Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Almighty’

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

2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 4

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by:

Vol Junkies

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Vol Junkies, who has served up another installment of questions burning in the minds of the citizens of Orange Nation.

Thus, here are our thoughts for the week:

Week 4

1) What is your thought on Eric Berry’s Heisman chances?  Should he play on offense in-order to increase his chances?  Is Kiffin being to selfish saying Berry will not practice offense?

bullet HSH: I’m not exactly how real Berry’s chances of actually winning the Trophy—which I deemed meaningless after the Manning debacle.  Not only does he have the obstacle of being a defensive player, he has to basically beat Colt McCoy from Texas, Sam Bradford from Oklahoma and some guy named Tebow.  I don’t think Lane Kiffin should play Berry on offense just to help his Heisman chances.  If our offense is seriously sucking, then sure, desperate times call for desperate measures.

That said, I have absolutely no problem with the University doing the whole campaign thing.  Berry is obviously a special, once-in-a-while player with a great attitude.  Seeing him in person on and off the field the past two years has been something I’m glad to have been a part of—now if only he might consider staying for his senior year…


bullet Lawvol: I have very mixed (albeit not necessarily negative) feelings on this.

First of all, I personally believe that Eric Berry is more than deserving of a shot at the Heisman Trophy.  In two short years he has pretty much become the man-beast of SEC defenses and is, hands down, the best defensive player in the toughest conference in the country.  I personally believe that he is the best defensive player in any conference, anywhere.  That, however, is just my opinion and I will be the first to admit that I am biased.  Still, there is no arguing with the fact that Eric Berry has earned the right to be considered among the top players in the country this season and to be considered for the Heisman.  I am unequivocally behind the Tennessee’s campaign to promote Berry’s Heisman candidacy.

That said, I am less that optimistic about his chances…

I say that because, since only one truly defensive player has previously won the Heisman—which I am sure every Tennessee fan remembers all too well—the precedent is somewhat weak.  Furthermore, given the national media’s love affair with Tim Tebow, I expect that every possible machination that can occur to ensure Tebow winning the trophy for the second time will be brought to bear, if at all possible.

There is also the fact that exaggerated hype often leads to less-than-stellar performances since, with everyone talking about how great a particular player is, the target on their back gets even bigger when facing opponents.  That is not to say that I doubt Berry’s ability to produce in the same way he has in the past, but recognizes that opposing teams will be gunning for him … and staying away from him.

Read the rest of this entry

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…

Read the rest of this entry

Georgia falls, but does Tennessee really rise?

Despite falling behind by 10 points with just over 12 minutes to play in the second half, the Tennessee Volunteers managed their ninth consecutive victory over the Georgia Bulldogs this past Saturday, 86-77.  With this win, the BasketVols improve to 10-4 overall, and kicked-off conference play with a win.

But was it enough?

By most measuring sticks, Georgia is either the worst or second-worst team in the SEC—unquestionably the worst team in the SEC East.  Despite their weakness as a team, the Dawgs gave Tennessee all they could handle.  In a game which—on paper—should have been a rout, Bruce and the Barbarians found themselves behind with only minutes to play.  To their credit, the Big Orange refused to go down and played with tenacity down the stretch—perhaps spurred on by Bruce Pearl losing his suit jacket in the second-half as the Vols continued to flounder.  Whatever gave them the edge, credit their hustle and effort in helping to secure the victory.

Many have recently opined that this team is simply not as good as the 2007-08 squad.  I would not necessarily disagree with this estimation, but would add the qualifier “at this point.”  I add this slight caveat because I am still not entirely convinced that—at least from a talent perspective—this team is not in the same class as last year’s squad individually.  Of course, their play so far really does call that into question.

This team just seems to have a hard time playing together—especially in tight spots.  By all appearances, this inability to gel as a team does not owe to ego, a lack of cooperation, or a lack of effort.  To the contrary, with a few small exceptions, this team clearly wants and tries to play together as one unit.  For some reason, however, it just does not seem to click.

At times, some of this confusion seems to arise from the annoyingly “inconsistent inconsistencies”—one night it’s defense, the next transition, and the next free throws.  Each game seems to feature the debut of yet another weakness, along with the departure of an already established one.  It is the proverbial “one step forward, two steps back,” type of situation.

In other words, the ball keeps moving…

This every changing cycle of strength and collapse exacerbates the team cohesiveness problems.  To some extent, this is understandable—especially for the coaching staff as they try to fix what is not working.  Furthermore, if the teammate you count on to be a clutch free throw shooter suddenly goes 2-22 from the charity stripe, well that’s going to have a negative impact on both chemistry and confidence for the team as a whole.

In some ways, these changing problems which (in most cases can be fixed) are worse than consistently un-fixable ones.  If you know as a team that no one can hit a 3-point shot to save their life, then you can adjust by simply working that much harder to push the ball inside for the sure-thing 2 points.  When the problem seems to change every game, however, things get much more challenging since you simply cannot be sure where the obstacles will arise.

In the end, it seems likely that—for the time being—there are going to be very few “easy” wins for this team.  That said, I do have faith in this team—and more importantly this staff—and believe that they will find a way to get things running on all cylinders.  I just do not know when.

It didn’t hurt that Tyler Smith—who was not even expected to play against the Dawgs—took it upon himself to drag the BasketVols to victory with his 24 points (13 in the second half) and 11 rebounds.  All of this after he was on crutches on Friday afternoon.  So far this season, the Vols have had a real habit of relying on a single leader to pull them through games.  While that isn’t how it should work, for now it is working.

And a win, after all, is still a win…

Smith Grabs Rebound vs Georgia

With the Kentucky Wildcats coming into the Tommy Bowl on Tuesday night, the Vols are going to have to find a a way to rise to the challenge, not as a collection of talented individuals, fraught with intermittent failures, and teetering on the edge of disaster.  The Vols are going to have to find a way to rise together, and meet the Wildcats as a team.  The Wildcats are sure to put the Vols to the the test.

Prior to the Georgia game, Cameron Tatum was quoted as saying: “This is our season now.  This is what we’ve been working for.

Hopefully, he is right.

– Go Figure …About Lawvol


Image Courtesy of: KNS / AP / John Curry

It’s a Family Affair…

Well, I am beginning to think that some of my concerns about the loss of the “family” feeling at Tennessee due to the departure of the Great Punkin may have been unfounded.  It appears that Coach Kiffin is dead set on keeping the family side of Tennessee alive—albeit in a slightly different way than I envisioned.

The more I look at things the more the Tennessee Athletic Department mirrors the Soprano family…

kiffin-sopranos-LG.png

Thus far, Coach Kiffin has been more than happy to keep it “inside the family,” hiring both his father, Monte Kiffin (longtime defensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) as well as his brother-in-law David Reaves (Steve Spurrier’s quarterbacks’ coach / recruiting coordinator at South Carolina).  On top of this, last week he added an additional hire off the South Carolina Gamecocks’ staff in the form of new strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith, along with new offensive line coach James Cregg, who served under the Blackjack General when Kiffin was coaching the Los Angeles Oakland Raiders, and was currently working under Raiders’ coach Tom Cable.

So, is all of this a good thing, or a bad thing?

Well, I am honestly not sure.  That said, I like the fact that Kiffin seems to have a plan about what it is he is trying to accomplish—he’s not just randomly selecting coaches that are “available.”  In fact, with the exception of the few members of Coach Fulmer’s staff that Kiffin has retained, none of the coaches he has added to his first staff have been “available,” as Tom Cable plainly noted.  It is nice to be back in the position as a program to be able to pull people away from other programs, instead of the opposite.

Furthermore, thus far the choices that Kiffin has made to assist him in his first campaign at Tennessee appear to be quality hires.  First of all there is the Full Monte, who is the “Godfather” of the Tampa 2 defense and arguably the best defensive coordinator in the toughest football league in the world.  The venerable patriarch.

Okay, I think that can work…

Then, there is Mark Smith, who was thought by many to be one of Spurrier’s indispensable aides at both Florida and with the Thunder Chickens.  In the past, it was thought that Smith would never leave Spurrier due to the fact he rejected overtures from, among others, the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Smith has been at the heart of every successful team that Spurrier has fielded.

Apparently, Smith decided that loyalty to Spurrier could not overcome the pull of “the family”…

Then there is Reaves, who was been surprisingly successful as the Head Ball Coach’s recruiting coordinator, a fact that Tennessee fans had been acutely aware of over the last few years.  Obviously, as Lane Kiffin’s brother-in-law it is hardly surprising that Reaves decided to head to more orange-tinted pastures.  Still, Spurrier has never been one to let his coaches or recruits go to others quietly.  Thus, it also appears that there is about to be a second-round of the Tennessee vs. Spurrier battles that marked the early-to-mid 1990’s—the rumblings are already out there.

Ahh, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…

If (and that is a big “if”) you trust the rumors, the oft maligned Ed Orgeron (currently serving as defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints) is next up for Kiffin as he works toward filling out his staff.  Coach “O” did not exactly wow the world with his performance as head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, but continues to be thought of as one of the premier defensive line coaches and a crackerjack recruiter.  Given that all of the rumors of Monte Kiffin joining “Kiffin the Younger,” proved accurate, it appears that the chances are good that “O” will be “hnaw-hnawing” on the sidelines in Neyland Stadium this fall.

Now whether ticking off NFL owners and other SEC coaches is a bad thing, I cannot say.  I will say that it is nice to see Lane Kiffin out using his credibility and Tennessee’s tradition to get the people he needs.  While I realize there is something to be said for extending certain courtesies to other coaches and teams, sometimes you have to simply make folks an “offer they can’t refuse” and let the chips fall where they may.  This is especially true when it comes to re-tooling a program that has bottomed-out of late.  Kiffin, responding to questions regarding his tactics, summed it quite matter-of-factly:

“I got a job to do in our athletic department and that’s to put together the best staff we can put together and the best players we can put together.  I’m not really concerned about that stuff.”

• via: GoVolsXtra

Kiffin’s coaching-coups, appear to be making a difference as well, as Tennessee has now sewn-up several choice recruits, and appears to be getting the inside track on several more.

So far, so good.  Is Kiffin going in the right direction?  I think so.  Is he destined for greatness?  Only time will tell.  Is there plenty more to be done to cement Tennessee’s position as a contender once again for the SEC?  You better believe it.  Is Kiffin done mixing it up with the other coaches across the country yet?

Fuhgeddaboutit!

– Go Figure …Email lawvol


Images Courtesy of: Raiders.comGameCocksOnline.com
Information contained in this post courtesy of: Volquest.comGoVolsXtra

21 Things … That Make it Great to be a Tennessee Volunteer

That Make it Great to be a Tennessee Volunteer

Now that I am finally done with my trial, I can begin to get back to things that really matter, namely spending endless hours blogging…

Needless to say, this has been a football season which could drive a Tennessee fan to drink, sniff glue, use leeches, beat up little old ladies on the side of the road, or some similar vice.  Between mounting losses, SEC and BCS irrelevance, the controversy over the legacy of the Great Punkin, and bickering among the fans, the battle for the soul of Big Orange fans has never been more feverishly pitched.

That said, I am still convicted—perhaps even more so—that there is no other team I’d ever follow and that it is truly great to be one of the many Tennessee Volunteers.  Thus, I thought I’d offer up a little list—just to remind the doom and gloom crowd that life really isn’t all that bad (and for reasons which should be fairly obvious, “21” is the top of the list).

Thus, here are 21 Things that make it great to be a Tennessee Volunteer:

>> (Lawvol’s first attempt at) Flash (which he couldn’t get to resize properly) Version <<

Full Version after the Jump…

** Many images, may load slowly on dial-up connections

Read the rest of this entry

On a Lighter Note: Bruce Pearl … Superfly

I somehow managed to miss these yesterday in the run-up to the game against Louisville, but the boys over at Awful Announcing have discovered a site with pictures of Bruce Pearl from his high school yearbook, with a Superfly afro.

Superfly Bruce

All I can say to that hairdo is … “Baaauun-Chicka-Baaun-Chow

Man, I find more reasons to like Bruce Pearl everyday…

– Go Figure …


Images Courtesy of: The Dirty
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