2010 TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS BASKETBALL
Bruce Pearl (2/27/2010)
Tennessee Volunteers basketball is having a great year. What a huge 74-65 win over #2 Kentucky at home in Knoxville. That was the first win for the Vols over the Cats since 2008. The win moves the Vols up to #16 in the AP; #13 in the March 1, 2010 ESPN/USA Today Poll.
The Vols earlier 76-68 win at Thompson-Boling over Kansas was one of the most amazing college basketball victories I've ever seen!!
Tenacity; won't quit spirit. That's the hallmark of UT Vols B-ball this year. The Vols beat Kansas despite having only 6 scholarship players able to play due to the arrest of 4 players on New Years Day. This resulted in the dismissal from the team of probably their best player -- Tyler Smith.
So, the national press has already determined that the Vols are done for the year. This game against Kansas was to be the day they'd be buried. For instance here's what ESPN said before the game:
Tennessee may still own a No. 15 ranking, but the Volunteers might not resemble one of the nation's best squads today. This should be a showcase game for the program, which plays host to the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time ever in this building. Instead, Tennessee will get national attention for all the wrong reasons.
Senior Tyler Smith, arguably the team's best all-around player, was dismissed on Friday, and three key reserves remain suspended indefinitely after their Jan. 1 arrest on marijuana and drug charges. The Volunteers are left with just six scholarship players, and though they managed to beat Charlotte 88-71 on Wednesday with that skeleton crew, handling Kansas's deep and talented roster could be another story entirely.
Well, sorry, we're still here. Still alive and kicking. In fact, even in this game, Wayne Chism and JP Prince both got in early foul trouble.
No matter, Bobby Maze carried the Vols and walk-on Skylar McBee nailed a leaning 3-pointer in the last minute with the shot clock at 1!! Simply an amazing performance. This is the kind of quality win that should help Tennessee get a good seed in 2010 March Madness. But, yes, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Still, wow!! Go Vols!
The University of Tennessee men's basketball program is riding high off a number of successful seasons under head coach Bruce Pearl, and over the course of those years, expectations have continued to grow. And while the University of Kentucky is most definitely positioned to be a threat with the arrival of John Calipari and his much heralded incoming class, the fact is, Tennessee, top to bottom, seems to return this season with more proven talent.
One reason why the Vols appear to be in good shape as the season gets underway is the return of most of the key cogs from last years squad. Nearly all of the most significant key offensive contributors, indeed, will be returning to the team for the upcoming season. And the continuity that this should provide the offense will be a key factor to the ability of this team to hit the ground running.
What does remain to be seen when it comes to the returning talent is how significantly the those players are able to enhance and further develop some of the skills that appeared to be lacking in 2008-2009. Indeed, the team was a physical presence and was able to work the glass effectively. But the team seemed to lack much of the finesse on offense that usually is more typically found on a Bruce Pearl coached team. The team did not shoot the ball all that well. The team didn't pass the ball all that well. As far as this team went, it went there with brute force.
The team does not have a particularly extensive incoming class. In fact, the only player coming in that is expected to make a significant impact in the upcoming season is probably talented power forward Kenny Hall. Hall's presence adds to an already strong unit inside.
The returning starting forwards are both very talented and should be good role models for Hall. Tyler Smith, a 6'7" small forward, returns for his senior season. He is a physically gifted player who does a number of things well. He is a bigger man who plays like a smaller man when needed, but who is also able to use his size to its maximum. He is joined by senior power forward Wayne Chism, who is expected to once again control the inside game for the Volunteers.
In the backcourt, JP Prince runs the show. This senior point guard is a good ballhandler, but is not much of an impact scorer. That said, he is not afraid to drive the basket. and will take what the defenses give him. He's joined in the backcourt by shooting guard Scotty Hopson, who is one of the better outside shooters on the team, albeit one who struggled some from beyond the arc in 2008-2009. Brian Williams will probably open the season as the 5th starter. He is a presence in the middle, although has not traditionally been much of an offensive threat.
All told, this is a team that is capable of advancing deep into the postseason. However, the ability for this team to do that is entirely dependent on the ability of the team to build upon what it did well in 2008-2009, and improve in the areas in which it did not. The general feeling here is the team will improve and should be a legit title contender by season's end.
Get your tickets at 2010 March Madness Tickets.
For more about the Lady Vols championship and analysis of the importance of the their latest (2008) NCAA Championship in helping make SEC basketball #1, check out Best College Basketball Conference.
For more on SEC fan attendance, check out Top SEC Basketball Fan Attendance School.
If you haven't read it yet, check out our Bruce Pearl Biography. You can read more about 2007-2008 Tennessee Vols men's basketball team at 2007-2008 Tennessee Vols Men's Basketball Team. Other Tennessee Volunteers Men's Basketball pages include: Tennessee Volunteers Basketball History and University of Tennessee -- Knoxville -- Trip.
Read all about Why Smokey is the Vols Mascot and Why Tennessee picked Orange and White as its color?
Looking for Tennessee Volunteers Merchandise and Apparel, Tickets, and Baseball Caps? Click on the links to get yours now.
If you are looking for our 2008-2009 Tennessee Volunteers Basketball page, check out 2008-2009 Tennessee Volunteers Basketball.
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