Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Sports Columns

January 26, 2012

Jarnell Stokes wins SEC Freshman of the Week

CROSSVILLE — 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.)

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