Well, it had to happen sooner or later. We knew it was likely that the Tennessee men’s basketball wouldn't go undefeated, but one loss shouldn’t hamper your expectations of what this team is capable of. For one, it just so happened that Alabama caught fire from the three going 10-20 for 50%. In a year that they had only shot above 40% one other time, I don’t want to say that was a fluke, because Alabama is full of good players, but that’s as close to a fluke as you can get in my opinion. Now, we did see some weaknesses that Tennessee will want to work on fixing, for one, if Yves Pons gets in foul trouble then Tennessee has depth trouble. With all due respect to Drew Pember, I'm sure he’ll turn into a good player if he works hard enough, but if he’s on the court in meaningful minutes this year, you will struggle. The injury to Jaden Springer also showed how important he is to this team, he does a great job at attacking the defense and making the offense run smoothly, without him we seemed to be lost at times. One more quick note that is somewhat a critique of the offense, I feel like we need to give players like Keon Johnson more free reign to attack and create his own shot. When you’re down by 7 with 4 minutes to go, running offense and hoping someone gets open isnt going to cut it, you kill too much clock. In my opinion, those are situations where you throw plays out the window and just let Keon Johnson play basketball and beat his man. All great teams do it, NBA or college, all great teams give the ball to their best players and expect them to dig them out of the hole they’re in. It is early though, and this loss will most likely be a good thing as it shows our coaches what to teach and what they can do to put our guys in the spots where they thrive. If there’s a coach in America who I trust to do that, it’s Rick Barnes. No panic here.
The Vols next game is at home against a talented Arkansas team. That game tips off at 7 pm and will air on ESPN2.