Joel Hollingsworth

  • The things we’ve spent all year hoping were true for the SEC are about to be fully realized.

    The league record for NCAA Tournament teams is six. Eight are in the most recent Bracket Matrix, and Mississippi […]

    • My focus is still on the short-term…while it’s a train wreck at 8-7 and there are enough games between those tied teams that I’m not sure they can all pass us, let’s make sure we go 2-1 or better in the last 3 and lock in that 2 seed in the SECT.

      Realistically, splitting the MS road trip (with tomorrow being the easier of those 2 games) and holding serve at home against UGA would be a great finish. I will lend my personal support on the 2nd leg of the MS trip by driving down from Memphis to Starkville on Tuesday.

      Giddy up. Go Vols.

      • I think a win tomorrow makes the Mississippi State game all opportunity. Would it make a difference between the Vols being a three or four seed? Maybe. But I don’t think we’d have to put pressure on it if Tennessee already has its 11th conference win in hand.

  • It may not have been the most aesthetically pleasing win of the year, but Tennessee’s 62-57 victory over Florida provided validation on two important points.

    One: the Vols handled Florida’s elite guards. The […]

  • We get as much mileage as we can out of the “picked to finish 13th in the SEC” narrative, but that story really changed as soon as the Vols beat Purdue. That was 91 days ago. Tennessee then increased its […]

    • I guess ESPN2 is good for some Vol fans, but – speaking purely selfishly – I would prefer home games not be televised at all than tip off at 9pm on school nights.

    • It’s an incredibly important game tonight, not just for our collective mental stability, but for the SEC standings.

      With a loss and an Alabama win in Auburn, UT would find itself in 4th, losing a tiebreaker at 9-6 to Alabama and Florida.

      With a win and an Alabama loss in Auburn, UT would find itself in 2nd and 2 games clear of a massive pileup in the middle of the conference. Depending on what happens in Columbia (southern variety), the above scenario would leave either 7 or 8 teams at 7-8 or 8-7 in the league. That’s crazy.

    • It’s time for win or go home basketball. Every team we have left is either a tournament team or a team trying to make a tournament. We need to build that mentality to be successful in March!

  • Five to go. Auburn just keeps winning, still two up on the Vols. The Tigers have a pair of games with South Carolina book-ending three tests against likely NCAA Tournament teams (Alabama, at Florida, at Arkansas). […]

  • For whatever percentage of today was Tennessee feeling too good about itself, this loss was a good thing going forward. I don’t know how high that percentage is, but I’m sure it’s there after the win at Rupp and […]

    • I blame FiveThirtyEight.

    • My concern is that in the last two games Tennessee hasn’t been playing like itself on offense. There seem to be less assists, less ball movement, and poorer shot selection. In an article earlier this year you pointed out that those things were what would determine how far Tennessee went. It seems to be true after the last two games. Kentucky wasn’t good enough to beat us even when we weren’t playing well but Alabama apparently was.

    • Burning this film would create an environmental hazard. Out of respect for the trees and frogs and things, we should just wrap this in a bio-hazard container and store it away in the proper facility. Complete lack of confidence offensively. No one wanted to take the shot. Out-toughed on both ends. Mentally beaten by the 10 minute mark of the FIRST half. Outmanned in the paint. Bama is always a bad match up at their place. But losing by 28 when you are favored by 2.5 is humiliating. If the guys don’t come to play, then this is what happens against good teams.

  • The race is on for the SEC title: Auburn opened the door with a one-point home loss to Texas A&M Wednesday night. The Tigers remain one game up on Tennessee with seven to play, two up if you’re looking to win this […]

    • Definitely our most important game after that UK win. I can pretty much guarantee that Bama is supposed to be one of those two losses we’re projected to have. Good thing is that the team got a three day break in between games and should be ready to go.

      In a recent trend, assists seem to play a major factor if Bama wins or not. In their last two wins they had 15 and 12 against Oklahoma and Florida respectively. In their last two losses they only managed 6 and 4 against Missouri and Mississippi State respectively. This has actually been going on during conference play with only a couple exceptions. At LSU they only had 8 assists and won, but against Ole Miss that had 17(!?) and lost.

      So to improve our chances of winning, Tennessee would like Bama to be selfish and keep the assist total under 10 for this game.

    • It’s already been a really good week, and a loss tomorrow won’t change that. But it could be a GREAT week with a win tomorrow.

      RPI Forecast (via Sagarin) has largely the same relative rating of games for the rest of the year, having this as the hardest one left on the schedule.

      Road games are never a given and Florida has proven they can be really good when playing their best. But if the Vols win tomorrow…the ceiling is the roof.

    • If we get past Alabama tomorrow I’ll start believing we can run the table on the rest of the regular season. I’m not worried about Auburn. There’s nothing we can do about them. If we run the table we give ourselves a legitimate shot at the SEC regular season crown. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the SEC Tournament this year.

    • Pete replied 2 weeks ago

      Interesting that we are 18% more likely to beat Georgia at TBA than at their place. Roughly the same percentage difference for Auburn vs. South Carolina Home/Away.

      Expected values says we will win 5.3 of the 7 games. Feels like 6-1. Beat Bama and save the lone slip-up for later. Maybe we can sweep.

      Auburn is 5.0 of 7 games.

  • The only way to put a forgettable ’18 National Signing Day in the rearview mirror is to move ahead to the 2019 recruiting class, and new Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and Co., already have started building […]

  • Hey, listen: Let’s just call National Signing Day 2018 what it was, independent of passing judgment on any of the kids who signed to be Tennessee Volunteers and without heaping criticism on new UT coach Jeremy […]

    • “Pruitt entered his first [mini] recruiting cycle swinging for the fences, aiming at marquee players who were unsigned, hell-bent on bringing at least a couple of them to Knoxville. None of those materialized in commitments.

      Zero. Zilch. Nada.”

      I think JJ Peterson would count as a marquee player who was unsigned that materialized in a commitment, right?

    • Honest assessment and good (though sobering) write-up, Brad.

    • What do we expect? 0-8 SEC team with almost no time to build relationships with kids going up against National Champions, ACC Champs and SEC East winner with great recruiters and two years of history. To end up with a top 25 class and several 4 stars is really a testament to UT’s brand…Should have been much worse.

  • If you are new to this team or this program in 2018, it’s hard to put into words what winning in Rupp Arena means for Tennessee. Take all this win means for this individual season – and it will be significant – […]

    • Outstanding write-up, Will.

    • WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

    • I’ve said this before but, “Thank you, Texas! We like Coach Barnes over here.”

    • For the kids out there, the last time we swept Kentucky, the Vols won a National Championship football game against Florida State on Jan 4th 1999 and then beat UK at Rupp on Jan 12, 1999. (It was a good week or so in Tennessee history) We sealed the 1999 sweep on Feb 28th with a 68-61 win at TBA.

      The Vols STOLE this victory at Rupp. Literally, the last series of the game came from shutdown defense as three Vols built a wall which the Kentucky player could not drive thru and then we stole his desperation pass across the lane. That quickly turned into a long outlet pass to the Admiral for his game sealing dunk.

      The defense, the steals, the diving for loose balls, contesting dunks/lobs – that was beautiful basketball. It’s unbelievable to me that we could go into Rupp and win without a Chris Lofton career scoring night from one of our players.

      Steals and beating UK to 2 more rebounds and connecting on two more threes than they had were the small things that let us win.

      We also overcame a small helping of home cookin by the refs and pull out the victory. If you don’t think there was a little home cookin, go back and look at Grant’s fourth foul. Unless you want to claim that Grant hit the UK player too hard with his neck on the guy’s elbow…

    • At the beginning of the season this would’ve been a game we lost. Tennessee had a hard time holding on against UNC, Nova, etc. With a statement win in Rupp it really shows that Tennessee has learned to reverse that trend and now we’re an incredibly dangerous team that can finish games.

      If Tennessee wins against Bama this weekend I might buy some of that No. 1 seed stock. These guys just keep giving good reasons to trust them and if Auburn starts slipping up at TAMU this week then all the better.

    • “After beating Kentucky last night, Tennessee’s chances of earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament are up to 34%, per BPI.”

      http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0752918806405324747-4

      • I’m still a firm supporter of Team Two Seed. It’s a realistic goal at this point; with the one, you’re going to have four or five teams arguing over one spot. There will be no reason to be disappointed or feel like we got treated unfairly if we don’t get a one.

    • I am a HUGE Texas A&M Aggies fan…for 1 day only. Gig ’em, Aggies. Beat Auburn.

    • A&M won!! Now we’re only two games back from Auburn!

  • You know the numbers by now: four wins in the 40-year history of Rupp Arena, none since 2006. Tonight an even bigger prize is on the table: Tennessee hasn’t swept Kentucky since 1999.

    In the north, Calipari […]

    • I don’t disagree with anything you said, but UK is still favored tonight. There is no shame in losing this game unless they get run off the floor. Seeing as that hasn’t happened a single time this year, I’m not too worried about it starting tonight.

      All that said, there’s every reason to expect this team to have a chance to win tonight. And if they do…I might allow myself to start dreaming really big.

      Go Vols.

      • Yeah, I hope folks won’t overreact to a loss tonight. But the opportunity is probably greater than it has been in a very long time, and those should be relished. I like 50/50 games.

    • Go Vols!!

      Let’s win at Rupp, sweep the series and knock UK outta the top 25!

      I think the pressure is going to be all on UK tonight and hopefully carries over to Knox’s slump.

      With that said, bring on the next challenger!

  • If Tennessee’s third straight 20+ point win didn’t give you the vapors, this definitely will:

    Surprise losses by Duke and Kansas yesterday opened up the race for the fourth No. 1 seed (with Villanova, Virginia […]

    • Loving this.

    • I watched some of Kentucky and Florida this weekend. They didn’t inspire fear. If Kentucky plays against us like they did Missouri the Vols should kick their butts around the court. Same with Florida. Frankly, I think Alabama looks scarier than those two teams at the moment. If we can get past this week without a loss, I’m not seeing any remaining games I think we lose.

      Obviously stuff could happen. Some players could get hurt or they could suddenly forget to play the way Coach Barnes has taught them to play. Barring that though, I don’t think a 7-1 finish is outrageous at this point.

    • Nice research and depth on this one. Great read.

    • I’m all for entertaining notions that we could end up a 2 seed…we deserve nice things after all we’ve been through as a fan base in the last 10+ years.

      I’m also more of a realist than I was in my younger years. We’ve won 3 (?) times at Rupp ever, so that’s probably not a game we should “expect” to win. Alabama is having a solid year, including beating Auburn without Collin Sexton.

      Splitting this week would be a fantastic result, and either one would be valuable from a tiebreaker perspective in pursuit of a double bye in STL.

    • Unless we win the SEC tournament and win the rest of our regular season, we are not getting a 1 seed. We also need Auburn to collapse a little as well, for perception’s sake, since they effectively have a 3 game lead on us (tiebreaker: head-to-head win). I can’t remember a 1 seed coming from outside the ACC or (back in the day) the Big East which hadn’t won the regular season or tournament.

      I’d be thrilled with a two or three seed.

      Of course, this is all just intellectual stimulation unless we beat Kentucky at Rupp and Bama at Tuscaloosa next week to continue The Story.

      • I tend to agree. We need Auburn to lose a couple and beat them in the SEC tourney game to have a shot at a 1 seed. Even if that does happen there’s only three teams listed that made the No. 1 seed with 6-7 losses. So the room for error is slim. I’d be thrilled with a No. 2 seed. It’s practically just as easy of a path and when you get so far in the bracket the seeds don’t matter anymore.

    • It’s almost as hard for Tennessee to beat Bama at their place as it is to beat Kentucky at Rupp.

      2011-12 L 50-62
      2012 L 65-68
      2013 W 76-59 Anthony Grant’s worst year as a coach 13-19 vs. our Elite 8 team
      2015 L 57-63

      2014 DNP Away (lost at TBA 38-56)
      2016 DNP Away (won at TBA 59-54)

      For the hypothetical degenerates out there, the Over/Under could be interesting – depending on where they set it.

    • Trying not to get to excited over this.. Let’s just win tomorrow and this weekend! Then I’ll get back to you.

  • The Vols have been checking off all the signs of a great team this season:

    Signature wins (Purdue, Kentucky, get back to me on Texas A&M)
    Competitive with elite teams (Villanova, North Carolina, Auburn?) […]

    • Seventh in KenPom.

      That might be as high as we go for a while; there’s a healthy gap between the Top 6 (Nova, UVA, Purdue, Duke, Michigan State, Cincinnati) and us. But still: seventh! Look at that list of the only teams above us! This team!

    • Kentucky is going to act like an animal backed into a corner after today’s loss. Tennessee will have to bring it’s best game and I think they proved they’re capable of doing just so.

      Let’s go for the sweep! Go Vols!! Beat UK!

    • The second half was something else. I felt a little bad for Ole Miss (not real bad mind you). Not so much because they were getting beat but because I’m pretty sure anything wearing orange could’ve hit a 3 pointer in the last 5 minutes.

    • Thompson-Boling was a blast last night. Love this team.

  • The Vols are 16-5 (6-3), tied for second in the SEC, and host Ole Miss tomorrow (6:00 PM ET, SEC Network). The Rebels are 11-11 (4-5), 76th in KenPom, and yet to win on the road this year. They are probably a […]

    • This team and coaching staff have been a blast to watch. Unselfish play, dominant individual performances by different individuals at times, the emergence of new comers and quality wins/games through the season. Its been as fun and entertaining of a UT ride for me as any of the teams mentioned above. Looking forward to more of the same in Feb/March! Thanks for you hard work!

    • My son’s HS coach likes to use film from us to show inside out play and unselfishness. That’s really something from an IU grad and Big10 fan!

    • We successfully executed part 1 of the “don’t screw around with teams you should beat” plan on Wednesday.

      Let’s go get part 2 and start thinking big thoughts.

  • As we wind down below a week until National Signing Day, this is the most clueless I’ve ever been on how Tennessee is going to finish its 2018 recruiting class.

    There are so many names on the board, and while […]

    • Damn. That is a fantastic read. Always appreciate your work/insight here and on other sites. Thanks Brad. And go Vols.

    • Good read Brad. I just moved to Houston area a couple of months ago (used to be IndyVolFan). I know we’re on a Katy kid and one from Oak Ridge which is 5 minutes from my work in Woodlands. I’ll go see them this fall and report what they look like in person. On a basketball note, I wish Barnes could have gotten in on Quentin Grimes (#8 I think in 24/7 and Kansas commit). He’s the best kid I’ve ever seen at this level (in person) and the smoothest player since Alan Houston (my UT days). I’ve seen most of the top Indiana kids over the last several years and they don’t touch this kid (Conley, Oden, George Hill, Bluitt, Jaren Jackson – he was in our conference b4 transferring to Lumierre). Absolutely amazing ball player.

    • Great read, Brad. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. We finally have us a football coach.

    • This showed up in my Facebook “On This Day” today and while there are a variety of emotions it brings out, I am mainly looking at it as a reminder not to get too ________ (too excited, too upset, too whatever) about NSD: http://grantland.com/features/tennessee-volunteers-butch-jones-signing-day-2014/

      • Yeah. In the same boat. I’ve been actively working to resist the temptation to go back and listen to the podcast we did after Jones was hired. Scared to death I might hear myself say the same things I said right after Pruitt was hired. So, right now I’m in I CAN’T HEAR YOU NANANANANANANANA mode.

  • And now, the turn toward home.

    The SEC didn’t disappoint over the weekend, taking the Big 12/SEC Challenge from the nation’s best conference with six wins. The Big 12 had 16 non-conference losses coming into […]

    • Nice work, Will. Can the Vols take care of business this week?

      Since LSU has 7 scholarship players available, wouldn’t it make sense for the Vols to relentlessly attack the basket on every single offensive possession and make the officials swallow their whistles or foul the guys out? Give Admiral some shoulder pads and step out of the way.

      As a Memphis guy, please handle Ole Miss. Beat them badly.

    • I said at the beginning of last week that I’d take 3-1 over this 4-game stretch (VU, @ISU, LSU, OM).

      I think that’s still the right target given this team’s youth and occasional inconsistency…but now that they’re 2-0, it kind of feels like they need to go 4-0?

      If LSU is going to be really thin and Ole Miss has yet to win on the road this year, these feel like games a solid tournament team should take care of on the home floor.

      • A sweep this week to get to 17-5 (7-3) at least allows us to entertain the notion of something more than a four seed if the Vols do well the following week in Lexington and/or Tuscaloosa. This needs to be a “nothing to see here” week, though if they want to win like they did at Iowa State, fine by me.

        • Right now, RPI Forecast has them going 21-9 (6-4 in the last 10) to finish with an RPI of 19.

          Going 2-0 this week changes the overall to 22-8 (so 7-3 in the last 10) with an RPI of 13…yes, please.

  • New Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt is swinging for the fences on several elite, playmaking athletes as the days tick off toward national signing day.

    But, due to the Vols needing depth at key positions, […]

  • Tennessee was 14-5 entering today, but got there without any start-to-finish statements against major conference foes. The Vols ran away from Wake Forest in the final eight minutes, slowly pulled away from Texas […]

  • Opportunity knocks for the SEC tomorrow, and particularly hard for a handful of bubble teams. The Big 12 has five teams in Ken Pomeroy’s Top 20 and three more in the Top 40. They lead the nation in conference RPI […]

    • Pete replied 4 weeks ago

      Great work as always, Will.

      It’d be great for NCAA seeding to have a win against the Big 12 to go along with our 3-1 record vs. the ACC.

  • Tennessee is capable of winning in so many different ways, it’s hard to create a formula for their success. Last year assists were the go-to stat: the only way the Vols were getting good offense was through good […]

    • And tonight, yep and yep: 53.8% from the arc, and a tidy 15 assists on 19 made baskets (78.9%)

  • Here’s a point we would have made if the Vols lost today:  Tennessee’s next three SEC games are at home against the only three teams in the league with an RPI of 100+ (Vanderbilt, LSU, Ole Miss). Thrown in for […]

    • That 94 KenPom ranking for Iowa State is still misleading especially after they killed No. 8 TTU tonight. That’s going to be a tricky one.

    • Pete replied 1 month ago

      Boy, we really stink at closing out games…(are we finally done with that ridiculous mantra?)

      Barnes has been clear – he wants consistency and knows he doesn’t have it yet. We have generally been fortunate in that someone else unexpectedly steps up when the guys from whom we need consistent contributions don’t give it (Bone/Bowden, lately).

      This team can make it to the second weekend of the NCAAs as we currently stand. If we find more consistency, we can be better.

      • I agree – it’s like you get credit for closing out games only if you make a big shot to take the lead in the final seconds. There were so many chances for South Carolina to surge ahead, and we denied them all. That’s toughness and maturity from a team that’s had to be both to get to this point.

    • Drew replied 1 month ago

      Is this site going to start covering the Lady Vols soon? Big game today (and a big one on Friday, too 🙁 ). I’d love to read some articles about them!

  • Load More