Will Shelton

  • Tennessee jumped to a 16-4 lead in the first eight minutes, then stretched it out to 44-29 with a minute to play before halftime; a Bama three made the Vol lead a dozen at the break. Jim Chaney and Tee Martin […]

    • Well, Coach Barnes will have a lot of material to work with this week during practices. Not sure what was happening around the rim, but loose balls were not coming our way and the tips were not falling on the offensive end. It may be as simple as blocking out or more the matchups, but it is definitely area to work on. It is excellent that the Vols toughed it out and got the W with a poor 2nd offensive display. This will be important as the schedule gets tougher and when the tournament starts. Go Vols !!

  • So maybe we should start here with these previews: Tennessee is a 15-point favorite over Alabama in KenPom, 16.7 in ESPN’s BPI. That’s the bar this team has set for itself. So we’ll spend a few words here talking […]

    • I hope Barnes has their attention after the 2H of the Arkansas game. Need to play a full game, stay out of foul trouble… and defend everything… the Vols are very capable, but can they stay focused !?! Go Vols!!

    • Bama is incredibly dangerous – an NBA coach, physical, nasty team, They seem to be getting better and will cause us problems if we don’t bring the intensity. I hope TBA learns how to rock and roll like Neyland in the 90’s. Wouldn’t a wall of sound be awesome?

    • Too close for comfort.

  • This team plays offense like a Jerry Green squad and defense like Cuonzo. That 2000 team hit 100+ four times and 90+ (free cinnamon rolls!) three more times.

  • Here’s what I wrote Monday afternoon:

    Tennessee’s quest for #1 takes a backseat this week: #1 Duke and #4 Virginia play Saturday in Durham (6:00 PM ET ESPN), and the winner will almost certainly be ranked […]

    • I am sure it is not lost on the guys that tonight is stop 3 in the revenge tour to avenge last year’s SEC losses (UGA and Mizzou down, Arkansas and Bama this week, Auburn later).

      Coach Barnes will keep them focused, but it’s hard to overlook the opportunity in the next month. 6 of 9 at home, 3 roadies against 5 of the worst teams in the league per KenPom (Vandy, A&M, USCe despite the 3-0 start), Florida the only opponent ranked higher than 55th…

      It could be a really fun mid-January to mid-February.

  • In S&P+ that year Florida finished first, Alabama second, Virginia Tech fourth. The 7-6 Vols finished 14th.

  • Man, there’s some really good and really bad in that 2011 post, especially together with the S&P+ post. We both can and cannot think of ourselves as in that class with Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, and LSU.

  • Virginia is the team that I’d least like to face. I think if we make the Final Four, you take whatever you find there. But to me that team is every bit as good as anyone, if not better, with none of the extra get-em-up you get from playing Duke. They play each other Saturday, so maybe the Blue Devils will prove me wrong. But if I had a vote, I’d…[Read more]

  • I was born in ’81, so can’t speak from much personal experience. But the biggest thing for Majors then: he broke an 11-year Alabama winning streak in 1982, Bear’s last year, then beat Ray Perkins’ Bama teams another three years in a row from 1983-85. I think anyone telling you they saw the fullness of 1985 coming is revising their own history, but…[Read more]

  • We use S&P+ during football season (and KenPom for basketball) a lot on our site. Part of it comes from the 10+ years we spent at SB Nation, where Bill Connelly continues to do great work with advanced […]

    • This is excellent. Let’s hope the comparison of the ’80-’81 trend to the ’17-’18 trend continues this year. I was a fan of other things in the 80s, so I have to ask: How was the mood after the ’81 season?

      • I have to imagine Johnny Majors had an unusually capacious leash, even for the time, being both a former Tennessee star and bearer of a national championship at Pitt? I wasn’t around, though.

      • I was born in ’81, so can’t speak from much personal experience. But the biggest thing for Majors then: he broke an 11-year Alabama winning streak in 1982, Bear’s last year, then beat Ray Perkins’ Bama teams another three years in a row from 1983-85. I think anyone telling you they saw the fullness of 1985 coming is revising their own history, but I don’t know how much it “felt” like progress from 81-84. I talked with my dad about some of this last week since he was there for it, but we didn’t necessarily talk about if it felt like we were building something great.

    • Interesting statistics and picture. I was in the stands as a student beginning in ’69 and saw them play Air Force in the Sugar Bowl… those were fun years. Definitely on the upswing with Butch Jones after the Dooley fiasco… but then fell off a cliff when Jones basically lost the Team. For all that we talk about the recent “bottom”, it looks like there was actually more variability in the 70’s/80’s. Nice job Will. Thanks for doing the analysis.

    • It’s fascinating that 2009 is the high water mark of the post-championship era.

      I suppose it kind of makes sense…4-point loss to UCLA, 10-point loss to Florida, 4-point loss to Auburn, 2-point loss to eventual champ Bama, sizeable win over Georgia.

      I’m just not sure that’s where my mind would’ve immediately gone.

  • Surprise blowouts are delightful, but perhaps we forgot how much fun one of these can be too.

    Florida was 22nd in overall KenPom and fifth in defensive efficiency. The Vols were favored by only a deuce. And to […]

    • Peanut Butter. Jelly. Money.

      This game taught me more than Georgia or Mizzou. On the road, crowd and refs against them, and a borderline impossible 9 3’s against them in the first half…and they fought through it and pulled it out.

      There will likely be a hiccup or two somewhere along the way, but these guys are special.

    • Before the FLA game, KenPom had us going 14-4 with the next best in the SEC at 12-7. Means that even a slip up or two has us projected to comfortably win the league’s regular season. (The nice thing is that we already have a game up on Auburn and Kentucky in the L column and two on Florida.)

      KP also didn’t think as much of us until we destroyed Georgia at TBA & Missouri/FLA on the road. Now we deserve our press/coach rankings statistically. As for optics, we are ahead of undefeated Michigan, which I think is a great team as well.

      I don’t think we are as good as Duke or Virginia, yet. But, we could be. To be elite, we have to avoid what happened in the first halves of Missouri and Florida. To be elite, we need more flashes of the last 60 seconds of the Florida game – where we hit big shots, make explosive plays on defense (pressure, turnover, dunk). We need the quick 10-0 runs against good teams to break things open.

      While we aren’t better than Duke or Virginia, we are by far the class of the SEC. Ole Miss (30), Auburn (11), Florida (24), LSU (37) and Kentucky (13) are the next tier. Should be interesting in those games. Otherwise, we should win the rest by double digits.

      • Virginia is the team that I’d least like to face. I think if we make the Final Four, you take whatever you find there. But to me that team is every bit as good as anyone, if not better, with none of the extra get-em-up you get from playing Duke. They play each other Saturday, so maybe the Blue Devils will prove me wrong. But if I had a vote, I’d rank Virginia ahead of everyone right now.

      • Their uneven conference start nothwithstanding, it’s probably worth including the Starkville Bulldogs in that 2nd tier (28th in KenPom).

        KenPom was “down” on our defense through the end of the non-conference (was 30-ish after the Memphis game). I think it ties neatly to what Barnes has said about getting Turner back and being able to crank up the full-court and getting into guards in a way they couldn’t in his absence.

        There were rough patches in the first halves against Mizzou and Florida, but we were up 11 in the former and only down 3 despite giving up 9 3’s in the latter. Duke would’ve lost to Florida State on Saturday if not for a game-winning 3 with less than a second left. Conference play is a slog. It’s certainly preferable to not dig a hole, but these things happen.

        Also…man, that closing stretch. 6 of 7 against KenPom top 40 teams, 4 of ’em on the road. If the Vols are gonna get their first ever 1 seed, they are going to have to earn it.

    • And Duke loses to Syracuse. Wish it hadn’t been Jim Boeheim but not sad that Coach K lost. More importantly, Tre Jones, Duke’s best defender and one of the 5 best PGs in America, is out with a dislocated AC joint. Grade 1 is 2 wks; grade 2 is 6 wks; grade 3 is 12 weeks. Grade 3 puts him out thru March… As Lamonte can attest, those shooting shoulder injuries are hard to overcome – especially when the little PGs have to run thru all those screens. Hope Tre Jones heals just in time for the NBA Draft and not a minute sooner.

  • The remaining Saturday home games are tougher tickets than many of the football games this year. That’s wild.

  • Everyone is on the books now in SEC action, and most of the league has played twice. The other teams we believed to be contenders for the SEC Championship – Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, and Mississippi State, all […]

    • Gainesville has always been tough…Vols haven’t won there since 2012 (though in only 3 meetings).

      Mizzou sent a double at Grant pretty much every time. lt shut him down, but he set up others for success. Will the Gators double or play straight up? UF seems likely to double given the size constraints, but maybe feels they are efficient enough to get away with out it.

      As you’ve noted, it’s another nice step up in competition (UGA is 90th in KenPom, Mizzou 84th but on the road, Florida 21st). If they win this one convincingly…I’m gonna need a cold shower.

    • Also, after driving to Starkville on a weeknight to see these guys last year, I’ve already seen them in Memphis and just bought my tickets to see them in Oxford on a weeknight at the end of February.

      I <3 this team.

      • The remaining Saturday home games are tougher tickets than many of the football games this year. That’s wild.

  • Isn’t this the game Cuonzo would’ve wanted?

    Grant Williams fouled out with four points on 1-of-8 shooting. The Vols lead the nation in assist percentage at 69%. Tonight: only 12 assists on 31 made shots, […]

    • Another fun game. I’ll be at the Florida game Saturday nite. Can’t wait! Go Vols!

    • Before this season, I had prepared myself for a letdown. I did not think that it would be possible to like a team more than I liked last year’s team. I know that this team *is* mostly last year’s team, but this is the most fun I’ve ever had watching basketball, I think.

    • I loved the flexibility in approach. Frankly, we didn’t get much from the Admiral/Grant big lineup in the first 8-10 minutes. When we went with 3 guards, Bowden/Bone/Turner lit up Missouri. They had no idea how to play with our pace. Cuonzo prefers combat-style pace and we imposed our will on them. We also played better defense than his team, which is quite a statement. Our 3FG defense was particularly impressive in the key 24-4 stretch during which we turned the game around.

      Florida will be a much better matchup than Missouri. The Gators are battle-tested. They lost several tough games, but KenPom loves them. It’s also a road game in the SEC. I still think we get the win, but in the 8-10 points range. (KenPom is a +8 differential without adjustments)

    • Every starter can go for double digits. That balance carried us on an off night for Grant & first-half Admiral. Every one is clear on their roles. They all play hard. They play good defense, particularly on the outside. They really seem to love each other and Coach Barnes. I love this team.

      Haven’t had this much fun since Dane Bradshaw and Chris Lofton. Sorry for the double comment but emotion carrying me away.

  • Mizzou and Florida are the two slowest teams in the league. It’ll be interesting to see how we dictate pace this week.

  • The Vols held on to number three in the AP poll, 18 votes behind Michigan for number two, 10 votes ahead of Virginia at number four. Those three and number one Duke are also the one seeds in the most recent […]

    • Vols are +24.94 on KenPom vs. Mizzou at +9.40. If KenPom is only a -7, that’s a heckuva an adjustment for home/away and pace of play. Pace will be slow because Cuonzo would prefer that everyone play in combat boots, but I’m hoping it’s another double digit W. We’ve struggled against these guys at their place. (Of course, we have struggled historically against UGA as well, so there’s that…)

      • Mizzou and Florida are the two slowest teams in the league. It’ll be interesting to see how we dictate pace this week.

        • Curious to see if the Vols will play to the slower pace or try and force the tigers and gators to a faster paced game.

    • In separate news, VolTwitter will likely be pleased that the greatest coach on the planet and the one Tennessee was stupid not to hire instead of Jeremy Pruitt according to the national media is ‘out’ at Ohio State. Greg Schiano, of course.

  • When you carry the number three next to your name, it’s easy for the enjoyable to get a little too normal. You nitpick, you look ahead, etc.

    Tennessee was favored by 15 (via KenPom) over Georgia today in the […]

    • Will, nice summary. I saw the first half and couldn’t believe how well this UT played. The leadership from William and Schofield is outstanding and the best I have seen on any team in a long time. I hope it continues… GBO.

    • I sat behind the Georgia bench and had a pretty up close view of the massacre. Straight up, the vols are MEN and Georgia were a JV team. Just looking at the physical impact of pons, Williams, Alexander and Schofield playing defense against Georgia was astonishing. How are teams expected to score against that lineup? Only auburn and Kentucky will be able to score points against us consistently. Good god, pons was blocking shots with his elbow! And by the way, Tom Crean screamed at the refs and his players the entire game at the top of his lungs while sucking down Diet Coke all afternoon. That guy is on serious heart attack watch.

    • That was fun!!!

    • It may not be normal but it sure was a lot of fun to watch. This team can be dominant when it plays with an edge. I’d like to see us have the desire to crush every team we play. Tom Crean is a bit of a joke when it comes to coaching and you can tell his players don’t like him. So it’s not surprising that Georgia checked out when they got down 15 or so, but man that was fun!

  • When last we met:

    It’ll be another sellout, this time to open league play. Thought this was interesting:

    Before the split last season, the Vols lost two games (one in the SEC Tournament) to Georgia by three […]

  • They’re in on four-star SG Keon Johnson for 2020 (from Bell Buckle, TN, south of Murfreesboro, which I had never heard of until his recruitment). It appears to be between us and UVA, and UVA fans I’ve met in moving back to Virginia like our chances.

  • KenPom gives us 8.55 conference wins heading into Rupp, so that’s about right. Our season almost has a bracket buster feel with a long grind of games we’re expected to win, then what should be three straight ranked opponents to end the year. If we take care of business, the argument for or against being a one seed will handle itself in those last…[Read more]

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