Thank goodness for Bruce Almighty!
Yeah, yeah, I know—it was just Chattanooga. Still the 14th ranked BasketVols 114-75 victory against the Mocs finally gave everyone in Big Orange Country a reason to smile. This is especially true for me since I have despised Chattanooga (second only to Florida in terms of being my most hated team) since I was a child for reasons which are as irrelevant to this post as they are irrational…
…but I digress.
Sure, the Mocs were a directional opponent who wasn’t supposed to really have a chance (in exactly the same way the Wyoming Cowboys weren’t supposed to … ahem … cough ). Sure, Bruce and the Barbarians are just starting to work out all of the kinks from the off-season. Sure UT-Chattanooga once had a coach who looked like a slimy used-car salesman, had a player who once slugged a female cheerleader for ETSU in the face after losing to the Bucs (Benny Green at the 1989 Southern Conference Tournament—I was standing about 30 feet away), and have a mascot which is about as silly as they come (I told you I don’t like UTC).
All of these things are true. Still, for the first time in a long while, a Tennessee Volunteers team went out, faced an opponent, and actually performed the way they were supposed to. In fact, they probably exceeded expectations (at least based upon how it sounded on the Vol Network broadcast).
In their first real game without Chris Lofton, the Vols showed they can still get it done. Led by Tyler Smith, the BasketVols poured on the offensive intensity with purpose and focus, and never let up.
[HT to Hooper at Rocky Top Talk]
Second, this year’s squad made it clear that they have the ability to run Bruce Pearl’s no-holds-barred “Orange Nightmare” defense. More importantly, however, they were able to press and attack with control and finesse—making the transition game even more effective.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="301" caption="Prince takes it to the House!"][/caption]
Third, they did all of this with more rhythm, togetherness, and form than you would expect from a team who lost three key seniors from last year. They played together, played as a team, played smart, and played at the level of which they are capable (i.e. didn’t play down to their opponent). As Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp made clear, the Vols and their fans were having fun—there’s something we haven’t seen in Knoxville this Fall.
“Money!” (Thank you Bert Bertelkamp)
Oh, I know, the competition will get tougher, the half-court game needs to solidify, the 3-point percentage will not always be so dependable, and so on. Still, as the stat sheet makes clear, for now, all is well in the Volunteer City—Tennessee Basketball has returned. This team looks like it will truly be a treat to watch, and that’s something to smile about.
It has been a rough few months for Tennessee fans. It is so nice to finally have a little good news, to hear the Tommy Bowl rocking, and to hear Vol fans cheering. I’ve missed that lately.
Oh, and it’s also nice to see UTC lose by 39 (Sorry…).
Images Courtesy of: ESPN.com • Go Vols Xtra / Amy Smotherman-Burgess
Audio Clips Courtesy of: The University of Tennessee / the Vol Network / IMG
**Disclaimer and Notice: All Audio Clips remain the property of the licensing authority and their respective universities and/or institutions. Gate 21 makes no claim of ownership to these clips, and they are displayed on this website for the sole purpose of entertainment and social value. Any questions or concerns regarding the display of such audio should be directed to the administrator of this site.
One Response to “Ahhhh … A Little Something to Cheer About.”
Leave a Reply
Additional comments powered by BackType