UT needs win over Auburn to avoid SEC cellar

It wasn't so long ago, October, in fact, that this edition of the Tennessee men's basketball team was projected to finish 11th in the SEC.

"The number is 11?'' UT first-year coach Cuonzo Martin said at the time. "Well, we can prove them right, or we can prove them wrong.''

Consider Tennessee's game against Auburn today (TV: ESPN2, 6 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena a mid-season judgment day of sorts.

Cuonzo Martin talks after practice Jan. 26

The Tigers (12-8, 2-4 SEC) were one of the teams picked to finish ahead of the Vols (9-11, 1-4).

A UT win today would move the Vols ahead of Auburn in the SEC standings. With a loss, Tennessee would drop to the bottom of the league by virtue of a head-to-head loss against idle Georgia and the worst overall record in the SEC.

Sophomore point guard Trae Golden, who remains the Vols' leading scorer (13.2 points per game) even while his role shifts from shooter to playmaker, said the standings are not lost on the team.

"We understand we're 1-4, and we need to win,'' Golden said Thursday, "whether it keeps us out of last place or not.''

It wasn't so long ago that the UT players were indignant toward the projections; after all, this was a program coming off six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

All they needed, the four new starters insisted, was an opportunity for playing

time that the previous staff didn't allow them.

The Vols have indeed looked stronger than some suspected at times this season, opening SEC play on Jan. 7 with a 67-56 win over then-No. 13 Florida, and most recently, beating defending national champion Connecticut at home, 60-57, last Saturday.

But a disappointing overtime road loss to Georgia (57-53) on Jan. 18 and Wednesday's blowout defeat at Vanderbilt (65-47) have been sandwiched between the impressive victories.

The addition of mid-term enrollee Jarnell Stokes has provided a boost, but UT is just 1-3 in the games the 6-foot-8, 270-pound freshman has played.

In Auburn, the Vols face a scrappy team that shows signs of finding its way under second-year coach Tony Barbee, having already eclipsed last season's win total (11) while recently pushing LSU (65-58, overtime loss) and Arkansas (56-53) to the brink before dropping its past two road contests.

The Tigers are expected to throw some zone and press looks at the Vols with hopes of earning their first SEC road win and bolstering their post-season resume.

Martin said he's not ready to use the "must-win" term for any game or draw a line in the sand against Auburn.

"That comes in the next phase, when the team has been around me long enough to really and truly understand the expectations,'' Martin said Thursday. "Right now, they are still learning on the fly.

"But if you're a competitor, you always want to win. Most importantly, first and foremost, you protect your home court.''

UT freshman Josh Richardson, who with his hard-nosed defense and team-first offensive approach has become the model Martin recruit, said the team still harbors hopes of making the postseason.

"We still talk about it; it's not a topic every day, but it comes up,'' Richardson said. "Once all the pieces come together, we'll be fine.''

The same type of post-season conversation likely takes place in the Auburn locker room, and if one were to judge strictly by numbers, the Tigers' talk would be more realistic.

Auburn is No. 129 in the RPI rankings; the Vols are No. 159.

But the only numbers Martin is consumed with involve turnovers, as UT is coming off a season-high 25 that led to a season-low 47 points against Vanderbilt.

"In our case, the thing that's puzzling is the turnovers, especially the way we turn it over,'' Martin said. "I could see if a team is pressing us the whole night, and balls were flying across the court. But when not a lot of pressure is being applied, that's a tough thing to deal with.''

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

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Comments » 66

CoverOrange writes:

This is a must win. We cannot count on enough road wins to make up for any more home losses and still make the post season. This is a must win.

HtownVol writes:

Watching the Bulls/Bucks right now.

CJ Watson AND Tobias Harris on the floor at THE SAME TIME!!! In the 2nd qtr.

How about that?
Yeah, beat Auburn.NO TURNOVERS!

BigHornBuckShot writes:

You better bet that this is a must win....to get into the NIT. The NCAA is long gone. But if we can get into the NIT, I think we have a chance to go very far. In reality, next year is our year. It will be the last year for Maymon and Stokes, and others. If we don't get back to the NCAA's next year, it will be quite some time. Probably until Bruce gets back.

BolivrBob writes:

Vandy is a good school. Hope Jarnell learned his schooling well. We are way too loose with the basketball. Hope some good ball security coaching has occurred since then

wildcatbasketball writes:

in response to BigHornBuckShot:

You better bet that this is a must win....to get into the NIT. The NCAA is long gone. But if we can get into the NIT, I think we have a chance to go very far. In reality, next year is our year. It will be the last year for Maymon and Stokes, and others. If we don't get back to the NCAA's next year, it will be quite some time. Probably until Bruce gets back.

BigHornBuckShot---Agree with you on Maymon and Stokes. They will be a tough front line but who is the point guard next year to get them the ball??? All great teams need a good, not great, point guard.

iowavol writes:

Seriously, I'm with Coach Martin on this. I do not understand the ever increasing turnovers. Is it confidence? Is it just a lack of focus? I just don't get it. But every game, you can see a lack luster pass across the lane - TO. You can see someone not looking the pass into their hands - TO. You can see Kenny Hall absolutely panic when he gets thrown the ball 10 ft from the basket and an extra defender coming at him. I just don't understand how someone doesn't understand take care of the ball before all other things on offense. They are playing good defense, but seriously, 25 TO's and most unforced?

wigmeister writes:

Time to just K some A.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to iowavol:

Seriously, I'm with Coach Martin on this. I do not understand the ever increasing turnovers. Is it confidence? Is it just a lack of focus? I just don't get it. But every game, you can see a lack luster pass across the lane - TO. You can see someone not looking the pass into their hands - TO. You can see Kenny Hall absolutely panic when he gets thrown the ball 10 ft from the basket and an extra defender coming at him. I just don't understand how someone doesn't understand take care of the ball before all other things on offense. They are playing good defense, but seriously, 25 TO's and most unforced?

Just a theory: CCM said once that he shuffled players around in practice so that everyone is familiar with everyone else. Which is good for depth. Not so good for key players getting in synch with each other.

HtownVol writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Just a theory: CCM said once that he shuffled players around in practice so that everyone is familiar with everyone else. Which is good for depth. Not so good for key players getting in synch with each other.

I dont know if it is justme but I have had a real issue with the lineup at times.

Richardson, McBee, Tatum, Woolridge and Hall

Seriously... WHERE is the scoring coming from?

I know McBee is the local boy and beloved player but I am having a very hard time understanding why he deserves to play so much. If he is not making 3's there is very little benifit to him playing. He is way too slow to guard SG's, he gets beat on back door cuts far too often and he is the worst passer on the team.

The usual answer is "to stretch the defense", but I dont see it. His man has zero problem staying in his grill and if he gets open and another defender steps out UT almost never is able to get the ball to the open man (in this particular situation).

But I doubt this will change.

There is one thing that UT needs and it may not come for a few seasons. A pure scorer who can create his own shot.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to BigHornBuckShot:

You better bet that this is a must win....to get into the NIT. The NCAA is long gone. But if we can get into the NIT, I think we have a chance to go very far. In reality, next year is our year. It will be the last year for Maymon and Stokes, and others. If we don't get back to the NCAA's next year, it will be quite some time. Probably until Bruce gets back.

It's all well and good but we don't have any scholarships left for a point guard. . .so I don't see us blazing a trail to the NCAA's, we might be a bubble team though. After next year it's going to be ugly, unless we magically come up with some more five star recruits. Scholarships have consequences, and players like Richardson, Chievous and Washpun aren't going to cut it.

FeelVol writes:

I'd take this years team over last years anytime with the exception of Harris of course.

iowavol writes:

in response to FeelVol:

I'd take this years team over last years anytime with the exception of Harris of course.

I'm betting Harris wishes he stayed one more year at UT. 0-2 last night in a loss to the Bulls. Other rookie on Bucks scored 17. We'd be a much better team with him on it.

FanNotSheep writes:

Harris needed another year but when UT bailed on the coaching staff his decision was made. Not saying he definitely stayed if Pearl and staff were retained but when they were not, there was no chance. And take this year over last year if you want to. But let's don't forget the half-dozen years before that. Remember? The best years in UT basketball history? Oh yeah, that was when Pearl coached the team.

writer#358485 writes:

Coach Martin is building something very good at Tennessee, but remember Rome, it wasn't built in a day. This team has shown flashes of being very good and then has stumbled and shown that it still is a work in progress. But the progress looks very good and the future very bright. That's the result of a very good head coach getting it done perhaps more quickly than anyone expected in what was bound to be a "down" year because of all the turmoil. Go Vols!

dwa7#337691 writes:

early predict:

UT 66
A 63

HtownVol writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

Harris needed another year but when UT bailed on the coaching staff his decision was made. Not saying he definitely stayed if Pearl and staff were retained but when they were not, there was no chance. And take this year over last year if you want to. But let's don't forget the half-dozen years before that. Remember? The best years in UT basketball history? Oh yeah, that was when Pearl coached the team.

I cant blame Harris, He is in the NBA.

HOPSON, on the other hand...

SOmeone lied to him and he ate it up. I never saw him being drafted. He had zero ball handling. He couldnt catch a pass. He dribbled the ball off of his feet more than anyone I have ever seen. His defense was below average. And his scoring was not where it needs to be to overcome all his flaws.

Does anyone know where Hopson is? Did he get a degree? Is he in witness protection?

GO VOLS

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to doesitmatter:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your user name is wrong, you don't matter

Bubba_Knows writes:

When a team comes into your house and you get after them with aggressive defense and the crowd is loud, you can litterally put the visiting team in shock. That's what happened at Vandy whether the Vols want to admit it or not. They got the butts handed to them. We did the same thing to Kentucky, but great teams overcome adversity.

Bubba_Knows writes:

While everyone was insulted by TN being voted at the bottom of the SEC, I was one of the few on here that said with the lack of offensive output we have, that is about right. Actually, the Vols have at times played better than I expected and I think that is a feather in Coach Martin's cap. He still needs better outside shooters and a point guard to open up the middle and get the big's the ball. He is handicapped with this team.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

Harris needed another year but when UT bailed on the coaching staff his decision was made. Not saying he definitely stayed if Pearl and staff were retained but when they were not, there was no chance. And take this year over last year if you want to. But let's don't forget the half-dozen years before that. Remember? The best years in UT basketball history? Oh yeah, that was when Pearl coached the team.

No question Harris is a great player that would improve our offensive output, but based on what I have seen from Maymon and Stokes, I'd rather take a great point guard to improve this team.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to doesitmatter:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We are #1.....I mean #11.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I cant blame Harris, He is in the NBA.

HOPSON, on the other hand...

SOmeone lied to him and he ate it up. I never saw him being drafted. He had zero ball handling. He couldnt catch a pass. He dribbled the ball off of his feet more than anyone I have ever seen. His defense was below average. And his scoring was not where it needs to be to overcome all his flaws.

Does anyone know where Hopson is? Did he get a degree? Is he in witness protection?

GO VOLS

Agree. Hopson bolted and it was a HUGE mistake. I could tell Hopson was not NBA material. First, he wasn't a consistent outside shooter. Slashers are a dime a dozen in the NBA. Second, he was often lazy on defense. Third, he played soft and looked like he wasn't giving 100% when he played at TN. I do think he has the talent, but he needed a tough coach like Martin to get him out of his shell. I don't know if one year under Martin would have been enough, but at least he would have gotten to enjoy his Senior year and being the star of the team. Sad that he listenned to the wrong people.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I dont know if it is justme but I have had a real issue with the lineup at times.

Richardson, McBee, Tatum, Woolridge and Hall

Seriously... WHERE is the scoring coming from?

I know McBee is the local boy and beloved player but I am having a very hard time understanding why he deserves to play so much. If he is not making 3's there is very little benifit to him playing. He is way too slow to guard SG's, he gets beat on back door cuts far too often and he is the worst passer on the team.

The usual answer is "to stretch the defense", but I dont see it. His man has zero problem staying in his grill and if he gets open and another defender steps out UT almost never is able to get the ball to the open man (in this particular situation).

But I doubt this will change.

There is one thing that UT needs and it may not come for a few seasons. A pure scorer who can create his own shot.

In fairness, McBee is being forced into action because he is the only Vol that "can" be a serious 3 point threat. Tatum also "can" be. Neither rarely are. You take these two out of the lineup and the other team knows there is zero threat and they stack their defense around Maymon and Stokes. This is the handicap that Coach Martin faces. He doesn't have a quality point guard and he doesn't have "consistent" outside shooters to open up the middle. When I said this before the season started, you all jumped on me.

jt45 writes:

The vols should take this one, the best win Auburn has had was Old Miss, the rest of their schedule was mostly fluff.

If Golden can get the offense clicking, UT wins by 10. If not then turnovers will kill us again and we lose. Turnovers are whats keeping this team from winning alot of their close games.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

You can't score with the ball if you can't pass or dribble. We understand this on defense and do a good if not great job. Our offense doesn't handle pressure well. I know that's obvious but it's usually the obvious things like passing and dribbling that help you score. We've got to be confident but we also have to have good play making decisions. Golden IS the key to our success and if he can't deliver today it might be a good time to try someone else at point with him moving to shooter.
I sometimes wonder if they're point shaving. Just silly thinking, wondering...but I DON'T believe it of course.Though I'm sure we don't intend to fumble(sorry about the football reference) it there are times when we're in control and silly little mistakes kill us. If we can cut some of those then I think our confidence will go up and play will improve.

PS NO I don't think we're point shaving but If the players like Golden read this then it might be good to know what some may possibly believe. However ridiculous. BUT don't let the thought mess up your game.lol It's just that I might possibly be a little paranoid at times. Like when I accuse KNS of planting posts...it's not serious ok?

Nahhh! It's not intentional. All I have to do is look at the replays and see the surprise on their faces and disgust when they mess up. It's a young team and they just make too many little mistakes that turn big all together.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Bubba_Knows:

In fairness, McBee is being forced into action because he is the only Vol that "can" be a serious 3 point threat. Tatum also "can" be. Neither rarely are. You take these two out of the lineup and the other team knows there is zero threat and they stack their defense around Maymon and Stokes. This is the handicap that Coach Martin faces. He doesn't have a quality point guard and he doesn't have "consistent" outside shooters to open up the middle. When I said this before the season started, you all jumped on me.

I don't re-call anyone "jumping on you for this. Maybe. I DO re-call some pretty negatives about the overall team and our coach. We all look for negatives hoping that they'll improve. But we don't all glee in the fact that we've discovered flaws. Maybe(I don't re-call) that's what you're remembering. Predictions that prove true are not always good things. Maybe you're a prophet? They were not excepted either .lol Poor man.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

It's all well and good but we don't have any scholarships left for a point guard. . .so I don't see us blazing a trail to the NCAA's, we might be a bubble team though. After next year it's going to be ugly, unless we magically come up with some more five star recruits. Scholarships have consequences, and players like Richardson, Chievous and Washpun aren't going to cut it.

AGAIN with the scholarships treated as if they were engraved in stone by God! You just WILL NEVER LEARN. Scholarships are--ONE MORE TIME!!!-- ONE-YEAR DEALS!!! They can be and are withdrawn ALL THE TIME for the mutual good of the players and the program. Pearl did it at least a half-dozen times himself. Calapari dismissed perhaps a half-dozen players in his first year at UK. EVERYBODY understands this but YOU!

So again, are you a LIAR, who claims not to know something when you do, or a FOOL who CANNOT or WILL NOT correct your ignorance when given the chance or unable to let go of ANY of your preconceived notions. BTW, Richardson and Washpun are doing well enough and will get better and neither you nor anybody else outside the program knows enough about Chievous yet to judge him objectively.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to iowavol:

I'm betting Harris wishes he stayed one more year at UT. 0-2 last night in a loss to the Bulls. Other rookie on Bucks scored 17. We'd be a much better team with him on it.

Harris has already had several double-figure games. He is not starting and his team is not good, but he can console himself by looking at his monthly bank statement. I agree that the Vols would be better off with him here, but it is hard to argue that HE would be better off.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

Harris needed another year but when UT bailed on the coaching staff his decision was made. Not saying he definitely stayed if Pearl and staff were retained but when they were not, there was no chance. And take this year over last year if you want to. But let's don't forget the half-dozen years before that. Remember? The best years in UT basketball history? Oh yeah, that was when Pearl coached the team.

Actually, Harris was very complimentary of Martin when he worked out with the team before departing for the Bucks' preseason camp, but he had already been drafted by that point. Although I think most college players would become better by spending more time playing college ball and being older and more mature by the time they go pro, it is hard to blame any player for not going for the big bucks when they are offered. Hopson was a completely different case, since NOBODY who had any responsibility for drafting and coaching NBA players gave him any more than the longest odds of ever being drafted.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VolFanInTheBoro:

Your user name is wrong, you don't matter

Actually, his screen name merely asks the question, if rather ambiguously. You and most other posters on here have answered the question insofar it applies to his opinions.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to doesitmatter:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Worse than last year". Let's see, a team with four first-time starters, one of whom should still be in high school, is not as good as a team with SIX seniors, most of whom had been in the program as long as their coach and who in fact were all recruited BY their coach. Brilliant, Captain Obvious! BTW, I don't recall Pearl ever recruiting a class with about four of the top-10-rated players in the country, or any other coach or team for that matter.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to HtownVol:

Watching the Bulls/Bucks right now.

CJ Watson AND Tobias Harris on the floor at THE SAME TIME!!! In the 2nd qtr.

How about that?
Yeah, beat Auburn.NO TURNOVERS!

How good would this team be with Tobias Harris? Another what if to think about...

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Bubba_Knows:

Agree. Hopson bolted and it was a HUGE mistake. I could tell Hopson was not NBA material. First, he wasn't a consistent outside shooter. Slashers are a dime a dozen in the NBA. Second, he was often lazy on defense. Third, he played soft and looked like he wasn't giving 100% when he played at TN. I do think he has the talent, but he needed a tough coach like Martin to get him out of his shell. I don't know if one year under Martin would have been enough, but at least he would have gotten to enjoy his Senior year and being the star of the team. Sad that he listenned to the wrong people.

First of all, I'm not sure Martin would have even recruited Hopson or that Hopson would have signed with him if he had. However, IF Martin had had him from the beginning and IF he had bought in to what Martin could teach him, Hopson would likely be in a much better place than he is today, wherever that is. As it is, he is likely to be a subject for one of those "Whatever happened to...?" shows or articles, if anybody really wanted to know that.

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to johnlg00:

First of all, I'm not sure Martin would have even recruited Hopson or that Hopson would have signed with him if he had. However, IF Martin had had him from the beginning and IF he had bought in to what Martin could teach him, Hopson would likely be in a much better place than he is today, wherever that is. As it is, he is likely to be a subject for one of those "Whatever happened to...?" shows or articles, if anybody really wanted to know that.

Might be true. Might not. What is proven fact is that Pearl got ten times more out of the team he inherited than Peterson did. I would doubt any college coach outside of maybe Duke would have passed on Hopson. He was talented, just did not seem interested in reaching his potential. You can try to motivate players but in reality the player must motivate himself.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to jt45:

The vols should take this one, the best win Auburn has had was Old Miss, the rest of their schedule was mostly fluff.

If Golden can get the offense clicking, UT wins by 10. If not then turnovers will kill us again and we lose. Turnovers are whats keeping this team from winning alot of their close games.

Very true; the Vols should take this one. However, I saw Ole Miss play Florida the other night and the Rebs, or whatever they are called these days, looked better than I thought. I had put Ole Miss in the Vols' "likely-win" category, but now it looks like another struggle. They REALLY defend and pound the boards. They can't shoot but they out-rebounded the Gators by about 20 and were in the game to the very end.

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

Today the Vols will struggle vs an Auburn defense that now slows the pace which should leave a grinding defensive battle. Auburn has 6-10 jr. C Rob Chubb (9 rpg last three) and 6-8 sr. F Kenny Gabriel (11.5 ppg, 8 rpg) to outbattle the Vols' "bigs" in the blocks. Tigers also have an undervalued 6-1 jr. G Frankie Sullivan who is on fire lately with 18 ppg last 4 outings. UT may win, but it will not come easily.
Elsewhere in the SEC Miss State once again catches a team off the dreaded Thurs-Sat game senario. Last week Miss St beat Vandy off a Vandy thursday night game ( no rest or game planning time). Today they catch Florida in the same situational play off Miss Thurs 'so Florida -9 looks like bad money. Miss St has two towers while Florida is a guard team.
Arkansas goes to Bama and the Piggies have been terrible on the road(0-4). Ark has allowed 78ppg on the road so look for a Bama blowout.
Vandy is at home and plays a red hot MTSU team that is 18-2 with a win at UCLA. Vandy is 9-1 the last ten with blowouts over Bama and UT and the only loss was the Saturday quick turnaround game where they lost to Miss St after leading by doubles. MTSU is very good, but they will not beat Top 10 talent and experience at memorial Gym.
Kentucky leads the Nation in defensive shooting percentage (36% allowed) and have 6 scoring in double digits for the most balanced offense in the Nation. LSU has a 7 footer inside, but he faces the best shot blocker in the SEC. Kentucky wins.
Miss plays as tough at home as any team in the SEC going 13-1 the last 14 with the only loss to Florida on Thursday night. But today they play with no rest or time for game planning on the quick turnaround. S Car may steal one here.

born2ride writes:

The Vols will beat Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina at home. But we may not win any another games this year.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to doesitmatter:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm not satisfied with last place but I don't get on another teams site and try to stir the pot and instigate. I don't have enough time to care or worry about going to another teams site

Ironcity writes:

in response to Bubba_Knows:

Agree. Hopson bolted and it was a HUGE mistake. I could tell Hopson was not NBA material. First, he wasn't a consistent outside shooter. Slashers are a dime a dozen in the NBA. Second, he was often lazy on defense. Third, he played soft and looked like he wasn't giving 100% when he played at TN. I do think he has the talent, but he needed a tough coach like Martin to get him out of his shell. I don't know if one year under Martin would have been enough, but at least he would have gotten to enjoy his Senior year and being the star of the team. Sad that he listenned to the wrong people.

Hopson for whatever reason was one of the most hated players UT has ever had. If I was him, I would have left for that reason alone (and I think he did). He had a number of shortcomings but most of the attacks against him were personnel. We fans throw the words lazy, heart and character around when we have no idea what is going on with the players.

That kid struggled with the expectation of being the highest rated recruit UT had in the Pearl era. Sometimes that happens. If you looked at how he played and you knew nothing about the expectations heaped upon him by unknowing fans, you would say the kid had a good career and really helped the team. Instead we focus on everything he didn't do.

I love Tennessee but I am often ashamed at how we treat our stars when they don't meet our over bloated expectations.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

The real issue is UT on the road...of UT's 4 losses, 3 were on the road. The home loss was a nail-biter against #1 Kentucky.... I don't think UT will be clawing it's way out of the cellar as many on here apparently do. They'll be about .500 in the SEC

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Hopson for whatever reason was one of the most hated players UT has ever had. If I was him, I would have left for that reason alone (and I think he did). He had a number of shortcomings but most of the attacks against him were personnel. We fans throw the words lazy, heart and character around when we have no idea what is going on with the players.

That kid struggled with the expectation of being the highest rated recruit UT had in the Pearl era. Sometimes that happens. If you looked at how he played and you knew nothing about the expectations heaped upon him by unknowing fans, you would say the kid had a good career and really helped the team. Instead we focus on everything he didn't do.

I love Tennessee but I am often ashamed at how we treat our stars when they don't meet our over bloated expectations.

Good post. I too have said things on here about Hopson that I probably should not have. I never heard anything bad about Scotty as a person and know nothing about his academic performance. I just think that perhaps his HS success came too easily to him and he never really adjusted to the vastly greater demands of college ball. I also think he was ill-served by some who hoped to profit from him and fed him an unrealistic view of his game and his pro prospects. It is possible that some of the negative attitudes of some fans toward him drove him into the embrace of those who affirmed him, even if they did so with ulterior motives. We could probably all be a little more temperate in our public statements about guys who after all are only kids under more scrutiny and pressure than most of us will ever experience.

BigHouse_of_IceGulp writes:

I wish we would not have so many unforced turnovers, very frustrating. It appears passing is not stressed enough in practice.

givehim6 writes:

in response to FeelVol:

I'd take this years team over last years anytime with the exception of Harris of course.

Really? Even with the coaching problems UT had last year UT still made it to the NCAA, right now the best chance this team has is the NIT. Yea I see how this years team looks better.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to givehim6:

Really? Even with the coaching problems UT had last year UT still made it to the NCAA, right now the best chance this team has is the NIT. Yea I see how this years team looks better.

He probably means he feels that this year's team competes and performs at a higher level of their actual potential more consistently than last year's team did. If so, I agree with him. Last year's team had more talent and had a better record, but nearly everybody, including many of them, felt that they underachieved much of the time.

eVOLve writes:

I really think they CCM should put in Galen Campbell who was a really good PG for Fulton and Bearden High School.

westknoxrepub writes:

Truth of the matter is it shouldn't take three years to turn a basketball program around. One or two players can make a big difference, ie Stokes, but again we have no scholarships to give unless we follow the ideas of someone and just arbitrarily dismiss players. After three years if we haven't made the NCAA tournament (which based on the way things are going we won't) Martin will be on the hot seat if not gone, after four years with zero NCAA tournament appearances, especially after going six years in a row, he'll be gone without question.

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to johnlg00:

He probably means he feels that this year's team competes and performs at a higher level of their actual potential more consistently than last year's team did. If so, I agree with him. Last year's team had more talent and had a better record, but nearly everybody, including many of them, felt that they underachieved much of the time.

Yeah and this year's team almost beat Duke, Memphis and Kentucky, did beat Florida and UConn, then got beat by a bad Georgia team and Austin freakin' Peay, for God's sake. You could say they quit in their last game, and you could say they regressed since the early season.

But you don't. Instead you and others harp about Pearl's only sub-par season at the helm. You deride him for lying and cheating which, believe me, pales in comparison to things the Kentucky, Syracuse and UConn coaches have done (and that's just what we know about, who knows what else they and other so-called legends have done) and nothing Pearl did should have led to his firing. You seem to hate every player Pearl had who didn't live up to expectations, even when they were class acts like Hopson, whose only mistake off the court was trusting some of his older teammates.

You and others give Martin all the credit for signing Stokes, yet give Pearl no credit for all the work he did that allowed UT to even be in the mix. Why is that?

underthehill writes:

I look forward to Washpun improving his play enough to take point guard position..may not happen but I sure wish it would..he is an excellent full court defender.. Golden could then be the answer to finding outside scoring..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Truth of the matter is it shouldn't take three years to turn a basketball program around. One or two players can make a big difference, ie Stokes, but again we have no scholarships to give unless we follow the ideas of someone and just arbitrarily dismiss players. After three years if we haven't made the NCAA tournament (which based on the way things are going we won't) Martin will be on the hot seat if not gone, after four years with zero NCAA tournament appearances, especially after going six years in a row, he'll be gone without question.

Scholarships--ONE YEAR DEALS. Withdrawn ALL THE TIME for mutual good of player and program. Pearl did it; Calapari did it; all coaches do it. We'll see how Martin is doing in three years. What we, and especially you, think about it in the meantime is irrelevant. If you can be mind-numbingly repetitive in presenting CLEARLY erroneous arguments, I can do no less in presenting the truth.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

Yeah and this year's team almost beat Duke, Memphis and Kentucky, did beat Florida and UConn, then got beat by a bad Georgia team and Austin freakin' Peay, for God's sake. You could say they quit in their last game, and you could say they regressed since the early season.

But you don't. Instead you and others harp about Pearl's only sub-par season at the helm. You deride him for lying and cheating which, believe me, pales in comparison to things the Kentucky, Syracuse and UConn coaches have done (and that's just what we know about, who knows what else they and other so-called legends have done) and nothing Pearl did should have led to his firing. You seem to hate every player Pearl had who didn't live up to expectations, even when they were class acts like Hopson, whose only mistake off the court was trusting some of his older teammates.

You and others give Martin all the credit for signing Stokes, yet give Pearl no credit for all the work he did that allowed UT to even be in the mix. Why is that?

In replying to my post, you put an awful lot of words in my mouth, friend. People who criticize Martin's far younger and less-experienced team for being up and down seem to forget that Pearl's far more experienced and higher-regarded team did the same thing long after Pearl should have had a squad built to his specifications.

I agree that the team has played unevenly, sometimes pretty well and sometimes pretty badly, about what you would expect of players who have never had to carry a team themselves.

I have never derided Pearl for lying and cheating. I have frequently been on record to say that his infractions, such as they were, did not in any way amount to "cheating". They were however documented and prosecuted by the NCAA as "lying" and he had to pay the price. I said repeatedly that UT derived no competitive advantage from what he did and that the punishment was excessive. However, the resulting publicity and the possibility of harsh NCAA sanctions probably made his dismissal inevitable, if regrettable.

The only thing I have said about any of Pearl's ex-players is that they are incomplete in their skill sets and, in part as a result of not seeing much action under Pearl, are unaccustomed to playing major minutes in major roles. In the case of Hopson in particular, the only bad thing I ever said about him was that he lacked mental toughness on the court, hardly a moral offense.

I most certainly did give credit to Pearl for recruiting Stokes. I gave Martin credit for reopening a line of communication that seemed closed with Pearl's departure and closing the deal with him.

For the most part, you have written some good, thoughtful stuff on here, even if I didn't agree with all of it. When I have questioned you, I have tried to respond to what you wrote rather than what I thought you meant. I tried to separate what you said from what others said who might coincidentally have had similar views. I merely request that you extend me the same courtesy. There are too many people on here who misquote and distort the words of others and question the motives, morality, and ancestry of those who have different views. I have tried to not to be one of those, and so have you, at least until now.

In the future, please try to respond to what I say in your attacks, not what you think I MIGHT have said. Then we will at least be communicating on the same level even if we don't agree on everything.

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