Monthly Archives: November 2014

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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) Wisconsin
4) Duke
5) Wichita State
6) North Carolina (+1)
7) Gonzaga (+1)
8) Texas (+1)
9) Louisville (+1)
10) Kansas (-4)
11) Virginia (+1)
12) Villanova (+1)
13) VCU (+1)
14) San Diego State (+2)
15) Iowa State (+1)
16) Ohio State (+2)
17) Michigan (+5)
18) Arkansas (+7)
19) UCLA
20) Miami
21) Oklahoma (-6)
22) West Virginia
23) Connecticut (-4)
24) Florida (-13)
25) Stanford (-1)

Biggest Mover: Florida. The Gators dropped a two-point game to Miami then need overtime to beat UL Monroe by … two. To be fair, Billy Donovan’s team is playing without starting guard Eli Carter (sprained foot) and starting forward Dorian Finney-Smith (broken fingers). Six voters left UF unranked this week. Maybe they’re right. I think they’ll get back on track, eventually.

Dropouts: Adios to SMU, Michigan State and Syracuse.  Welcome, UCLA, Miami and West Virginia.

Just Outside: Georgetown. The Hoyas play Florida on Wednesday. A win puts them in, and drops the Gators out.

Tennessee forward Dominic Woodson out against Texas Southern


Tennessee basketball’s biggest big man will be sidelined for the Vols’ home opener against Texas Southern tonight.

Sophomore forward Dominic Woodson, who injured his left hand during Sunday’s practice, is not not dressed out for the game.

Woodson did not start in UT’s season opener against VCU, but scored four points and pulled down five rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.

Joining Woodson on the sideline is graduate transfer guard Ian Chiles, who is nursing a sprained toe. Chiles was wearing a walking boot on his right foot during warmups.

Junior guard Devon Baulkman, who did not travel with the team for the VCU game due to a left shoulder injury, is expected to play tonight.




Game Day: Tennessee freshman Jabari McGhee is trending up

The best thing about Tennessee freshman Jabari McGhee so far seems to be his willingness to embrace his niche.

Just ask him.

“That’s what coach recruited me for, to get rebounds,” said the 6-foot-8 forward this week. “I’m not a scorer. My job is to get rebounds, and I know that. As long as I know my role, I’ll be fine.”

That role might expand when UT (0-1) hosts Texas Southern (0-2) tonight at Thompson-Boling Arena as it attempts to stretch its streak of successful home openers to 23.

McGhee only logged 12 minutes off the bench in UT’s season-opening loss to No. 15 VCU, but he was one of the players UT coach Donnie Tyndall complimented afterward.

He made the most out of his limited time, totaling seven points and six rebounds. Only starter Armani Moore, who played 27 minutes, pulled down more rebounds. McGhee also, somehow, managed to foul out of the game. Tyndall is willing to overlook that.

“He got in against VCU and didn’t play scared,” Tyndall said. “He was aggressive. He was tough. He played with confidence. He is raw offensively and has a way to go, but he went and tried to rebound the ball, he rotated over and took a charge, if I remember correctly. He did some ‘winning play’ type of stuff. It’s not always pretty, but he’s an effort guy. He gave us some good minutes. I probably should have played him a little more”

Tyndall said McGhee joined the first team for Sunday’s practice. He was still there for Monday’s open session as well. Will he be there tonight? Hard to say for sure, but since UT sophomore forward Dominic Woodson sustained a left hand injury in Sunday’s practice and is questionable for the game, there’s a good chance McGhee plays more than 12 minutes.


“There were three or four times, particularly late in the shot clock, where our deal is, we would rather you drive it and run three or four guys over trying to get a charge than settle for a 20-footer.” — Tyndall on shot selection against VCU

“We don’t expect Josh to be Chris Paul tomorrow. It takes time, and he’s getting better every day.” — Tyndall on Josh Richardson’s development at point guard

“I don’t think too many of these guys ever hear too many negative things in their life — period. So, when you’re honest with them and you keep it real with them, sometimes it hurts their feelings a little bit. But the truth is the truth. I told them I have to do a better job of coaching, and I believe that. And they have to be better as players in some areas as well.” — Tyndall on the feedback he gave his players after VCU loss.

Numbers to Know:

1965: The last time UT started a season 0-2. Ray Mears’ Vols lost to Michigan then Vanderbilt.

17,151: Average attendance number for home openers at Thompson-Boling Arena, including a draw of 15,119 for last season’s game against USC Upstate.

16: Number of free throws UT missed against VCU.

17: Detrick Mostella’s point total against VCU. It was the most in a UT debut since Tobias Harris dropped 18 in 2010.

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) Wisconsin
4) Duke
5) Wichita State
6) Kansas
7) North Carolina
8) Gonzaga
9) Texas (+1)
10) Louisville (+3)
11) Florida (-2)
12) Virginia (-1)
13) Villanova (-1)
14) VCU
15) Oklahoma (+4)
16) San Diego State (-1)
17) Iowa State (-1)
18) Ohio State (-1)
19) Connecticut (-1)
20) SMU
21) Michigan State
22) Syracuse
23) Michigan
24) Stanford
25) Arkansas

Biggest Mover: Oklahoma. The Sooners just got word Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas is eligible. A good team just got better.

Dropouts: No one … yet.

Just Outside: Colorado, LSU

Game Day: Ready, or not? VCU’s Havoc defense will test Vols


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Kevin Punter spilled the beans.

Before the Tennessee men’s basketball team boarded the bus Wednesday the junior guard detailed how UT coach Donnie Tyndall prepared his team for the stifling pressure it will see from No. 15 VCU in tonight’s season opener.

“We’ve been practicing with six players, and that’s been a nightmare,” Punter said. “No one has been open. Coach told us from the jump, it’s going to feel like there are six players on the court.”

Make that at least six.

“Sometimes seven,” Tyndall said. “It’s very realistic as to how they play. They cover so much ground. They’re very athletic. They have great length. They play extremely hard. Playing against their 94 feet of pressure on every possession will certainly be the key to this game.”

VCU’s “Havoc” defense is intimidating to all opponents. The Rams have led the country in steals per game for three straight seasons. Last season they totaled 391 steals, 21 more than next best Louisville. The result? VCU finished sixth in the country in Ken Pomeroy’s rating for defensive efficiency.

“We just have to stay poised, calm down, stay focused,” Punter said. “They’re going to press. They’re going to send double teams at us. But we just have to take our time, step through passes and meet the ball.”

“You have to be aware that there is always someone else coming,” he continued. “There is never one time you should think you are by yourself for a second. Especially in the full court, when you’re trying to break their press, as we are going past one defender, there is always going to be someone else coming.”

VCU’s aggressive approach is especially threatening for UT, which will try to make its way through the season without a true point guard

It’s not that Tyndall didn’t try to change the situation. Injury-prone IUPUI graduate transfer Ian Chiles has not panned out — at least not yet. Senior walk-on Brandon Lopez was in line for some significant minutes until a torn ACL stole his season. Freshman walk-on Braxton Bonds has not been cleared by the NCAA and did not make the trip for this game. Another example: the UT staff pushed hard to land Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus. It didn’t work out, and Octeus is now making plays for Purdue. As a result UT will have to make due with its current cast.

“It’s as big of a challenge as you could possibly have, especially this early in the season, when your team is still trying to find its way,” Tyndall said. “Josh (Richardson), who is playing the point guard position for us, is still trying to find his way and evolve at that position.”

Richardson, named to the All-SEC second team by the league’s coaches for his play on the wing last season, will do his best to adapt. Before running point in UT’s two exhibition games, he hadn’t played the position since his senior year of high school. He gets to iron out the kinks against a defense that would make the most veteran ball handlers uneasy.

“It’s going to be a big challenge,” Richardson said. “I think I’m capable of taking care of the ball against pressure like that. And I’ve got teammates that are capable of helping me out.”

Tyndall said Wednesday he expects to start the same five he rolled with in the two exhibition games — Richardson, Punter, Robert Hubbs, Derek Reese and Dominic Woodon. He said UT might go small, starting Armani Moore instead of Woodson. Moore would play the four and Reese would shift to the five.

“Right now we kind of have six starters,” Tyndall said. “We are going to be able to play nine or 10 guys in this game.”

There is one plus for UT. One of VCU’s most disruptive defenders and usual starting point guard, Briante Weber, is suspended.


“I remember I was running down the court and it stuck with me. It bothered me. Some guy was like, ‘Hey Richardson, grow a mustache!” And I still don’t have a mustache. It was a tough crowd. We actually lost that game. I didn’t play well, either.” — Richardson reflecting on his first college road game.

“A team that has an outside chance to go to the Final Four.” — Tyndall on VCU

“That ranking stuff doesn’t mean nothing when you’re on the basketball court. After a while when you’re out there that just goes out the window and you’re just playing basketball.” — Punter on VCU’s No. 15 preseason rank.

Numbers to Know:

VCU returns 68.8 percent of its scoring and 68.2 percent of its rebounding from a team that last season won 26 games and made the NCAA tournament.

UT, at the other end of the spectrum, lost 81 percent of its scoring and rebounding from last season’s Sweet 16 team.

Former Southern Miss assistant reacts to being named NCAA source


Twitter can be a strange place.

On Thursday former Southern Miss associate head coach Wade O’Connor took to the social media platform to refute a report from CBS college basketball writer Gary Parrish that he is among the sources cooperating with the NCAA in its investigation into the Southern Miss men’s basketball program under current Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall. Parrish quoted a source who referred to O’Connor as …  “a disgruntled former employee.”

O’Connor responded. So did Parrish. You can read the exchange below.

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O’Connor never answered that last question.

He hasn’t answered the News Sentinel’s phone calls since we started trying to contact him on Monday.

O’Connor joined Tyndall’s staff at Morehead State then made the jump to Southern Miss, but left the Golden Eagles in June of 2013. The reason, according to the Hattiesburg American, was so he could be closer to his family in Ohio.

“He’s been with me for the past three years, but we’ve been friends for over 20 years now, and it’s something that we talked about the whole year, off and on,” Tyndall told the newspaper. “It’s something that he’s really had a tough time with.”

Tyndall will meet with the NCAA on Tuesday, according to ESPN.

Bleacher Report writer discusses report on Tyndall, Southern Miss


Bleacher Report college basketball writer Jason King joined WNML’s Sports 180 on Friday to discuss his report of the NCAA’s investigation into the Southern Miss men’s basketball program under current Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall.

King, citing an anonymous source within the Southern Miss program, reported the NCAA is reviewing, among other potential violations, how ineligible prospects incapable of being on scholarship paid for tuition and other expenses while on campus in Hattiesburg, Miss.

King painted a grim picture for Tyndall — and by extension UT — if the NCAA is able to prove the violations.

You can listen to King’s full interview here. His responses to certain questions are transcribed below.

King on how Tyndall’s previous NCAA violations at Morehead State could affect the NCAA’s punishment this time around …

“It makes what Bruce Pearl did pale in comparison. I mean if this is a repeat violator associated with the same particular violation, you’ve got to think he would be given a show cause penalty that would prevent him from getting any sort of a good job for quite a while. He doesn’t have a good reputation, to be frank, among other coaches. People are lining up behind his back to bad mouth him, call people like me and other people that do what I do and say bad things about him. There are plenty of other rumors about things that went on when he was at Southern Miss that may not even be NCAA violations, but things that don’t bode well for his program when it comes to players involved with failed drug treats, some violence that was occurring around campus. You just hear all kinds of things that made people think he wasn’t running the best program as far as the environment and the culture around his program. I think he is going to have a tough time surviving this — if it all turns out to be true.”

King on how he heard the NCAA is looking into the Southern Miss men’s basketball program …

“I’ve been working on it for about three months. To tell you the truth I was getting pretty frustrated, because as you guys know, as journalists, you always hear stuff. But, you know, hearing it and being able to report it, whether it is on the radio or on the internet, or the newspaper, it’s two different stories. You kind of have to be able to prove stuff is going on, or you have to be able to get people to go on the record and tell you stuff. A lot of the rumors and things I was hearing, I would call the people involved and they didn’t want to talk to me, understandably. So it kind of died. I just kept thinking if the NCAA finds out about some of this, or some of these rumors I’m hearing gets back to them, they’re going to go down there and investigate. And they obviously did, because I received word that they were down there looking into the same things I had heard. And at that point it becomes a reportable news story, you know, that an investigation is underway. Basically, that’s what I heard. As far as the rumors and the things that had been circulating, it all kind of started spreading around on the summer AAU circuit. A lot of coaches, they sit in the stands all day, and they recruit, and they gossip. They say, ‘Did you hear about what’s going on at Southern Miss?’ It kind of started spreading that way.”

King on how far along the NCAA’s review of Southern Miss is …

“It’s probably at the beginning stage. I think just like myself, and probably some other media members, they started hearing stuff just like we did. Now they’re going to go down there and find out if some of this is true. And they have to be able to kind of prove it and find out the details as well. I think this is a process that might take a little while. It might take them a month or two to interview all the necessary parties, not just in Hattiesburg, but some of these players that are allegedly involved in this aren’t there anymore. There are AAU coaches that might be involved in some of this stuff .They may have to travel to interview those guys. And they may or may not talk to them. I think it’s probably an investigative process that would take I would think at least a month or two. Then you have to write up the report and you have to send int to the school. The school has to respond. Penalties are levied. Then appeals come. The bottom line is this is something that could drag out for maybe eight to 12 months.”

King on how concerned UT fans should be about Tyndall receiving NCAA sanctions …

“Frankly I think they should be very concerned. I think this could get really ugly. This isn’t just a case of a player maybe getting a little bit of money here or there, or one infraction is what I’m trying to say. This is something, from what I’m hearing, that involved quite a few players. He had a lot of guys coming that he would sign at Southern Miss that didn’t qualify academically, yet they still ended up on campus, which is perfectly fine. That happens at a lot of schools. They end up on campus that first year. They’re not able to be on scholarship. So, they end up finding another way to pay for that first year of tuition while they take classes and enroll, and achieve the credit hours that are necessary to become eligible the following year. But when you’re bring in kids from very poor financial backgrounds, from very poor neighborhoods that don’t have a lot of money in their family, and all of a sudden you’re bringing them in from out of state — out of state tuition is much higher than in-state tuition — it does kind of raise a red flag. How are your guys able to pay for a full year of school and classes and everything? It obviously raises a red flag. I think there were quite a few players that they were doing this with, including three that are on the current team down there. So, I think they’re going to look into where that money is coming from. If they find out some shady stuff went on, that doesn’t bode very well for him. Especially considering this is the exact same thing, for the most part, that he got in trouble for at Morehead State.”

King on UT commit Chris Clarke’s flip to Virginia Tech after the news broke …

“What I was told with Chris Clarke was that, within the last two or three weeks, he was led to believe some of this stuff was going to be coming down the line. There was potential for this to happen. I’m actually kind of surprised this didn’t leak out sooner. Because these rumors about Southern Miss have been swirling for a while. I think someone probably got in his ear and said, ‘Just a heads up. There’s a good chance that Donnie Tyndall may be in some trouble. If that happens keep us in mind.’ Then it happened. And there you go. It would be tough for any coach to recruit when there is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over him and the program he coaches for. I’m sure Tennessee hopes this gets resolved sooner rather than later so everyone can move forward.”