REGIONAL FINAL POST-MORTEM
This one hurts so bad. And, it will hurt for a long, long time.
But the hurt was worth it. We proved we belonged in the Regional Finals. We became the focus of the entire college basketball scene for a portion of an afternoon. We overcame a potentially team-destroying event (the famous Incident of New Year’s Eve) and the resulting loss of our best player by coming together to be a force instead of falling apart to be an unfortunate afterthought.
On Sunday afternoon, the Vols left everything on the court in one of the best games a fan, partial or impartial, could hope for where the prize was to cut down the nets on a national stage.
Tennessee fought, hustled, excelled, and overcame an eight-point deficit in the middle of the second half to eventually hold the lead 64-63 with 5:16 left. But that was the last lead the Vols would have. When Draymond Green made a 2-point jumper at the 4:40 mark, Michigan State had a lead that they only gave up twice when the Vols evened the score 66-66 with 3:57 left and again at 69-69 with only 12 seconds remaining on Scotty Hopson’s free throw after he stared into space for what seemed an eternity to calm himself under the hot national spotlight. Read More…
The very fine teams of the 1960’s with the likes of A.W. Davis, Red Robbins, Ron Widby, Tom Boerwinkle, Bill Justus, and Jimmy England couldn’t do it.
The great teams of the 1970’s with Bernard King, Ernie Grunfeld, and Reggie Johnson didn’t do it.
The talented teams of the 1980’s with stars like Howard Wood, Dale Ellis, and Tony White didn’t make it.
The teams of the past decade with the talent of Allan Houston, Ron Slay, and Chris Lofton had their chances but didn’t break through.
Instead, a team nearly decimated on New Year’s by silly behavior somehow clawed their way through the SEC regular season (spurred by a wacky win over Number One-ranked Kansas) with a respectable record, and even though looking rather sluggish and out of sorts in the SEC tournament, made it into the NCAA tournament.
We only do football here at VITF. No windows. No floors. No dishes. No laundry. Not even basketball.
But we’d be guilty of breaking the Student-Athlete Manual if we didn’t give a shout of Hell Yes to the Bruce Pearl Gang.
On Sunday, Tennessee defeated top-ranked Kansas 76-68, and, according to the CBS announcers, the first time since 1966 that the Vols have defeated the Nation’s Number One team in Knoxville.
Only six scholarship players were left for Sunday’s game after Tyler Smith’s guns-and-drugs foolery left the bench in near-tatters. Read More…