Houston we have a problem!
Updated: Jan 30, 2020
Most of Vol Nation knows that Tennessee dropped a home game last night against the Texas A&M Aggies 63-58 (and it was really ugly). The Vols looked “soft” and showed no signs of emotion for the majority of the game. Around the 13 minute mark, the Aggies were in the bonus and had the offensive rebound advantage 13-1. The obvious elephant in the room was the fact that the referees were BAD (check out my twitter for video of the referee bumping into Rick Barnes). Even though the Vols led by 8 on multiple stretches they allowed the Aggies back in the game.
So what’s the dilemma with this Tennessee Volunteers team? Obviously, they're missing the presence of Grant Willams, Admiral Schofield, Kyle Alexander, and Jordan Bone. Additionally, this Vols team doesn't exactly have a rhythm on the offensive end. UT is missing someone that can get a bucket on-demand (Josiah James was supposed to be that guy). On top of not having a go-to guy, the Vols are taking too many shots without finding the rebound! This is happening 10+ times in any game and creating too many turnovers as well as returned points for the opposition. In my opinion, the massive problem is this team doesn't hustle after loose balls or play with the same raw intensity we've seen with most Rick Barnes teams.
Is it time to push the panic button on Tennessee’s NCAA tournament hopes?
Vols shouldn't have lost last night. In terms of a tournament appearance, they couldn't afford to lose last night. They've got a lot of ground to make up if they want to make it to the NCAA tournament. The Vols face a difficult stretch of games starting with Mississippi State, Alabama, and then, Kentucky. As I discussed on this week’s podcast, I believe the Volunteers will have to go 8-3 in its last 11 games to really get off the bubble. They'll have to split games with Kentucky, Auburn, and Flordia which seems impossible after the struggles we've seen the past few games.
Considering the fact college basketball is insane this year and (as we've witnessed with almost every team in the country) any team can lose at any time. Which this in mind, Vol nation shouldn’t give up even though the red light is flashing.
This brings up another point. I would just like to address the haters’ commenting about firing Vols’ coach Rick Barnes. People, this is absolutely insane. When you see major teams like North Carolina having rough seasons plus no tournament hopes, this is your sign that college basketball is going through extreme changes. You can’t just shout “fire him”—especially this year. Barnes has the #4 ranked recruiting class for 2020 and recruiting in Knoxville will only continue to get better. Yes, Barnes has made some recruiting blunders—like when the Vols had their big 3. But if Barnes can teach this team to play better and be more consistent, I believe that this will be his biggest accomplishments at UT.
Don't lose hope Vol Nation. Go out to Thompson Bowling Arena and support the big orange!