Archive for the 'Players' Category

A glimpse: 8-4 knee injury expunged on schedule due to overachievement in the NIT

Friday, May 12th, 2006

Football

I’m a Realist breaks down the 2006 Tennessee Volunteer football team and predicts we’ll go 8-4.  Running back Montario Hardesty, who missed most of last season after tearing the ACL in his right knee, will undergo another surgery for a less serious injury to his left knee suffered during spring practice.  He’s expected to be available this fall.  At least projected starting running back Arian Foster’s recovery is on schedule.

Senior linebacker Marvin Mitchell received diversion on his May 1 disorderly conduct charge. The misdemeanor will be expunged from his record as long as he stays out of trouble for the next 30 days and pays court costs.  Coach Fulmer said that he’ll be allowed to return to the team if he remains incident-free and faces the team’s internal punishment.

Basketball

Scout.com observes that the fact that 6-4 forward Dane Bradshaw played his power forward position so well even though he was undersized made an impression on recruits, who reasoned that the coaches must know what they’re doing if they can get their players to over-achieve like Bradshaw did.

The Volunteer basketball team was chosen along with North Carolina, Gonzaga, and Indiana as one of the top four seeds in the pre-season NIT.  We’ll open the pre-season against Fordham in Nashville.

The glimpse: CFN bullish on Vols, conflicting reports on Major Wingate

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

Pete Fiutak’s front page feature on College Football News yesterday examined the 2006 Tennessee Volunteer football team.  Loaded with information, the gist of it was that 2005 really wasn’t as bad as it may have seemed.  Fiutak acknowledged the poor results but said that (1) losses to Florida, Georgia, and Notre Dame were nothing to be ashamed of; (2) losses to Alabama and South Carolina came down to a few “fluky” plays, and (3) the loss to Vanderbilt, while inexcusable, was collateral damage of the season-long flame out.

Sounds an awful lot like Fulmer saying “we were only a couple of plays of beating the tar out of the Longhorns for the national championship” or whatever he said at the end of last year.  Funny thing is, Fiutak may actually be right.  Don’t expect a VFRT recap of last season until later this summer, but I have thrown everything into a pot and turned up the heat to let it simmer, and everytime I peek in there, it’s looking like the theme will be that a lot of little things combined into a negative tipping point, a total mess at the conclusion of a high-stakes game of Don’t-Spill-the-Beans.  If the coaches and players and fans can do a lot of little things different this year, and they’re ceretainly trying, a positive tipping point is not inconceivable.

Elsewhere, a fan and poster on VolNation’s message board has some thoughts on offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe’s recent comments at an alumni event in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Also, there are conflicting reports on the reason for Major Wingate’s indefinite suspension from the basketball team.  GoVolsXtra reported that it was for failing to show up for a scheduled drug test, while Scout.com and the Tennessean reported that Wingate actually tested positive for marijuana.  Dope.

Finally, Rivals.com continues its series on getting to know the newcomers to the football team by featuring LaMarcus Thompson and reports on a fictional encounter between Dr. Custom, Mr. Fleeting, and Mr. Middle arguing about their respective expectations for the upcoming football season.

Glimpse around Rocky Top: Out with the old, in with the new

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

Out with the old.

Scout.com’s Randy Moore quantifies the Vols’ defensive losses to graduation, noting that this year’s graduating class had 24.5 sacks last year (Parys Haralson (8.5), Jason Hall (7), Omar Gaither (4), Jesse Mahelona (2), Kevin Simon (1), Jason Mitchell (1), and Jason Allen (1)), and returns a grand total of 8.5 sacks.

Former UT defensive back Jason Allen is working exclusively at safety at the Miami Dolphins’ mini-camp.  (HT to Voluminous.)

In with the new.

Rivals.com is taking a closer look at some of the key new players expected on campus this fall for UT, including Quintin Hancock and Ramone Johnson.

More rankings and more trouble.

CBS Sportsline’s Dennis Dodd ranks four SEC teams in the post-spring top ten (Auburn (3), LSU (4), Florida (9), and Georgia (10)).  Tennessee is again MIA.

Meanwhile, linebacker Marvin Mitchell’s arraignment after his arrest for disorderly conduct at the Rocky Top Market has been postponed, and the infraction that got Major Wingate suspended by head basketball coach Bruce Pearl remains an unsolved mystery.

UPDATE: Mystery solved. Wingate was suspended for failing to show up for a scheduled drug test.

A Glimpse: Basketball awards; graduating prisoners

Saturday, May 6th, 2006

The Volunteer basketball team had its annual pat each other on the back postseason awards banquet last night, and the following awards were presented:

  • JaJuan Smith and Major Wingate were named the most-improved players.  (Okay, I’ll play along with that one.)
  • Dane Bradshaw took home the Team Before Self Award and the John Stucky Lifter of the Year Award.  (Good, good, good.
  • The Burchfield-Moss Most Courageous Award went to Jordan Howell.  (Hmmm.  Not sure what this is about.  Any ideas?)

Basketball head coach Bruce Pearl is still trying to fill his assistant coaching vacancy.

Offensive Coordinator David Cutcliffe took quarterbacks Jonathan Crompton and Bo Hardegree with him to a graduation ceremony at the Morgan County Correctional Facility where coach Cut addressed prisoners who were receiving their GED or a vocational trade certificate.  That ought to give EDSBS something to play with.

C.J. Watson improves NBA draft stock

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

Tennessee Volunteer point guard C.J. Watson apparently improved his NBA draft stock by earning all-tournament recognition at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament this past weekend. Watson scored 16.3 points per game at the tournament, third-best of all players.

Back from the Orange and White Game

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

Okay, back from the Orange and White Game. Fan Day was a disaster, but the game turned out fine. I’m done optimizing the pics I took, but posting them will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon-ish.

Here’s one to hold you over until then:

The pass was intended for Stanley Asumnu (No. 88), and as you can see, he would have been able to get it if it had been thrown a bit higher and a bit further.

More pics and more on the game itself tomorrow and Monday. Thanks for reading.

Asumnu, Stewart shine in scrimmage

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

Former Volunteer basketballer Stanley Asumnu, who decided to give football a try now that his basketball eligibility is exhausted, turned in the highlight of yesterday’s spring practice scrimmage, pulling in a 50-yard pass. Dude’s got some hops. And hands, it appears. See the play at the 1:30 mark of the scrimmage video from UTSports.com. The video includes footage of Asumnu’s basketball teammates cheering him on after the play.

Senior cornerback Antwan Stewart also had a good day, intercepting two passes, one from each of Erik Ainge and Jon Crompton. Coach Fulmer said that sophomore Demetrice Morley almost had three picks by baiting the quarterback and then cutting under the receiver. The secondary overall sounds promising.

Offense, oy.

Scout.com’s Randy Moore: UT can relate to Duke

Friday, March 24th, 2006

Scout.com’s Randy Moore draws a parallel between Tennessee’s loss to the LSU Tigers back in January and Duke’s loss to them last night. Moore observed that LSU head coach John Brady used the same blueprint for each game: shut down the three-point specialist with 6′ 5″ defensive guru Garrett Temple. Tennessee’s Chris Lofton shot 1 of 7 against LSU for a whopping 2 points. Last night, LSU held Golden-Boy-Scoring-Machine J.J. Redick to 3 of 18 and a season low of 11 points.

Pretty impressive coaching and defensive execution.

Tennessee Volunteer Chris Lofton thwarts sports conspiracy-theorist’s worst fear

Friday, March 17th, 2006

It was a recipe for disaster. A sports conspiracy-theorist’s worst fear. The work of a diabolical mastermind bent on televising an upset of an over-seeded, over-confident team on a losing streak by an under-seeded, no-name school whose time had come.

Too bad Chris Lofton hadn’t read the script.

The game had turned into a defensive struggle, and the drama was building as planned. Senior and team leader C.J. Watson was sitting out extended minutes with four fouls. Coach Bruce Pearl’s spread motion offense wasn’t producing any open looks. Every time that Lofton, the team’s biggest scoring threat, tried to rub a defender off of a screen, he found himself sandwiched between two defenders instead.

With 5:00 minutes left to play and the score tied at 58, Watson finally re-entered the game. Tennessee hit a two, Winthrop hit a three. The teams traded missed opportunities, fouls, and turnovers.

With the game tied at 61 and 21 seconds remaining, Watson scambled around the perimeter awhile before stopping and popping at the top of the key. The shot was too strong, and the long rebound was grasped by six hands: Lofton’s and those of two opponents. Nobody really won this battle, but Lofton at least succeeded in pushing the ball away from the crowd, and Bradshaw ran down and secured the loose ball. Pearl called time out with 2.9 seconds left and possession of the ball.

Pearl made up a play on the spot and diagrammed it for the players. Wingate would later admit some serious confusion. “I didn’t know what was going on,” he said after the game. “Coach Pearl drew up three different diagrams and told me to go some place.” Controlled chaos without the control.

Anyway, Bradshaw positioned himself courtside to inbound the ball. Wingate decided to stand at the near post. Lofton stood at the far post, Patterson was at the top of the key, and Watson was at mid-court. The whistle blew, and all of the players moved at once.

Lofton darted to the free throw line to set a pick for Patterson, who used Lofton to scrape off his defender and headed toward the basket on the far side of the court. For a split second, Patterson was open for a lob next to the basket, but Bradshaw did not see him until Patterson’s defender caught up with him.

Meanwhile, Wingate slid toward the perimeter to set a screen for Lofton, who was continuing around the arc, his man absolutely glued to him and holding him the whole time. Lofton gained the slightest amount of separation from Wingate’s screen and raced toward the corner, looking over his right shoulder for the pass from Bradshaw. Bradshaw tossed the ball to Lofton, who awkwardly twisted and squared up to the basket in two steps. The second foot planted, he executed an amazing, high-arcing fade-away jumper over the outstretched arm of his defender.

Patterson thought it was long. Wingate thought it was short.

Lofton knew it was in.

Vols win, 63-61.


Coach Pearl began his post-game interview by ticking off a few of the more memorable finishes to games in this magical season: Lofton’s steal-and-heave to Bradshaw for a layup against Florida the first time, Bradshaw’s sweet steal-and-spin move to beat Florida the second time, and Lofton’s awkward twisting fade-away jumper with .4 seconds left for the first post-season win in what seems like forever.

Oh, and don’t forget these guys:

  • Andre Patterson had a double double;
  • Major Wingate will not have to be fed to his snakes after all, as he had one of the best games of his career, going five for eight from the field and five of six on free throws while blocking three shots. Plus, he played solid defense against Winthrop’s Craig Bradshaw, who was a handful all game.
  • Jordan Howell, who played heavy and important minutes while C.J. Watson was on the bench with foul trouble.

Bob Kesling’s call of Chris Lofton’s game-winning shot.

Coach Pearl’s post-game interview, from UTSports.com.

Take a look at the picture of the shot just before Lofton lets it fly. Does it look like it has any chance of going in? Winthrop’s Torrell Martin, who defended Lofton on the play, didn’t think so. “It’s a one-in-a-million shot,” he said after the game. “It looked like the ball curved in.”

Wingate, Snakes, and the First Battle of Bull Run

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

John Pennington is on an absolute roll. He has thoughts on the Pearl Factor (head coach Bruce Pearl’s being “good for business, good for basketball, good for a quote, good for rivalries and good for ratings,” is 75% of the reason the Vols got a No. 2 seed), the double-edged sword aspect of the high seed, the Vols’ potential matchups, and an invitation to readers to publish their picks by comment.

Pennington’s best bit of the day concerns center Major Wingate’s statement upon hearing that the Vols were a No. 2 seed that “[w]e have some pretty rough teams after we get to the Sweet 16.” I’ll let John take it from here:

Ever notice how often the biggest talkers are the worst producers? I’m not the coach at UT, and if I were they’d be about 0-28 right now, but I can tell you how I’d handle this situation.

“Watch 3 straight hours of Winthrop tape. Then run for an hour. Then watch another 2 hours of Winthrop tape. Then we’re going to throw 500 passes to you in the paint to make sure you can catch the ball. If you say one more word to the press, you’ll get 500 more passes. Say another word, and I’ll feed you to your snakes.”

Agreed. I had the same thoughts when I read Wingate’s comment. It was part of the reason for yesterday’s cautionary post. The feeling grew today when I read that UT is giving the team a send off to the tourney.

It reminds me of a Civil War educational video I just previewed before showing it to my home-schooled nine-year-old. The Union was so confident of a quick victory over the Confederates in what came to be known as the First Battle of Bull Run, that spectators actually showed up with picnic baskets. When the Union army was driven back by an underestimated adversary, the hoop skirts and parasols left their fried chicken to the ants and fled in absolute panic.

By all means, let’s enjoy this. But make the mistake of thinking it’s going to be a picnic, and we’ll be headed home in a hurry.