Good Day, My Friends,
We are in the “Early Dog Days” of Summer in Tennessee, hot with weird weather. I decided to look at the Vols Football and Basketball and the Lady Vols Basketball for the coming year.
In Football, we have a new coaching staff. Familiar concepts but new approaches. This team will be VERY DIFFERENT from the team that was on the field for the O&W Game. First, there were a significant number of players out of the game due to rehab. Second, there are a significant number of players HS enrollees, Grad Transfers, and JUCO’s that will come to campus in the coming months. The Grad Transfers and JUCO’s were signed to contribute and play now and not down the road. The Third Reason is that this year under the revised rules, the Vol Position Coaches will be able to meet with and work with the players regularly over the Summer. The Fourth Reason, the Vol Strength Coach and his staff will have a full Summer to get the Kids ready for the Fall. This August the start of the Fall Practice camp is shaping up to be the most competitive in my memory and that goes back to the early years of Johnny Majors. The New Comers appear to have talent and in the case of the JUCO’s and Grad Transfers they have playing experience at a high level. They are also more physically mature then the Freshmen. Both of those factors can weigh significantly on the playing field this Fall both as Starters and as much needed depth in several positions on both sides of the ball. It will be an interesting Summer. Some fans questioned recruiting, as the Fall plays out we will see how the talent evaluations were accurate or not so hot.
In Vol Basketball, at this point the Vols are ranked #3 in one preseason poll. It appears some on the writers that had written Coach Barnes and the team off last year have decided that Coach Barnes “MAY” be able to coach a bit. There are two factors relative to the better prospects for the coming year. First, returning Starters and backups. Second, the team will be a year older and more experienced and mature then last year. We should expect the four players that were not in the Two-Deep last year to be more mature and competitive then last year when they are on the floor. Their additional year of experience should contribute to the depth of the Vols especially on defense and in the paint. We could see the talent and potential of the bench kids last year, this year we get to see how it has developed.
On the Lady Vols, this year holds a lot of potential and some interesting questions. Last year, this team rose and fell with the play of the Freshmen Guards. They were great and terrible in the same games. The Lady Vols lost two really talented players but they played several returning players that should provide depth on the inside. The new players are all exceptional and could contribute from Day 1. The Grad Transfer could be a key piece in the SEC and should help replace the two key players lost both on rebounding and on outside shooting. I expect the Lady Vols to be more physical this year both on defense and on offense. I also expect them to be a better outside shooting team with the newcomers contributing to that area.
At this point, I will say, “Good Day!” and I hope you all have a great Summer!