Posts Tagged ‘Marquette Eagles’
Vols Outlast Marquette[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Vols 80, Marquette 68"][/caption]
At least it wasn't another loss.
It was another start, but fortunately Tennessee was able to fight their way back to a halftime tie Tuesday night in Nashville. As I was sitting watching a halftime show featuring two contestants who hit a combined two three-pointers in 35 seconds (no joke, one guy did not move his feet the entire time, not even jumping), I was expecting a battle in the second half. Honestly, I was excited for the promising outlook of a quality basketball game.[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="243" caption="A small band of Marquette students made the trip and perched themselves right behind Section 120. Notice the guy on the left who at first glance appears to be painted completely gold and wearing just a Speedo (I was told it was actually a leotard)..."][/caption]
Well, then the men in striped shirts came out of the tunnel...
Seriously, great win for Tennessee and all, but I drove three hours in a cloudy, misty fog to watch Tennessee and Marquette play basketball, not for the referees to take over the show and call 54 fouls. If this doesn't count as a "free-throw shooting contest" - 71 combined freebies - then I don't know what is. And it wasn't one-sided really or anything like that. It was just atrocious.
OK, enough of that rant. Amidst all the fouling, the game was entertaining to watch. The large Tennessee crowd was into it, and Marquette
probably definitely had more fans in the Sommet Center than did Vanderbilt. Marquette is located in Milwaukee; Vandy is five minutes down the road. Fortunately for me, I didn't get to the arena until the last four minutes of the South Florida-Vanderbilt snooze-fest the preceded the Vols-Eagles game. Even in those four minutes, I might as well been watching a couple D-2 schools...
OK, enough fun at Vanderbilt's expense (oh yeah, our worst football team ever beat their first bowl team in 25 years...). As Ghost over at 3SIB so eloquently put it, this Tennessee team is frustrating to watch at times. For example, the three or four turnovers on alley-oop attempts that are clearly not there. Missed open and contested threes, which we fans aren't used to (late first half comes to mind, when Maze had a WIDE-OPEN look from the wing in transition...and missed it). Failure to switch on some pick-and-rolls, leaving open looks at three for the opponent. Heck, even when Scotty Hopson chased down a loose ball right under the basket - and proceeded to not properly secure it and score two easy points - you can't help but not be a little flustered.
All that said, this team fought through it - the fouls, the poor outside shooting, the stifling Marquette defense on Tyler Smith, the night Wes Matthews had, the late runs Marquette made, the last of which was silenced by this unlikely source...
After feeble and failed attempts at catching something YouTubeable and postable, Josh Tabb makes my night and essentially seals the win over Marquette. So, from
all of us here at Gate 21 me, thank you, Josh Tabb.
And also a huge, HUGE thanks to Wayne Chism. Smilin' Wayne showed up to the tune of 27 points, 11 board, 8-of-11 from the field and the line, and a pair of huge second half threes. After Marquette had made a mini-run to take a 48-46 lead, Chism scored 15 of Tennessee's next 19 points, to forge the Vols to a 65-58 lead.[caption id="" align="alignright" width="216" caption="Tyler knocking down a pair of free throws from the Dominic James technical"][/caption]
Actually, you could argue that the Dominic James technical foul more or less turned the tide, as Tennessee took a six-point lead thanks to the pairs of free throws converted by Tyler Smith and Chism. After Lazar Hayward hit the three that Tabb answered, Marquette did not score.
As for the judging of Tennessee's play, the defense was better, if only statistically. Yes, Marquette got too many open looks, a few of which Tennessee was fortunate to have not go down, but the Eagles made 8 threes and only 10 twos, and shot under 40% for the game, and in each half. It may have been a little iffy at times, but there were improvements in that area.
Three-point shooting is going to be an issue all year. Honestly, Renaldo Woolridge might be the most consistent guy in that aspect. He's certainly not afraid of shooting. We've seen Cam Tatum go off. Still awaiting Scotty Hopson to have a "breakout" game with his beautiful, rainbow, nearly-hitting-the-center-hung-scoreboard it's-got-so-much-arc J. It was good to see Tabb, the defensive stopper (kudos to him on guarding James most of the night), hit a big three in a tough spot.
Offensively, the Vols had no answer to Marquette's trapping 1-3-1 zone until they started to attack it with the dribble. I think having J.P. Prince, who's value as an experienced wing player and defender should no longer be underestimated, likely would have helped in that regard. Bobby Maze still isn't quite there yet, but his play Tuesday was better than Saturday.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Yes, the JumboTron was high-quality, but showed NO replays all night, though I am not totally sure why..."][/caption]
But finally, back to Wayne. He has the upside, he just now needs to put solid performances together. And I wish people would quit groaning everytime he lines up a three. Like it or not, it's part of the offense, people. He hits one of his four or five attempts each game, which is about what the other guys are doing anyways. That said, I think he needs to utilize his post game more, and look to earn trips to line, because he's obviously worked on his free-throw stroke.
The Vols now have two home games to close out 2008, against Belmont Saturday afternoon and Louisiana-Lafayette the 29th. Then of course is the 2009-opening trip out to Lawrence to play Kansas January 3rd. I would say that's the next test, but let's not sleep on those Bruins. Just in the last week, Cleveland State won at Syracuse, Texas struggled with two in-state schools and Memphis beat Arkansas-Little Rock by all of 8 points. Let's hope the young Vols can build off this W...[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Vols getting pumped up before the game"][/caption]
As I mentioned Sunday, I am about to head up a possibly icy I-40 to Nashville (from Memphis) to watch the SEC-Big East Invitational, which of course includes the Vols, off the rather embarrassing loss at Temple Saturday, and Baldy's Commodores (unfortunately, I'll be there someday as well).
If you thought Temple was good, there's plenty of reason to think Marquette is plenty better. The Golden Eagles, out of the Big East (although I wouldn't call Milwaukee as being in the East), are 8-1, with a notable win over Wisconsin at home, and a loss to Dayton in Chicago in a preseason tournament.
All you basically need to know about Marquette are the three outstanding guards: Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. James has seemingly been there forever, and turned down the NBA Draft last year to return. Matthews is the leading scorer at just under 20 ppg, and actually second on the team in rebounds (6 rpg). McNeal is the second-leading scorer and is also averaging 5 boards/game. Though it might seem that Marquette has no inside game, Lazar Hayward does average a double-double at only 6-foot-6. That said, the only players taller than 6'8'' on the roster have played as many minutes as I have this year (that would be zero).
So obviously Tennessee should be able to exploit Marquette inside, right? Well, the recent play of Brian Williams and Wayne Chism should have you a little nervous if you're a Tennessee fan. Those two have to come to play tonight and control the boards and take advantage of the lack of defenders that are bigger than they are.
Now I don't mean to throw Big Baby and Weezy (Chism's an asthmatic) under the bus since the recent struggles haven't been totally their fault. The perimeter defense will be under quite a bit of pressure tonight with those Marquette guards. Don't expect too much press tonight, or at least I don't. I know it's a staple of Tennessee under Bruce Pearl, but I have little reason to think Marquette will have too much trouble with it.
Another thing to point out is that after James, McNeal, Hayward, and Matthews, the next player in ppg is Maurice Acker, who has scored in double figures all of once this year. Marquette does go 9-deep, but there isn't much scoring after the big four. I also don't expect J.P. Prince to play either.
This should be a home game for Tennessee for all intents and purposes, and it provides a great chance to repair the damaged reputation from Saturday's blowout loss to Temple. Hopefully I'll have some photos and videos from tonight's game that I can put up here. I will not say that I'm expecting a Tennessee loss because I never, ever pick against Tennessee or think our hoops team will absolutely 100% lose a game (football...not so much...), but this will be a very tough test for the Vols. Nevertheless, it should be a fun game to watch and be at, so obviously I'm looking forward to that
Those of you who normally visit us here at the Gate will obviously noticed that, well, I have been non-existent since Thanksgiving. No lawvol did not ban me, change my password and lock me out of WordPress, and I have not quit blogging or anything else.
Simply put, I've had to finish up this semester with finals and studying and all that nonsense. Then there was the painting of our apartment, which is more than likely what I was doing when I wasn't studying. As it is, I'm back in Memphis for the between-semester break.
Quite a bit has gone on since my last posting, and I'm sure I'll have more on these things and others as they come about over the next however long. As it is here's what I'll touch on right here and right now with Vols football and hoops:
1. Farewill Philip Fulmer and hello Lane (and Monte) Kiffin.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Some Vol fan might have shed a tear or two, but I was all smiles of happiness watching Fulmer go out the way he did and the way he should be remembered: a winner"][/caption]
First off, an absolutely great performance in the season finale for the Vols as they beat Kentucky 28-10. The defense finished off an excellent season and the offense actually scored four touchdowns, running left, right, up the middle, around the end, all over the Cats. Even Jonathan Crompton completed that beautiful touchdown pass to Denarius Moore.
If there was a way for Coach Fulmer to go out, that might have been it: being carried off the field by a pair of seniors going out as a winner.
Honestly, that seems like a distant memory now, because these last two weeks have been all about new head coach Lane Kiffin and (a) the speculation of the staff he might/is assemble/ing and (b) the Sherman like march of recruiting. I think the guy finally returned to Knoxville a couple of days ago after tearing through the state, the West Coast, Ohio, and who knows where else. He's gotten a commitment from Eric Gordon, some visits from guys who weren't probably planning on it, and consideration from guys who might have had Tennessee out of the picture.[caption id="" align="alignright" width="157" caption="I am convinced Lane Kiffin did not sleep during his two week recruiting tear..."][/caption]
It's obviously been two weeks as Tennessee's coach, but so far so good if you ask me. He said at his press conference that he was going to try and outwork other coaches, and so far you can't really say he hasn't done that. And we're still waiting on the completion of his staff, which won't happen until after the NFL season most likely. Of the last regime coaches who are still in limbo, I would expect Latrell Scott to be the most likely to stay. And of course I think it's all-but-official on Monte Kiffin as the defensive coordinator, which is great. Still awaiting word on Ed Orgeron and the rest of the staff. Lane was given an extra million for staff salaries, and Tennessee fans are being kept waiting on the potentially all-star staff Tennessee could have next year.
Finally, as fans, let's give this guy a chance. If you watched the SEC Championship game, you realize we are quite a bit behind Florida. In fact, I firmly believe that the SEC going forward will be an Urban-Saban world that the rest of us will be living in. To be competitive, Tennessee was going to have to hire someone who could compete with those two guys in recruiting and X's and O's. Is Lane Kiffin that guy? Only time will tell. Some are skeptical (you know who you are), but I'm not. He's young, he's energetic, and I think he has a chance to be great.
Also, a shout-out to former offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, now the new head man at Bowling Green. Seriously, I wish him much success at his new place, and I'm glad he landed very much on his feet. Now I just hope he doesn't take Latrell Scott with him...
2. Eric Berry gets Manninged
Someone explain to me how Eric Berry didn't win the Thorpe award over Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins. I know Jenkins is like a no-brainer first round NFL pick and whatever and it's harder to make a statistical impact at corner because you don't get thrown to blah blah blah but that's pure robbery.
It's crap like that gives me plenty of reason to not care about any of the postseason awards, including and especially the Heisman. Call me a homer, bitter, whatever, but just like much of the rest of college football, it's quite political.[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="230" caption="Playing a DECEMBER road game against a team with a guy named Christmas: bad idea"][/caption]
3. Not sure any of us expected that...
My last basketball related words were of the high-praise variety, following the Vols win over Georgetown in the Old Spice Classic semifinals. Since then, Tennessee lost to a good Gonzaga team, sleep-walked by UNC-Asheville (mad props to Tyler Smith for turning the first triple-double in Tennessee hoops history), and got smoked by a Temple team playing at a high level at home.
Now I'm an optimistic guy, so here's why Vols fans shouldn't be totally freaking out: first, J.P. Prince was out and, though he gets a bad rap at times, he is quite a valuable guy for Tennessee. In addition, this was Tennessee's first true road game with a number of new guys, Temple is no slouch, it's still December, and Bruce Pearl is the coach. Remember two years ago when Tennessee went to South Carolina in mid-February and got run out of the gym similar to Saturday? Yeah, that team had less athleticism and they reached the Sweet 16. Let's not get too bent out of shape here...
That said, things aren't all hunky-dory. Defense is an issue. The press has been for the most part ineffective especially against Gonzaga and Temple, both of whom have experienced guards. Wayne Chism has yet to continue the growth and progress he made last year, and the platoon of him and Brian Williams have struggled the last couple of games. The three-point shooting has also been inconsistent.
It doesn't get easier, as Tennessee faces off against Marquette in Nashville Tuesday night. The Eagles also have experienced guards in Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. It will be interesting to see how Tennessee will bounce back from Saturday's loss.
I will be in the house for that game, and if for no other reason, Tennessee should win because I've seen Tennessee lose in person all of twice in my most immediate past: LSU in the SEC Tournament two years ago and the loss at Memphis State in Bruce's first year. I'll have my camera, so hopefully I'll get some quality photos and/or video and get to share them with you, the wonderful readers of Gate 21 (no guarantees, however...)
As it is, I'm glad to be back posting again and lawvol and I should have some good stuff going this month.
Images Courtesy of: Michael Patrick / KNS • Michael Patrick / KNS • H. Rumph Jr. / AP (ESPN.com)
Well, as expected, there have been a few surprises in the Tournament so far. I being busy re-modeling my garage have been a bit slow to comment on these (as if anyone cared...). Be that as it may, here are my observations...
• Kentucky Consistency: Despite managing to make something out of nothing, Billy Clyde and the boys in blue have proven in the NCAA Tournament that they still possess the ability down the stretch to demonstrate the quality which helped pave their way to an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament: the ability to suck the tubes hard when they really have to.
In fairness, however, the Vanderbilt Commodores also proved that -- when forced to play on a normally configured basketball floor -- they blow.
That’s the last time I take either of them as a longshot in my bracket...
• Pac-10 Power: I don’t claim to keep up with the Pac-10 in anything, but I was under the impression that UCLA, Stanford, and USC were supposed to be simply amazing teams which made their opponents quiver in fear, little children run for their mother, and grown men crap their pants. Apparently, Kansas State didn’t get the memo, and Marquette and Texas A&M all but disregarded it.
News Flash, UCLA is beatable...
• Bulldog Blowout: Despite veritable orgy of wins over the last week leading up to the NCAA Tournament, the Georgia Bulldogs did not achieve the ridiculous and manage to amass more wins in the post-season than they did during the SEC regular season. Nice run, however for the Dawgs, but now the party is over..
So could someone please tell Dennis Felton that Wade Houston called and wants his moustache back?
• The Kevin O’Neill Chronicles: After coaching the Arizona Wildcats all season while Lute Olsen "found" himself (despite the fact that Olsen has to be approaching 70 -- or at least looks like it) Kevin O’Neill again gets the shaft as Olsen made it clear that he will now resume his role as head coach. I guess Olsen is done chasing skirt, and can get back to doing his job. I don’t get why Olsen needed a whole season off because of a divorce -- Bruce Pearl has actually improved his record during his divorce, and Pat Summitt hasn't been too shabby during hers either.
Given Tennessee’s experience with O’Neill and his refusal to put up with the Big Dickey’s bullshit (did I say "bullshit?" I meant "bullshit."), I’d say it’s a safe bet that O’Neill is gonzo, and that right soon. As the only Pre-Pearl / Post-DeVoe coach the BasketVols ever had that was worth a damn, I wish him well. Speaking of which, the SEC schools that are thinking of trading up on their coach could do a lot worse than giving the old "Revco Kicker" a look.
I guess Lute Olsen and the Big Dickey have one thing in common ... now O’Neill thinks they are both two-faced jackasses...
• Dookus Go Homeus: Dook took it in the teeth, exactly as I didn’t predict. Oh well, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and UConn already screwed my bracket enough to make Dook’s loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers a game of little consequence. I just hate it that the Belmont Bruins couldn’t pull it out the night before -- I was so hoping that the Bruins would give it to Coach Kryezq?r2gxmzrfeykzwGkeeei the hard way, and lay it on the "regal" ACC. Hats off to West Virginia for finishing the job.
As for the boys of Belmont, I know moral victories are like french-kissing your sister (fun at first, but then just damn nasty) but Belmont obviously has a really hot sister. No shame in taking Dook down to the wire, even if you came up one point short. Thankfully, Joel over at Rocky Top Talk didn’t have a coronary or toss his cookies on his keyboard during the 70-71 loss by Belmont...
... if Joel had quit posting due to death or a broken computer I’d have had one less great resource to plagiarize.• UConn Sucks: But of course I think everyone already knew that...
• In Case You’re Keeping Score: Finally, just to show -- like Eliot Spitzer -- I am accountable to the people, my bracket is completely shot to hell.
More to come, on the BasketVols, and on everyone else once the rest of the Sweet 16 are confirmed...