes:

A few more words on the NCAA Selection Committee. Last year's committee, for almost the first time, had no former coaches or even people who had played college basketball, settling instead for administrators and such. Such people have no feel for how well teams are actually playing as opposed to how they are ranked.

Another thing is that the committee seems to vary from year to year on how much weight they give to the performance of the non-winners in the conference tournaments. Some years they seem to ignore how well a team plays in the tourneys and some years they give it major weight.

There have been widespread calls for the committee to better represent the wider interests of the college basketball community rather than...whatever interests they ARE serving. I surely don't know how the committee will be put together this year or what criteria they will follow. I'm just saying that none of those factors will be relevant if the Vols don't play well down the stretch, and that is all the TEAM should be concerned about the rest of the way.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to RockyTopRenegade:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'd take 2 out of three on these points. I'd be delighted to have one out of three. All three would be a chance at winning all remaining games and a couple wins in SEC Tourney!!! YEAH VOLS!!!
My fave is 10 or less turnovers.

FanNotSheep writes:

I expect to struggle on the road but have a couple chances as the schedule is a little easier. South Carolina gives us two chances at Ws we must not screw up, then it's hold the home court and try to pick up another road win somewhere. Still a young team in terms of experience and that will bite us a couple times.

Got to get production out of every position regardless of who starts. Stokes has to learn to kick it to his post partner when he gets doubled.

GONAVY writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Looking closely at the remaining eight games, this is the way I see it. The Vols will be solid underdogs at Alabama and at Florida, but both of these games are winnable. Alabama has trouble scoring sometimes and their big men have a tendency to foul a lot. Florida has to shoot well from outside to win. Also, the Vols beat Florida before Stokes came on board.

The games at LSU and at home against Arkansas will be tough to win, but again neither of them has had to contend with Stokes. Ole Miss may be tougher than I thought at the beginning of the season, but again the Vols get them at home. Vandy will also be tough at TBA, but it is unlikely the Vols will play as poorly against them at home as they did at Vandy. Also, since the Vandy game is the last one of the season and may well determine the Vols' seeding in the SEC tourney as well as their chances for an NCAA bid, I think they will give it their best effort so far.

So as I see it, their best-case scenario is to win either at Bama or Florida, pull out the toss-ups against Arky, Ole Miss, and LSU, and otherwise hold serve at home. IF--granted, a HUGE if--they can do this, they will finish 7-1 for an overall SEC record of--gasp!--10-6, and have a GREAT chance of making the NCAAs with an overall record of 18-13, especially since they would have won 9 of their last 11 regular-season games with two of those on the road, and at least one as a solid underdog.

Don't bother telling me it CAN'T happen. I agree that it likely WON'T happen, but I am saying that there is absolutely no reason for the Vols or UT fans to think RIGHT NOW that they have NO shot for what I think almost anyone would agree would be a very good season indeed.

Regarding Vanderbilt, they are on the edge of implosion. There is erosion between the starters and Stallings, again. There is a good deal of talk that another "fall short" year will result in pressure for Stallings to resign. I heard over lunch today he has told a close friend in his Brentwood, TN neighborhood he may resign regardless. He never sees his kids and is especially close to his oldest son, a catcher for UNC who is a bona fide Major League prospect. Anyway, I predict the hated Commodores will bottom out with a 19-12 overall record, 8-8 in the SEC...and yes, losing at TBA in the last regular season game. That's bubble at best for the NCAA's and solid NIT. Stallings may well resign with these results.

Ironcity writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Oh, come on, Iron. Don't start sounding like Westknoxrepub, comparing this year's Vols to the best of Pearl's teams. A comparison to the preseason projections at this time is quite apt. For one thing, they ARE right now ahead of the projections. For another, they have already played UK twice and Vandy at their place, so the second half of the season is almost by definition easier than the first half. You are usually pretty perceptive, so it somewhat puzzles me why you would even imagine that this team was ever going to come close to what they did last year--I should say "what the team with 'Tennessee' on their jerseys did", since all the guys WEARING those jerseys are different and hardly played before this year--with a new team and a new coach.

What I am trying to say is why are we talking up a 3-5 team thats tied for 9th place. As for comparing Pearls first year team its quite appropriate. They were considered back of the pack and to young. They had only 7 players who played of which one was a walkon and another was playing way out of position. That team was predicted by the same experts to come in behind this team team yet they beat the eventual nation champs twice and won the SEC east. All I am saying is I am not going to get excited about how great we are doing when we are 11-12, 3-5 in the SEC, we have no road victories, have suffered horrible losses to Austin Peay, UGA and College of Charleston.

I want coach Martin to succeed but don't bring down expectations so low that you have no choice but to exceed.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to GONAVY:

Regarding Vanderbilt, they are on the edge of implosion. There is erosion between the starters and Stallings, again. There is a good deal of talk that another "fall short" year will result in pressure for Stallings to resign. I heard over lunch today he has told a close friend in his Brentwood, TN neighborhood he may resign regardless. He never sees his kids and is especially close to his oldest son, a catcher for UNC who is a bona fide Major League prospect. Anyway, I predict the hated Commodores will bottom out with a 19-12 overall record, 8-8 in the SEC...and yes, losing at TBA in the last regular season game. That's bubble at best for the NCAA's and solid NIT. Stallings may well resign with these results.

I was born in Nashville, at Vanderbilt Hospital as it happens. My first clear memory of attending a college basketball game was a Vandy game in the old gym they had before Memorial Gym was built. We moved to Knoxville when I was 10 and I have been a Vol fan ever since. Therefore, I have never had the visceral hatred for Vandy that many Vol fans have. I always thought, aside from his somewhat creepy personality, that Stallings was a good coach. That is why I have always been puzzled as to why, despite usually good and occasionally great talent, Vandy has always seemed to struggle in big games. Yet I am still surprised to hear of this kind of dissension in the program. I guess most of us casual fans never know what is really happening on the other side of the fence. I gave the Vols a great chance to beat Vandy even before I read your post. Now I just hope beating Vandy in the last game really means something for the Vols.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

What I am trying to say is why are we talking up a 3-5 team thats tied for 9th place. As for comparing Pearls first year team its quite appropriate. They were considered back of the pack and to young. They had only 7 players who played of which one was a walkon and another was playing way out of position. That team was predicted by the same experts to come in behind this team team yet they beat the eventual nation champs twice and won the SEC east. All I am saying is I am not going to get excited about how great we are doing when we are 11-12, 3-5 in the SEC, we have no road victories, have suffered horrible losses to Austin Peay, UGA and College of Charleston.

I want coach Martin to succeed but don't bring down expectations so low that you have no choice but to exceed.

Well, I guess we could all just fold our arms and wait for them to amaze us. Pearl's first team WAS amazing. They did pretty much come out of nowhere and that is one reason why Vol fans liked him so much. But every team should be measured by its own standards, under the unique conditions IT faces rather than be compared to an atypical anomaly.

This current team has NO weapon like Chris Lofton. It has no steely-eyed leader like Bradshaw or a fiery spark-plug like Smith. It has a collection of ill-matched spare parts that Martin has had to assemble on the fly into something resembling a real team. So far, I think he has done pretty well; if the team finishes the way I suggested above, I think most people will agree.

As a fan, I prefer to dwell on the positive while staying somewhat real about it. I haven't glossed over the problems with this team, and I will be as surprised as anybody if they ACTUALLY do as well as I hope, but I don't see how criticizing them for not being better than they are under the circumstances really adds much to the discussion.

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to amyinsparta:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You judge a teams success in basketball by making the tournament, always have always will, that is what basketball is all about. It makes no difference what the sport, (except college football) if you can get in the playoffs then you can possibly win the prize and winning the prize is the reason most people play.

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