Monthly Archives: January 2014

Revisiting a pivotal flagrant foul in Tennessee’s defeat of Arkansas

First things first.

What the game-changing fouled was called, according to the NCAA, was incorrect.

“Intentional foul,” was the call announced at Thompson-Boling Arena after Arkansas reserve guard Kikko Haydar hacked then grabbed UT forward Jeronne Maymon while the Vols trailed by two late in the game. “Intentional foul,” said the men calling the game on TV. But intentional fouls were eliminated from the college game in 2011.

In an ideal world, everyone — myself included — would have said, “Flagrant 1.” The NCAA switched things up in 2011. Flagrant 1 fouls are basically the same as intentional fouls — the other team gets two free throws and the ball. But the definition was tweaked some. Here it is, straight from the rulebook.

A flagrant 1 personal foul is a personal foul that is deemed excessive in nature and/or unnecessary, but is not based solely on the severity of the act. Examples include, but are not limited to:

1. Causing excessive contact with an opponent;

2. Contact that is not a legitimate attempt to play the ball or player, specifically designed to stop or keep the clock from starting;

3. Pushing or holding a player from behind to prevent a score;

4. Fouling a player clearly away from the ball who is not directly involved with the play, specifically designed to stop or keep the clock from starting; and

5. Contact with a player making a throw-in.

6. Illegal contact caused by swinging of an elbow which is deemed
excessive or unnecessary but does not rise to the level of a flagrant 2
personal foul

Now that we’ve cleared that up, was Haydar’s foul worthy of the flagrant designation? Arkansas coach Mike Anderson didn’t think so. He told the officials. He told everyone.

“McRae played well, but the MVP was the flagrant foul call,” he said after the game. “You get in two or three minutes and that’s one that should play on. I thought it just changed the whole dynamic of how the game was going.” 

Anderson was right. The call definitely changed the game. Maymon made both free throws and Jordan McRae buried a 3-pointer. UT never trailed again and won 81-74.

After reviewing the call and the rulebook, I think Anderson is wrong about that. I wasn’t sure at first. From press row, I only saw the 5-foot-10 Haydar hack 6-foot-8 Maymon across the arms. A hard foul. A good foul. Not a flagrant foul.

What I missed was what happened next. As Maymon continued to try to score, Hadyar, now behind Maymon, latched on in order to stop the shot. Look at this then read this: “Pusing or holding a player from behind to prevent a score.”

A tough call, yes.

But I think it was the right one.




Jarnell Stokes has something to prove in meeting with Julius Randle

Jarnell Stokes didn’t seem to like the Julius Randle question much.

What do you have to do to slow down a player of that caliber?

“Well,” Stokes started.

He slightly shook his head.

“I mean,” he continued.

His shoulders shrugged.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I feel like I’m one of those guys also, who was a top-10 player growing up. Julius Randle is definitely a great talent. He has size and athleticism. And he has strength. But I was a top-10 guy coming out of high school, too. So I see it as a different perspective.”

Here are three facts about the frontcourt battle that will take place between two familiar foes on Saturday (Stokes and Randle roomed together while playing for the USA Men’s U18 National Team in Brazil in 2012):

1) Stokes, 20, is a junior in the Year of the Freshmen. Randle, 19, is one of the newcomers making college basketball swoon.

2) Stokes is anywhere between 41st and 63rd in NBA analysts’ lists of top-100 NBA prospects. Randle is in everyone’s top five.

3) Stokes averages 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in his third season of college ball. Randle averages 16.9 and 11.1 in season one.

Of course, none of this matters when Kentucky and Tennessee tip off at noon.

Stokes will have 40 minutes against Randle to show why he bristled at that question.

He’ll make a major statement if he shows he has an answer.

RPI tracker: Vols enter NCAA RPI top-40 after back-to-back wins

Back to back wins shot the Tennessee men’s basketball team in the right direction in the NCAA’s official RPI, which was updated on Monday.

The Vols went from 52nd to 39th after they beat Ole Miss and Alabama. That’s third-best in the SEC.

Florida (5) and Kentucky (13) lead the pack.

Behind the Vols are Missouri (52), LSU (54), Ole Miss (57), Vanderbilt (74), Arkansas (92), Alabama (114), Georgia (140), South Carolina (145), Texas A&M (146), Mississippi State (157) and Auburn (175).

Some observations: CBS bracket analyst Jerry Palm considers the Vols a bubble team. His latest projection has the Vols as an 11th seed. ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi’s latest prediction has the Vols as a 10th seed. As of today, ESPN says the Vols have the 10th-toughest schedule in the country.

UT’s Wins in RPI …

Virginia (16)
Xavier (36)
LSU (54)
Ole Miss (57)
Wake Forest (82)
Arkansas (92)
Alabama (114)
Morehead State (136)
Auburn (175)
USC Upstate (195)
Tennessee Tech (262)
Tennessee State (326)
The Citadel (346)
Remember, the win against Division II Tusculum doesn’t count

UT’s Losses in RPI …

Florida (5)
Wichita State (6)
Kentucky (13)
Xavier (36)
N.C. State (61)
UTEP (89)
Texas A&M (146)

I’ll update this tracker the next time the NCAA provides fresh RPI ratings.

Redshirt Math: Vols guard Robert Hubbs is on the outside looking in


As it became clear Wednesday night and Thursday that freshman guard Robert Hubbs is headed toward season-ending left shoulder surgery, the next thought was if Hubbs stood a chance of receiving an extra year of eligibility via a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA.

Before we dive in we should note that Hubbs — if things go according to his and UT’s plan — probably won’t need a redshirt. He’s the former five star who was getting recruited by Duke. He is the one who is supposed to go pro, sooner rather than later. If he sits out the rest of this season and comes back healthy next year, the hope is three seasons will be more than enough to punch his ticket to the league.

But why not play it safe if possible? Hubbs’ father, Robert Hubbs Jr., would like that.

“I talked to Coach (Martin) about that as well, he told the News Sentinel in a phone interview on Thursday. “We would love for him to get a medical redshirt, just in case. If it doesn’t happen we are still going to get it (the season-ending procedure) done regardless. I’m looking at the future not the present.”

But it appears that window of opportunity has closed.

For a college basketball player to earn a redshirt, he has to play in less than 30 percent of that season’s games. UT has 31 games on its schedule this season. Hubbs has played in 12. That’s 38.7 percent. No dice.

But wait!

Obviously the number of games on a team’s schedule is not the total number of games played once the season is said and done. There are games in conference tournaments. There are long runs in the NCAA and NIT. The more the better, right?

For example, say UT added a total of five games through SEC tournament and NCAA play. That would cut the amount of games Hubbs played in this season to 33.3 percent. And so on and so on. One would assume every percentage point that dropped off would increase the chances of UT winning an appeal if the initial redshirt application was rejected. So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?


Enter the always complex NCAA manual, specifically this bylaw: Conference Championships

A conference championship shall be counted as one contest or date of competition in determining the institution’s scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in that sport, regardless of the number of days or games involved in the championship. However, for purposes of this regulation, the calculation of scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in a particular season does not include postseason competition conducted after the completion of the institution’s regular-season schedule and conference tournament. (Revised: 1/14/97 effective 8/1/97, 4/26/01 effective 8/1/01, 8/4/05)

Summarized: The NCAA counts the SEC conference tournament as one game no matter how many games a team played while there. The NCAA tournament, the NIT and the CBI don’t count — period.

This means the Vols will play 32 games in the eyes of the NCAA this season. Again, Hubbs has played in 12. That’s 37.5 percent. To receive a redshirt he would have had to play in fewer than 10 games.

While UT can still ask for the waiver and request an appeal of a rejected application, there’s probably no chance Hubbs gets the extra season his father hopes for.


Chart: Tracking the Vols’ plus/minus scores through non-conference games


The Tennessee men’s basketball team (9-4) starts SEC play tonight at LSU. Before league action gets underway, let’s take a look at the +/- averages of each UT player through the non-conference season. Here is the link to the first time we crunched the numbers. Below, is the updated chart, along with some observations.

VolsHoopsPlusMinusNonCon(Click on the chart to enlarge)

  • Early in non-conference play we noted the lack of production from freshman guard Robert Hubbs. That observation still holds. Hubbs has been slowed by the injury to his left, non-shooting shoulder. He sat out against Tusculum, but is expected to play against LSU. Will Hubbs really hit his stride this season? If the Vols do have to sit him more often to help him heal, they should still be in decent shape. Who would have thought that would be the case?
  • Antonio Barton seems to have snapped out of the cold streak that might have eventually cost him his starting job. UT coach Cuonzo Martin and his staff discussed moving freshman Darius Thompson into the starting role as Barton struggled; he totaled zero points and two assists in losses to Wichita State and N.C. State. But Barton has averaged 9.3 points and 2.3 assists in his last three games. He enters the LSU game coming of back-to-back 14-point performances. “Right now I’m feeling the best that I’ve felt all year,” Barton said. “As far as my legs, my hand, my whole body, mentally, I feel as though I’m 100 percent. And I’m going to continue to get better.”
  • Entering conference play, UT’s hottest reserve is Derek Reese. The sophomore forward went from riding the pine to averaging 16.3 minutes per game. The biggest reason is his rebounding; he averages 8.7 per game. If Reese keeps cleaning the glass like that, he will continue to play.
  • D’Montre Edwards helped himself in the glorified scrimmage against Tusculum. He spiked his +/- with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Previously, his +/- had been -2 in two games. It’s hard to say Edwards’ career night against a Division II team means he will force his way into the rotation more. But if Hubbs’ sits, Edwards could be an option since he plays the same position.