Men's basketball arrived Monday night and in the nick of time.
I needed a defense fix.
Defense has been a sore subject on campus the past couple of months. A lot of yards and points surrendered over at the football stadium have led to a lot of hand wringing.
You want defense, come to Thompson-Boling Arena on Friday night when Cuonzo Martin's Tennessee hoopsters open the season against Kennesaw State.
We got a taste Monday night in a 99-57 win over some team allegedly from Memphis named Victory University.
It was only an exhibition, but you couldn't tell it, judging from the sweat factor.
"Any SEC point guard will tell you,'' said UT guard Trae Golden, "you come to Tennessee, whether you play in the post or on the perimeter, we're gonna bring it every time.
"We're gonna play hard. That's our M.O.''
I got a first-hand look at how hard.
With 6 minutes, 36 seconds to play in what was then an 80-46 game, Yemi Makanjuola, all 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds of him, chased a loose ball like it was a fumble at the goal line in the Super Bowl.
He crashed head-long under the baseline table where a couple of us media types were sitting. Another foot and I would have been out for the year, or at least walking on a cane like Derek Dooley.
With 1:36 on the clock, freshman guard Armani Moore rejected a 3-point shot into the side-court big-spender seats. He wasn't conceding an inch, no matter the clock or the score.
This is what you can expect from Martin's teams: a bunch of arms flying, hands reaching and hips banging.
Now they haven't exactly achieved perfection yet. There were times when the Vols were downright bad defensively last year in Martin's first season. The last five or six minutes of that MTSU loss in the NIT come to mind.
But on the whole, hard-nosed defense and rebounding are going to carry the Vols to wherever it is they're heading.
With opening night bearing down, they know it. There's no uncertainty.
They've had a full season and an offseason to understand what Martin's preaching.
Martin's second team, in stark contrast to his first, returns 83 percent of its scoring and, more importantly, 78 percent of the minutes played.
Subtract Cam Tatum, a starter, and Renaldo Woolridge's occasional contributions and virtually everyone else is back.
I asked a couple of the guys how this team might differ from last year's and got the same answer.
"It's different because we're older now,'' Golden said. "Last year, even Cam was young because we didn't know Coach Martin.
"Even the new guys can look to us 'cause we know what Coach Martin wants.''
And you, Jordan McRae?
"I don't think this game showed it,'' said McRae, "but in practice you can tell it's a way different team.
"We just know each other. We know what Coach Martin wants now.''
Said Golden, in summation, "It makes it easier.''
The aforementioned new guys all appear to be very consistent with Martin's image. They knew what they were signing on for.
D'Montre Edwards, the juco transfer, Armani Moore, the true freshman, and Quinton Chievous, the redshirt freshman have varying degrees of experience. The thing they have in common is being hard-nosed.
Moore brings more to the table than last year's freshman point guard, Wes Washpun, who has since left the program.
Chievous was a rebound away from a double-double. Edwards had a rough night shooting but he was active.
All three had three steals. Coincidence? Maybe not.
This team will be better — and tougher — whenever Jeronne Maymon gets back from his mysterious knee situation.
I don't know that they're a threat to lead the SEC in 3-point shooting or free-throw shooting.
But if it would make you feel better to see a team with Tennessee on its shirt get in somebody's face and defend them like their life depended on it, these are your guys.
Follow Mike Strange at http://twitter.com/strangemike44