Vols happy to be back home for NIT

Cam Tatum on playing in the NIT

Tennessee's Cameron Tatum is welcoming a return to Thompson-Boling Arena with open arms after kissing it goodbye.

"There's nothing like playing at home, having the crowd cheering you on," said the fifth-year senior, who kissed the Tennessee logo at center court after closing the regular season with a 68-61 win over Vanderbilt on March 3.

The Vols (18-14) open the NIT tonight (TV: ESPNU, 8 p.m.) against Savannah State (21-11) having won 12 of their past 13 home games, including the last five.

By earning one of four No. 1 seeds in the 32-team field, Tennessee could host as many as three games before traveling to New York City to play in Madison Square Garden in the semifinals (March 27) and finals (March 29).

With a victory tonight, the Vols would play the winner of tonight's game between Marshall (21-13) and Middle Tennessee State (25-6).

But Tatum, who has averaged 14 points over the past three games, said he knows better than to allow his younger teammates to get too far ahead of themselves.

"Right now we're not worried about going to Madison Square Garden," Tatum said before Monday's practice. "We're worried about getting ready for Savannah State."

The Tigers earned an automatic bid to the NIT after winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season crown. Savannah State had won 13 straight games before getting upset by Hampton in their MEAC tournament opener.

"We know any team can play well at the Division I level," said UT sophomore

Jordan McRae, who grew up close enough to Savannah that he played pickup games on the Tigers' campus. "We proved any team can play with some of the losses we had."

No doubt, the Vols — and the NCAA tournament selection committee — certainly took note of UT's 74-70 home loss to Austin Peay on Dec. 10. The loss played a large role in the Vols' finishing with a suspect 85 RPI despite playing the nation's 40th-toughest schedule.

The Governors have an RPI of 192 — Savannah State's is 191.

"It definitely feels good to be playing in front of the fans; our crowd always brings great energy," McRae said. "But (the Tigers) mentality is gonna be this is their chance to really shine by playing a big school on ESPN, so they're gonna come out playing hard against us."

UT junior Skylar McBee, coming off a 15-point effort in the 77-72 overtime loss to Ole Miss at the SEC tournament in New Orleans last Friday, said he believes the Vols will be ready to match the Tigers' intensity.

"A lot of it has to do with Coach (Cuonzo) Martin; he's not going to allow us to be down in the dumps," McBee said. "We've been playing really well at home,and I look for that to keep going."

Tatum said he's determined to finish his career in Thompson-Boling with a win.

"That's my intention now," Tatum said, "but more so for the team's purpose."

This marks the Vols' 12th appearance in the NIT. Tennessee is 12-11 all-time in the tournament, though it has dropped four straight and hasn't won an NIT game since scoring a 71-68 victory over Alabama-Birmingham in Thompson-Boling Arena in 1992.

Free Tickets: The first 500 students in line at Thompson-Boling Arena receive free admission. After the first 500, UT students will be admitted for $4. All other seats are general admission and cost $10 apiece.

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

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Comments » 46

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ScoonerTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I know you think you are a comic, Scooner, but that was pretty low. Don't you wish you had thought a little more before posting that? I know I do. You don't have to try to be clever EVERY time out.

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to ScoonerTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tatum, despite his inconsistencies, has brought his game every time to the court, for two different coaches. The kiss wasn't a planned thing, but was spontaneous. Besides, this guy is a UT graduate (a true student-athlete) and seems to be trying to do everything the right way. For some reason, your focus on the lips seemed to be a bit unusual. Do you have some unresolved issues from childhood? Maybe a little negative namecalling in the neighborhood? You are like several others on this site, and I don't know whether to treat you with disgust or pity. My guess is you are not worth either one.

GreeneVol writes:

You bet GBO! And no, it doesn't matter what negativity you try to bring on here...

Gotta love this year's opportunity at any type of bonus round after preseason expectations.

CrankE writes:

in response to 10seVol85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tennessee needs to welcome this oppportunity to continue playing in March.

For some reason, each year when the calendar turns to March-regardless of the coach or the strength of the team, UT mens basketball turns to mush.

If UT is to ever break out of this cycle, then they must develop an enduring toughness that lasts throughout the month of March and even into April. The only way to do that is to play through it. This is an opportunity for them to do just that.

TkelynN writes:

It is pretty remarkable to think that UT is a win a way from matching last seasons win total at 19. Also they went 10-6 and finished 2nd in the SEC. Last years team finished 7th overall with an 8-8 record. So statistically speaking, this years team is equal to or better than last years team already. I loved Bruce but he lost his mojo the past couple of years, so it was good time to make the change.

Jakevol writes:

Go Vols. Here in N.Carolina,, it's all about Duke, NCSU and Tarheels who are in the big dance. Hope Vols can win some home games in the NIT. Look forward watching them on the tube.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I'm looking forward to the game tonight. Savannah State should be a decent opponent.

The only thing is that I can't watch it because it's on espn UUUUUU idiots. Charter Cable that is!! Doesn't show espn u in Cleveland (usually).
So I may not get to watch. But if they aren't all on ESPN UUUUUUUidiotschartercable then I may get to watch the next games.

ONT AT A TIME though vols. Beat Sav. ST. whatever their team mascot is.

SummittsCourt writes:

I think the Vols can win this thing. Lets go Vols!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I'm looking forward to the game tonight. Savannah State should be a decent opponent.

The only thing is that I can't watch it because it's on espn UUUUUU idiots. Charter Cable that is!! Doesn't show espn u in Cleveland (usually).
So I may not get to watch. But if they aren't all on ESPN UUUUUUUidiotschartercable then I may get to watch the next games.

ONT AT A TIME though vols. Beat Sav. ST. whatever their team mascot is.

TIGERS! BEAT the Tigers. Savannah State Tigers.

I didn't mean any disrespect to the Tigers but I really didn't know their name. So I apologize to my cousin in Savannah, Ga. (Who is a UTC grad anyhow)

TennesseeFab5 writes:

in response to TkelynN:

It is pretty remarkable to think that UT is a win a way from matching last seasons win total at 19. Also they went 10-6 and finished 2nd in the SEC. Last years team finished 7th overall with an 8-8 record. So statistically speaking, this years team is equal to or better than last years team already. I loved Bruce but he lost his mojo the past couple of years, so it was good time to make the change.

You better not let ole WestKnox hear you say that. I loved Bruce Pearl too, but WestKnox thinks he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Bruce had better talent on the floor last year, but he had the same overall record and a less SEC record than Cuonzo Martin has. The funny thing is for a man that according to WestKnox, "can't coach at this level" has a better record with the guys that were sitting on the bench for Bruce the most part of last year. Not bad for a man that supposedly "can't coach."

movinonup writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I'm looking forward to the game tonight. Savannah State should be a decent opponent.

The only thing is that I can't watch it because it's on espn UUUUUU idiots. Charter Cable that is!! Doesn't show espn u in Cleveland (usually).
So I may not get to watch. But if they aren't all on ESPN UUUUUUUidiotschartercable then I may get to watch the next games.

ONT AT A TIME though vols. Beat Sav. ST. whatever their team mascot is.

I am in same boat - cable provider does not carry ESPNU and internet provider does not give access to ESPN3 so I am basically screwed.....

Anyone know of a site carrying a live stream of the game other than ESPN??

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I'm looking forward to the game tonight. Savannah State should be a decent opponent.

The only thing is that I can't watch it because it's on espn UUUUUU idiots. Charter Cable that is!! Doesn't show espn u in Cleveland (usually).
So I may not get to watch. But if they aren't all on ESPN UUUUUUUidiotschartercable then I may get to watch the next games.

ONT AT A TIME though vols. Beat Sav. ST. whatever their team mascot is.

Try ESPN3 on the computer if you get it. Future games will likely be on ESPN or ESPN2. The semifinals and finals in NYC will most likely be on ESPN. If none of that works for you, just listen on the Vol Network through utsports.com if you can't hear it over the air. Whatever you do, try to project the positive vibes so the Vols will win enough to be on the true national feed.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Funny that YOU should say that! The ONLY virtue of your posts is that they are generally short. They still lack any semblance of pro-Vol sentiment, beyond your somewhat equivocal screen name, or any real information.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I'm looking forward to the game tonight. Savannah State should be a decent opponent.

The only thing is that I can't watch it because it's on espn UUUUUU idiots. Charter Cable that is!! Doesn't show espn u in Cleveland (usually).
So I may not get to watch. But if they aren't all on ESPN UUUUUUUidiotschartercable then I may get to watch the next games.

ONT AT A TIME though vols. Beat Sav. ST. whatever their team mascot is.

I recommend getting satellite before football season. I dropped cable 20 years ago and will never ever go back.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to TkelynN:

It is pretty remarkable to think that UT is a win a way from matching last seasons win total at 19. Also they went 10-6 and finished 2nd in the SEC. Last years team finished 7th overall with an 8-8 record. So statistically speaking, this years team is equal to or better than last years team already. I loved Bruce but he lost his mojo the past couple of years, so it was good time to make the change.

Last season was a throw away year. Bruce stopped coaching in December after the NCAA president visited Knoxville and whispered in certain ears. The team stopped playing after that. The main reason they won 8 was because Tobias was determined to get drafted.

VolJunkie writes:

in response to doesitmatter:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

May you and your proctologist have "one shining moment" ...

Go Vols!

volcycle writes:

Wish I still lived in Knoxville. My 6 year old son and I would love to see this game live tonight.

LSG410EC83 writes:

Getting ready to head to Knoxville to watch my Vols. What a year. Shut many naysayers up, and at one time seemed to shut all of them up when we had our run. Look forward to the run we will make in the NIT. Just a jumpstart for next year. Win or lose, IT IS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL. GO BIG ORANGE.

justafan4ut writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(hand raised like in school) I DO, I DO!!!!,,,,A-HOLE

DougSharp writes:

in response to TkelynN:

It is pretty remarkable to think that UT is a win a way from matching last seasons win total at 19. Also they went 10-6 and finished 2nd in the SEC. Last years team finished 7th overall with an 8-8 record. So statistically speaking, this years team is equal to or better than last years team already. I loved Bruce but he lost his mojo the past couple of years, so it was good time to make the change.

Tk, I disagree only with the comment that "Bruce Pearl lost his mojo" the last couple years at Tenn. I don't think that could be possible for a guy like Pearl, but this I do believe; A coach with Pearl's level of ego and past success seems to get to a point where they start to believe they can make champions out of an average/above average player compared to many other coaches who only seem to be able to win as long as they have "great" talent.

So at some point,(I theorize)they resolve themselves (the Pearl's of the BB world) to sign the 2/3 star players and quit chasing after the 5 star, cream of the crop type players the Kentucky's, Duke's, and the Tar Heels reload with each year.

To Pearle's credit, as well as Coach Bob Knight in the past, and a few others, they create very competitive teams out of lesser talent that the Big Programs that are successful nearly year in - year out. They humbly say they recruit players that can play within their system as opposed to the coaches that get the very best and develop a system that matches that level of talent. See the recent success of Kentucky for a view of that type of system.

The irony in Bruce's situation is that he is one heck of a recruiter / salesman / promoter, yet he seemed satisfied landing only a level of talent he believed he could make champions out of as opposed to going after the very best of the very best.

That being said, I never saw a Bruce Pearl team I didn't like, and thus far I see Coach Martin on his way to developing a team that can match the same level of effort Pearl was getting.

I'm looking forward to seeing just how far Martin can take this program, as well as where Pearl will eventually leave his mark again as a head coach extraordinaire.

carbonzip writes:

I thought the Vols played a tremendous game against Vanderbilt. I am happy the team got into a tourmament and look forward to going to tonight's game. The SSU coach played pg for John Thompson at Georgetown and will probably make it competitive.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Try ESPN3 on the computer if you get it. Future games will likely be on ESPN or ESPN2. The semifinals and finals in NYC will most likely be on ESPN. If none of that works for you, just listen on the Vol Network through utsports.com if you can't hear it over the air. Whatever you do, try to project the positive vibes so the Vols will win enough to be on the true national feed.

Don't worry John I gotcha. I usually can get ESPN 3. I know I can listen to utsports. But I haven't seen anywhere that says it'll be on espn3. Just espnU and on my computer there's a huge difference. so far. Charter in Cleveland doesn't carry U on basic cable or even extended basic cable and internet. If it's on 3 then I can prob get it. hope so.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I recommend getting satellite before football season. I dropped cable 20 years ago and will never ever go back.

I had satellite in Dalton Ga and it didn't show UT bball games except like it does here. I think that was DISH?? Forgot. I DID get the stupid Big ten network and almost became a fan of Mich st while there. That was a close call. They didn't even show most of the Georgia games.lol

mocsandvolsfan writes:

What I really need to do is GO to the games. Cut TV and go to the games!! I bet I'd save money...well if I borrowed an electric car from someone.

Oh well. Go Vols Beat Tigers.

13ontheway writes:

You gumps deserve NOT IN TOURNAMENT... All your programs are $hit...

Colliervol writes:

in response to TennesseeFab5:

You better not let ole WestKnox hear you say that. I loved Bruce Pearl too, but WestKnox thinks he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Bruce had better talent on the floor last year, but he had the same overall record and a less SEC record than Cuonzo Martin has. The funny thing is for a man that according to WestKnox, "can't coach at this level" has a better record with the guys that were sitting on the bench for Bruce the most part of last year. Not bad for a man that supposedly "can't coach."

To be fair to Bruce, I think last year can be written off to the cloud hanging over Bruce and the team. One would have to admit that there was a lot of distraction going on. I have every confidence that if Bruce had done the right thing and come clean, the whole mess would have gone by the wayside and Bruce would have rediscovered his "mojo". Can't forget what a good coach he was when he took UT to a level we had never been to. Doesn't mean much now though other than some great memories and it appears we have a keeper in Coach Martin.

Colliervol writes:

in response to amyinsparta:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Whole bunch of glass-half-empty folks in this world Amy. Try to ignore them. They aren't good for much in anything in life. They usually just serve to get in the way of successful people.

Many of our "fans" (and I use that term loosely) are from the what-are-you-doing-for-me-now generation and don't have a clue when it comes to what it takes to build or rebuild a program.

SonsOfTennessee writes:

in response to 13ontheway:

You gumps deserve NOT IN TOURNAMENT... All your programs are $hit...

Wow! Did you type all of that on your own? You really sound like brilliant individual...now deliver me my pizza...B**CH

Colliervol writes:

in response to 13ontheway:

You gumps deserve NOT IN TOURNAMENT... All your programs are $hit...

Thanks for the highly intelligent insight. I'll wager you stayed up all night to come up with that one. Don't waste our time if you can't bring more to the page than that.

Wait, what am I saying? 99.9% of the trolls on this site don't bring much more than that. Never mind. Continue to honor us with your obvious wit and knowledge Forrest. I need some comic relief every now and then.

SonsOfTennessee writes:

in response to 13ontheway:

You gumps deserve NOT IN TOURNAMENT... All your programs are $hit...

And I'm assuming your screen name references the number of illegitimate children you've fathered...way to go chump

johnlg00 writes:

in response to DougSharp:

Tk, I disagree only with the comment that "Bruce Pearl lost his mojo" the last couple years at Tenn. I don't think that could be possible for a guy like Pearl, but this I do believe; A coach with Pearl's level of ego and past success seems to get to a point where they start to believe they can make champions out of an average/above average player compared to many other coaches who only seem to be able to win as long as they have "great" talent.

So at some point,(I theorize)they resolve themselves (the Pearl's of the BB world) to sign the 2/3 star players and quit chasing after the 5 star, cream of the crop type players the Kentucky's, Duke's, and the Tar Heels reload with each year.

To Pearle's credit, as well as Coach Bob Knight in the past, and a few others, they create very competitive teams out of lesser talent that the Big Programs that are successful nearly year in - year out. They humbly say they recruit players that can play within their system as opposed to the coaches that get the very best and develop a system that matches that level of talent. See the recent success of Kentucky for a view of that type of system.

The irony in Bruce's situation is that he is one heck of a recruiter / salesman / promoter, yet he seemed satisfied landing only a level of talent he believed he could make champions out of as opposed to going after the very best of the very best.

That being said, I never saw a Bruce Pearl team I didn't like, and thus far I see Coach Martin on his way to developing a team that can match the same level of effort Pearl was getting.

I'm looking forward to seeing just how far Martin can take this program, as well as where Pearl will eventually leave his mark again as a head coach extraordinaire.

Doug, you know I like your posts, but it seems to me that you have Pearl's career backwards. The stars on his first couple of teams were at best 3-star talent and one of the key players was JuJuan Smith, a walk-on. Subsequently, he signed 5-stars like Ramar Smith, Duke Crews, Scotty Hopson, and Tobias Harris, along with 4-stars like Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism, Trae Golden, Kenny Hall, etc., etc.

If anything, he seemed to have MORE trouble handling and motivating guys with that level of talent than he did his virtual cast-offs earlier in his career. I would say that the pressure, whether he put it on himself or not, to recruit the same kind of guys UK, Duke, Kansas, and UNC were after was what led him to "bend" the rules that eventually caused his downfall. I think his problem was not that he became satisfied with lesser talent, it was that he came to believe that he couldn't continue to win or win bigger without superior talent, and it was the lengths he went to to sign and maintain those guys that led to his coaching demise. I must say that I did not like Pearl's later teams as well as I did the scrappy overachievers of his first couple of years. He didn't seem to get as much out of superior talent.

As for Martin, with the exception of Stokes, his recruiting has not been overly impressive to some. I do believe that some of these guys will become decent SEC players going forward. He SHOULD be able to chase the higher-rated players now that he is at UT and has a track record to recruit on, but as I said in another post, he strikes me as a "program" coach who is more interested in getting guys who can play his system and grow in experience with an orientation to team play than he is in recruiting super-stars as such.

I liked Pearl while he was here, though I DIDN'T like some aspects of his in-game coaching and of course I didn't like the things that led to his dismissal. I like Martin now, in particular for what I know of his character, though it is yet to be determined how soon, or even if, he can reach and hopefully surpass the level of achievement Pearl reached at his best.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Don't worry John I gotcha. I usually can get ESPN 3. I know I can listen to utsports. But I haven't seen anywhere that says it'll be on espn3. Just espnU and on my computer there's a huge difference. so far. Charter in Cleveland doesn't carry U on basic cable or even extended basic cable and internet. If it's on 3 then I can prob get it. hope so.

It was my understanding that anything on any of ESPN's broadcast channels was on ESPN3, though I could be wrong. You likely won't see any of the NCAA games on there since CBS calls the shots on them even though they are on a number of channels.

johnlg00 writes:

I do wonder about the time of the game. The article still says it is at 8:00 PM but my local paper's sports-on-TV section says it is on at 7:00. I went by what KNS said once before and turned on the game just before half-time because of it. I would hate to think I made plans to GO to the game thinking it wasn't until 8:00!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

It was my understanding that anything on any of ESPN's broadcast channels was on ESPN3, though I could be wrong. You likely won't see any of the NCAA games on there since CBS calls the shots on them even though they are on a number of channels.

not the case here on extended basic. This year when it says espnU so far it hasn't shown it on espn3. I have tried believe me. Maybe tonight will be the exception. If not then I'll just enjoy the utports gang.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I do wonder about the time of the game. The article still says it is at 8:00 PM but my local paper's sports-on-TV section says it is on at 7:00. I went by what KNS said once before and turned on the game just before half-time because of it. I would hate to think I made plans to GO to the game thinking it wasn't until 8:00!

UTSports starts at 7:30 so gametime is prob 8pm.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to movinonup:

I am in same boat - cable provider does not carry ESPNU and internet provider does not give access to ESPN3 so I am basically screwed.....

Anyone know of a site carrying a live stream of the game other than ESPN??

ESPN ESPN2 and ESPNU Games on my cable channels show 7-9 and 9-11 and 7:30 PM. This site says game is on at 8PM?

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to Bubba_Knows:

ESPN ESPN2 and ESPNU Games on my cable channels show 7-9 and 9-11 and 7:30 PM. This site says game is on at 8PM?

My cable provider does not match what ESPN says which matches what KNS says (8 PM).
http://espn.go.com/espntv/onair/index

OrangeBeer writes:

in response to movinonup:

I am in same boat - cable provider does not carry ESPNU and internet provider does not give access to ESPN3 so I am basically screwed.....

Anyone know of a site carrying a live stream of the game other than ESPN??

Here is a link to the guy I used in South Korea...

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%...

Passcode = govols

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Goody goody!! ESPN3 is ON!!!!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Sorry Orange beer. Usually I don't get it either.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Uhhh I mean movinonup!

clvolfan writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Might need to hold off on that bracket for now.
this team is not into it.CCM said Maymon might play if this was a championship game.Well,he might thisn seriously about getting him in 11:27 to go in the game.If they don't win this one,it will be like the Ky FB game all over.
Another thing,We are comcast here,hind tit again,not HD,but other teams are on ESPN-HD.
Guess someone around here do not carry much weight.

VolGrad writes:

Saw both good and ugly in this game. Considering we were without our anchor, Maymon, I guess it was all in all a good game. Nice way to extend the lead again at the end after losing the initial big lead.

Go Vols!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to ScoonerTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry but I just can't let Scooner be last on.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to VolGrad:

Saw both good and ugly in this game. Considering we were without our anchor, Maymon, I guess it was all in all a good game. Nice way to extend the lead again at the end after losing the initial big lead.

Go Vols!

exactly. It's always good to win...even ugly wins. Really though it wasn't all that ugly. They just forced us to play mostly.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

UTSports starts at 7:30 so gametime is prob 8pm.

That was the time and I did get to see the whole thing. I logged on to ESPN3 to watch it after 9:00PM because a show that my wife likes comes on TV then. In general, she gives me a pass any time UT is playing, but when alternatives are available, like ESPN3, when a show she likes comes on, I graciously turn over the TV to her. She doesn't watch TV as much as I do, so I am happy to let her have it when she wants it. Anything to maintain peace in the household, don't ya know!

Of course, I should have known not to pay too much attention to the local paper's sports listings. As often as not, they neglected to list the SEC network football and basketball games, so I always had to check the TV itself to see when they were on. Not only that, but get this: last week they didn't even list the ACC tournament games and I live just outside Greensboro, NC! People around here are crazy about ACC basketball and the local paper didn't even bother to tell when the games were on!

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