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Where the Orange Fern Grows: A Tennessee basketball stratagem

We all know that the biggest roadblock facing Tennessee in Thursday night's game against Ohio State is a certain ginormous 19-year-old named Greg Oden. The soon to be millionaire man-child is playing even better now than he did when the Vols and Buckeyes met in January, and he went for 24 and 15 then. Outside of Oden, Tennessee matches up pretty well with tOSU. Then again, outside of Russia, Napoleon matched up pretty well with Europe. So how do the Vols equalize this game? A recent email from a FOCFAJ included the following advice:

I want Crews, Chism, and Childress to beat the hell out of Greg all game. At least 2 of the 3 should foul out.

I agree, and I'd even throw Bradshaw into the mix. Tennessee has 14-18 fouls to throw at Oden, hoping in the meantime to wear him down and even maybe draw five out of him. He won't foul out in the first half by any means, he might be a kid but he's a smart kid. It'll be a drawn-out process over the course of 30-35 minutes or more of game time.

METAPHOR ALERT: in the tradition of Tennessee Basketball Is an El Camino and Bruce Pearl Is The Incredible Hulk, here comes another one. Consider yourself warned.

Remember the book Where the Red Fern Grows? It's a coming-of-age story about a boy named Billy who learns various lessons about life while coon hunting with his dogs. In one famous scene, Billy and his pups tree their game in a large, daunting sycamore and have to complete the seemingly impossible task of chopping down the tree to retrieve their trophy. Often Billy wants to quit but doesn't, leaning on advice from his father and grandfather. Eventually, Billy fells the sycamore.

In this case, of course, Oden is the tree, Chism, Crews, Childress, and to some extent Bradshaw have to be the young boy chopping away for days and days. I suppose that would make Pearl the sage grandfather with dollops of advice and the barking dogs ... Lofton, JuJuan, and Ramar? Look, I said it was a metaphor, I didn't say it was perfect. A sycamore tree is a great metaphor for Oden, however, according to

The deciduous sycamore is fast growing ... growing seventy feet in seventeen years ... very often it divides into two or more trunks near the ground and its massive branches form a wide-spreading, irregular crown.

Sounds like Greg Oden to me.