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UT Hoops Family Praising New Coach

Tennessee basketball players know what’s expected of them — not much in 2011-12.

“Even the fans around here think we’re going to be sorry,” guard Jordan McRae told’s Jeff Goodman.  But the Volunteers believe they’ll surprise some folks.  And they seem to believe in new coach Cuonzo Martin.

According to Goodman’s piece:

“McRae raves about his new coach despite the fact that Martin’s personality and approach couldn’t be more different than that of his predecessor (Bruce Pearl), the guy who recruited McRae to Knoxville.

(Tobias) Harris spent a few weeks with Martin immediately following the change and echoes the vote of confidence.

‘He works people to the limit,’ Harris said.  “He’s going to make people better.  I would have loved to have played for him.”

Instead, Harris will be in the NBA next season.  Considering the players Martin has returning and the fact that Kentucky, Florida and Vanderbilt — all Top 15 projected teams — are in his division, maintaining his players’ buy-in might be the biggest challenge UT’s new coach faces this winter.

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SEC Headlines – 6/27/11 Part Two

1.  Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson is growing into a leadership role.

2.  This writer says the Hogs are every bit the national title contender that Alabama and LSU are.

3.  In terms of SEC winning percentage, who ranks between Paul “Bear” Bryant and General Robert Neyland?  Hint: His hat sits way too high on his head.

4.  The Milwaukee Bucks were won over by former Tennessee hoopster Tobias Harris’ maturity.

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Harris Doesn’t Regret Going To UT

Waiting for the NBA draft tonight, Tobias Harris says he doesn’t regret signing with Tennessee… even though he had to deal with Bruce Pearl’s suspension and multiple NCAA worries all year long:

“I don’t regret anything in life.  I think everything happens for a reason, and I look at it as God’s plan with everything.  Yeah, I wish the year could have gone a little smoother and all the NCAA troubles weren’t interfering with us, but at the same time, I built so many relationships with the guys on the team.  We’re like brother forever, and it’s a great feeling when you have that.”

Harris is expected to go in the mid- to late-first round tonight.

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SEC Projected To Have 4 1st Rounders In NBA Draft

The website has posted their latest mock draft following last night’s NBA lottery.  Their analysts expect to see eight SEC players taken overall in June with four of those players going in the first round.

Here’s where they see the ex-SEC stars going:


3.  Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky — Utah Jazz

8.  Enes Kanter, C, Kentucky — Detroit Pistons (hard to count Kanter as an SEC’er since he never stepped on an SEC court)

14.  Tobias Harris, SF/PF, Tennessee — Houston Rockets

25.  Travis Leslie, SF, Georgia — Boston Celtics


4. (34 overall) Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia — Washington Wizards

24.  (54 overall) DeAndre Liggins, SG/SF, Kentucky — Cleveland Cavaliers

25.  (55 overall) Scotty Hopson, SG/SF, Tennessee — Boston Celtics

26.  (56 overall) Chandler Parsons, SF, Florida — Los Angeles Lakers

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Martin’s Job At UT A Tough One

There won’t be many first-year coaches in the country next season who find themselves in a tighter spot than Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin.  In all likelihood UT’s new coach will have to deal with some sort of NCAA sanctions against his program.  He’ll also have to replace a beloved figure in ousted coach Bruce Pearl.  And he’ll need to do it with a roster that’s both small and thin. 

Oh, and he’ll also have to win over a fanbase that’s grown accustomed to thriving in basketball.

But with Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris going pro early, the Vols have lost their two top scorers from a year ago.  Martin is left with just one returning starter, one player over 6-8, and just seven scholarship returnees total. 

Making matters worse, two highly-ranked prospects won’t be in Knoxville next season either.  Chris Jones’ grades have forced him to the juco ranks.  Kevin Ware is considering Georgia and Louisville after backing out on UT, but his grades are iffy as well.

And did we mention the fact that many UT fans are blaming Martin for Harris, Hopson, Jones and Ware not wearing orange next year?  In reality, its likely Pearl would have been facing the exact same rebuilding job next season had he not imploded with a flurry of NCAA missteps.

Offense figures to be a major issue for the Vols next season.  At least according to John Adams of The Knoxville News Sentinel.  Oddly, Mark Wiedmer of The Chattanooga Times Free-Press writes just the opposite stating:

Laugh all you like, but Jordan McRae and Renaldo Woolridge — assuming “Swiper Boy” puts his musical career on hold long enough to finally earn the four years of free tuition, room and board the Vols have provided him — have the talent to become one of the more dangerous offensive duos in the Southeastern Conference.

Anything’s possible, but neither of those players could earn their way onto UT’s court with any regularity last season.  So it’s hard to picture them going from zeroes to heroes in such a short span of time.

Whether UT can scrounge up enough offense to win or not, Martin isn’t making any excuses.  “It’s just one of those deals (where) you have a bunch of guys that were role players and some guys who didn’t play a role.  So now it’s trying to find a guy that can be a leading guy, leading scorer, leading post guy, leading perimeter guy, guy that can run off screens.  Those things we have to find out as a staff.”

All while some fans unfairly compare his results to his predecessors.  After all, it was Pearl who burned Tennessee’s program to the ground.  Martin just inherited the mess.

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SEC Headlines – 5/7/2011

1. Tennessee forward Tobias Harris is headed to the NBA draft and projects as a mid-first round round pick.

2. Brandon Knight makes his departure official from Kentucky while Terrance Jones will announce his decision today.

3. Who does Urban Meyer spend more time with: His family or ESPN?

4. Former Gator QB Tim Tebow is back in his home state and that always draws attention.

5. Recapping the spring performance of the Auburn offensive line.

6. Will offensive lineman Antonio Richardson be eligible at Tennessee this fall?


7. Uh-oh.  Ohio State to investigate used car purchases by former players.

8. A breakdown of the Kentucky Derby field.

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UT’s Hopson Thinks He’s “A Solid First-Round Guy”

While most NBA experts believe Tobias Harris will stay in the NBA draft and be selected in the first 20 picks, his Tennessee teammate Scotty Hopson is viewed as a second-rounder.  Perhaps a deep second-rounder.

Just don’t tell that to Hopson.

Hopson’s advisor — Larry Marshall — told The Knoxville News Sentinel that he asked Hopson for his take on his draft stock this week.  “He believes he’s a solid first-round guy.  If he thought he was a second-rounder, he should go back to school.”

Hopson has turned down “12 or 13″ requests from NBA teams to conduct private workouts.  Instead, he’ll take part in an NBA combine this weekend in New Jersey.  Hopson will have to pull his name out of the draft by Sunday night if he’s to return to Knoxville for his senior season… and that doesn’t appear likely at this point.

For the record, Marshall doesn’t buy into the projections that show his protege falling into the second round of this year’s draft.  “Everyone knows that in another year, Scotty is a lottery pick.”

At least Marshall and Hopson think so.

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SEC Headlines – 5/5/11 Part Two

1.  Cuonzo Martin doesn’t necessarily expect Tobias Harris to return to Tennessee.

2.  New Vol offensive lineman Alex Bullard is prepping to play this fall… even as he waits on the NCAA to rule on his hardship transfer request.

3.  Gene Chizik says Auburn is glad to help in the tornado relief efforts across Alabama.

4.  This year’s undrafted free agents are left in limbo until the NFL gets its labor situation in order.

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SEC Headlines – 4/26/11 Part One

1.  Stephen Garcia is still listed as the #1 quarterback (along with Connor Shaw) on South Carolina’s post-spring depth chart.

2.  This year’s NFL draft looks to be short on Tennessee Vols.

3.  As expected, UT basketballers Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson are testing the NBA draft waters.

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SEC Headlines – 4/6/11 Part Three

1.  Brandon Knight’s last three-point bucket in the Final Four allowed his Kentucky team to eclipse the previous school record for three-point accuracy.

2.  Dick Vitale tabs UK as the #2 team in the country behind North Carolina next year.

3.  South Carolina has tweaked its remaining spring practice schedule.

4.  Jeep Hunter is getting used to coaching safeties after two years of coaching the Cocks’ tight ends.

5.  Cuonzo Martin is making Tennessee interim coach Houston Fancher his director of basketball operations.

6.  Martin inherits a brutal schedule next year which could become even tougher if Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris leave for the pros.

7.  Despite some scrimmage stats, Tauren Poole is still UT’s top tailback.

8.  Vanderbilt was missing a number of players at practice yesterday.

9.  James Franklin will use celebrity coaches at this year’s spring game.

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