Mike Strange: (Mostly) basketball topics to get you through until Signing Day

Mike Strange
Mike Strange: (Mostly) basketball topics to get you through until Signing Day

Photo by Adam Lau

National Signing Day is almost upon us. Here are five non-football topics to distract you while waiting to see how Tennessee football coach Butch Jones finagles a 35-man signing class.

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Comments » 6

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

What the Hell is a luge?
Never mind. I don't even want to know.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to MooseandSquirrelVol:

What the Hell is a luge?
Never mind. I don't even want to know.

I could be wrong but I think a luge is like a little brother to a bobsled. If you're old enough you probably remember Willie Gault from Griffin Georgia. He was a member of the USA 4 man bobsled team that set a world record in 1987. He was also a pretty good kickoff return man for the Vols.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Nice collage of information Mike....

johnlg00 writes:

A long-time Vol fan considering Martin's amazing record in February has to wonder why it takes until the last month of the season for the team to figure out how to win. If the Vols have a similar February record to the two previous teams, they should easily make the NCAAs and maybe even do some damage once they are there.

Part of the problem with the slow starts is, IMHO, the "Keady syndrome". I don't know exactly how the Vols evaluate players in terms of positions and roles, but in the classic Keady system, roles are pretty narrowly defined. A player in THIS position has to have THESE skills. But putting the right combination on the floor with all the requisite skills in place--or as many as possible, since there really are no ideal players--seems to be a pretty arduous chore.

Given the way Martin's mind has expanded lately to include some aspects of the game NOT explicitly linked to the Keady system, it is my hope that if he is back next year, Martin will be more attentive to what his players actually already do well and adapt the system to allow them to do those things. It is fine if Martin still wants the team to be better at some of that "tough guy" stuff and works them on it, but "the perfect should not be the enemy of the good". "Perfect" is a mere abstraction; a worthy goal to pursue for sure, but not a realistic standard for real-world accomplishment.

Long-range plans and goals for the program are important, but the first question any coach has to answer each new season should be, "How can we play our best with THIS bunch?" Modern players by and large don't take naturally to any system that requires what used to be the normal subordination of players to coaches. Yes, the coach has to be the boss. He has to set the expectations for the program and be firm about those. But if there is one value every young player has, it is to feel "free" in his play. Serious players don't mind being corrected and directed, but they just don't want to be one of the crowd and feel they have no input in how the team plays.

Also, young players don't have the attention span that they once did. They can't stand routine, doing the same things in the same way every day. Adding new elements helps keep everyone's minds fresh and engaged. From the way the team has looked lately, Martin may be getting some of this. Moral principles should not be compromised, but a particular style of play should not be such a principle. It's a game; the point is to win it. The old-school approach seems to be "Here is our system; how can I change you so you can fit in and we can win with it?" A more open approach might be "What do our players do well and what kind of system fits these particular conditions?"

underthehill writes:

John..Your last sentence is an excellent summary and is absolutely vital in today's game..I really like the direction the Lady Vol program is going..Holly and her staff appear to me to be doing everything they can to get the most out of their team and be ready to adapt to any challenge on the floor at any time..I hope to see Martin go in the same direction...

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

John..Your last sentence is an excellent summary and is absolutely vital in today's game..I really like the direction the Lady Vol program is going..Holly and her staff appear to me to be doing everything they can to get the most out of their team and be ready to adapt to any challenge on the floor at any time..I hope to see Martin go in the same direction...

Both current coaches seem to be stepping out from under the shadows of their respective mentors. Not that I see Keady as equal to Summitt, but it is hard to overestimate the importance of Keady in helping Martin become the man he is today. I just want him to never think that he cannot become even a better coach in some ways or that it would be disloyal in a way to do some things differently. Both are still "true believers" and will not betray the deepest and strongest of their roots, but they no longer seem inhibited from striking out on their own. As each sees the benefits of being oneself rather than a pale copy of someone greater, this expansion should continue and lead to more and more success.

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