Mike Strange: Vandy's magnificent seven stops Vols' momentum

Mike Strange
Vanderbilt forward James Siakam (35) reacts after getting fouled by Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 64-60. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Photo by Mark Zaleski

Vanderbilt forward James Siakam (35) reacts after getting fouled by Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 64-60. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NASHVILLE — Two fierce SEC rivals went at each other Wednesday night at Memorial Gym. One left with its hard-fought momentum intact.

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Comments » 10

ut_man1#1427524 writes:

This team could care less about making the NCAA tournament!

clg6jcb writes:

"Two steps forward, one step back." It's more like one step forward, one step back. "Two steps forward" would indicate progress which this team isn't making.

tgggovols#1425081 writes:

A scathing indictment of this team and Coaching staff from one who has covered this team for a long time. What's wrong with 'em Mike?

NaniMom writes:

A new coach, PLEASE!!!!

underthehill writes:

I have to agree with most of what Mike says..the Vols did seem to choose to engage with about 10 min left and Vandy up by 9..but when they did get back to even..they hit another dry spell instead of using their superior talent to get the win..I thought the replay showed Richardson was fouled but he would have had to hit the two free throws to get even and it never should have come to that..like Mike says..I can't recall a team with so little talent beating a talented Vol team with so much on the line..if this team does not make the big show..and they may not.. attendance will likely dictate whether or not Martin is bought out..

johnlg00 writes:

One thing that increasingly engages the player, fan, or coach, the longer they follow the game, is the psychology of basketball. Basketball players have large but fragile egos. Massaging that ego in a way that keeps the player perfoming at his optimum is perhaps THE secret of coaching: "How can I stimulate a guy to strengthen his will and performance?"

IMHO, Martin is doing his players no favors by talking as if they are already in the tournament. NO, THEY ARE NOT! They wouldn't have been if they had won by 50 points last night, either. Unless and until every player is ready to hit the floor with his mind, body, and emotions mobilized by the idea that he HAS to make EVERY play he CAN, they will continue to get less than their best on the floor, and less than their best WILL NOT get them to the highest level of success possible for them.

Maybe Martin feels that the players are too mentally fragile for him to try to force them into playing every possession as if it were their last. It certainly doesn't seem as if opportunity is a sufficient spur to them. But in any case, if this team doesn't learn to combine a sense of urgency with a commitment to the game plan AT ALL TIMES, they will be home for the postseason WAY quicker than they should have, as would then have been the case for three straight years. That would have been, IMHO, time enough to question the effectiveness of the staff, with a strong tendency toward a negative answer.

Despite what somewhat more simplistic thinkers might imagine, there is never a simple cause for these inconsistencies and contradictions, but there IS only one (relatively) simple practical solution. The bottom line is that the players are playing for Martin's career, whether or not he or anyone else within the program says so. At least two of them are playing for pro careers as well, and how they and their team perform in what the entire country sees as a crucial situation may well determine the immediate future of those hopes.

Ball's in your court, guys. Are you going to grab it and go with it, or just lay down and curl up around it?

OrangePride writes:

More like one step forward and two steps back in my opinion. And here is something REALLY starting to bite everyone's behind......Vandy get's lucky and wins one in Neyland when we clearly had the better talent and play. The Lady Vols lose when they too had the better talent. The men with much superior talent lose to a Vandy team playing on one leg. Are we beginning to a trend here coaches? When teams with less are beating you (as has been the case all year with these Vols), then there is only one place to look for the problem. And you know what else? Losses have consequences. THAT is why they have the b's to wear "Our State" on their pregame shirts. Want that to stop, folks? Start winning!!

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

One thing that increasingly engages the player, fan, or coach, the longer they follow the game, is the psychology of basketball. Basketball players have large but fragile egos. Massaging that ego in a way that keeps the player perfoming at his optimum is perhaps THE secret of coaching: "How can I stimulate a guy to strengthen his will and performance?"

IMHO, Martin is doing his players no favors by talking as if they are already in the tournament. NO, THEY ARE NOT! They wouldn't have been if they had won by 50 points last night, either. Unless and until every player is ready to hit the floor with his mind, body, and emotions mobilized by the idea that he HAS to make EVERY play he CAN, they will continue to get less than their best on the floor, and less than their best WILL NOT get them to the highest level of success possible for them.

Maybe Martin feels that the players are too mentally fragile for him to try to force them into playing every possession as if it were their last. It certainly doesn't seem as if opportunity is a sufficient spur to them. But in any case, if this team doesn't learn to combine a sense of urgency with a commitment to the game plan AT ALL TIMES, they will be home for the postseason WAY quicker than they should have, as would then have been the case for three straight years. That would have been, IMHO, time enough to question the effectiveness of the staff, with a strong tendency toward a negative answer.

Despite what somewhat more simplistic thinkers might imagine, there is never a simple cause for these inconsistencies and contradictions, but there IS only one (relatively) simple practical solution. The bottom line is that the players are playing for Martin's career, whether or not he or anyone else within the program says so. At least two of them are playing for pro careers as well, and how they and their team perform in what the entire country sees as a crucial situation may well determine the immediate future of those hopes.

Ball's in your court, guys. Are you going to grab it and go with it, or just lay down and curl up around it?

John..I think Martin talking about them getting to the big show should be added incentive for them to prove it..but that don't appear to be the case..I had hoped the Vols were going to be the team they appeared to be against bama and ole miss..but that don't appear to be the case..time for me to quit hoping and just watch...

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

John..I think Martin talking about them getting to the big show should be added incentive for them to prove it..but that don't appear to be the case..I had hoped the Vols were going to be the team they appeared to be against bama and ole miss..but that don't appear to be the case..time for me to quit hoping and just watch...

You may be right about Martin's intent. He seems to want to project an image of being strict about his principles but not negative toward the players. The fact that you and I can draw different conclusions about what he may have meant shows me that the players may be taking it ambiguously as well. As has been suggested before, for some reason these players do not respond to the positive spur of opportunity, so maybe they would be better off is somebody put the fear of God in them. Or maybe not; maybe they would just crumble. As the old saying goes, pressure bursts pipes and creates diamonds. Right now, the Vols don't look like "diamond" material, but you never know, and THAT is the darned shame of it. Of course, they're also capable of getting it together and smashing darned near anybody. This kind of situation makes me glad I'm not a coach anymore!

johnlg00 writes:

"...better off IF somebody....," seventh line from the bottom.

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