Carmichael Blog

Game Day: Tyndall hints at switching starters — again


Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall cycled his way through seven starting lineups in his first 10 games. Then, through the last four, it seemed he had settled on Josh Richardson (1), Kevin Punter (2), Devon Baulkman (3), Armani Moore (4) and Willie Carmichael (5). But UT’s worst offensive showing of the season, its 56-38 loss to Alabama on Saturday, might make Tyndall start tinkering again. A different starting lineup could be on display when UT (9-5, 1-1 SEC) hosts No. 19 Arkansas (13-2, 2-0) tonight (TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.) tonight at Thompson-Boling Arena.

“We have alternated lineups all year and switched some things up,” Tyndall said Monday. “Outside of Josh and Armani, we really don’t have anyone that has just separated themselves from the pack. So, we are going to continue to test different lineups to see what works and doesn’t work.”

Tyndall specifically mentioned promoting sophomore guard Robert Hubbs and junior forward Derek Reese to starters. That means sophomore guard Kevin Punter and freshman forward Willie Carmichael would be out.

Punter, UT’s second-leading scorer at 10.2 ppg, shot 0-for-7 from the field and made two free throws against Alabama. The season-low came after he scored a game-high 15 points at Mississippi State.

Carmichael, who has started every game since the season-opener, is a combined 0-for-4 from the field in the last two games. He grabbed four rebounds against Mississippi State and two against Alabama. Both games brought foul trouble. He fouled out against the Bulldogs after 22 minutes. Four fouls limited him to 13 minutes against Alabama.

“Willie is a young guy who has to get better,” Tyndall said of the 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward.

The coach continued.

“Willie is starting on an SEC team as a freshman. There are not a lot of dudes out there getting to do that. With that comes expectations. He is a guy that, even though he probably isn’t quite ready to be playing the minutes he’s playing, that’s where we’re at. He stays in foul trouble for lack of discipline. He’s out of position. He leaves his feet. He doesn’t get the post fronted. Now, all of a sudden, instead of getting to play 22-24 minutes, he plays 12 or 14. And he’s constantly frustrated. Well, we are every bit as frustrated as he is, because we keep pointing out the same mistakes. But, that’s freshmen.”


“We didn’t play real well the other night. But I think, overall, we have a group of guys that believe in themselves and think they’re good players. I believe they’re good players. One game doesn’t make or break as season. I do believe this: If we are not on edge and we don’t have a sense of urgency, and we don’t play with detail against Arkansas, it can get ugly real quick.” — Tyndall

“I think he’s arguably one of the top six or eight players in our league.” — Tyndall on Arkansas guard Michael Qualls (15.8 ppg, 5.3 ppg)

“If we didn’t have Josh Richardson, we would score about 15 points per game.” — Tyndall

Numbers to Know:

2: Number of times Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall has taken down a ranked opponent. The first? Morehead State’s upset of Louisville in the NCAA tournament in 2011. The second? UT’s win over Butler earlier this season.

+4.9: Arkansas’ league-leading turnover margin.

25.3: Percentage of UT’s total points Josh Richardson has scored this season (226 out of 895). That’s second-highest among SEC players. Richardson is 35 points shy of becoming the 47th member of UT’s 1,000-pound club.

13: Number of UT players that have fouled out in 13 games this season.

4: The Razorbacks have won 4 of their last 6 regular-season SEC road games dating back to last season




Larry Nance Jr., Cameron Bairstow

AP Top 25: Ben Frederickson’s College Hoops Ballot


A weekly look at the ballot Tennessee men’s basketball beat writer Ben Frederickson submits to the Associated Press. Shifts from last week are listed after the team name. Disagree? Sound off to @Ben_Fred.

1) Kentucky
2) Virginia
3) Gonzaga
4) Villanova
5) Duke
6) Utah
7) Louisville
8) Wisconsin
9) Arizona
10) Notre Dame
11) VCU
12) Kansas
13) Maryland
14) Iowa State
15) North Carolina
16) Wichita State
17) West Virginia
18) Oklahoma
19) Arkansas
20) Baylor
21) Texas
22) Wyoming
23) Seton Hall
24) Michigan State
25) Northern Iowa

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 9.10.09 PM

Just how low did Tennessee go?


The Tennessee basketball team lost to Alabama 56-38 on Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

A brutal outing for the offense included a second-half scoring drought of 13:02 and a field goal drought of 14:07. UT scored 14 points after halftime and, at one point, missed 15 shots in a row.

It wasn’t that long ago ( at Virginia on Dec. 5, 2012) that the Vols totaled just 38 points. But such a slim total in a home game is rare. The Vols had never scored fewer than 46 points in Thompson-Boling Arena. They set an all-time low for points in a home game during the shot-clock era. The last time they scored fewer than 38 points in Knoxville? A bizarre, 11-6 win over Temple on December 15, 1973 at Stokely Athletic Center. Former coach Ray Mears encouraged his team to stall, and without a shot clock to force the action, the plan worked.

Only three major conference teams have failed to score fewer than 38 points so far this season, according to STATS LLC. None of those losses came at home. Rutgers lost to Virginia 45-26 on a neutral site. Colorado fell 56-33 at Wyoming. Auburn lost 53-35 to Tulsa on a neutral site.

Providence lost 58-38 at Kentucky, which means only Marquette can truly feel UT’s pain. The Golden Eagles dropped a home game to Wisconsin 49-38 on Dec. 6. Ironically, that loss was the first game Marquette played after beating UT 67-59 on Nov. 30 at the Orlando Classic.

Correction: It was Temple coach Don Casey, not Tennessee’s coach Ray Mears that initiated the stalling match in 1973. The Vols didn’t do much to force the action, though. Here’s a full recap, which includes the following description:

This was before the days of a shot clock. Casey’s idea was to force Tennessee to come out and try to retrieve the ball, opening up his best shooters to score. As time ensued, the crowd wondered how long this repetitiveness would continue. The fans’ demeanor quickly turned from disbelief to anger. They paid to see a competitive basketball game, not two guys passing a ball back and forth.

Despite the crowd’s constant ranting, Temple held the ball until the first half ended and exited the court to a barrage of boos. They trailed by only two points.

The second half opened with more of the same. By now, the crowd became much more vocal and hostile, tossing ice and trash onto the floor, causing game delays. Security was beefed up in the building, including positioning additional police officers behind the Temple bench. 

Mears, visibly agitated by the goings on, yelled several times at the Owls to start playing real basketball. Casey responded by challenging the Vols to come out of their zone and get them. The two coaches were in a stubborn stalemate with neither one giving in.  


Florida hoops commit KeVaugh Allen to visit Vols


KeVaughn Allen, a 2015 four-star guard from Little Rock, Ark., has an unofficial visit to Tennessee planned for this weekend, according to one of his AAU coaches.

Kahn Cotton of the Arkansas Soldierz AAU program confirmed to the News Sentinel on Wednesday that he and Allen plan to attend the Vols’ game against Alabama on Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Jerry Meyer, 247Sports director of basketball scouting, first reported the visit. Meyer has switched his Crystall Ball prediction on Allen from Arkansas to UT. 247Sports considers Allen (6-foot-2, 165 pounds) the top player in Arkansas, the No. 14 shooting guard in his class and the No. 52 prospect overall.

His ESPN scouting report reads:

“Allen is a long, athletic scorer who does a great job attacking on the break. He has a smooth floater with excellent touch and body control to go along with his mid range pull up and ability to knock down open threes. Allen can defensive rebound and start the break as well. Allen is a decent ball handler that is very quick with the ball and he has a nice burst when he needs to get to his sweet spot on the court.”

Allen committed to Florida in April of 2014, but did not sign with the Gators during the early signing period. Cotton said the following teams are currently in the mix with the Vols include: Florida, Arkansas, Memphis, Oregon, California, Connecticut and Missouri.

“They’ve recruited him hard,” Cotton said of the Vols. “He (Allen) liked Tennessee when (former UT coach) Cuonzo (Martin) and that crew was there. Tennessee has been on him for quite a while. It was Cuonzo’s style that attracted him. What has attracted him with Donnie Tyndall’s style is the freedom that he gives his guards and their style of play.”

Cotton said Allen plans to play point guard in college, which also makes UT an attractive option.

“The opportunity to play the point is there, with Josh Richardson leaving,” he said. “We are not new to researching these schools. We know what areas most teams need. Point guard is a need for the University of Tennessee.”

AP Top 25: Ben Frederickson’s College Hoops Ballot


AP image

AP image

A weekly look at the ballot Tennessee men’s basketball beat writer Ben Frederickson submits to the Associated Press. Shifts from last week are listed after the team name. Disagree? Sound off to @Ben_Fred.

1) Kentucky
2) Duke
3) Virginia
4) Gonzaga
5) Wisconsin
6) Louisville
7) Arizona
8) Utah
9) Maryland
10) Villanova
11) Texas
12) Kansas
13) Notre Dame
14) Wichita State
15) West Virginia
16) Oklahoma
17) Seton Hall
18) Iowa State
19) North Carolina
20) Baylor
21) VCU
22) Ohio State
23) Colorado State
24) South Carolina
25) Old Dominion

Josh Richardson

Game Day: Schedule offers Vols chance for strong non-conference finish


For the Tennessee men’s basketball team, the most daunting part of the non-conference schedule is over.

It ended Wednesday night in Raleigh, with an 83-72 loss to a N.C. State team that will almost certainly be in the NCAA tournament come March. UT coach Donnie Tyndall said both before and after the loss that the Wolfpack was the second-most talented group his team has played against this young season.

From some coaches that compliment might not mean that much. But the Vols have already played some pretty good teams. After opening their season with a neutral court loss to then 15th-ranked VCU, they fell to then 11th-ranked Kansas in another neutral court game in the Orlando Classic. They regrouped by knocking off a Kansas State team at home in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge then stunned 15th-ranked Butler at Thompson-Boling Arena. Not bad for a team picked to finish seventh in the SEC, even after the loss to the Wolfpack.

“I’m not going to accept that,” Tyndall said. “I’m not going to admit that. I’m not going to let that be tolerated by my team or my staff. But there are going to be some nights, as I said after the Butler game, where we play really, really hard and compete for 40 minutes and it’s just not going to be quite enough. But when we talk with our team and we watch the tape, it will be five or six plays over the course of 40 minutes that, if we make or do something differently, we can win. That’s our job as a staff, to eliminate those five or six negative plays and continue to grow our team. I would be willing to bet by the end of the season we will play a team like this tougher than we did tonight.”

UT senior guard and co-captain Josh Richardson also saw a bit of silver lining.

“We’re still 4-4, he said Wednesday. “We’re not in a terrible place.”

They should be in a better place headed into league play. They should 8-4.

The non-conference schedule softens considerably starting tonight at 7 p.m., when the Vols host Tennessee Tech (6-4) at Thompson-Boling Arena. Three more home games follow: Mercer (Dec. 22), Tennessee State (Dec. 27) and ETSU (Dec. 31).

Tennessee Tech’s six wins have come against Piedmont International, Chattanooga, Southeastern Louisiana, Lipscomb, Hiwassee College and North Florida. It’s already lost road games to USC (70-58), Tulane (73-68) Southeastern Louisiana (86-65) Alabama (65-53).

Mercer is not the NCAA tournament team that stunned Duke before losing to the Vols in the NCAA tournament last season. A chuck of core players graduated. The Bears are 5-5, winless on the road and most recently lost to Dartmouth by 16.

Tennessee State is 2-8. It lost by 32 at Vanderbilt and by 43 at Virginia.

East Tennessee State (6-2) has knocked off Winthrop, Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky on the road. We should know more about the Buccaneers when the play at VCU on Monday.

Tyndall’s teams have been incredible at home during the regular season. He’s off to a 3-0 start at UT. His two Southern Miss teams went 27-1. He hasn’t lost at home during the regular season sine Southern Miss dropped a game to Memphis on Feb. 9. 2013.

The new-look Vols were tested early. This four-game stretch should be the reward. Basketball analyst Ken Pomeroy predicts four straight wins the Vols. Players are thinking the same thing.

“If we win these four straight we will go into conference play in good shape,” Richardson said.

KNS photo

Game Day: Kevin Punter settling in

RALEIGH, N.C. — Kevin Punter wasn’t concerned.

It was the afternoon of Dec. 9. Three days earlier the junior college transfer had scored seven points on 2-of-7 shooting in Tennessee’s one-point win against Kansas State.

He was now averaging 9.2 points and shooting 41.2 percent from the field.

Not bad. Not exactly what Punter had in mind, either.

“I’m still getting my legs under me,” he said. “A lot of people, I feel like, are kind of worried. But I’m not. I’ve been going through this for a while now. I’m going to pick it up.”

The junior two guard did just that in UT’s upset of Butler on Sunday. He scored the Vols’ first four points and finished with a career-high 18 points on 7-10 shooting. He showcased a mid-range jumper that rivaled that of UT lead scorer Josh Richardson. Together the two combined for 38 points to help topple the Bulldogs.

“He drove the ball, was aggressive off the dribble,” UT coach Donnie Tyndall said after the game. “He didn’t settle for bad shots. Kev is a good player when he does that. He was really good tonight.”

Punter will look to keep his momentum rolling as UT (4-3) plays its first true road game of the season tonight (TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.) against N.C. State (8-2).

“I don’t know that Kevin is every going to be a guy that averages 18 a game,” Tyndall said Tuesday. “But I certainly think he is a double-figure scorer. He scored it well in junior college. He’s a guy that lets the game come to him. He doesn’t take a lot of bad shots. He is getting more and more comfortable with the speed at this level, how fast Division I basketball is. He settled in.”

Punter was a prolific scorer at State Fair Community College (Sedalia, Mo.) last season. He averaged 20.3 points and  shot 57.1 percent from the field. His 651 points tied for 13th among junior-college players. He was named first-team junior college All-American.

It’s probably unrealistic to expect that production to make the leap to the Division I level in its entirety. But Tyndall, who relied heavily on junior-college transfers at Southern Miss, can speak to how JuCo guys like Punter tend to hit their stride after the first semester. It takes some time to adjust. One good came can lead to another. And so on.

“I think any newcomer would have a little more swagger playing that well against such a quality opponent,” Tyndall said.

The more offensive firepower Punter can add, the better. Just ask Richardson if he needs some help.

“He played a great game (against Butler),” Richardson said. “I’m going to tell him to keep attacking.”


“Probably six steals. I almost got the (school) record. I’m going to get it this year, though. Watch.” -  Richardson on if he was more proud of his season-high 20 points against Butler or his career-high six steals

“T.J. Warren is gone.” – Richardson on what he takes from last year’s loss to N.C. State

“Those guy are all going to do some good things. Then they’re going to do some things where you scratch your head saying, ‘Wow, can you believe he did that?” — Tyndall on his trio of freshmen forwards, Willie Carmichael, Jabari McGhee and Tariq Owens

Numbers to Know:

1: N.C. State sophomore center BeeJay Anya leads the ACC in blocked shots. He averages 3.7 blocks per game. As a team the Wolf Pack ranks first in the ACC and sixth in the nation in blocked shots (6.9).

+5.7: Armani Moore’s plus-minus rating, the best on the team

6.1: Number of free throws N.C. State point guard Cat Barber averages per game

16.3: Number of points N.C. State guard Ralston Turner has averaged over the last three games

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AP Top 25: Ben Frederickson’s College Hoops Ballot


A weekly look at the ballot Tennessee men’s basketball beat writer Ben Frederickson submits to the Associated Press. Shifts from last week are listed after the team name. Disagree? Sound off to @Ben_Fred.

1) Kentucky
2) Arizona
3) Duke
4) Louisville (+2)
5) Gonzaga (-1)
6) Wisconsin (-1)
7) Villanova (+1)
8) Virginia (-1)
9) Kansas
10) Texas
11) Ohio State (+1)
12) Wichita State (+1)
13) Utah (-2)
14) Oklahoma
15) St. Johns (+1)
16) Notre Dame (+1)
17) Maryland (+2)
18) Iowa State (+2)
19) Washington (+2)
20) Miami (+4)
21) Colorado State
22) TCU
23) San Diego State
24) Northern Iowa  (-6)
25) Butler (-10)

Biggest Mover: Butler. The Bulldogs cruised into Thompson-Boling Arena on a four-game win streak, off to their best start since 2008. The Vols spoiled the party by erasing a 12-point second-half lead. Butler is good, but no longer deserving of the No. 15 tag.

Comings and Goings: Welcome to still-unbeaten Colorado State and TCU. Adios to Illinois (lost to Oregon) and Georgetown (its loss to Butler looks worse now that the Bulldogs are dropping).


Game Day: Vols hopeful for 3-point turnaround


The first thing I noticed upon walking into Thompson-Boling Arena today was Detrick Mostella shooting 3-pointer after 3-pointer while assistant coach Chris Shumate shagged balls.

It was an hour and 40 minutes until tip.

When UT (3-3) hosts No. 15 Butler (8-1) this afternoon (2 p.m. on ESPNU) it will be another chance for the Vols to turn their not-so-great 3-point shooting around.

Mostella’s 3-point percentage of 32 is second on the team, behind only Josh Richardsons’ 36 percent. As a team the Vols have shot a troubling 26.5 percent from deep.

Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall doesn’t think those numbers represent the true makeup of his team.

“I think we have a pretty good shooting team, I really do,” he said this week. “I don’t think we have any selfish guys. I do think we have taken some tough, contested shots, which we point out in our film sessions after every game. The speed of this level and the tempo of the game, it’s always an adjustment. You may be a great shooter in high school, and your first half of your first year at this level, you are missing shots or rushing shots you’ve made your entire career to this point. I do think we shoot the ball pretty well from the perimeter. It takes some time for these guys to make an adjustment. And we have to clean up taking some tough shots as well.


“We have pretty good length. Usually we like to extend our zone and get to what we call one gap, one arm’s length from whoever is handling the ball. But with the foul trouble we’ve had, the trouble we’ve had guarding the dribble and people getting inside our zone, we just tried to back it up, what we call ‘one big step outside the three.’ Shrink the floor and let that length wear on people.” — Tyndall on the tweak he made to his matchup zone after the Orlando Classic

“He’s made some strides. He’s another guy that can score the ball and give us some size in the backcourt.” — Tyndall on Devon Baulkman

“Through the roof.” — junior guard Kevin Punter on what a win against Butler would do to team confidence

Numbers to Know:

1: Butler ranks No. 1 in the Big East in scoring defense (54.2 points). That’s 12th nationally.

2: Ken Pomeroy predicts a 2-point victory for Butler today.

3: Ut ranks third in the nation in fouls per game (25).

5: UT senior guard Josh Richardson ranks fifth in the SEC in scoring (16 ppg).

10: UT has attempted just 10 more free throws (126) than their opponents have made.


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AP Top 25: Ben Frederickson’s College Hoops Ballot


A weekly look at the ballot Tennessee men’s basketball beat writer Ben Frederickson submits to the Associated Press. Shifts from last week are listed after the team name. Disagree? Sound off to @Ben_Fred.

1) Kentucky
2) Arizona
3) Duke (+1)
4) Gonzaga (+2)
5) Wisconsin (-2)
6) Louisville (+2)
7) Virginia (+4)
8) Villanova (+2)
9) Kansas
10) Texas (-3)
11) Utah
12) Ohio State (+1)
13) Wichita State (-8)
14) Oklahoma (+9)
15) Butler (+7)
16) St. Johns
17) Notre Dame
18) Northern Iowa
19) Maryland (+1)
20) Iowa State (+5)
21) Washington
22) Georgetown
23) San Diego State (-11)
24) Miami (-9)
25) Illinois (-6)

Biggest Mover: I was probably too harsh on San Diego State, although five voters left them unranked altogether. Regardless the Mountain West’s shining star is a little dimmer after the the Aztecs lost a 49-36 rock fight at Washington. Related: Welcome to my ballot, undefeated Washington (7-0).

Comings and Goings: Along with Washington, hello to Utah, St. John’s, Notre Dame, Northern Iowa, Washington and Georgetown. Adios to West Virginia, Michigan State (again), VCU, Michigan, North Carolina, Arkansas and Miami.