Wow, I don’t think anybody thought or could have predicted what has happened this season so far. Before the season I truly felt like we would be pretty good, but not as good as projected by the polls and media. I worried about Scotty, what was he gonna do this year, was he gonna break out, step up and play with heart? We now had Tobias, how would that pan out? Is he the real deal or would he be another Scotty Hopson? I was worried about Melvin at the point I did not see anything last year that made me believe he would be a top SEC point guard and could Golden back up him up? which would be important because I knew that each PG would play roughly half the game. I expected Tatum to make huge improvements this year. I figured Big Baby would be much better, but I also worried that he would continue to be extremely inconsistent and play very soft for his size.
The pre-season exhibition games started to confirm my worries, lack of hustle, lack of heart, poor shooting, missing free throws and same ol’ same ol’ rotation issues.
I was totally floored when we came out and beat Villanova and Pittsburg. Everything was clicking, great defense, good shooting, playing with heart and hustle. And winning makes you look past other things and you start believing and hoping.
Then we started losing and the formula was the same in all the losses, losing 90% of 50-50 balls(lack of heart) Poor shooting, missing free throws, A rotation pattern that seems to make zero sense at all, At times it looked like the starting 5 could beat anybody and then after a platoon of subs would come in at pre-determined times, regardless of the flow of the game and our momentum would die and the other team usually started a run. Scotty became frustrating to watch alternating between awesome and non-existent. Big Baby was the same way, Melvin did nothing, Tatum did nothing, Tobias showed a ton of talent and potential but could not do it alone, and at times it appeared to me that Tobias looked a little frustrated and maybe had some regrets(just a personal thought)
Pearl and McBee were logging tons of minutes. I am not totally sure what to make of this. What does it really mean. Because in my opinion if Pearl and Mcbee are truly the best options then something is terribly wrong. Not a bash on the two players, I think both play with tons of heart and hustle and both give there all for Tennessee. But the harsh reality is that they do not have the talent and ability to be top self SEC basketball players. So my question is this, since they are playing is that on the coaching staff or on the 4 star players riding the pine?
I have never subscribed to the our best 10 can beat your best 10, for the simple fact that most of the teams and especially our rivals do not play 10. This has been the toughest season to watch of the BP era and I don’t see a lot changing in the next few years. The realistic side of me says that BP needs to be coaching 1 and 2 star players who have a hunger and a desire to win despite what people say. BP knows how to coach that type of player and that type of game. However I believe and I think BP knows that type of team will only get you so far in the tourney. So BP went out and recruited high level players and tried to fit them into his system, he quickly realized they would not play 40 minutes of chaos type of game forcing turnovers and wearing teams down. I believe BP has tried to change his coaching style but for whatever reasons he is not totally committed to it, i.e. he has stopped the press and tries to play a half court game, but continues to play a 11-12 man rotation and platoon sub at pre-determined time intervals (These are very conflicting ideas). I love BP and what he has done here. I think BP is a great coach for exactly the situation he had here at Tennessee, unfortunately I don’t think he knows how to coach a top program with top talent. Something has to change either BP’s goes back to his style of players and takes his chances in the tourney, or He continues to recruit top players and he learns to coach that style of game. I don’t believe BP will change its outside his comfort zone. So in reality the NCAA issues may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I we lose top level players over it and BP is forced to only have players like he did when he got here, his old style may return and we will then win games we should lose and have great regular seasons, but probably wont kmake it past the sweet 16.
I hope BP can find a way to bust through this coaching plateau I am afraid he has reached.
Scotty, I hope he comes back next year, he could be unstoppable!