Monday, March 29, 2010
Vols One Point Short of Making the Final Four
So close, yet so far for Tennessee. J.P. Prince's desperation heave fell short as the Vols fell to Michigan State 70-69 in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The Big Orange certainly had a chance to make it to their first Final Four in team history, but missed free throws down the stretch really hurt the Vols.
Sad ending aside, this Tennessee team will go down as one of my favorites. They may not have won an SEC Title like the Bernie and Ernie show in the 70's or achieved a number one ranking like the 2007-2008 team, but they overcame so much and got further in the Big Dance than any Vol team before.
Remember your reaction when your heard the news about the New Year's Day arrests and the dismissal of Tyler Smith? All the expectations we had for this season were thrown out the window.
Then days later the Volunteers upset top ranked Kansas with only six scholarship players, knocked off Kentucky, and made a gritty run through the NCAA tournament.
This team is by far Bruce Pearl's best coaching job. He had to change the way the team played after the arrests, and use literally everyone on the bench. When people say it was a team effort, they really mean it with this Vol squad. We all know the contributions of Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince, Bobby Maze, Brian Williams, Scotty Hopson, Cameron Tatum, and Melvin Goins.
However, you can't forget Renaldo Woolridge's huge three point baskets against Kansas, Kenny Hall stepping up when Chism and Williams were in foul trouble, Steven Pearl playing great defense and taking charges, Josh Bone coming up big in the OT game against Ole Miss and the great play in the Tournament, and of course Skylar McBee's huge three point dagger against Kansas.
When I look back on this team I will always smile. Thank you Bruce Pearl and the Volunteers for a great season! IT IS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL!