Monthly Archives: March 2015

Tennessee hoops coaching search update 3.0


Donnie Tyndall is out, and Tennessee men’s basketball beat reporter Ben Frederickson is tracking the developments of UT’s search for its next coach here on the blog, posting links to News Sentinel reporting and information from other outlets. Consider this your one-stop shop for coaching search coverage and the non-stop chatter that comes along with it. Maybe we can even have some fun along the way.

  • A Power Five conference coach I talked to Monday made his case for former Texas coach Rick Barnes to Tennessee. Full disclosure: This guy knows Barnes but hasn’t talked to him since he was fired. But he said Barnes has plenty left in the tank and “makes a lot of sense” for the Vols. Multiple reports have said Barnes would have interest in Tennessee, and I believe that to be true. The coach also said Barnes’ resume (a 604-314 career record with 22 NCAA tournament appearances and one Final Four) blows Bruce Pearl’s resume “off the face of the earth.” The coach described UT as a bit of a “scary situation” for high major coaches who might be OK with their current situation. UT athletic director Dave Hart kind of spoke to this during his press conference.
    “Coaches aren’t as willing to jump,” Hart said. “They’ve done the assessment. If I have resources, and I have facilities, and I have a good relationship and rapport with the athletic director, the president, chancellor, good fan base, do I want to uproot my family? I think that’s at play more than the general population thinks. It is a recruitment. It’s no different than our coaches recruiting. It’s truly a recruitment. We think we have a lot to offer in that vein.”
    More to offer the 60-year-old Barnes, perhaps, than someone who would demand a six or seven-year deal to feel safe. Remember, he doesn’t currently have a job.
  • Today’s News Sentinel addresses how security is going to be an important factor in the search due to the recent revolving door at UT.
  • Another thing to consider on Barnes. Yes, he’s 60, and that probably makes it a longshot that he’s a 10-year answer for a program. But what if he had an assistant who could take the program over when he’s done? Barnes is out at Texas because he wouldn’t make staff changes. These guys seem like a package deal.
    Former Texas associate head coach Rob Lanier went 58-70 as the head coach of Siena College from 2001-05, making one NCAA tournament appearance. He’s been an assistant at Florida, Virginia, Rutgers and St. Bonaventure.
    Former Texas assistant coach Russell Springmann has been with Barnes for 17 years, 14 seasons as assistant. He’s the guy who is credited for landing Kevin Durant, and he’s been linked to a bunch of head coaching opportunities over the years. Mississippi State tried to hire him and failed before hiring Rick Ray, according to Jeff Goodman. Some of the other head coach openings Springmann has been linked to in the past: Loyola, Texas State, Texas Tech and TCU.
  • Alabama athletic director Bill Battle will meet with Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall today, The Tuscaloosa News reports. Alabama is wise to move quickly since Texas, according to reports and common sense, is targeting Marshall and VCU’s Shaka Smart to replace Barnes. If VCU lost Smart, would it turn to Smart protege Will Wade of Chattanooga? Tennessee didn’t make the call to Wade last season, but might this time around.
  • St. John’s, DePaul and Fordham seem to be done shopping. St. Johns has offered Chris Mullin and he is expected to accept, reported. DePaul hired Dave Leitao (again). Fordham hired Eastern Kentucky’s Jeff Neubauer, ESPN reported. Noteworthy jobs still open: Texas, Alabama and Arizona State. You can track every opening here.
  • DePaul reportedly interviewed Buffalo’s Bobby Hurley and Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew, two candidates we included on our initial list of potential Tyndall replacements. So, keep those names in mind now that DePaul is closed. reported Hurley and Drew both turned down DePaul after discussions.
  • Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy was mentioned by to be a potential candidate for the Vols. Kennedy’s name seems to be tied to an opening every season. Maybe there’s real interest. Maybe he’s trying to get a raise now that Mississippi State hired Ben Howland to a four-year deal worth $2.05 million annually. Kennedy also gets a new arena next season.
  • Georgia State coach Ron Hunter might me more enticed to leave now that his son and Georgia State star, R.J. Hunter, is leaving for the NBA draft early. Yahoo! Sports broke the news.
  • It sure seems like Minnesota’s Richard Pitino wants a change of scenery. His name has been linked to St. Johns, Alabama and Tennessee.
  • What did I miss? Let me know on Twitter (@Ben_Fred).

Did you miss previous coaching search updates? Find them here:


Tennessee hoops coaching search update 2.0


Donnie Tyndall is out, and Tennessee men’s basketball beat reporter Ben Frederickson is tracking the developments of UT’s search for its next coach here on the blog, posting links to News Sentinel reporting and information from other outlets. Consider this your one-stop shop for coaching search coverage and the non-stop chatter that comes along with it. Maybe we can even have some fun along the way.

  • The idea of fired Texas coach Rick Barnes jumping from one UT to the other has moved to the forefront of the discussion. Barnes’ resume includes a Final Four appearance in 2003, along with 16 NCAA tournament trips in 17 seasons with the Longhorns. He’s a strong recruiter who landed 10 first-round draft picks since 2011. Barnes is originally from Hickory, North Carolina. His wife, Candy, is a Tennessee alum, according to the report that said the Tennessee job “absolutely” belongs to Barnes if he wants it. Barnes didn’t always deliver on the high expectations Texas desires, but his program was stable, something Tennessee desperately needs.
  • The Texas job being open changes the landscape considerably. Just ask Alabama, which was reportedly gearing up to throw big money at Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. That chance might be gone now. Marshall has reportedly been eyeing the Longhorns for some time. Texas is now offering the most appealing vacancy. It will trickle down to affect other hires.
  • Something to note: Barnes is 60. Belmont coach Rick Byrd is 61. Just pointing it out. You can’t say one is too old and not the other.
  • Bobby Hurley (Buffalo) and Bryce Drew (Valparaiso) both want the DePaul job “badly”, according to the Chicago Tribune. The report says Hurley interviewed yesterday. Drew will interview today.
  • Louisiana Tech’s Michael White sounded like a guy not interested in moving in this recent interview. But what is he supposed to say? White lost three senior starters from last season’s team. Fran Fraschilla thinks White, who turned down an offer from the Vols last season, would make a great fit at UT or Alabama.
  • Speaking of UT and Alabama, Pat Forde seems to think Minnesota’s Richard Pitino is interested in coaching the Crimson Tide. Pitino has also been linked to the Vos. The likely connection for both is C.M. Newton. He was Hart’s basketball coach at Alabama, then hired Pitino’s father while he was the Kentucky athletic director. Pitino’s buyout is $1.5 million if he leaves before April 30, 2016. That’s three times what UT paid for Tyndall’s buyout last season.
  • ESPN reports Danny Hurley has agreed to a restructured deal at Rhode Island.
  • UT is not expected to announce the name of the search firm it is working with to make the hire. It hired Parker Executive Search in Atlanta for the hires of athletic director Dave Hart and former men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin.
  • What did I miss? Let me know on Twitter (@Ben_Fred)

Did you miss previous coaching search updates? Find them here:





Tennessee hoops coaching search update 1.0


Here we are again. Tennessee fired first-year Vols basketball coach Donnie Tyndall on Friday, meaning UT has yet another coaching search on its hands. I’ll track the developments here on the blog, posting links to News Sentinel reporting and information from other outlets. Consider this your one-stop shop for coaching search coverage and the non-stop chatter that comes along with it. Maybe we can even have some fun along the way.

  • Here’s the link to our list of potential candidates UT athletic director Dave Hart might turn to as he looks for Tyndall’s replacement. Remember, Hart said in the press conference Friday that he will a) use a search firm for the first time in his career, b) show no interest in a coach who has past NCAA transgressions (yes, that means you’re out of luck, Bring Back Brucers), and c) preferably hire a candidate with head coaching experience.
  • ESPN’s Jeff Goodman mentioned these names as potential targets: Michael White (Louisiana Tech), Richard Pitino (Minnesota), Bobby Hurley (Buffalo), Steve Prohm (Murray State), Brad Underwood (Stephen F. Austin), Ben Jacobson (Northern Iowa), Rick Byrd (Belmont), Will Wade (Chattanooga). Goodman named Pitino the “my choice” candidate.
  • Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy went with Bryce Drew (Valparaiso), Dan Fife (Michigan State assistant), Travis Ford (Oklahoma State), Jerod Haase (UAB), Bobby Hurley (Buffalo), Kevin Keatts (UNC Wilmington), Andy Kennedy (Ole Miss), LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central), Steve Prohm (Murray State), Mike White (Louisiana Tech) and Will Wade (Chattanooga).
  • My two cents: I think Underwood (pictured at the top of this post) would be a Vol in a heartbeat.
  • Speaking of Mike White, the guy Hart tried to hire last season before he moved on to Tyndall, I asked Hart if he would be open to the idea of revisiting someone he had interviewed during last season’s search. His response: “As you know, I never talk about candidates because y’all do such a fabulous job of that. I think a year ago there were more names in the paper than there are institutions at the Division I level. So I’ll let you do that. But, I do think that because we were in this circumstance last year, that certainly it might help in terms of what (another reporter) said about moving a little quicker. And when I say moving quicker, I’m only talking about the identification of potential candidates, not the process itself.”
    So … maybe that bridge wasn’t burnt? Dan Wolken seems to think White wants the call.
  • Speaking of burnt (orange), reports Texas coach Rick Barnes will be leaving the Longhorns. Its source says Tennessee is “absolutely” Barnes job if he wants it.
  • The Tennessean reported UT has had a preliminary discussion with Butler coach Chris Holtmann on Friday. Its source says there’s mutual interest there. Something worth noting, from the Indy Star: “Holtmann, 42, grew up in Nicholasville, Ky., about three hours from the Tennessee campus. He was the head coach at Gardner-Webb for three seasons before coming to Butler as an assistant before the 2013-14 season. Butler is a private school and did not release details of Holtmann’s contract, but he is believed to be the lowest-paid coach in the Big East. He likely would get a substantial raise at Tennessee, a member of the powerful Southeastern Conference.”
    Dan Dakich says UT should go for it.
  • UNLV raised some eyebrows when it recently hired a super-successful high school football coach, Tony Sanchez,  to run its football team. Would UT even consider something similar? Maybe not. But Drew Maddux of Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville might be able to make a case worth hearing. The former Vanderbilt player has turned CPA into a nationally relevant program since he was hired in 2006. He could tap into some serious firepower from CPA. Tyndall’s staff considered CPA small forward Braxton Blackwell, a consensus top-50 recruit, one of its top targets in the 2016 class. CPA point guard Tyger Campbell, a member of the 2019 class, picked up an Ole Miss offer as an eighth grader. Current UT walk-on point guard Braxton Bonds is a CPA product. Maddux also has Nike ties, the brand UT switches to soon.
  • You hear some wild stuff during coaching searches, but someone telling me NBA veteran and former Florida Gator Mike Miller wants to coach the Vols actually happened. Miller’s brother Ryan is an assistant at UNLV.
  • I’ll give the Bring Back Brucers credit. They’re relentless. Somebody already started an online campaign to raise money for Pearl’s $5 million Auburn buyout.
  • What did I miss? Let me know via Twitter (@Ben_Fred).

Report: Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall meets with NCAA again


Updated: Yahoo! Sports first reported Tyndall’s second meeting with the NCAA took place on March 23. The correct date was March 16, multiple sources confirmed to the News Sentinel. The Yahoo! Sports report has been updated with the correct date.

First-year Tennessee men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall met with NCAA investigators for a second time to discuss the Southern Miss investigation, according to a Yahoo! Sports report published Wednesday night.

The report, citing anonymous sources, said the meeting took place March 16, but did not include the location.

Tyndall first met with NCAA investigators in November, after Southern Miss announced it was cooperating with the NCAA’s review of the program Tyndall coached from April 2012 to April 2014. Since Southern Miss made the announcement on Nov. 6, two members of Tyndall’s staff resigned, Southern Miss banned itself from postseason play and two Southern Miss players Tyndall signed during his two seasons there have been ruled ineligible. Meanwhile, Tyndall coached his team to a 16-16 record and a 10th-place finish in the SEC. The Vols were picked to place 13th.

Tyndall has said multiple times he has cooperated fully with the NCAA and will continue to do so until the investigation is closed. He has insisted the investigation was not a distraction and pushed back against the idea that it hurt recruiting efforts.

UT athletic director Dave Hart has defended UT’s vetting process and praised Tyndall’s coaching ability in multiple interviews, but has refrained from commenting specifically about Tyndall’s future at UT. During the SEC tournament, Hart was asked if he would have hired Tyndall if he knew the Southern Miss investigation was going to occur.

“Well, as everything’s hypothetical, but it would have been (pause) you know, it’s important,” Hart told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville. “That’s why we vet coaches before we hire them. Compliance is a very, very, very high priority at our institution and our athletics department.”







Baulkman gives Vols SEC tournament lift despite bad shoulder

NASHVILLE — Devon Baulkman observed Thursday night’s locker room celebration with a sense of relief on his face.

The junior guard came off the bench then came up big in No. 10 seed Tennessee’s 67-61 win over No. 7 seed Vanderbilt in a second-round SEC tournament game at Bridgestone Arena.

Without his 12 points, six rebounds and two steals, the Vols might not be preparing to face No. 2 seed Arkansas in Friday’s quarterfinals.

“I came into the game confident, being positive and not thinking about my shoulder,” Baulkman said.

Ah, yes, the shoulder. Remember when Baulkman broke the news on Dec. 22 — after the junior-college transfer scored a season-high 22 points against Mercer — that he’s playing with what he described as a torn ligament in his left shoulder? He said at the time he will need surgery on the non-shooting joint this offseason. Ever since, he’s strapped on black brace, practiced and played.

“It’s been hard on him,” UT senior guard Josh Richardson said. “That shoulder has been rough. Sometimes, during practice, it pops out, and he has to pop it back in, and he’s freaking out. But, he’s a warrior. He’s fought through a lot this year.”

Baulkman said Thursday his shoulder has popped out of place twice this season, most recently “about four days ago.” He ices the joint and receives treatment. The pain is off-and-on, but when it’s on, it’s worse than anything he’s played through before.

“It is so painful, so painful,” he said.

Baulkman’s 12-point total Thursday was his first double-digit point total since he had 10 in a win at Mississippi State on Jan. 7.

It’s worth wondering if his season might have been different if he was fully healthy.

“He is a tough kid,” Richardson said. “He has a lot of scoring potential people never get to see.”

Richardson’s Last Laugh: Richardson smiled after he said it: “Today we were a tougher team. We played tough.”

Similar comments from Richardson following UT’s overtime win at Vanderbilt earlier this season peeved Vanderbilt freshman Wade Baldwin.

“To call us punks and (say) they out-physicaled us — from an opposing player, you are not supposed to be treating people like that after a game,” Baldwin told the Tennesseean as the rematch in Knoxville approached. “You should show some sort of respect for your opponent, especially since you have to play them again. That comment that he made really offended me, offended Coach Stallings and I think offended a lot of kids on my team.”

Richardson downplayed that chatter after Vanderbilt beat UT at Thompson-Boling Arena.  Baldwin won round two. But Richardson brought the “tough” topic back up Thursday night. He was reminded some took offense to his opinion last time.

“I don’t care, man,” Richardson said. “I’m not worried about that. If we were the tougher team then I’m going to say it … I should have said ‘tough’ like Allen Iverson said ‘practice.'”

Can’t Make Them All: When the Commodores swished their first two 3-point attempts, it seemed like deja vu. This was the sharpshooting team that drilled 13 of 25 3-pointers against the Vols during the win in Knoxville. But then one rimmed out. At one point six, in a row missed the mark.

“I told our staff before the game, it seems like they’re about 80 percent in their last four games from three,” Tyndall said. “Law of averages, certainly they have to miss a few. Fortunately, tonight, they did.”

The Commodores finished 6 of 26 from deep, or 23.1 percent. That’s their lowest 3-point percentage against an SEC opponent this season. Some perspective: They entered the game with an SEC-best 3-point percentage of 39.3 and had made 50.9 percent through their last four games.

So, was it UT’s defense or simply a return to Earth? A little bit of both, probably.

“We kind of switched up the defense a little bit,” Moore said. “Instead of staying in zone the whole possession, we kind of matched up when they were trying to run us out of man. So, when they threw it to the corner, we were already there. When they penetrated, we slid over. We ended up getting some shot clock violations. We really buckled down and played some good defense there.”

Problem Finally Solved: Vanderbilt sophomore guard Damian Jones was a dominant force for most of the game. He scored 18 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked three shots. It was Jones who put the Commodores ahead 59-47 with 7:18 to play. He had two offensive rebounds and zero points from that point on.

“If you don’t box him out, he’s a big body, and he’s going to get the rebound and dunk it on your head,” Moore said. “The first 30 minutes of the game, he was killing us. We had no answer for him. But, we came together as a team. Coach Tyndall said, ‘You go (box out) Damian Jones, and we will win the game. We boxed him out those last 10 minutes and look, we won the game.”

UT managed to finally contain Jones despite Moore, Reese and Carmichael playing with four fouls.

Ben Frederickson’s AP All-SEC ballot


Tennessee men’s basketball beat reporter Ben Frederickson’s Associated Press All-SEC vote is below. Disagree? Sound off to @Ben_Fred.

First Team:

Jordan Mickey, LSU
Bobby Portis, Arkansas
Willie Cauley Stein, Kentucky
Josh Richardson, Tennessee
Stefan Moody, Ole Miss

Second Team:

Marcus Thornton, Georgia
Jarell Martin, LSU
Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
Danuel House, Texas A&M
Michael Qualls, Arkansas

Player of the Year: Bobby Portis, Arkansas

Coach of the Year: John Calipari, Kentucky

Freshman of the Year: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky

Vols guard Josh Richardson calls for orange-out Saturday


Josh Richardson said the idea came during Friday’s study hall.

The psychology major decided, since he will celebrate his senior day Saturday when Tennessee (15-14, 7-10 SEC) plays South Carolina (14-15, 5-12) at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: SportSouth, 4 p.m.), that he wanted the fans to match the players.

The Vols will wear their orange uniforms against the Gamecocks, and Richardson is requesting an orange-out. He made a call to the Sports Animal’s Sports 180 show to promote the idea.

“I don’t want to see anything but orange in the gym,” he said.

UT’s pregame senior day ceremony will start at 3:40 p.m.


Every possible outcome for Tennessee’s SEC tournament seeding

Next week’s SEC tournament picture is starting to come into focus.

The good news for the Tennessee basketball team: There is no way it will play in Wednesday’s dreaded first round reserved for the bottom four teams. Even if the Vols lose their home finale to South Carolina on Saturday, they can finish no worse than the No. 10 seed. And the Vols could climb as high as the No. 8 seed, but that would require a pretty shocking upset. More on that in a bit.

The bad news for UT: If it does jump up to the No. 8 or No. 9 seed, a win would secure a quarterfinals meeting with powerhouse No. 1 seed Kentucky instead of No. 2 seed Arkansas, a team the Vols split a series with this season.

Current league standings show No. 10 seed UT would play No. 7 seed Florida on Thursday (TV: SEC Network, 6 p.m.) at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The winner would get Arkansas on Friday. But let’s break down how things could change.

First, seeds No. 1 through No. 6 are out of the Vols’ reach. All of those teams have a 10-6 conference record, or better. The Vols are 7-10 with only one game left to play. Seeds No. 11 through No. 14 are too far behind. They all have 5-12 conference records, or worse, with one game to go.

UT is still jostling with three teams: Florida (8-9 with Kentucky left to play), Vanderbilt (8-9 with Ole Miss left to play), and Alabama (7-10 with Texas A&M left to play).

The tiebreaker rules, straight from the SEC, read:

1. Two-Team Tie. The following procedure will be used in the following order until the tie is broken:
A. Won-lost results of head-to-head competition between the two teams.
B. Won-lost record of the two teams versus the No. 1 seed (and proceeding through the No. 14 seed, if necessary).
C. Coin flip by the Commissioner.

2. Three-Team Tie (or more). When three or more teams are tied, the following procedure will be used in the following order until the tie is broken. If two teams remain tied after a tiebreaker provision, the two-team tiebreaker formula will be used.
A. Best winning percentage of games played among the tied teams (Example:Team A is 3-1, Team B is 2-2 and Team C is 1-3 – Team A would be seeded highest, Team B second-highest and Team C lowest of the three).
B. Best winning percentage of the tied teams versus the No. 1 seed (and proceeding through the No. 14 seed, if necessary).
C. If two teams remain, coin flip by the Commissioner.
D. If three or more teams remain, draw by the Commissioner

Florida and Vanderbilt lose. Alabama and Tennessee win. Vols in a 4-way tie with Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 9 seed: Alabama
No. 10 seed: Tennessee

Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama lose. Tennessee wins. Vols in a 3-way tie with Florida and Vanderbilt …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 9 seed: Tennessee
No. 10 seed Alabama

Florida loses. Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Alabama win. Vols land in a 3-way tie with Florida and Alabama …

No. 7 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 8 seed: Florida
No. 9 seed: Alabama
No. 10 seed: Tennessee

Florida, Tennessee and Alabama win. Vanderbilt loses. Vols land in a 3-way tie with Vanderbilt and Alabama …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 9 seed: Alabama
No. 10 seed: Tennessee

Tennessee and Vanderbilt win. Florida and Alabama lose. Vols tie with Florida…

No. 7 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 8 seed: Florida
No. 9 seed: Tennessee
No. 10 seed: Alabama

Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama win. Tennessee loses. Vols tie with Alabama …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 9 seed: Alabama
No. 10 seed: Tennessee

Florida and Tennessee win. Vanderbilt and Alabama lose. Vols tie with Vanderbilt …

No. 7 seed: Florida
No. 8 seed Tennessee
No. 9 seed: Vanderbilt
No. 10 seed: Alabama

*This scenario is the only way UT can get the No. 8 seed, but it would require Florida to beat unbeaten Kentucky.

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. Disagree? Sound off to @Ben_Fred.

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