Just as the Tennessee Vols football team reaches heights it hasn’t seen in decades, basketball preseasons begin, creating a level of excitement around UT that is through the roof. Knoxville is rocking right now, and an FCS opponent coming to town this weekend won’t change that.
Our morning update on Rocky Top leads with more coverage of the football program after that huge win over the Alabama Crimson Tide, as they somehow have to refocus and get set for the UT-Martin Skyhawks. It’s Wednesday, so they have to do that soon.
Beyond football, though, women’s basketball preseason projections in SEC play and a national poll came out Tuesday, and a watch list also dropped, so we’ll cover all that. We’ll finish things off with a recap of a women’s golf event, but let’s start with football.
Tim Banks, Alex Golesh talk midway point of year – Austin Price, VolQuest
With Alabama in the books, the Tennessee Vols football team is halfway through the regular season. Defensive coordinator Tim Banks and offensive coordinator Alex Golesh spoke with the media about the program Tuesday. Banks discussed what his unit can work on to get better the rest of the season. Here’s a bit of what he said.
"“There are numerous things that we have to get better at. Obviously, when he (the quarterback) breaks contain, making sure we’re taking the proper angles that way. Continuing to finish when the ball is in the air, but that’s football. We work on those things every week, and I’ve definitely seen some progress, but we realize we’re still a work in progress overall.”"
Golesh talked about what it meant to be able to put up 52 points against Alabama. This is how he described it.
"“The amount of work everybody has put in is the rewarding part. We got here January 28th, a year and a half ago, and it has been a lot of work to say the least. To reap the rewards of that is obviously rewarding. I think for all of us, our families, the player families, the guys that stayed here—a lot of guys didn’t—and the guys that stayed here and have poured into our coaching staff. Our coaching staff in return has poured into them.”"
Three Vols players talk midseason – Ben McKee, GoVols247
Jabari Small, Javontez Spraggins and Tamarion McDonald talked about the Tennessee Vols football team amidst their 6-0 start Tuesday. Small talked about the belief in being able to beat Alabama. Here’s how he described it.
"“The way we were playing, it just gives us momentum and confidence just to keep going. We know they’re a pretty good team, but at some point you get kind of fed up with just being stuck in the trap of always losing. We worked so hard. We know our process and how hard we work. The first step to winning is believing you could win, so that’s what we did.”"
Spraggins discussed remaining focused to play the second half of the season after such a big win. This is what he said on that front.
"“Nothing changes for us. We go to work from Monday to gameday. Nothing changes. Win a game? That’s fine, we go back and we get ready for the next one. Before the season, we knew that we were going to have ups and downs playing the game of football this year, but we just didn’t know what time they’d come.”"
McDonald talked about his comfortability playing in the STAR position in the secondary. This is his explanation for it.
"“As games kept going, I got comfortable and more comfortable at it. I was never uncomfortable, just learning it a little bit more and the ins and outs and that would be about it. But, I was always comfortable.”"
Women’s basketball SEC Media Day held – SECSports
Kellie Harper, Jordan Horston and Tamari Key were on hand for the Tennessee Lady Vols at SEC Media Days Tuesday. As the projections came out, the Lady Vols were picked to finish second in the league to the South Carolina Gamecocks, and Horston, Key and Rickea Jackson all made first team All-SEC. Here’s a bit of what Harper said.
"“I think for us right now our depth is one of our more impressive attributes. We have a lot of different players that can step out on the court and make plays. Our athleticism and length is also a strength of ours. We’re pretty aggressive on both ends of the court. So I hope that rebounding will continue to be a strength of our program as well.”"
Key talked about playing for a team with tradition like the Lady Vols basketball program. This is how she described it.
"“The legacy that Pat (Summitt) left was one of the reasons I came to Tennessee. It’s not often that you go to women’s basketball games and see the stands filled with fans.”"
Horston said her team doesn’t have anything to prove this year amidst high expectations. Here is her explanation for that quote.
"“We just want to do the best that we can and win a national championship. We want to win games. There’s not any pressure because when there’s pressure, things get complicated, so we don’t want to look at it like that.”"
Lady Vols No. 5 in preseason AP Poll – Doug Feinberg, APNews
In addition to being picked second in the SEC, the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team was picked No. 5 in the preseason AP women’s basketball top 25. It’s their first top five preseason ranking since the start of 2015.
"Dawn Staley and South Carolina picked up right where they left off: No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll.The defending national champion Gamecocks were the unanimous choice of the 30-member national media panel in the preseason poll released Tuesday. It’s the third consecutive season South Carolina is the preseason favorite."
Jordan Horston on Drysdale Award watch list – HoopHall
Senior Lady Vols basketball guard Jordan Horston is among the 20 players on the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award preseason watch list. The award is given to the nation’s top shooting guard and is named for Ann Meyers, who played for the UCLA Bruins in the mid-1970s.
"A supremely talented all-around player with natural basketball ability and instincts, Meyers was the first player, male or female, named to the All-America team in four straight seasons. She also played on the first women’s Olympic team in 1976."
Bryan Hattie named SEC Men’s Diver of the Week – SECSports
Despite the Tennessee Vols and Lady Vols swimming and diving programs falling to the N.C. State Wolfpack last week, the Southeastern Conference recognized Bryan Hattie for his performance, naming him SEC Men’s Diver of the Week. This is the junior’s fourth weekly SEC honor in his career and his second this season.
"Tennessee’s Bryden Hattie, a junior from Victoria, British Columbia, swept the springboards with a pair of career-best performances during the Vols’ meet against No. 4 NC State. Hattie won the 1-meter with a nation-leading 404.55 score and posted the top mark on 3-meter at 424.65, the second-best score in the country and best in the SEC this season."
After entering the final day of the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational in 11th place at 13-over par, the Tennessee Lady Vols golf team had an extremely strong final day to finish in fourth place at just 18-over par. It’s their best team finish of the season.
"Vanessa Gilly held steady and shot even par in the final round, registering her fifth round of par or better this season. The junior finished tied for 12th place, posting the second-best finish of her Lady Vol career."