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He's Back!!!
Posted: Monday, January 29th, 2007, 10:08 AM • Permalink
Welcome Back to the blogsphere Tony B! Thanks.
The ting that hurts about yesterdays loss is that Kentucky is an AVERAGE team that was there for the TAKING yesterday. Thatís what runs all over me. Itís tough to get around from my sake. They were at times AWFUL yesterday and we couldnít take advantage because we donít get good shots in our half court offense. We shoot way too soon instead of working the ball methodically the way Kentucky did once they finally got it clicking in the second half yesterday. Forget Lofton. We need to put the clamps on the Chill and the Chiz from the perimeter. I said it a month ago in warning that those guys need to quit shooting the ball from 3 point land. How many 3ís did UKís big men shoot yesterday? Why do our guys shoot the 3 so frequently and so early in possessions? Because Coach Pearl allows them to. Itís time to change that philosophy. These guys, as deficient as they are defensively, need to get the most out of each offensive possession. Now February looms and this teams has more questions than answers and is running out of wiggle room. Wednesday night with Georgia lurks as the biggest game of the year. Bar None. What follows is a hodge podge of UT stuff and other things I found that are interesting to me. We will discuss much of it on the show today!

From John Clay of Lexington Herald Leader:
It wasn't. Kentucky needed a blistering 64 percent second-half shooting performance to reach 45.8 for the game. For the second straight outing, its center, Randolph Morris, was limited by foul trouble, this time to 19 minutes and just six shots. It turned the ball over 17 times, 11 of those in the second half.
During one second-half stretch the Cats committed turnovers on three of four possessions in most embarrassing fashion:
After a long TV timeout with 15:55 left, Joe Crawford couldn't get the ball in-bounds against the UT defense and suffered a five-second call. Two possessions later, Ramel Bradley was called for five seconds thanks to over-dribbling. (He would be called again for the same violation.) Next possession, Derrick Jasper stepped out of bounds.
Soon after, Kentucky finally got its act together to snap its two-game losing streak. Or did Tennessee simply fall apart?
What a difference a Year Makes:
The Vols came into Rupp Arena last year and won 75-67 to go to 17-3 and 8-1 in the SEC.

But they left Sunday in the throes of their worst drought since Pearl arrived at Tennessee before last season. They've lost five of their last six.

"We're not losing confidence in what got us here," Bradshaw said. "We're going to continue to play the way we play and just try to be more consistent throughout the game."

Here Are Teams That Really Need To Panic:
We're in trouble

We're six weeks away from "Selection Sunday" for the NCAA Tournament, and there are a few usual suspects who could be on the outside looking in March 11:

Connecticut: The Huskies' best win headed into the weekend came against Ole Miss. They have one road victory, at Providence. The potential exists for some "nice" victories (Georgia Tech, Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova), but it wouldn't be a surprise to see UConn left out of the NCAAs for the second time in 10 seasons.

Illinois: The Big Ten isn't as strong as usual, but then neither are the Illini. Their best win is against Indiana, and there is no road victory of note.

LSU: The Tigers have a good victory against Texas A&M, but that's it. The only road victories are against Oregon State and Tulane, and there's a key game today at Georgia.

Oklahoma: The Sooners appear likely to be out of the NCAAs for just the second time in 12 years. New Coach Jeff Capel didn't inherit a lot of talent, which may be a reason OU is winless in true road games.

Washington: The Pac-10 may be the nation's best league, but the Huskies have been surprisingly mediocre. Thursday night's victory against Oregon keeps NCAA at-large hopes alive. The Huskies don't have a road victory.

Did Somebody Say The B-Word?
Bradshaw also wanted no part of any comparisons to the last season under Buzz Peterson when the Vols finished
14-17 and 6-10.

"I hate to go back that far," Bradshaw said. "I wouldn't want to compare it to that. I can't do that. We've had too many great wins, and there's been too many great things happen to the team this year. We'll keep an eye on that and hopefully realize that the best is ahead of us.

"After a few losses, I was saying that hopefully we'll peak later on. But we've got to get a hold on this, and it starts with Georgia."

With February just around the corner, they find themselves tied with South Carolina for dead last in the SEC's Eastern Division, and there's still no guarantee that Chris Lofton will be back for Wednesday's home game against Georgia.

"You talk about the pressure being on the home team and holding home-court advantage," senior forward Dane Bradshaw said. "It's, without question, never been more that way. You treat every game like a must-win game. I don't want it to sound like we're panicking, but we all realize that we have to get a win.

Lapses costing Vols:

The Vols (14-7, 2-4) have lost five of their last six games. Lofton, the SEC's leading scorer, has missed the last two with a sprained right ankle.

He hopes to work out for the first time today since suffering the injury against South Carolina.

Coach Bruce Pearl said there's a chance he could return against the Bulldogs.

But with or without Lofton, the Vols have to figure out a way to put together 40 minutes of basketball. In particular, this second-half thing is killing them.

Tennessee had Kentucky center Randolph Morris in foul trouble and led 32-31 at the half. The game stayed close, and the Wildcats were clinging to a 47-46 lead with 10:05 to play.

But from there, Kentucky heated up from 3-point range and left Tennessee in its dust with a 20-2 run.

"It's real tough for us right now to be in the game in the first half or ahead and then in the second half just let it slip away and out of reach," said junior guard JaJuan Smith, who led the Vols with a career-high 25 points.

Vols have few answers

In six SEC games, Tennessee has been outscored in the second half by 67 points. And defensively, the Vols have offered little resistance. They're giving up an average of 46.6 second-half points in conference games.

The Wildcats shot 64 percent from the field in the second half. That's after Mississippi shot 59.4 percent Wednesday in its 83-69 win.

"It's too easy to blame it on the fact that we don't have Chris," Bradshaw said. "That's a cop-out. Not to devalue the importance of Chris Lofton, but we've had the same issues for the past seven games, with or without Chris, in the second half."

Other than Smith's career game, the Vols also didn't have many answers offensively. They shot 37.9 percent from the field and simply weren't getting much of anything from their inside game.

Freshman post players Wayne Chism and Duke Crews combined to shoot 4-of-12 for 11 points and five rebounds. Against Ole Miss, they were a combined 2-of-8 for seven points and 11 rebounds. Crews, who didn't start Sunday, has managed just six field goals in his last five games.

"I'm not upset with my team, because I think they're giving great effort," Pearl said. "I just think that we're obviously facing some challenges with our roster right now."

Get Pumped Cowboys Fans:
Norv Turner got the best out of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin when he was the Dallas Cowboys' offensive coordinator. He thinks he can do the same with Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and the rest of the club as their next head coach.

Turner interviewed for the job Sunday, becoming the seventh - and likely final - candidate being considered by owner Jerry Jones.

"I was excited to get a chance to visit and talk about things that are important to me," said Turner, San Francisco's offensive coordinator. "In this league, it's all about timing and circumstance. ... I've got a lot of confidence in the things I can do. I think there are a lot of people in this league that look at it in that manner."

Turner was the offensive coordinator in Dallas from 1991-93. He called the plays that catapulted the Cowboys to Super Bowl titles his final two seasons. Along the way, he became so close with Aikman that Turner introduced the quarterback when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer.

Although Turner went 59-83-1 over nine years as a coach with Washington and Oakland, he's considered the front-runner to replace Bill Parcells because of his long relationship with Jones and the success they had together.

How Underpaid Is This Guy?
Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema (below), who was one of the three lowest-paid coaches in the Big Ten last season at $750,000, will parlay a 12-1 season into a pay raise. Athletic Director Barry Alvarez wouldn't talk about the new financial package, which is expected to be approved by the state Board of Regents early next month.

Newly hired Saban assistant leaves for Cleveland
1/28/2007, 8:15 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) ó After only two weeks on the job, newly hired Alabama assistant coach Steve Marshall has left to take a job with the NFL's Cleveland Browns, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Sunday.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for Steve," said Saban, who had assembled his first Tide staff after his hiring in January. "It's a shame that it didn't work out for him here, but I wish him well."
Marshall had spent the 2006 season out of coaching after spending two seasons as an offensive line assistant with the Houston Texans.
He coached the Texans' offensive tackles in 2004 and oversaw the entire line the following season. Marshall also worked at a number of colleges, including Tennessee, Colorado and Texas A&M.
Rockies weigh dealing Helton to Boston
Todd Helton's long run in Denver could end soon. The Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox have been in trade discussions involving Helton for several weeks and those talks apparently are heating up. The team's most recognizable player, Helton has long been a fan favorite in Denver, but he has been beset by injuries and illness the last two seasons, and his power numbers have nose-dived.

He's due to make $16.6 million this season on a team with a projected payroll of about $55 million, something team owner Charlie Monfort has called problematic.

Monfort didn't return phone calls to The Associated Press over the weekend but he told that Helton, who has a complete no-trade clause, has indicated he would be amenable to a trade to the Red Sox.

The Denver Post reported Sunday the Rockies are targeting young relievers Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen and that Helton is prepared to nix any deal if it isn't consummated soon because he doesn't want to deal with any distractions during the season.

The Red Sox are reluctant to part with their young relievers but have offered third baseman Mike Lowell and reliever Julian Tavarez, according to The Rocky Mountain News.

Negotiations are expected to resume early in the week when Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd returns to Denver after attending to a family matter out of town.

The 33-year-old Helton is due $90.1 million through 2011, but the Rockies would pay a portion of that if they trade him to the Red Sox. He is due $16.6 million in each of the next four seasons and $19.1 million in 2011 with a $4.6 million buyout in 2012.

Eager to finish above .500 this season, Monfort isn't just seeking financial flexibility but also wants players in return who could contribute right away.

Helton, who signed with the Rockies as a first-round pick in 1995, has starred for Colorado since 1998. He signed a nine-year, $141.5 million extension that took effect in 2003.

Lowell will earn $9 million next season, the final year of his contract. Tavarez is guaranteed $3.1 million next season with a $3.85 million option for 2008 that is guaranteed if he makes 65 appearances.

How Bad Can It Get For The NHL?:
Running numbers: The NHL's All-Star Game on Versus on Wednesday attracted 474,000 households. That's down 76% from ABC's rating in 2004, the last time the game was played, and down an amazing 82% from ABC's coverage in 2000. The game was canceled last year for the Winter Olympics and by the lockout before that.

But the NHL faced tough counterprogramming. And not just from Fox's American Idol. Other Wednesday prime-time shows outdrawing the NHL stars included HGTV's Design on a Dime, Discovery's Myth Busters, Bravo's Top Chef, the Food Network's Ace of Cakes and ó attracting 85% more households than hockey's stars ó TV Land's Andy Griffith Show. But then, Barney Fife still has it goin' on.

Say What?
Inspirational: Mark Cuban's HDNet, the high-definition TV programmer whose on-air staff includes Dan Rather, will premiere Geek to Freak with Dennis Rodman on Feb. 16. We're not making this up: HDNet officially describes this show, where the ex-NBA star "takes ordinary people" and "pushes them to take on experiences," as Rodman taking "his devilish turn at outing a secretary as a stripper, a construction worker as a cross-dresser ó taking his volunteers into bondage, oil wrestling, sex, drugs, rock 'n roll ó even pimping!" Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner, promises the show takes Rodman's "freakiness to new levels." And it's about time.


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