Sunday, March 22, 2009

Vols' loss in NCAAs typifies season

If Tennessee's 77-75 loss to Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA tournament showed us anything, it showed that the Vols were inconsistent right down to the end this season. This year, the Volunteers showed flashes of brilliance that would be quickly followed by breakdowns on defense and offense.

This happened against Oklahoma State. Against the Cowboys, Tennessee blew a seven-point first-half lead as we allowed OSU to shoot 57 percent from the floor in the game's first 20 minutes. Still, at the end, we had a chance to win but Tyler Smith missed a three-point shot in the final seconds.

Still, this season shows just how far Tennessee's program has come in the first four years of coach Bruce Pearl's tenure. For many, this was a disappointing year. However, four years ago, most fans would have been happy with a team that won 21 games, claimed the SEC Eastern Division championship, and made the NCAA tournament. So, instead of focusing on what went wrong, we should be congratulating the team on a job well done.

Looking toward next year, all of our top players are eligible to return. The question is whether Smith will come back or not. At the start of the season, the conventional wisdom was that he would leave. However, The Tennessean reported a couple of weeks ago that the odds were 50-50 that he would return.

Despite this season's frustration, Tennessee will definitely be the frontrunner to repeat as divisional champion if he returns. Even if he does not, the Vols will still challenge for the title.

So, the future is bright.


Chris said...

All that I wrote in this posting also applies to the Lady Vols. The disappearing act against Ball State was disappointing, but we have a lot of young talent and a Hall of Fame coach.

It would not surprise me if Coach Summitt added Ball State to the schedule next year....on their campus.

Joltin' Django said...

It says something for the quality of -- and the expectations for -- Lady Vols b-ball that just going to the NCAA "dance" ain't enough.