Now that we’ve all had adequate time to digest the news of Trae Golden leaving, and also gain some possible insight into why he’s leaving, it’s time to look at the proper way to react to the news.
The immediate reaction to the news by fans was to place the blame on Cuonzo Martin and relieve him of his duties as the Vol’s basketball coach.
As we mentioned in March, that is definitely not the answer.
It’s also not quite time to judge Golden either. The rumors about Golden’s reported academic shortcomings are still nothing but rumors. Earlier today Golden’s father disputed previous reports when talking to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
The main questions folks should be asking isn’t why did Golden leave? They should be asking what impact will it have on Tennessee basketball?
Afterall, regardless of the reports being true or not, the Vols still have to forge ahead and stay the course. Basketball season will come rather or not Trae Golden is on the team. Cuonzo Martin has 12 other scholarship players he has to focus on right now, what’s done is done.
The panic that ensued following the announcement of Golden’s departure from the Vols was likely do to the team’s woes without him in the lineup last year.
What seemed to be quickly forgotten was the fact that Golden has lost his starting job last season, before injuring his hamstring. Jordan McRae, a natural shooting guard, ended up taking over the point guard duties for a spell. Brandon Lopez also saw extended playing time.
When Golden returned to the lineup there’s no doubt that he came back strong.
When Golden played well, Tennessee played well. When he was off, Tennessee was off.
Unfortunately for the Vols when Golden played bad, it was at the worst of times.
There are two games in particular where Golden failed to show up, probably costing the Vols an NCAA tournament bid.
Late in the season, in a game against Georgia, Golden went 1-of-10 from the field, scoring only four points. The Vols lost the game and ended their six game winning streak.
Tennessee managed to win their next three games and with the team squarely on the bubble took on Alabama in the third round of the SEC tournament.
Golden ended up shooting 1-of-7 from the field, finishing with two points. Tennessee lost and saw their tournament bid slip away.
Inconsistencies like that are why Golden was not the end all be all for Tennessee. There’s no argument that he’s a talented player, but he wasn’t Tennessee basketball.
The proper recourse for Vol fans is to take the rumors for what they are and don’t read too much into them, you’ll only give yourself a headache.
Stay positive and stay behind Cuonzo Martin.
Martin did a great job of rallying a team that started January with five straight losses. It’s easy to lose focus when you get mired in a streak like that, but Martin was able to bring the team out of that slump and nearly make the tournament.
The point guard situation will work itself out, rather it ends up being Darius Thompson or if the Vols go out an find someone.
It’ll work out, these things always do — it just won’t be how Vol fans envisioned it working out a week ago.