Vols try to turn attention off NCAA omission and onto Mercer

Tennessee forward Kenny Hall (20) dunks the ball during practice before the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Tennessee will play the winner of the Mississippi State and South Carolina Game which takes place Wednesday evening. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee forward Kenny Hall (20) dunks the ball during practice before the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Tennessee will play the winner of the Mississippi State and South Carolina Game which takes place Wednesday evening. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Cuonzo Martin on Mercer, NIT

Did Tennessee deserve to make the NCAA tournament?

See the results »

View previous polls »

For a team like Tennessee, bummed and bitter, the National Invitational Tournament is a consolation designation.

For a team like Mercer, bright and buoyant, the NIT is a consolation prize.

“It’s just, I don’t know, really disappointing,” UT junior guard Jordan McRae said.

Meanwhile, at Mercer, coach Bob Hoffman cheerfully told the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph that his Bears were “pumped when our name came up,” during Sunday night’s NIT Selection Show.

Two teams. Two very different dispositions. One first-round NIT game tonight at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: ESPNU, 8 p.m.).

Feeling burnt by the scorn of the NCAA tournament selection committee, McRae encapsulated the Vols’ situation by saying, simply, “There’s no sense in making matters worse by going Wednesday and losing this first game.”

Mercer comes to Knoxville as regular-season champions from the Atlantic Sun Conference. After going 14-4 in league play, a home loss to Florida Gulf Coast in the conference title game snagged hopes of an NCAA tournament berth.

A 23-11 season included two wins over power conference teams Florida State and Alabama. They were the fourth and fifth BCS wins of Hoffman’s five-year tenure. All five of those games came on the road.

Now the Bears want to slay Tennessee (20-12).

The Vols have had a few days since Selection Sunday to readjust, dumping the disappointment of being snubbed.

Senior Kenny Hall said, “I don’t think we have anything to prove, maybe to ourselves, but whatever we do, it’s not going to get us into the NCAA tournament.” He later added, “We still have a chance to win something.”

Mercer had a chance to win something last year. Invited to the postseason CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the Bears made the most of it. They beat Tennessee State, Georgia State, Old Dominion, Fairfield and Utah State to become the first Atlantic Sun men’s basketball team to win a postseason title.

UT, meanwhile, was bounced in the NIT second round by Middle Tennessee State.

Now, MTSU is one of 10 teams from the 2012 NIT appearing in the 2013 NCAA tournament.

Tonight’s survivor between Tennessee and Mercer will travel to face either third-seeded BYU (21-11) or sixth-seeded Washington (18-15).

“We’re going into this thing to win,” McRae said. “I mean, everybody is still upset about it, you can see it on guys’ faces coming into the locker room. But there’s no need to tuck our heads down now. It is what it is. We have to be ready to play on Wednesday.”

Mercer is led by guards Langston Hall and Travis Smith, a pair of second-team all-conference selections. The two combine to average 24.5 points per game.

The Bears score 1.09 points per possession, 33rd best in the country, and rank 12th nationally in free-throw shooting (75.7 percent) and 35th with 249 made 3-pointers.

Only 43.2 percent of Mercer’s 68.8 points per game come on two-point field goals.

“They score the ball and have a lot of set plays they execute very well,” UT coach Cuonzo Martin said. “Bob has done a great job coaching those guys. They have some big wins this year.”

Brendan F. Quinn covers UT men’s basketball. Following at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 93

Ironcity writes:

First game will be the toughest. If we handle that I think this team will roll. hate that we are not in it but this team needed to take care of business in the tourney and we just didn't do it.

Vol1973 writes:

Lets be winners... buck up and show the committee they were wrong... lets win this thing and not be like a wimpy Kentucky.

Go Vols !!

jt45 writes:

Robert Morris just beat Kentucky, so the NIT is getting off to a good start.LOL!

I just hope the Vols play better than they did in their last game, these smaller schools are hungry for the upsets.

The look on Calipari,s face was priceless as a capacity crowd of 3000 rushed the court after beating UK.

1vavolfan writes:

Let's not laugh at UK until after we beat Mercer. I thought UT deserved to get in the NCAA but is anyone confident of a road win at Washington or BYU? I'm not.

FlagwriterVol writes:

Deserving or not, you play the hand you're dealt. Focus on Mercer UT! Let's not be like the Cats! Go Vols.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

Not liking the comments from the players. You want to complain on Monday, the day after, about how you think the NCAA screwed you? OK. Fine. Get it out of your system. But still complaining about it on Tuesday, the day before your game with Mercer? Doesn't bode well. Now, it's possible that KNS selected the quotes that would make our kids look bad. Maybe a lot more players were saying (and hopefully thinking) the right things, and it just didn't make for good newspaper copy. But McRae and Hall sure don't sound like their hearts and/or minds are in it.

And... I hope I'm wrong.

Give_Him_6_Holloway writes:

We were swept by Bammer and UGGA. All we needed was one win against each team and we wouldn't be commenting on this.

CCM does not possess the killer instinct to instill in these kids to win a string of big games when it counts.

I hope he can prove me wrong the next few weeks.

Snapshot writes:

in response to Give_Him_6_Holloway:

We were swept by Bammer and UGGA. All we needed was one win against each team and we wouldn't be commenting on this.

CCM does not possess the killer instinct to instill in these kids to win a string of big games when it counts.

I hope he can prove me wrong the next few weeks.

We actually beat bama at home, but of course didn't get the they really needed in SEC tournament.

The cats are one-and-done in NITso it is a good night!

redskinvol1 writes:

The UK loss is too funny.They did not want to be there and it showed.Lets hope coach Zo and this team can save a little face against Mercer.If they don't want to be there they will lose just like UK.

vol98champ writes:

I sure would like to have a good feeling about a really determined bunch of Vols taking care of business, but I instead have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

The UK loss is too funny.They did not want to be there and it showed.Lets hope coach Zo and this team can save a little face against Mercer.If they don't want to be there they will lose just like UK.

Witch Doctor say thank God Cuonzo only had one 5* against the Squid having 8. Witch Doctor say lets hear than argument from the trolls about coaching up talent!
Bones never lie.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

UK's loss just give more ammo to the SEC haters out there....
as if they aren't gloating enough.

Here's the honesty:
The SEC put in ONE at-large, Florida. Ole Miss, had they lost in the first round, would not have made in in spite of what the NCAA guy said. Mizzou, to me, is not yet really an SEC school.

So, one team is deemed worthy...and then UK goes and does this.

carbonzip writes:

Driving thru Columbus, OH today the example given for disrespect of SEC basketball...described photo of many reporters surrounding Polardy on ncaa bracket day for NCAA men. "There you go"

They think Ole Miss getting is a freak thing.

Why is Mizzou so highly regarded?

Just asking

carbonzip writes:

If the Vols are NCAA worthy, prove it in the NIT.

Giverny writes:

Playing the victim is something that comes natural to Martin....just wait until the heat gets turned up next season and watch how this 'man of character' handles it...

tnvol4ever writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Let's not laugh at UK until after we beat Mercer. I thought UT deserved to get in the NCAA but is anyone confident of a road win at Washington or BYU? I'm not.

BAWHAHAHAHA...waited as long as I could.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Anyway you look it's an NIT game. Many on here made fun of our pr-season NIT wins before. I thought it was positive. Any win anytime to me is a positive influence on the team. Winning is a good thing. winning is mostly why you play the game. Coaches want their team to have a winning attitude.

lol IT'S a GAME. Have fun. Win if you can. If not we'll see you next year. Well except the seniors. Lord willing well see many of you for more fun in the future.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Giverny:

Playing the victim is something that comes natural to Martin....just wait until the heat gets turned up next season and watch how this 'man of character' handles it...

Why would you attack the character of someone you don't even know? Do you personality know Coach Martin?

MAYBE you just wanted a response to build your own ego. Well you can be at ease now 'cause someone responded.

Maybe you are KNS and just want any kind of response... to get people to buy ads I guess.

Maybe you hate Coach Martin for other reasons??

CoverOrange writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Driving thru Columbus, OH today the example given for disrespect of SEC basketball...described photo of many reporters surrounding Polardy on ncaa bracket day for NCAA men. "There you go"

They think Ole Miss getting is a freak thing.

Why is Mizzou so highly regarded?

Just asking

Did you text this while driving? I need a translater.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Driving thru Columbus, OH today the example given for disrespect of SEC basketball...described photo of many reporters surrounding Polardy on ncaa bracket day for NCAA men. "There you go"

They think Ole Miss getting is a freak thing.

Why is Mizzou so highly regarded?

Just asking

The "snub" of UT(if that's what it was) is what it is I suppose. BUT people (i.e. media social networks) have little "respect" for anything. Even things that are good. I'm not totally against these people but I often have a lack of "respect" for them as well. Disrespect is a part of sports. People in general will disrespect the other team. It's natural. Kentucky's loss to Robert Morris is no different than a first round loss by a Kansas in the big tourney. If UT loses they'll be poked at by some and hated by many of our own fans. If they win it's the same for many of those "fans". "just a game"

I hope we win but if not I don't disrespect the Vols. I don't even disrespect Kentucky. They obviously had the talent to win it all. Even the NCdarnAA big dance. Well..maybe a little disrespect is ok at times.
As for Mizzou??? talent? Future NBA players? I don't know.

SEC haters(if you will) think maybe that the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M made the SEC a stronger league than it was without them. Really the haters are a little jealous.hehe

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Did you text this while driving? I need a translater.

He said "I get NO respect. No respect at all". I think.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Why would you attack the character of someone you don't even know? Do you personality know Coach Martin?

MAYBE you just wanted a response to build your own ego. Well you can be at ease now 'cause someone responded.

Maybe you are KNS and just want any kind of response... to get people to buy ads I guess.

Maybe you hate Coach Martin for other reasons??

oops. Personality disrespect?? makes sense I reckon. But "personally" would work better.

SandySpringsVol writes:

The players need to take their disappointment and turn it into a motivating factor to prove the "selection committee" wrong. A loss to Mercer says "See, the selection committee knew what they were doing."

Maybe UK's loss will serve as a reminder that deserving to win and actually winning are two different things.

AlpharettaVol writes:

I'm tired of the players complaining that they were hosed by the NCAA. They have no one to blame but themselves. They need to step up and take ownership for the state of affairs. Remember Georgetown, Georgia (twice), etc.? If they had not gone in the tank a half dozen times this year there would be no question as to whether they would be in. Now it's time to put on your big boy pants and back up your words with some actions.

8inarow writes:

in response to Give_Him_6_Holloway:

We were swept by Bammer and UGGA. All we needed was one win against each team and we wouldn't be commenting on this.

CCM does not possess the killer instinct to instill in these kids to win a string of big games when it counts.

I hope he can prove me wrong the next few weeks.

And the Vols have a shot at losing to Bama 3-times in the same season.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

I don't see Mercer coming into our house and having a hot shooting night like RM did..Game will probably be similar to the Auburn game but hoping for better because Brigham looks like a tourney team..They hung 90 on Washington and 2 players combine for 50 points

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to 8inarow:

And the Vols have a shot at losing to Bama 3-times in the same season.

That "shot" will only happen if we're playing for the NIT Championship. Maybe we can do a little better against Mercer than you guys did.

Samuel_L_Salma_GataBait_HowBoutDemCowboys_BlueWaffles88 writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

That "shot" will only happen if we're playing for the NIT Championship. Maybe we can do a little better against Mercer than you guys did.

After hearing Cuonzo and his kids STILL complaining about not making the NCAA tourney, UT might not even make it out of the 1st round. They'll overlook this Mercer team..

cheetah-vol writes:

Heading out of Nashville for the game tonight at TBA. If the team saw what happened to KY or to Fl. St. losing on their homecourt or how Bama took care of biz on their homecourt, then maybe they'll shake off the apathy and disappointment and play a good game. Regardless, it's always fun to make the drive and cheer for the Vols!

brod writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

Heading out of Nashville for the game tonight at TBA. If the team saw what happened to KY or to Fl. St. losing on their homecourt or how Bama took care of biz on their homecourt, then maybe they'll shake off the apathy and disappointment and play a good game. Regardless, it's always fun to make the drive and cheer for the Vols!

good for you. make some noise. i would go too but i am still suffering from going to the sec tourney debacle on friday

CoverOrange writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

He said "I get NO respect. No respect at all". I think.

Haven't figured out what a "Polardy" is yet.

1Volunteer writes:

in response to 8inarow:

And the Vols have a shot at losing to Bama 3-times in the same season.

Not so fast, troll-breath. The Vols' record against Alabama is 1-1 this year. I think that's identical to the Gators' record against the Vols. The Gators did a little better against us this year than last. I wish them good luck in the Big Dance.

lstbodeanvol writes:

nope.....UTAK owns UFAG in basketball

Theo writes:

in response to Giverny:

Playing the victim is something that comes natural to Martin....just wait until the heat gets turned up next season and watch how this 'man of character' handles it...

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Basketvol writes:

in response to 8inarow:

And the Vols have a shot at losing to Bama 3-times in the same season.

Lucky for you we didn't play the gators two more times.

Basketvol writes:

in response to 1Volunteer:

Not so fast, troll-breath. The Vols' record against Alabama is 1-1 this year. I think that's identical to the Gators' record against the Vols. The Gators did a little better against us this year than last. I wish them good luck in the Big Dance.

I like your spirit, but the Vols were 1 - 2 vs Bama and 1 - 0 vs UF (3 - 0 over the last two years).

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Samuel_L_Salma_GataBait_HowBoutDemCowboys_BlueWaffles88:

After hearing Cuonzo and his kids STILL complaining about not making the NCAA tourney, UT might not even make it out of the 1st round. They'll overlook this Mercer team..

They sure never over-look FU, do they??

RememberWhen writes:

in response to ReeseHallRelic:

Not liking the comments from the players. You want to complain on Monday, the day after, about how you think the NCAA screwed you? OK. Fine. Get it out of your system. But still complaining about it on Tuesday, the day before your game with Mercer? Doesn't bode well. Now, it's possible that KNS selected the quotes that would make our kids look bad. Maybe a lot more players were saying (and hopefully thinking) the right things, and it just didn't make for good newspaper copy. But McRae and Hall sure don't sound like their hearts and/or minds are in it.

And... I hope I'm wrong.

why so surprised...they're just following their coaches lead! He's been whining since Sunday night too....they may win tonight (if they somehow figure out how to play well) but they aren't long for this tourney.

secondcreek writes:

I had to Google Mercer to even find out where they are located. Never heard of this college/university before.

Samuel_L_Salma_GataBait_HowBoutDemCowboys_BlueWaffles88 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

They sure never over-look FU, do they??

Lol +1

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Hey 88, good luck in the real tourney..

dvols writes:

why would it not be fune to NYC and play in the Garden!!

more fun than making the tourney and playing in tulsa....then getting booted

just sayin

AppreciativeAlum writes:

They invite you to a tournament because you have a chance to win the whole thing.

Show you can win something.

CoverOrange writes:

Stokes has 7 pts at the half. Think how many he would have if he could make bunny layups.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Anybody surprised so far???

Fugly.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Stokes has 7 pts at the half. Think how many he would have if he could make bunny layups.

Between the men's/women's bb teams they have missed over 500 points in botched layups this year.

smokeygrowl writes:

Vols not ready .Jordan could care less.Could this be his last game? He was extremely upset after the BAma loss.

vol98champ writes:

This team looks like they never practice.

Retiredvol writes:

They might be bummed and bitter but this is the very reason the NCAA did not pick them. One and done AGAIN!!!!

redskinvol1 writes:

I sure hope Hubbs can shoot threes.If the team must shoot 30 threes in a game they might want to make some of them.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features