Times Free Press
It all started eight nights ago. It very well c..."/> Times Free Press
It all started eight nights ago. It very well c..."/>

Today On Rocky Top: Vols “Play-In” Game served As Springboard For Success


Mar 19, 2014; Dayton, OH, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes forward Aaron White (30) defends Tennessee Volunteers guard Antonio Barton (2) in overtime of a college basketball game during the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at UD Arena. Tennessee defeated Iowa 78-65. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

From The Times Free Press

"It all started eight nights ago.It very well could have ended then, too.Tennessee’s NCAA tournament run encountered some trouble on the runway against Iowa in the “First Four” game in Dayton last Wednesday, but once the Volunteers took care of those problems, they took off and now are flying into Friday night’s Sweet 16 game against Michigan in Indianapolis off two comfortable wins.“I think it was great to get that win against Iowa. Now let’s play basketball,” third-year Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said Tuesday. “I do think there were nerves the first 10 minutes of that game, just ‘Man, we’re in the NCAA tournament. Guys were looking like, ‘OK, you shoot it. What are we doing? You get the shot.’“We didn’t flow right defensively. We lost assignments. Once we settled down, and especially got that thing in overtime, we started to play well, and we’ve been playing well ever since.”"

From Nooga.com

"Tennessee and Michigan are where a lot of analysts thought they had a chance to be this season – the Sweet 16. But neither took an easy route to get there.Michigan was 8-4 through 12 games and lost big man Mitch McGary, a preseason All-Big Ten selection, for the season with an injury. The Wolverines adjusted and rallied, however, winning 10 in a row after McGary’s injury. And after one more brief rough stint in the middle of the season, Michigan finished strong by claiming nine of their last 10, with the only loss coming to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament finals.The Vols can relate in some ways. They also started the season with a bumpy stretch before finally pulling it all together just weeks before the end of the regular season. They reeled off four straight at the end of the regular season, advanced to the semifinals of the SEC tournament and have knocked off Iowa, UMass and Mercer to survive to this point.Both of these teams have overcome adversity and are now playing well."

From FootballTime.com

"Before there were designs of upsetting Michigan in the Round of 16 and potentially winning their first ever NCAA Tournament regional final, the relationship between Tennessee Volunteers head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and the fans in Knoxville was souring. One day prior to their First Four victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes, fans were actively calling for Martin’s upheaval in a desperate attempt to lure former head coach Bruce Pearl away from Auburn before he ever coached a game.Instead, Martin remains the head coach at Tennessee and the Vols are making a miraculous run that one writer tentatively prefaced with half-hearted generalities early last week. However, is it possible that this run could be costly for the Vols?When you try to advocate hiring somebody to fill a vacancy that doesn’t exist, it tends to strain the relationship with the person that occupies that position.We treated Cuonzo Martin like he was subletting Bruce Pearl’s place while he was away, forgetting the Bruce wasn’t on a sabbatical, he was on a mandated three-year ban from college basketball. Now, we’ll ultimately pay the price, fiscally or otherwise.That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy what Cuonzo Martin and the Tennessee Vols are doing because of the doom and gloom to come, but, reality is something you should always be cognizant of, and… there may be doom and gloom to come.We have nobody to blame for that but ourselves."