- Big win for the Vols last night over Vandy, and oh, what fun it was. There were a few new wrinkles that seemed to pay off, including Tobias Harris playing center, Jeronne Maymon playing power forward, and Trae Golden replacing Skylar McBee as Melvin Goins' backup at point guard.
- The new wrinkle that's fast becoming my favorite permanent pleat is Scotty Hopson forcing officials to find and blow the whistle when they'd rather skin their eyeballs and rub them with raw onions. (I have no idea where that came from -- it's early here in PST.)
Coach Pearl notes that Hopson's improvement in getting to the rim and/or forcing officials to call fouls comes from taking the step from beating the first guy, which he's always been able to do, to dealing with the traffic behind the first guy. He's right, and it's really paying dividends. Hopson went to the line 26 times in eight games until the last stretch of three games during which he's forced the officials to send him there 25 times. And I love, love, love his attitude:
"I told coach at halftime that I knew I had settled for some jump-shots, I wasn't being aggressive. Then I told him in the second half I was going to make it a point to get to the rack relentlessly. I was able to do that, got some foul calls and stepped up and made some free throws," Hopson said of his mindset."Get to the rack relentlessly." Yes. Even better, he didn't have to do it at the expense of the team, most of whom had positive contributions to the outcome of the game until it was time for Scotty to just take over. Yes, I'm absolutely loving how Scotty is coming along.
Bonus video of Hopson:
- The echoes of "It's great . . . to be . . . a Tenn-e-ssee Vol" had assistant coach Mark Pancratz grinning from ear-to-ear last night.
- And if for some reason you missed it, you can check out the official highlights.
- Not everything was perfect, though. Even the objective media thinks that foul call against Steven Pearl was "one of the worst foul calls most of us will ever see." Wes Rucker also notes that Tennessee stole the ball 15 times and probably shouldn't rely on that happening every game and says that the Golden-Tatum-Bone-Pearl-Hall lineup should be scrapped "for the sake of basketball fans everywhere."
- Oh, and there's also the small matter of the news that Tennessee is expecting its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA today. This is Tennessee, after all, and apparently there's a rule somewhere that there must be a black cloud behind every silver lining. More on the Notice of Allegations later.