We're halfway through the SEC basketball season, and Mike Griffith, using a fairly generous curve, gives Tennessee a mid-term grade of B-. Mostly, the components are made up of a bunch of C+s, but the team gets a great deal of extra credit for intangibles.
Much of the positive intangibles vibe, to me anyway, comes from a certain tenuous optimism about the remainder of the season. Coach Martin seems to be successfully selling his defense-first system to his players, and he seems to be pulling the right strings and pushing the right buttons, although I call liar liar pants on fire on his claim that he wasn't sending a message to Trae Golden by removing him from the starting lineup. It's an I'm-not-saying-I'm-just-saying kind of deal, and Golden wasn't the only one to get the non-message. By the way, it's sounding like Golden's quick and positive response is going to earn him his starting gig back tomorrow night.
So we're trending in the right direction with an easier schedule on the horizon. VolQuest notes that the rest of the schedule is 50/50 home and away and that to finish 8-8 the team will have to win at home against South Carolina, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt, but also find some way to win one on the road against Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and LSU. Looks like it might come down to the wire, with a ton of teams bunched up and jockeying for seeding the rest of the way. Fun.
A few extra Talking Points tidbits after the jump.
Five underrated classes - College Football - Rivals.com
Tennessee: Derek Dooley has been getting slammed in Knoxville due to an offseason filled with upheaval on the coaching staff, but the third-year Volunteers head coach once again assembled a solid core of recruits. Dooley wanted to add playmakers on offense, and signing top junior college receiver Cordarrelle Patterson on National Signing Day was a great way to round out the class. Justin Hunter will be 100 percent healthy next season, Da’Rick Rogers will return as well, and Drae Bowles of Jackson, Tenn., and Alton Howard of Orlando, Fla., add some serious depth to the Vols' WR corps. Quarterback Tyler Bray will certainly have plenty of weapons to work with in the fall, but we'll see if not being able to land a standout running back in this class will hurt the offense. I'm not sure if Alden Hill or Quenshaun Watson will be able to help the ground attack in 2012.
University of Tennessee Athletics: Men's Basketball
Coming in as a sub, Hall said, actually has given him an advantage by allowing him to scout out what the opponent's post players are doing in the paint.
Martin Media Luncheon Transcript
Listen Back To Coach Dooley's Interview On Sportstalk - Tennessee
Vols head coach Derek Dooley took part in an interview on the Sports Animal's Sportstalk with Jimmy Hyams and John Wilkerson on Monday. Listen back to the interview in these segments:The interview starts in the first segment at the 5:35...