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Bruised but Blessed
Posted: Monday, February 27th, 2006, 10:39 AM
by Beano
• Permalink
As I exited TBA after the Hogs come-from-behind victory over the Vols on Saturday afternoon a strange feeling crept over me that I had trouble defining. I knew I was disappointed. I knew I was frustrated, maybe even a touch angry. But there was something else. Some subliminal emotion was emerging from its long-time hiding place. As I neared my parking place, (which by the way due to the Orange Nationís rekindled love for the basketball program was pushed far beyond the distance a soon-to-be half-a-hundred year old man should have to walk) understanding finally penetrated my granite-like skull and callused heart. I ACTUALLY CARED. The menís basketball team was playing an atypical meaningful late February game that even more shockingly will have a direct effect on the overall SEC Championship. The Vols lost but at least it mattered. It mattered to Arkansas who probably punched their own NCAA Tournament ticket. It mattered to LSU who took one step closer to the overall conference crown. It mattered to Bruce Pearl and his Vols. It mattered to me. The taste was bittersweet but that beats the daylights out of having no true appetite for the product as I admittedly have had none for several years. With that in mind let me lament and rejoice the following about Bruce Pearlís inaugural Tennessee squad:

-Iím disappointed that we blew a 13 point lead and lost a key game to Arkansas
-Iím elated that the Vols were 25 games into their schedule before losing a game they should have won

-Iím frustrated that Coach Pearl and staff seem unable to reach Major Wingate and motivate him to fulfill his enormous potential
-Iím more than placated however that JaJuan Smith, Dane Bradshaw, Stanley Asumnu, Andre Patterson, and even Ryan Childress and Jordan Howell have played at levels I thought they were incapable of

-Iím puzzled that we are winless against the Westís top three teams
-Iím even more astonished that we have swept the East to date and have won 5 SEC road games after winning only 2 in the last two seasons.

-Iím irritated when Asumnu and Wingate take shots early in a possession when I feel there are better options
-Iím delighted however that Pearlís style of attack and coaching have freed our players from the bonds that caused them to react robotically in big situations under other coaches

-I would prefer Coach Pearl show more restraint as a high-school basketball parent/fan and refrain from sending our players into the stands in the oppositionís arena
-On the other hand I love his infectious passion, fervor, and spontaneity, for the game and its fans, that has not only resurrected our once-moribund program but my excitement for it as well.

Whatís the message Iím trying to convey? Itís okay to be frustrated, disappointed, even angry. It beats indifference. But we need to count our Vol basketball blessings as well. For a change the latter is the one that requires a calculator.

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