Thoughts on Season

#1

WhatInVolnation

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#1
1. UT's 2021-22 had some great moments - beating Arizona, UK (twice), Auburn, and winning the SEC tournament - but this was ultimately another disappointing season with yet another early exit from the NCAA tournament under Rick Barnes. I think Coach Barnes is a very good coach (and I am not sure that UT could do better even considering his tournament failures) but the single elimination NCAA tournament baffles him and his teams for some reason. After the second place regular season conference finish and the conference championship, my personal metrics were sub-Sweet Sixteen finish would be disappointing (especially for a team that felt snubbed by its 3 seed), Sweet Sixteen but no better finish would be satisfactory but feel somewhat lacking as I thought UT was a T8 or better team, and Elite Eight or better would make this a great season. Well, UT fell well short of a successful end to this season IMO.

2. The NCAA tournament is a maddening affair. Basketball, unlike football and some other sports, is more prone to upsets and that's why the NCAA tournament is so great but so frustrating simultaneously. But there is an often repeated adage that a team's flaw/s will ultimately reveal itself/themselves in the tournament and a loss is likely to follow. There are hundreds and hundreds of examples of this but Memphis missing free throw after free throw in the final minutes against KU in the 2007-08 championship game is a prime example of it. Well, UT's scoring droughts, inconsistent three point shooting, and lack of a consistent inside presence ultimately doomed UT's 2021-22 squad as all of those things came to bear yesterday. I mean, how in the world does the #5 team in the country in the last AP poll and one of KenPom's T8 most efficient teams blow a 6 point lead with 8 1/2 minutes to go and lose by 8?

3. Under Coach Barnes, UT has lacked a wing that can get his own shot at any time and a true rim protector and I think UT's struggles in the tournament can be attributable to these absences. UT's best rim protecting duo was probably Grant Williams and Kyle Alexander but Alexander got hurt and that was a devastating loss for the team. UT did not protect the rim well again yesterday. UT has never really had the type of wing that I am talking about under Coach Barnes and maybe, maybe Admiral Schofield was the closest to that player, but he wasn't really all that explosive. I am hopeful that maybe Aidoo is the rim protector we have been missing but that remains to be seen. I currently do not see a wing on the roster or that will be on the roster that can get his own shot and that will continue to be an issue for UT.

4. UT has also lacked a hardnosed player that would take the ball through someone's face to get the officials to find their whistles again since Grant Williams left. When I say this, I don't mean faux tough guys like Uros who is just hammering on people and crying and whining the whole time. I mean a guy who will calmly assert physical control of the game. The reality is that Michigan was the aggressor and more physical team yesterday and it rattled UT and some of its players - maybe one of the reasons UT went 2-18 from 3. I saw Vescovi on the ground multiple times in the first five or so minutes with no foul calls and I thought it was going to be a long day. I think the officiating was poor and Michigan was able to manhandle UT without fouls called that were obvious fouls and then there were some inexplicable calls in favor of Michigan, but losers whine about officiating whereas winners find a way to win. It's also simply true that the team that is the primary aggressor usually gets fewer fouls called on it than the other team and that happened yesterday. One way to combat that is to have someone like Grant get the ball in the post and create a lot of contact on a play and maybe cause a minor scuffle and then the officials rethink the approach and start calling fouls again. UT did not have that guy and has not had that guy since Grant and it allowed Michigan, as the primary aggressor, to get the advantages the primary aggressor gets and kept it all game without the hard reset the play I am describing provides.

5. Even though Coach Barnes' tournament track record is ugly, the tournament still is the best sporting event in America, and Coach Barnes cannot play the game for the players and he cannot control some other teams' players having strangely great games - which is often just bad luck. Think back to the Ryan Cline of Purdue in 2019 going 7-10 from 3 and scoring 27 points when he averaged 6.3 ppg. Think back to the Loyola-Chicago game winner that, in the aftermath there were physics analyses done of where the ball hit the rim and the chances it goes in and it was almost, but obviously not quite, impossible and UT was missing Alexander. It felt like Michigan had 3 guys that played the best games of their season yesterday and it just happened all at once.

6. Maybe the NCAA committee got the seeding right. Maybe it rightfully thought the Big Ten was better than the SEC. Only Arkansas is on to the Sweet Sixteen and Auburn has a chance to join Arkansas. The Big Ten has Michigan (obviously) through now and has 5 teams playing today for a chance at the Sweet Sixteen.

7. All that being said, I know my disappointment is nowhere near as acute as the disappointment for UT's coaches and players. I know they gave it their all and came up short - and that is just part of life - and I appreciate what they did for me as a fan and for all of us and the program we love. The key here is will they use this to prepare for next season and learn lessons of what needs to happen or not.

Go Vols!
 
#3
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#3
Very disappointing ending, but if this was an overall disappointing season to you, you need to reevaluate how you measure success. The NCAA tournament is the most important part of the season, but it is far from the only important part. When I was a kid in the 90s I would dream about Tennessee getting hot and winning...the NIT. Expectations are a function of success. Beating UK more than they beat us, going undefeated at TBA, being able to beat anyone, winning the SEC tournament, etc are all things that we should enjoy because they are far from a given.
 
#4

MeanOrange

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#4
Barnes' winning percentage is about .650 over his entire career & about the same at UT. Took him 7 years to win a SEC Championship. His career record in the NCAA tourney is down right horrible!
He had some really good teams at UT but can't get it done. Where is that 7ft. superstar center that Barnes does not seem to care about? If you can't hit a 3 you go to something else like taking it to
the basket-work the paint. We continued to miss 3s. That should be on the coach. Barnes does bring stability to the program, recruiting is very good but we should see better results from what we
are seeing.
 
#8

Stoerner Fumbles

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#8
When Barnes got here, we were poison. He dug up a bunch of underrated three stars, Canadian kids and other misfits to build a program into a national contender. Now he’s recruiting and signing top fifty players and competing for championships. Barnes is stubborn about a few things that I might disagree with, but I also understand every successful coach is. His winning percentage isn’t Dean Smith’s or Bill Self’s, but he also isn’t coaching at a program that recruits itself. He’s a great coach. Our kids play hard and well , and are almost all great young men. We’re lucky to have him, and dumb not to understand that. It’s been the best five years to be a Vol fan since Ernie and Bernie.
 
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#9

savannahfan

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#9
1. UT's 2021-22 had some great moments - beating Arizona, UK (twice), Auburn, and winning the SEC tournament - but this was ultimately another disappointing season with yet another early exit from the NCAA tournament under Rick Barnes. I think Coach Barnes is a very good coach (and I am not sure that UT could do better even considering his tournament failures) but the single elimination NCAA tournament baffles him and his teams for some reason. After the second place regular season conference finish and the conference championship, my personal metrics were sub-Sweet Sixteen finish would be disappointing (especially for a team that felt snubbed by its 3 seed), Sweet Sixteen but no better finish would be satisfactory but feel somewhat lacking as I thought UT was a T8 or better team, and Elite Eight or better would make this a great season. Well, UT fell well short of a successful end to this season IMO.

2. The NCAA tournament is a maddening affair. Basketball, unlike football and some other sports, is more prone to upsets and that's why the NCAA tournament is so great but so frustrating simultaneously. But there is an often repeated adage that a team's flaw/s will ultimately reveal itself/themselves in the tournament and a loss is likely to follow. There are hundreds and hundreds of examples of this but Memphis missing free throw after free throw in the final minutes against KU in the 2007-08 championship game is a prime example of it. Well, UT's scoring droughts, inconsistent three point shooting, and lack of a consistent inside presence ultimately doomed UT's 2021-22 squad as all of those things came to bear yesterday. I mean, how in the world does the #5 team in the country in the last AP poll and one of KenPom's T8 most efficient teams blow a 6 point lead with 8 1/2 minutes to go and lose by 8?

3. Under Coach Barnes, UT has lacked a wing that can get his own shot at any time and a true rim protector and I think UT's struggles in the tournament can be attributable to these absences. UT's best rim protecting duo was probably Grant Williams and Kyle Alexander but Alexander got hurt and that was a devastating loss for the team. UT did not protect the rim well again yesterday. UT has never really had the type of wing that I am talking about under Coach Barnes and maybe, maybe Admiral Schofield was the closest to that player, but he wasn't really all that explosive. I am hopeful that maybe Aidoo is the rim protector we have been missing but that remains to be seen. I currently do not see a wing on the roster or that will be on the roster that can get his own shot and that will continue to be an issue for UT.

4. UT has also lacked a hardnosed player that would take the ball through someone's face to get the officials to find their whistles again since Grant Williams left. When I say this, I don't mean faux tough guys like Uros who is just hammering on people and crying and whining the whole time. I mean a guy who will calmly assert physical control of the game. The reality is that Michigan was the aggressor and more physical team yesterday and it rattled UT and some of its players - maybe one of the reasons UT went 2-18 from 3. I saw Vescovi on the ground multiple times in the first five or so minutes with no foul calls and I thought it was going to be a long day. I think the officiating was poor and Michigan was able to manhandle UT without fouls called that were obvious fouls and then there were some inexplicable calls in favor of Michigan, but losers whine about officiating whereas winners find a way to win. It's also simply true that the team that is the primary aggressor usually gets fewer fouls called on it than the other team and that happened yesterday. One way to combat that is to have someone like Grant get the ball in the post and create a lot of contact on a play and maybe cause a minor scuffle and then the officials rethink the approach and start calling fouls again. UT did not have that guy and has not had that guy since Grant and it allowed Michigan, as the primary aggressor, to get the advantages the primary aggressor gets and kept it all game without the hard reset the play I am describing provides.

5. Even though Coach Barnes' tournament track record is ugly, the tournament still is the best sporting event in America, and Coach Barnes cannot play the game for the players and he cannot control some other teams' players having strangely great games - which is often just bad luck. Think back to the Ryan Cline of Purdue in 2019 going 7-10 from 3 and scoring 27 points when he averaged 6.3 ppg. Think back to the Loyola-Chicago game winner that, in the aftermath there were physics analyses done of where the ball hit the rim and the chances it goes in and it was almost, but obviously not quite, impossible and UT was missing Alexander. It felt like Michigan had 3 guys that played the best games of their season yesterday and it just happened all at once.

6. Maybe the NCAA committee got the seeding right. Maybe it rightfully thought the Big Ten was better than the SEC. Only Arkansas is on to the Sweet Sixteen and Auburn has a chance to join Arkansas. The Big Ten has Michigan (obviously) through now and has 5 teams playing today for a chance at the Sweet Sixteen.

7. All that being said, I know my disappointment is nowhere near as acute as the disappointment for UT's coaches and players. I know they gave it their all and came up short - and that is just part of life - and I appreciate what they did for me as a fan and for all of us and the program we love. The key here is will they use this to prepare for next season and learn lessons of what needs to happen or not.

Go Vols!
Couple of things:
In this game, Mich. just wanted it more. Could be the seemed "laidback" demeaner of the coach effects our players adversely.
Then it gremlin that has bitten us in the ass all season long. Just can't explain why we go through the 7-10 min. time periods where we can't hit the side of a barn. Not in every game but a lot of them. (how long did we go at the end of this game, 10 or so minutes). Another thought along this line, did we make a "3" in the second half can't remember. If we did, not many.
 
#10

ZZ13

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#10
Basketball is a pretty tough sport for me to watch. Actually I don’t if the Vols aren’t associated with the game. I won’t watch anymore of the tournament. The three point shot and the impact of subjective officiating just make it a game of uncertainty and frustration. I don’t enjoy basketball as now played. Football is much easier. You can develop a feel during the game of the better team and likely winner.
 
#11

tn4elvis

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#11
Very disappointing ending, but if this was an overall disappointing season to you, you need to reevaluate how you measure success. The NCAA tournament is the most important part of the season, but it is far from the only important part. When I was a kid in the 90s I would dream about Tennessee getting hot and winning...the NIT. Expectations are a function of success. Beating UK more than they beat us, going undefeated at TBA, being able to beat anyone, winning the SEC tournament, etc are all things that we should enjoy because they are far from a given.
Great post. I feel the exact same way. When I was younger I though a two loss football season was a bad year. We had a great year one game in one tournament don’t make for a bad year. We beat North Caroline Kentucky twice Auburn and won the Sec tournament. Pretty good year by most standards
 
#12

tn4elvis

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#12
Basketball is a pretty tough sport for me to watch. Actually I don’t if the Vols aren’t associated with the game. I won’t watch anymore of the tournament. The three point shot and the impact of subjective officiating just make it a game of uncertainty and frustration. I don’t enjoy basketball as now played. Football is much easier. You can develop a feel during the game of the better team and likely winner.
I am the same way. Basketball makes me nervous as hell watching it .
 
#13

sechamp2012

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#13
Really enjoyed watching this team play and they have dynamic leaders coming back in JJJ, Vescovi, ZZ, and Plav a mixture of calm leadership with JJJ/SV. young fearless with ZZ and a bit of hardnose with Plav. Look forward to next year.
So I look forward to next year's team as hope springs eternal.
We drew a newly invigorated UM team with 8 top 100 players. They defended us well and our open looks we did get fell at a lower % than normal. It happens to 67 teams every year.
 
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#15

cardvolfan

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#15
No team goes through an entire season consistently hitting threes. Like every game hits threes. No team. Bad shooting nights happen on occasion even to the greatest of players and the greatest of teams. The lack of the ability to comprehend this is baffling.
 
#18

Rickyvol77

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#18
Basketball is a pretty tough sport for me to watch. Actually I don’t if the Vols aren’t associated with the game. I won’t watch anymore of the tournament. The three point shot and the impact of subjective officiating just make it a game of uncertainty and frustration. I don’t enjoy basketball as now played. Football is much easier. You can develop a feel during the game of the better team and likely winner.
I agree the frustrating part is the players having to adjust to random 3-4 different kinds of refereeing depending on which crew from which part of the country. Refs affect the game in basketball so much more than any other sport
 
#19

Big time vol

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#19
No team goes through an entire season consistently hitting threes. Like every game hits threes. No team. Bad shooting nights happen on occasion even to the greatest of players and the greatest of teams. The lack of the ability to comprehend this is baffling.
That's why teams practice back up plans, to just keep shooting threes when there's a lid on the basket is insane.
 
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#20

CAVPUT

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#20
I'll confess that I didn't read the lengthy original post, but it's pretty simple. UT was a one trick pony offensively. No threat in the paint. We have a great shooter with Vescovi but you take him out of the offense and our outside game is hot/cold. Smith was right. Michigan is more athletic and talented than Longwood and it was enough to put us into a shooting funk. And did I mention that we have very little to turn to in the paint? Still a successful season in my opinion. When you consider 3 of our best players are freshmen and two of those should be seniors in HS this year, it's hard to complain. They exceeded my expectations. Nothing to be ashamed about. Get a big man worth a darn and we might be a.bigger threat next year even without Chandler.
 
#22

cbrown

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#22
100% on #3. I’ve said that for years. You really do need a taller player (6’5” or taller) that can get to the paint/rim and get points when the offense stalls. Most of our offense this year came from shorter players. Shorter players tend to be easier for good teams to slow down.
 
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#23

Johnnyreb#VFL

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#23
No team goes through an entire season consistently hitting threes. Like every game hits threes. No team. Bad shooting nights happen on occasion even to the greatest of players and the greatest of teams. The lack of the ability to comprehend this is baffling.
agreed. I was still confident going into the game bc even though we had a little history of going ice cold, our defense would still be good enough to win
 
#24

BisonVol

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#24
We had a great season in so many ways. SECT champs. 27 wins (third season during the Barnes era with 26+ wins). Undefeated at home. Finished the regular season ranked in the top 5. It was a really fun ride.

I just wouldn't bank on us getting to the second weekend in the NCAAT under Barnes going forward. I don't say that to be negative because the man has done not just a good job, but a great job here. He inherited a mess and has turned us into a consistent winner. It's just disheartening and puzzling to see his teams continue to falter in the NCAAT.
 
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#25

TartanTurff

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#25
This was an entertaining season, surprising with an SEC tourney championship, but predictable problems in the NCAA tournament closed out the season on a bitter note.

Barnes continues to struggle with development and mastery of an inside game and inside post players, as shots taken closer to the rim should be easier to make than shots taken from the perimeter of the 3 point line and when offensive production is limited to the 25 foot range, from time to time bad things happen, survivable in a conference season, catastrophic results in single elimination tournament play.

Barnes needs help on the bench, assistants that can coach up position players are rare, they can all recruit and talk the talk kids want to hear, but we need players that can grow into their role in year 2 not year 4, Barnes recruits good kids that are talented basketball players, but it takes until mid January to get a rotation set that works and competes in as many facets of the game as possible. That probably won't change anytime soon.

The transfer portal and NIL deals should be Barnes' friend, we'll see how the off-season shakes out, but there is no need to get the black curtains out for the upper deck, but also no reason to think about booking Final Four reservations anytime soon, we are not going to be that type of program.
 
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