Mike Strange: The Vols are still here for a reason

Mike Strange
Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin watches Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34) during practice before Tennessee's NCAA Sweet Sixteen game against Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., on Thursday, March 27, 2014.  At left is Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes.  (KEVIN MARTIN/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Kevin Martin, 2014 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin watches Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34) during practice before Tennessee's NCAA Sweet Sixteen game against Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., on Thursday, March 27, 2014. At left is Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes. (KEVIN MARTIN/NEWS SENTINEL)

INDIANAPOLIS — So, call the roll. Wichita State. Syracuse. Kansas.

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Comments » 2

johnlg00 writes:

The only real concern I have for the Vols is that they will wilt under the national spotlight and not play up to their capabilities. Oh, there is no question Michigan is a formidable opponent with enough talent and experience to be a major challenge to any opponent. On paper, the teams are so dissimilar, with such different styles, that it would be difficult to predict which team will prevail. So, as is nearly always the case in tournament ball, it comes down to which team can maintain its poise and impose its will on the other.

For the Vols, the main challenges will be the Sweet Sixteen setting itself--the lights, the arena, the media, the hoopla in general. They know how to play winning basketball; the question is, can they just PLAY basketball under THESE circumstances? If they are excessively nervous, it will most likely show up in loose ball-handling and shaky shooting, especially at the FT line where lately they have been knocking them down at an amazing rate. If Michigan gets out to a quick start and a key Vol or two picks up early fouls, this could be a long night for the Orange.

However, Michigan will also have its challenges. The entire basketball universe expects them to dismiss the SEC upstarts, especially in the heart of Big 10 country. Their precision offense normally gets their great shooters great shots in rhythm; those likely won't come so easy against the Vols. If they get off to a slow start, with players not getting or at least not making shots they normally make and their starting posts get in foul trouble, they will have a rough time. If the Vols can keep it close enough that they can keep running their disciplined inside-out offense and maximize all their possessions, Michigan will likely get frustrated and the Vols should pile up fouls and trips to the line.

Much haa been made of the idea that the Vols have come together as a team, bonding and blending in response to pressure from "ungrateful" fans, short shrift from the national media, disrespect for the SEC--an increasingly scarce prejudice these days, I'm guessing--etc., thus milking that "us against the world" feeling for all it's worth. If they can keep their attention only on themselves and the basketball tasks before them, and don't get glassy-eyed and hesitant, this could be one of the greatest nights in Vol basketball history--until the next one! GBO!!! GO ZO!!!

murrayvol writes:

I hate it when basketball games are played in football stadiums. One more reason I've lost respect for the NCAA.

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