I'm old enough to remember when power windows was a luxury feature for cars. No more cranking the handle to raise and lower your window. All you had to do was touch a button. Zzzshhhhhht. Up. Zzzshhhhhht. Down. It was more than just convenient; it was cool and fun. And I did it over and over and over again.
Of course my parents got over the novelty quicker than I did, and my incessant button-pushing quickly got on their last nerves. "Enough already. You're going to wear it out." But the control, the power I held over the window with just a simple switch, was seductive.
The Tennessee Volunteers basketball team this season has been lured to dangerous places by the power of the switch. Up for Brevard. Down for Indianapolis. Up for a 7-game joy ride to begin the season, including absolutely huge wins over both Pitt and Villanova, two of the Big East's best teams who've so far not lost to anyone else. Down for a somber extended-game backseat ride in the Hearse. Up for Memphis. Down for Arkansas.
And today, down for the first half and up for the second, and the contrast could not have been more pronounced. The Vols had 20 total points before the break. They shot 20% (7-35) from the field and missed all of nine attempts from behind the three-point line. Scotty Hopson started the game with a missed shot from close, crawled into his familiar hole, and completely embarrassed himself, including missing a fast break dunk at one point that drew the ire of Pat Summitt, who was being interviewed at the time. Nobody else was any better, really, although the team was giving effort and hitting free throws here and there. Importantly, they put together a mini-run to end the half and turned an absolute debacle into a mere 10-point deficit as they headed to the locker room.
It was a bit ironic that we had to get to halftime to hear some actual analysis of the game, what with Dick Vitale and his reflection talking about everything but the game, but everything the halftime guys said was true.The Vols had no movement on offense and no leader on the floor, the team missed Pearl, and Hopson's body language rivaled that of a sloth who'd just soiled himself in front of a national TV audience.
Somebody flipped the switch in the locker room at halftime, and the team was phenomenal from that point on. As a team, they shot 48.7% from the field and 40% from the arc. They had 20 rebounds and only two turnovers. They had 26 points in the paint to Vandy's 12. They had 10 fast break points, and they got 13 points from their bench.
And Hopson was brilliant. Despite being a negative influence on the team in the first half, he finished the game with a team-high 16 points, and they came from everywhere. Brian Williams, too, who's received a fair amount of criticism lately and lost his starting job, was fantastic, showing off solid post defense and actually a few offensive moves. And rebounds, oh, the number (12) and the timing of them was the best of news. Williams even made the final play of the game, making a steal to seal Vandy's fate with 2.7 seconds left. The rest of the guys played well, too, and Tony Jones had a great game from the sideline in the orange jacket.
But would you stop it with the switch, already guys? You're going to wear it out. Just leave it up and on, please. Okay?