Archive for the ‘SEC Basketball’ Category

Tobias Harris is all Vol

Tennessee BasketballSelby who?  Bruce bounced back by getting the #3 PF, #7 player in the country to go with the #6, and #35 SGs in the country.  Billy Donovan’s day just got so much worse.

I have the honor to be, the VolAmbassador | Gate 21

Tyler Smith Staying

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

It’s a rainy and stormy afternoon here in Knoxville, but Tyler Smith is brightening the day for Tennessee hoops.

Smith announced he’s going to stay for his senior season. Obviously this is good news, because Tyler’s the best player on Tennessee’s team. Additionally, Smith will be the fifth senior Vol for next year, alongside Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince, Bobby Maze, and Josh Tabb (walk-on Quinn Cannington is also a senior). A nice senior core for the Vols as they look to add a second SEC Title in four years. At this point, your way early SEC favorites have to be (in no particular order) Kentucky with the Jodie Meeks-Patrick Patterson combo and influx of studs, defending champs LSU with Tasmin Mitchell (who’s been at LSU since Stromile Swift) and Marcus Thornton, and Tennessee.

Welcome back, Tyler

A couple of other notes: first, a shout-out to bosgap at Losers With Socks who called this 9 days ago. Now I wouldn’t say they were going too terribly far out on that limb, but kudos to those guys scooping this, adding another feather in their hat of breaking news well in advance.

Secondly, a shout-out of thanks and best wishes to Philip Jurick, who is transferring and thus providing a way for Tyler to come back by opening up a scholarship. I saw Jurick play a little bit at last year’s Rocky Top League, and while I saw some promise, I also saw a project of sorts. He showed some really positive inside defense but his offensive game was very lacking. With Tyler’s return and the addition of Kenny Hall to the Chism-Brian Williams-Emmanuel Negedu platoon, I highly doubt Jurick would have been able to break into the big-man rotation next year.

Speaking of the Rocky Top League, last year I took upon myself the task of “covering” it using the start I started out with – “The View From The Hill.” I went every night and took some video and some pictures and mental notes and observations, and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately I won’t be able to do that this year, as I won’t be able to go every night and I’ll miss the first week of it. That said, if you’re in Knoxville on a Monday or Wednesday the next three weeks, do head over to Bearden High School and watch some games.

Sure, there’s no air-conditioning and outside of the Tennessee players the other competitors are small college or high school players, but it’s a cool experience. Of course it’s glorified pick-up basketball with referees and clock, and the defense is highly lacking, but nowhere else will you get this close to the Vol players. If you’ve got kids, I can almost guarantee you will get autographs from the entire team, as well as some other former Vols like everybody’s favorite Dane Bradshaw, and a couple of my personal favorite former Vols Ron Slay and C.J. Watson.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the best part…IT’S FREE

About Home Sweet Home... … to me.

This Is Good Stuff

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

I think I’ve made my disdain for the University of Memphis Tigers basketball program pretty well-known. So when I got a text message from my dad last night in the middle of the Lakers-Nuggets game alerting me of the allegations against the Tigers, I must admit I got a kick out of it.

The Tigers’ best season, where they won 38 games and should have won a national championship (thank you Mario Chalmers), now apparently will be null-and-void.

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See You Next Year Tyler

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

As had been expected, Tennessee’s Tyler Smith declared for the NBA Draft yesterday. As is the case with a number of others draft entrees, Tyler hasn’t hired an agent, so he’s got until June 15 to come back.

Will #1 be back?

As the title of this post clearly states, I think Tyler Smith is going to be playing for Tennessee next year. I don’t believe I’m in the minority in thinking that, either. Now, I could be very wrong, because Tyler could go work out for one of these teams playing right now (that will have late first-round picks) and really impress them.

It’s not that Tyler isn’t a good player or not NBA material. There are guys in the NBA who I see and wonder how they in the league (take Sean Marks, Mark Madsen, Brian Cardinal and Robert Swift, for example) in the first place. It’s just that Tyler is a small forward in the NBA, and he’s playing the power forward spot for Tennessee. He showed he can knock down the outside shot when he’s left open, but this season he faced quite a bit of traffic in the lane because teams sagged off the perimeter because we couldn’t shoot threes and struggled with his shot. The Memphis game – against a long, athletic team – comes to mind.

So he can post up, he can shoot it decently, but can he straight-up drive by an NBA 3-man? Can he hit the mid-range jumper?

There is his family situation with his son to think about as well, but I think Tyler’s going to be a Vol next season. He should have better shooters surrounding him, and we saw how good he can be when you put that around him (2007-08). And even if he does stay in the draft, it’d be cool to have the number of Tennessee NBA players doubled.

Speaking of which, mad props to C.J. Watson the last seven games of this season for Golden State. Watson, one of my favorite Vols all-time and a guy who deserves more credit and appreciation than I think he gets, averaged 19 points and 6 assists in those games. He had 38 points, 7 rebounds, and nine assists (he made 16-of-16 free throws too) in a win over the Jazz, and had 20 points, 7 boards, 12 assists, and three steals in the season finale against Phoenix.

For an avid fantasy basketball guy like myself (second place in my second year of it…boom!), those numbers are more impressive to me. If this was his chance to stake his claim to Golden State’s starting PG position for next season, you can’t say he didn’t take advantage of it.

The only VOL currently in the NBA, and one of my all-time faves

But back to the main point of this, expect to see Tyler back in orange next year – with what should be an improved team.

About Home Sweet Home... … to me.


Images Courtesy of: Ramin Rahimian / Reuters

Walking in Memphis: a Brief Reflection on Reality, Basketball, and Bruce Pearl…

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Then I’m walking in Memphis
Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel

• “>" href="http://gate21.net/2009/04/03/walking-in-memphis-a-brief-reflection-on-reality-basketball-and-bruce-pearl%e2%80%a6/#Walking_Memphis_audio" >Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn

Well, it seems that Bruce Pearl will be staying in Knoxville for the foreseeable future, which is good.  The question, however, remains: What are we to make of this “Memphis Incident”?

For starters, I am greatly relieved that Bruce Almighty will still be wearing orange next season.  That is the good news, not that there is necessarily some “bad” news, but keeping Pearl on the sidelines in Knoxville is definitely very good.

That said, what exactly are we to take away from the brief and furious flirtation (so brief and furious that I never even got a chance to comment before it ended) with the notion that Coach Pearl might bolt to the Pyramid City to take the reins as head coach of the Memphis Tigers?  The real answer is probably “nothing.”  Still there are a few thoughts that jump out to me—random observations, I suppose—which seem relevant, if less than timely.

Bruce Pearl is Happy at Tennessee…

It seems to me that Bruce Pearl sent two messages yesterday.  The first is a very positive one, namely that he is happy as coach of the Tennessee Volunteers and has no desire to leave behind what he has begun.  Bruce Pearl likes it here.

Why do I say that?  Well first of all is the obvious: he is staying here.  More importantly, however, is the what he said in his public statement last night.  To me, it makes it clear that Pearl is truly happy to be at Tennessee.

I truly love my job, and I want it to be clear that I’m not interested in any other job.  There’s no place in the country I’d rather be than the University of Tennessee.  My children are happy here in the Knoxville community—one is in high school, one is in middle school and two are currently attending the university.

My staff and I are building a consistent top-25 program and I’m honored and privileged to serve the greatest fans in the country. Tennessee has all the resources necessary to win championships, from our recently upgraded facilities to our ability to schedule.

It’s great to be a Tennessee Vol!

Bruce Pearl commenting on rumors of him leaving Tennessee | UT Sports.com

Now in the era of sports double-talk and lip service (See Bobby Petrino at any point in his career), it is rarely advisable to take public professions of loyalty at face value.  I understand that.  Still, there are different degrees of lip service and there are different types of coaches.  Pearl’s statement was anything but tepid—it was largely unequivocal and pointed.  In other words, he could have simply said “I’m staying,” and left the other assurances out of the discussion; he didn’t.

Second of all, for reasons unknown to me (considering I have never met Pearl), I trust the man.  Maybe that owes to the side of him that exudes infectious enthusiasm about everything to which he is tied; maybe it is because of his well documented history of loyalty at Iowa and Wisconsin-Green Bay; maybe it is because he is a con man and I’m snowed.  Regardless of the reasons, Pearl is unique in my mind because I do believe that he is both loyal and trustworthy as a coach.  My gut tells me that if he was not happy and was considering a move, while he might not come out and say it, he would similarly not effervesce about how much he loves it at Tennessee.

Furthermore, if he had wanted to leave, it would have been hard to argue with his decision given the suggestion that Memphis was prepared to offer up to $ 3.25 million a year (approximately $ 1.25 million more per year than his new contract is reported to provide).

Thus, I believe him when he says that he never intended to leave, and that he truly loves coaching the BasketVolsIf he truly wanted to leave, he would have.

Yeah, yeah, I know—I’ve obviously been drinking the Kool Aid…

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Is Billy Clyde out at Kentucky?


update» Updated: 27 March 2009 — 4:25pm

Apparently, Gillispie’s firing became official about 5 minutes after I posted this.  At least I was a little bit ahead of the curve…

update» Updated: 27 March 2009 — 4:42pm

Now, as his comment below points out, HSH has discovered an even more interesting development: perhaps Billy Donovan is going to Kentucky.


Well, friends and neighbors, it’s not like it is unexpected, but it appears that Billy Gillispie is out at Kentucky.  This comes from WHAS TV in Louisville.  Seemingly in response to this report, the Kentucky athletic department issued a public statement which—paraphrased—amounts to their complete refusal to make a public statement.  It read,  “UK mens basketball coach Billy Gillispie has not been fired. There have been no meetings between Gillispie and UK officials today and there is no scheduled press conference tomorrow.

I think a simple “no comment” would have sufficed.

Either way, this does seriously change the dynamic in the SEC East.  Hooper over at RTT has an interesting article on why this prospect scares him as a fan of SEC and Tennessee basketball.  The uncertainty at Kentucky will definitely add confusion to recruiting, but what if Kentucky actually gets a “good” coach?  With rumors flying about as to who will replace Gillispie, it stands to reason that Kentucky Mitch Barnhart will be trying to save his neck by getting a coach who is a little better fit for the Wildcats this time around than was Billy Clyde.  According to the guys at Team Speed Kills, however, that new coach will not be Billy Donovan (or will it?).

In the meantime, I suppose we will all be guessing…

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08-09 Tennessee Basketball: An Epilogue

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

The Story of the Season…In a Week

Now that it’s over and done with, I think it’s time to take a look back at this past basketball season. As is with seasons in most sports, this year’s Vols had quite a number of ups and downs and everything in between over the course of a long season stretching from November to mid-March.

But this year’s ups and downs (more downs than ups really) seemed to be more prevalent this season, since this team showed a numerous occasions it’s ability to be terribly inconsistent. At times you thought that this team might still be playing at this point of the season. Other times you wondered what the hell the Bruce and the players were thinking and why they looked like they didn’t care and if they would even make it into the Tournament.

The last week of the season was the story of the season in a complete and total nutshell. A nutshell that interestingly enough was paired up with Tennessee’s spring break and my trip to New York.

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