Sunday, January 04, 2009

Vols To The Wall

Whew. We needed that one. I don't know if this gets us into the Top 25, but it at least gets us off the bubble for the moment. And maybe we've turned a corner.

This was the way we need Sherron to play all the time -- more Chris Paul than Allen Iverson. The nine assists were the key. He dished the ball enough to keep the defenders honest, which in turn helped him score at will.

And Aldrich was equally good, playing a flawless game (other than two dumb TOs in the first half) against tough frontcourt competition. We're starting to almost take him for granted this year, but I can't overstate just how rare it is to have an underclassman play with this kind of confidence in the post.

Morningstar had three turnovers, but he also made six assists and a heroic effort on those contested inbounds passes. He's starting to look more and more like he belongs out there; I wasn't so sure before, but his defense on Budinger and his performance in this one are giving me pause.

And the enigmatic Tyshawn was an underrated contributor as well. During Collins' second-half breather TT scored three straight hoops; at that point I figured it was just our day.

Mario Little looks like he can theoretically contribute, but if he's still hobbled now, should he just redshirt? That wouldn't be the best thing for the team, but maybe best for him.

Everybody's now looking ahead to MSU, but don't sleep on Siena this week. That's a tournament team right there, and our boys are due for a letdown.


  1. We definitely looked top 25 in that game, top 15 really, but after looking at the new AP poll, we didn't even make the "also receiving votes" category, ick. I think too many people watched us on national TV choke away that game to a lousy UMass team in Kansas City.

    And if anyone was wondering, NO I do not root for the basketball Vols (unless they are playing Florida, who I root against in every sport including badminton no matter who is playing them). So there were no conflicted feeling here like the National Championship game.

    Sherron was unbelieveable in the 1st half, though that 3-2 zone slowed him a bit in the second. And Aldrich played like an All-American too. If there's anything you can see as an improvement from Roy to Self, it's that our bigs in the middle never play soft and play like warriors.

    I didn't see enough from Little either Deron to keep the redshirt off of him.

  2. If we take the next two, we're back in the Top 25 fo' sho. More likely scenario is we lose at MSU, which puts us off awhile longer.

    But if we can contend for the top spot in the conference -- and there's no question we can -- we'll be in good shape tourney-wise.

    That assessment re. big men might be a little hard on Roy, SJ. Don't let Chenoweth soil the memory of Mark Randall, Richard Scott, Scot Pollard, Raef Lafrentz, Nick Collison, Drew Gooden and Wayne Simien (underclassman years).

    Greg "Poster"-tag was a bit of a hiccup, but Roy shaped him into an NBA player. And he got more out of Jeff Graves than Self did. (Not to mention what he's done with Sean May and "Psycho T" at Chapel Hill).

  3. Just to be clear, I think that Deron is mostly right about the big-man thing, and I know that one game isn't enough to go on, and I'm pretty sure that I'm not only bringing it up so that I can reminisce. That being said, when the Roy vs. Bill thing went down last March, Bill's bigs did a pretty effing awesome job, as I'm sure we all remember . . .

    For what it's worth, we did get 37 votes in the AP poll. Yes, that's nowhere near the 230 that the #25 team got, and it's fewer than Davidson (56), but at least it's more that Mizzou (4).

    Speaking of Siena, I sure love these illegal web feeds. Missed the 1st half (class), but we look decent right now. Bad pass from Little just now (around 9:50), but it looks like he'll play this year, and it looks like we're still struggling against zones. In any case, if we have a bad game and still score 80 & get the W, that's cool with me.

  4. On the other hand, if this 30% 3-point team hits 70% against us, maybe there's some cause for worry . . .

  5. Interesting that last year's Roy/Bill tourney matchup was similar to the one in 2001: Bill's team (Illinois/Kansas) overwhelms Roy's team (Kansas/UNC) by sending in legions of big men to wear down 1 or 2 superior post players (Collison-Gooden/Hansborough). In the 2002 matchup, Bill had lost his legions of big men, so Gooden/Collison prevailed.

    Suffice it to say, both coaches are as good at developing post players as anyone in the country (and give Manning some credit, too).

    Didn't get tuned into JustinTV in time for the Siena game. Just looking at the outcome, I'd have to say we have nothing to be ashamed about -- this was a tough, experienced Mid-Major that can give a lot of teams a run for the money.

    Was our defense as bad as everyone's saying? We did hold them to 47%, I think, which keeps our sub-50% streak alive. Sometimes teams just get hot from the perimeter and there's nothing you can do about it.

    But maybe we're not getting out on shooters like we should; it did seem that the Vols got a lot of open looks from outside Saturday and just missed them -- except for that late stretch.

    I also hate to see Sherron with more turnovers than assists. Still, any win over tourney-level competition is good at this point.

  6. Not having seen the whole thing, I can only guess . . .

    That said, I don't think our D was awful, though giving up 80+ has to have Bill unhappy.
    At least a number of those threes seemed like a that-kind-of-night thing, but we could be working harder at getting in the passing lanes & denying the ball so that the guards don't have the chance to have that kind of night.

    I was actually more worried about our offense. Aldrich has been great this year (he's shooting like 85% from the line, gawky style notwithstanding), and Collins is solid, but who else will step up? Who else?

  7. I've been encouraged by Morningstar's three point shooting, but maybe we haven't seen enough of Little if he could be the one to fill a bit of the scoring void.

  8. I still can't get over you predicting that Insight Bowl score, Scott. I mean, what are the odds?

  9. And speaking of Brady: Self sings praises for his defense today's LJW, comparing him to ... Jeff Gueldner?