Posts Tagged ‘C.J. Watson’

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

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.

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

It’s Almost Basketball Time in Tennessee

The View From the Hill | Gate 21


Well, for some it’s been basketball season since about mid-September. But after a busy last spring – Ramar Smith/Duke Crews, the Hopson commitment and the Maze coup – and preseason – taking Negedu off Arizona’s hands, D-West’s unfortunate issues, and bum shoulders and bum academics – your defending SEC champs open up the 2008-08 season in the beautiful Thompson-Boling Arena tonight – an off football Saturday (thankfully) at that – against Chattanooga.

Because my creativity is pretty limited and honestly I’m still not fully into basketball mode, I’m going to take a shortcut with my hoops preview – a list. But unlike this list, it’s going to be a nice one, and twice as long. Yes, that’s 10 things and players I’m looking forward to/expecting from the always entertaining bunch of Bruce Pearl

1. Back-to-back?

This Tyler's team

Flashback to March 5th of last year. The Vols, trailing early to red-hot Florida in Gainesville while Mississippi State leads Vandy in Nashville, look poised to go from #1 in the country to a tie for the SEC title in just a week. Now I don’t know about anybody else, but I don’t like to share. Sharing – and tying for that matter – is stupid. I wanted the SEC all to Tennessee. I wanted a t-shirt (and a 1-seed). Who cares if the SEC was “down”? An SEC title is an SEC title.

Well then this and this happened. Tennessee got that title, its first in 41 years. Now, heading into this season, the Vols on paper are the favorites to repeat. Florida will likely provide the biggest challenge, but the Gates are young inside. Kentucky lost to VMI – yes, VMI – last night, and have to deal without Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley. They do Patrick Patterson, but it didn’t help last night…

Vanderbilt lost their team Shan Foster, but Aussie-softee A.J. Ogilvy is back. South Carolina has a new coach (Darrin Horn) and Devan Downey, but that’s a big turnaround. Georgia is not good at basketball (SEC Tournament = fluke). Even Buzz owned UGA. The West? I have no clue, so don’t ask.

So while going back-to-back isn’t gonna be easy, it could/should very well happen.

2. Being Sweet is nice and all, but Elite is, well, it’s better…

In Bruce Pearl’s first year, it was any sign of not being mediocre. In his second year, it was advancing past the second round (yes, I include Mike Conley and Greg Oden in the same light as Matt Mauck and Steven Hill). Last year, it was winning the SEC. Going along the natural progression, shouldn’t this be the hump-overcoming year to the Elite Eight?

The common thought is that this year’s group should be the opposite of last year’s team that faded at the end. This year’s team may struggle at first with the many new parts, but come tournament time, they could be real good. Now obviously there’s a whole season and who knows what the matchups will be (hopefully nicer than last year), but this is the next step for the Tennessee program: going further in March, when it really counts.

3. Tyler Smith

It’s going to be a ton of fun watching this guy play basketball this year. He is a special player, and with all due respect to the rest of this group, this team is Tyler’s team. The offense is going to center around him, and when it comes down to it, he’s going to be the go-to guy. He showed he’s capable of coming through in the clutch (Ole Miss and Memphis, anyone?).

SEC Player of the Year? Likely. NBA Lottery Pick next June? If he gets an outside shot, without a doubt yes. To me he’s next in line in establishing the Tennessee program as nationally relevant. The one we’ll remember 20 years from now in the same line as C.J. Watson (who deserves WAY more appreciation than he gets), Dane Bradshaw, Chris Lofton (who’s by himself), and JaJuan Smith.

4. Scotty, Cam, Woolridge, and Negedu…

Oh, the new guys. Talk about length. Talk about athleticism. A 6-6 or 6-8 guy at the two? Having seen Hopson play in the summer league, he just makes it look so easy. Yes, sometimes it looks as if he doesn’t care. I’m not worried about him not turning it up when has to. Tatum may be the team’s best three–point shooter (more on that later). Woolridge could start tomorrow night and has had quite the buzz around himself since summer. What will Negedu – who to me is essentially replacing Duke Crews – bring to the table?

B-Maze might be the newcomer that determines the fate for Tennessee

How are all these new pieces going to mesh? Will the chemistry seen from the last two years still be here this year? It may take some time, but if it does, the talent is scary good. Obviously youth and inexperience gets brought up as well. To that I say these names: Carmelo Anthony. Derrick Rose. Kevin Love. Conley. Oden. This ain’t football, people. You can win with freshman in hoops. It may get bumpy at first, but if the struggles are there by conference play, only then would I start worrying.

5. Big Money Maze

Now I think Bruce Pearl is an excellent coach. However, yes Rick Pitino did pretty much own him last March in Charlotte. Yes tinkering with Ramar Smith and the PG position for the NCAA Tournament probably wasn’t his best moment, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Bruce even told you that himself.

But I think Maze may be the missing link. The guy was the most impressive Vol in the summer league, with his ability to do many things at the offensive end and his overall intensity. Obviously with the horribly (and questionably) timed Daniel West eligibility issues, more of a burden falls on Maze’s (and J.P. Prince’s…and Josh Tabb‘s) shoulders. Can he handle it? Time will tell, but like with the rest of the new guys, Maze seems talented enough to make it happen.

I mean, he’s like a clone of Allen Iverson – corn rows, headband, height – and he puts on for Tennessee…how bad can he be??

6. Big Wayne gotta love him...

I love watching Tyler Smith play. I’m probably gonna love some of the new guys’ games too. But my favorite current Vol has to be Wayne Chism. For a couple reasons, First, he wears his headband differently from every other player, so he’s easily spotted. Second, he and his three-point shots are adventurous. You always are thinking, “Oh s***, not Wayne!”…and he banks it in. Who doesn’t love centers who can bomb? And finally, the dude’s always smiling. Always. You gotta love him…

7. Who’s Bert gonna yell “Money!” for now??

I have three major questions for this team. First, and this was a late-developing concern, is the point guard situation. Maze now has a bigger burden on his shoulders, and behind him it’s either J.P. Prince, who most fans are probably very skeptical of after last year’s debacle, or Josh Tabb. From seeing Daniel West in the summer league, I thought he was going to be a very solid backup. Prince says he’s ready, not only healthy, but ready to play point guard. The Pistons are using Tayshaun as a point forward, so maybe J.P. can get some tips. I’m not saying he’s not capable, I’ll just believe it when I see it.

Secondly, losing Lofton and JaJuan means you lose almost all of the outside game. Who’s gonna hit those dagger threes this year? Who will come up with the key outside shot in a key moment? Will the new three-point line have any effect on Bruce Pearl’s three-happy offense? If Tennessee can’t hit threes, team are undoubtedly going to pack it in and clog up the lane for Tyler and Chism. Thirdly, how will this team come together? Can the chemistry from the past seasons carry over with all these new faces? The talent’s certainly there…

8. Now that’s a schedule…

Bruce Pearl loves schedules like this. In addition to the SEC, everyone of course knows about the trip to Kansas, the visits from Memphis State and Gonzaga, and the game in Nashville with Big East foe Marquette.

How about we take a little deeper look? There’s the Old Spice Classic in Orlando Thanksgiving weekend. The Vols’ opening opponent, the Siena Saints, hammered the crap out of Vandy in the NCAA Tournament last year. Also there: Wichita State (revenge?), Georgetown, Michigan State (who’s a top 10 team?), Oklahoma State, and Gonzaga (again possibly).

Even the “cupcake” teams aren’t walkovers. Chattanooga hung with Tennessee last year. UT-Martin has Lester Hudson, who nearly went in the NBA Draft last year. MTSU is picked near the top of the Sun Belt (they lost in the conference tourney title game last March). There’s a tricky little trip to Temple, an NCAA Tournament team from last year. Finally, there’s Belmont. Ask Dook about the Bruins.

9. “The Streak”

Fact: in my two years of college, I have never had to leave TBA with the sick feeling of losing. Yes, I’m undefeated at home over two years. Tennessee’s home winning streak is up to 32 games now, and I think it would be cool to keep that going.

Just four years ago, TBA was just a big, empty arena. Now, it’s one of the best arenas in college basketball, and one of the toughest places to play in the SEC and the nation. Thank you, Bruce.

10. January 24, 2009

Look, most Tennessee fans don’t really care about little ol’ Memphis State down in the southwest corner of the state. It’s a little different for those of us who either live there and grew up there. Seeing Tennessee win the last two games against Tiger High in person were two of the funnest times of my college life. Watching them choke away a national title was pretty good too…


The Vols go for three-in-a-row January 24 in Knoxville. Honestly, this is the game I probably want to win the most this year. I could go into my reasons my hating the Tigers basketball program, but I’ll save that til this game in January. I’m not one of guaranteeing things, but it’s probably going to better than my Alabama hate post from a few weeks ago.

Oh I can’t wait to make John Calipari cry his way back home…yet again.


Images Courtesy of: Mark Humphrey / AP (Daylife)Saul Young / GVX • Joe Murphy / Getty Images (Daylife)Alan Spearman / AP (Daylife)
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