SEC award for Jarnell Stokes
The Vols started last weekend off on the right foot by upsetting then #13 UConn at home before a loud contingent of the Big Orange Nation. Jarnell Stokes joined the starting lineup last Saturday and did not disappoint, posting a team high 16 points and 12 rebounds in his starting debut. Stokes was rewarded for his performances against Georgia and UConn last week when he was named the SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday.
Lady Vols' struggles continue against Top 10 teams
The Lady Vols played one of their worst games in decades when they were crushed at #2 Notre Dame 72-44. The Lady Vols are a team that is loaded with talent but has yet to play up to their billing this season.
Although not as road challenged as the men, they have struggled against the better teams away from the friendly confines of Thompson-Boling Arena. Besides the most recent loss to Notre Dame, the Lady Vols have now lost on the road to #4 Stanford, #6 Kentucky and unranked Virginia. The road adventures continued last night at Alabama before heading to Georgia Sunday for a 4 p.m. CST game that can be seen on ESPN2.
The Lady Vols, with nine games remaining in the regular season, are getting all their key players healthy. I still feel that Lady Vol fans have yet to see the best this team has to offer; look for them to peak going into March.
The Vols' road woes
The Vols continued their ineptness on the road with a poor effort against a highly motivated Vanderbilt team Tuesday night. Not exactly how Coach Cuonzo Martin wanted to debut his new orange blazer. The last time the Vols won on the road was last November in Maui.
Lately the Vols have suffered from turnovers in hostile environments. Twenty and twenty-two turnovers in their last two road trips have been one reason they are still searching for that first SEC road win of the season.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Vols on the road later this week with a trip to Lexington to play #1 Kentucky Tuesday night. Before trying to tame the Wildcats, they have a chance to get back in the win column tomorrow at home against an Auburn team that is winless on the road in SEC games this season. The game will be carried on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. CST for those not making the trek to Knoxville.
A chance for redemption
Jim Butler and the rest of the Vandy faithful finally had a chance to celebrate a victory over the Vols after the ‘Dores dropped both games to the Big Orange last season. Circle March 3 Vol fans. That is when Vandy travels to Knoxville on the last day of the regular season. Could make for a very interesting Senior Day?
National Signing Day this Wednesday
This week Vol fans will keep their collective fingers crossed that this recruiting class stays intact. Historically, there has been some movement among high school players during this week and the Vols have a few potential signees that are still looking at their options elsewhere. I would expect that even if the Vols have a few defections they also could be the beneficiary of a few defectors from other schools. It promises to be another strong class coming to Rocky Top in the fall.
Smokey on the mend
Last September, UT’s mascot Smokey suffered a partial tear to his right rear anterior cruciate ligament. This week he underwent successful surgery to repair that damage at the UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine. In about six weeks, he will have his other leg repaired. If all goes as expected, he will be back prowling the sidelines and leading the Vols through the ‘T’ again this September.
Gateway to March Madness
January has flown by and certainly has been full of surprises. What February has in store for the Big Orange Nation is anyone’s guess, but it can certainly pave the way to the post season. Just how excited Tennessee fans will be entering March depends on how the Vols and Lady Vols traverse through a month full of opportunities while avoiding potential pit falls. Go Vols and Lady Vols!!!
(Frank Gale is a Chronicle correspondent and his column appears regularly.)
SEC award for Jarnell Stokes
- Sports Columns
ROCKY TOP BEAT: Big Orange fans fixated toward spring practice
The Big Orange Nation will be fixated on the start of spring practice today.
Rocky Top Beat: Vols return to familiar territory
The Vols are once again in familiar territory, only this time they have no margin for error. The win Wednesday at Mississippi State was the first over two struggling SEC teams left on the schedule. The victory will do nothing to improve their RPI or chances for an NCAA Tournament bid; however, a loss would most likely have sent them the NIT route again.
Rocky Top Beat: This week at UT resembled past winters
This week saw things at UT start to resemble some of the winters from years past. After the Vols had started to show signs of another late-season run, they came up short against a talented Florida squad. Now, they find themselves in an all too familiar position of having little room for error as they close out the regular season but with a NCAA Tournament bid still in reach.
ROCKY TOP BEAT: Tennessee signs one of the top five recruiting classes in the nation
National Signing Day for 2014 is in the books and Vol fans should feel pretty good about the future with the caliber of this class. Part of that class has already enrolled early and will be on display this spring when the Vols head to the practice field. There is a long road ahead for these freshmen before they ever get grass stains on their game day uniforms.
Rocky Top Beat: UT needs a "State of Athletics" address
This week we had the annual right of passage from the political world with the “State of the Union” address. It would be great if, every year, the head of the University of Tennessee athletics would address UT fans on his vision for the future. Sadly, that will not happen with David Hart. It is just not his style.
ROCKY TOP BEAT: UT basketball teams not living up to expectations
The optimism surrounding UT athletics at the start of 2014 has been tempered a bit with both basketball teams failing to live up to expectations so far this month. With both teams having rosters with high caliber athletes, the results on the court have been inconsistent and disappointing for a fan base that was primed for better.
Rocky Top Beat: Last week was a hard one for UT hoop fans
Last weekend was a hard one for Volunteer basketball fans. The Vols once again showed the inconsistencies that have kept them out of the NCAA Tournament since Coach Cuonzo Martin arrived on Rocky Top. Coming off a road victory at LSU, they failed to close out a game at home and lost in the waning seconds to Texas A&M this past Saturday at home.
ROCKY TOP BEAT: 2014 promises to be a better year for UT sports
Welcome to 2014, a year that holds the promise of a better sports year for the Volunteers. This week, 14 members of the highly touted incoming football recruiting class arrived at UT to enroll for the spring semester. The early enrollment will certainly give this part of the 2014 class a jump start on their fellow members that will arrive in the fall. Look for many of the early enrollees to contribute on the field in the fall after benefiting from spring practice.
Oh Good Greif: Enjoy the pause in local sports
It is that time of the year when sports slows down briefly as Christmas comes and goes, and the new year comes in.
ROCKY TOP BEAT: Tennessee is not going to bowl game once again this year
The conference championships are over and now all that remains is the bowl season which unfortunately will not include a favorite team clad in orange. In what has become a recent theme – the Vols have failed to become bowl eligible once again.
- More Sports Columns Headlines
- ROCKY TOP BEAT: Big Orange fans fixated toward spring practice