I’m going to start off by saying this isn’t something I wanted to write. I wish I could say everything is fine and that this team was going to be just fine, but this late into the season, I can’t say that. Now, I have made a piece before talking about how our seniors need to step up, but they aren’t the only ones to blame here. The players aren’t the only ones to blame and actually, I think the head of the blame rests on the shoulders of one man, and that’s Rick Barnes. Now, let it be known I am not advocating for the firing of Rick Barnes, in no way I am rooting for that. You’re probably saying “Rick Barnes isn’t missing the shots.” and “Rick Barnes isn’t turning the ball over.” and while that is true, he still has failed to do one thing that is crucial and that a head coach has to be able to do, and that’s motivate the guys to come out aggressive and tough. Too many times this year has this team come out flat and unenergetic. He doesn’t have a vocal leader like Grant Williams or Admiral Schofield to light a fire under guys on the team, it’s very rare actually to have one guy like that, let alone two. This team does have leaders, but they aren’t even close to the same as Williams or Schofield, so that leaves Barnes up to do that, and it seems so far he has failed to do that. He has failed to install a sense of urgency within this team and you have to look no further than this quote from Keon Johnson to see I’m right “Once we find the consistency within each other and our roles, this will be a very fun season for us.” So, if I asked you when that quote was from, when would you guess? Well, that quote was from this past week following the loss to Kentucky. The season is almost over. That proves that there is no sense of urgency. So, what exactly is the “Harsh reality” that Vol fans need to hear? Well, it’s this. This team isn’t built to have consistent success. It never was.
Yes, we have dynamic guards in Jaden Springer, Keon Johnson, Victor Bailey, and Santiago Vescovi but we are lacking in other areas. Yves Pons is probably your best 3-4 guy on the team and he’s just not a fully developed offensive player yet. JJJ is most likely the second best guy at that position and he isn’t fully developed yet as well. Now, this, I am sorry, but you are not going to do what this team wanted to do if John Fulkerson is your best 5 man. It’s a harsh reality. If he could harness that play from last year, you most likely could, but that just hasn’t happened yet. So, Vol fans, prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for a potentially rough end to our BasketVol season. Could they turn it around? Absolutely, and I hope they do. They have proven they are better than they have performed, but that doesn’t matter at all when we are talking about our current and future success. Protective cups on, boys.
Written by:Dallas Bowlin