Will Shelton

  • Two big truths from Tennessee’s last outing against Louisiana: one, “Does this team have anyone who can guard Grant Williams?” is still the first question to ask. When the answer is no, you get Friday’s […]

    • Some premium MACtion is getting in the way of the broadcast here.

    • Having to watch the Spanish broadcast cause I can’t get ESPNNEWS. Too bad I don’t understand Spanish.

    • I’m not quite sure how to feel about last night.

      On the one hand, the Vols were atrocious on offense, missed a bunch of FTs, and still won by 13.

      On the other, I think we saw some of the limitations of the team with only one true guard (I know they’re calling Bowden a guard, but he’s really more of a wing). Without Turner to stretch the defense, the lane was super clogged and it made it hard both to get Grant going in the post and to have the drive/cut lanes that the offense thrives on.

      Glad they’ve got a week to heal up, work out some of the kinks, and hopefully get Turner ready to go.

  • I’m at 6.05. I’ve still got Mizzou at 45% because I don’t like the match-up. But the real question with both of these games is how confident are we the team that showed up on Saturday will show up again the next two weeks? Because if that happens, we handle Vandy. I’ve got that one at 60%, which I think is as high as I’ve had it since preseason.

  • If/when everyone on this offense comes back next year, we’ll talk about this approximately one million times in the off-season. If he can do this while getting hit every other play, what can he do when he’s got more time to breathe (and a more consistent running game)…

  • Tennessee made the third-biggest move of the week in S&P+, up a dozen spots from 82nd to 70th overall (shout out to Minnesota’s 41-10 beat down of Purdue, leaping 23 spots). The bad news: Missouri is a Top 25 team […]

    • Yeah, I don’t understand the people who are clamoring for Jarrett to be benched in favor of Chryst. He’s accurate, tough, and he doesn’t seem to make bad decisions. Poor guy has had to endure terrible offensive line play. I’d love to see how he fares with competent protection.

      • If/when everyone on this offense comes back next year, we’ll talk about this approximately one million times in the off-season. If he can do this while getting hit every other play, what can he do when he’s got more time to breathe (and a more consistent running game)…

  • Many thanks – hopefully more big wins on the horizon

  • Tennessee used three turnovers and an unreal third-and-long performance to beat Auburn. And despite a 21-9 third quarter lead, the right team won in Columbia two weeks ago with the Gamecocks dominant in their […]

  • It’s a progressive opening run for Tennessee: after a D-II blowout win, the Vols will be tested up the ladder by Louisiana tonight (120th in KenPom), Georgia Tech (90th) on Tuesday, then Louisville (66th) in the […]

  • It all starts tonight for the #6 Vols. That’s the highest preseason ranking in program history, and better than any preseason ranking in football since 2005. These are good days. Enjoy them.

    Lenoir-Rhyne […]

    • Geeked for a D2 opponent and the start of (what should be) a very special season. Barnes, his staff and these high character kids are exactly the kind of guys I want to be emotionally invested in thru the season and throughout the tournament. I don’t know if they can complete with Zion Williamson or RJ Barrett at Duke or the usual NBA First Rounders at UK, but I sure hope that chemistry, character, experience and great coaching matter enough.

    • I’m also curious to see how the rotations break down and what the balance is early in the season between trying numerous lineups to see what works and attempting to develop continuity by sticking with a smaller set of guys.

      Also curious to see if there are small tweaks in the offensive system to generate additional efficiency (as we’ve discussed a couple of times now). The Vols ended up last year 36th in offensive efficiency on KenPom. Are there small changes that get that number in the top 25? Adding that while maintaining their defensive intensity would make UT a true national title contender.

      • Being better on 2 pt FG will put us in the top 25 for offensive efficiency. Finishing well at the rim and guys better understanding where they are really good at shooting are two of the best keys. Passing up contested for uncontested shots is the biggest lever of all.

  • I’m at 5.25. It’ll be interesting at the end of the year to look at our strength of schedule. The top is business as usual, but the middle tier of our schedule is tougher than in recent years

  • Not everything is the best or worst you’ve ever seen, though it may feel like it in the moment. Such was the case for portions of the day against Charlotte, when the Vols ran it 26 times for 20 yards against a […]

    • I’m sure there were strategic reasons for it (and 2016 is a bit of an outlier in that a) the offense was so explosive late, and b) the defense was so horrific), but I always found the tempo shift under Butch a bit odd.

      In his first few years, the offense operated at a pace such that ESPN would put the timer on to see how quickly they could get another play off. After that, it became much more deliberate.

      You can win fast or slow if you are effective. When you aren’t effective, going slow is probably better because it increases volatility by shortening the game.

  • I’ve never sought credentials – haven’t had time/interest/opportunity living outside the Knoxville area for the last 13 years – so I can’t speak personally to what Barnes thinks. I am curious to see how this changes if/when the Vols get players like Josiah James or maybe Keon Johnson who have more shot-creation skill at guard.

  • One of the greatest indicators of health for last year’s basketball team was the absence of any real blueprint for success. From our post on the eve of the NCAA Tournament:

    The Vols are 19-3 when shooting at […]

    • Have you guys ever asked Coach Barnes about looking for a greater mix of threes in the offensive flow? Does he just talk about better shot selection when we take twos and finishing with contact? Just curious what his 1:1 or small reporter group answer would be if you showed him that data and then asked the question as a student would to a teacher.

      • I’ve never sought credentials – haven’t had time/interest/opportunity living outside the Knoxville area for the last 13 years – so I can’t speak personally to what Barnes thinks. I am curious to see how this changes if/when the Vols get players like Josiah James or maybe Keon Johnson who have more shot-creation skill at guard.

    • I waxed poetic about the 2’s vs. 3’s issue in the 2nd post you linked, so I won’t launch into that diatribe again. 🙂 Generally speaking, though, I echo Will: I don’t expect a major philosophical shift away from emphasizing ball movement to find open shots.

      But are there ways to tweak the system to generate additional efficiency when the possession breaks down and the shot clock is getting late? Without having possession-level data (sidebar: does Thompson-Boling have ShotTracker/SportVU cameras?), we’d just be guessing, but how many late clock possessions ended in a heavily contested 2 (and no FTs)? If there’s a way to emphasize drive-and-kick in those situations, I’d still rather see more 3’s than tough 2’s.

    • I think the most important thing for this team to do is find another point guard. So, you got Bone and Turner…but they are on the floor a lot at the same time. How do you confidently rest them and keep the same dynamic. Bowden? Schoefield? Williams? Don’t think so. I believe the additional point guard is our one (rebounding and foul trouble, but those will ebb and flow) Achilles heel, but certainly hope I’m wrong. Please talk me down.

  • I’m braced for 22-8, second in the SEC behind Kentucky, another #3 seed, and for some people to call that disappointment. The 2010 team went 23-7 and spent the entire season in the Top 20, but because we had a taste of success already, almost every time they lost it was like the end of the world. It actually works to basketball’s advantage that…[Read more]

  • My web browser marks the changing seasons as well as anything. Right now my most visited sites include Sports Source Analytics and the hubs for my fantasy football team and our weekly pick ’em contest. But soon, […]

    • Amen and Amen. Can’t wait for the season. Thanks for hoops coverage. By the way, that’s indirectly the most damning criticism of Cuonzo Martin’s coaching ability I’ve ever seen hidden away in those KenPom stats. More talent than any other UT team (measured by Vols in the NBA) and better per possession than nearly every other team nationally, yet worst in luck (i.e. situational coaching at the end of games; struggling against teams they shouldn’t or somehow managing to pull defeat from the mouth of victory). Cuonzo did less with more during the season than anyone I’ve ever seen. He rivals Calipari. The players got hot and finally played up to their potential in the tourney, finishing with a nice run. Too bad Cuonzo isn’t a great coach because he’s a person I wanted to cheer for – just wish he could develop his players and get everything out of them like Barnes does.

    • I’m having a hard time totally buying the hype this year.

      I think the Vols will be good, but it’s important to recognize that they had unbelievable injury luck last year (did a starter miss a game until Alexander in the game against Loyola? That absence was…important) and that the rest of the league isn’t standing still. The average KenPom for SEC teams to start the season is 45.6; it ended last year at 50.6.

      There also just isn’t the top end talent on this roster that exists elsewhere. Cal and Kentucky have shown that starzzzz aren’t the end all be all, but teams ahead of/around us have NBA players. I’m not convinced that there’s an NBA player on UT’s roster right now. I’d probably give Admiral the best shot, but he and Grant are both tweeners. Kyle would get manhandled. The guards don’t have enough size/quicks. Again, it’s not the MOST important measure (while Nova has won 2 titles without top 3 talent, they HAVE had 5 dudes taken in the last 2 drafts, 4 in the 1st round), but I think it matters when considering the ceiling.

      It’ll be interesting to see how UT handles the various pressures of the season (expectations, definite last run for Admiral/Kyle, possible last run for Grant). Barnes won’t let them coast, but there are a number of things they’ll have to fight through.

      All I really ask is that they comfortably handle Memphis on December 15th because this city is gaga for Penny and the Tigers right now and I’d love to put them in their place 😛 (note: just so I don’t sound like too much of a homer…with the way he’s recruiting, they will probably be really good in the next few years)

      • Agree 100%. Gotta have talent and development because Grant’s ceiling is a very good college player and maybe an off-the-bench role player in the NBA. Calipari has NBA players already and they won’t develop much under him. Our other 3* have lower ceilings, except maybe Admiral and our center (cause size matters). Develop a 4* and you have an NBA player.

        We have to beat Memphis this year, before the roster improves. Penny is recruiting like Duke or Kansas. He has an NBA coach on his staff. He’s a former NBA All-Star and he also has championship ring wearer, Mike Miller., who wasn’t bad at Florida. Fortunately, we play in December, not February.

      • I’m braced for 22-8, second in the SEC behind Kentucky, another #3 seed, and for some people to call that disappointment. The 2010 team went 23-7 and spent the entire season in the Top 20, but because we had a taste of success already, almost every time they lost it was like the end of the world. It actually works to basketball’s advantage that we’re much more used to losing in football now, so we don’t take the mentality from the one and put it on the other.

        • If that’s the season we have, I would qualify it a success!

          I think you’re right on the need for us as fans to manage our expectations. Most of the joy I got from this team last year (or the Braves this year) was the complete surprise of, “Wait…we weren’t supposed to be good. I think we’re good. Are we good? WE ARE DEFINITELY GOOD!”

          They’re still college kids. There will still be hot nights and cold nights. And if they drop one of the ACC games (GT, Wake, the ‘Ville) or get blown out by Kansas or drop an early conference roadie at Mizzou or Florida, that’s ok (assuming there are numerous wins to accompany said downers).

          A top-3 league finish and a top-4 NCAA seed are still very successful seasons. I’d take that right now.

          • HT replied 2 weeks ago

            There will undoubtedly be people who call the season a failure if we don’t make the Final Four. I think that’s crazy. Those people have basically guaranteed themselves disappointment going in.

            • We’ve literally never been there! That’s an unreasonable expectation, people who HT is already calling out!

  • I’m at 5.40 this week, shading ever-so-slightly to 5-7 over 6-6. I do love where we catch Kentucky on their schedule

  • We almost got to hit the fast forward button last night. Tennessee’s touchdown to open the third quarter wasn’t the grind of its first two, which combined to take nearly 12 minutes off the clock in 21 plays. This […]

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