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The Jewish Jamboree, Chapter 1

January 1, 2010

Tennessee looked really bad yesterday.  Alas, they looked less bad than the other team in their state coached by a non-goy, whom they just happened to be playing.  Wolken pretty much got it right, in half a sentence, no less:

Outrebounded badly again, unable to get to the rim against a set defense and incapable of making opportunistic plays when the moment called them to do so…

Indeed.  All three of the Tigers’ losses have been characterized by having their asses handed to them on the boards.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be something they can fix anytime soon.  Will Coleman is a foul hound, and the other big guy on the team is Pierre Niles (ungainly is not a strong enough adjective).  Wesley Witherspoon, who had seven boards against the Vols, doesn’t ever show up until the second half, and the only other rebound-attempter on the team is Roburt Sallie, who had six playing from the two (for what it’s worth, my father thinks he’s the best rebounder on the team).  So… what do you do about this?

There’s really not much to do except tell the guys you have to block out.  Being outrebounded might just be something you have to accept and try to win the other areas of the game.  The Tigers, of course, did not do that at all yesterday—they shot 31% from the floor and had 16 turnovers, including some real howlers, like Sallie’s dribbling it off his leg and out of bounds, Witherspoon’s losing it between his legs and out of bounds, and Doneal Mack’s (who had a superb game otherwise) literally chucking it off Sallie’s face for a backcourt violation all within the last five minutes.  Elliot Williams was 1-7 from the floor, and Willie Kemp was 1-9.  Will Coleman was a pushover.  E-Dub had a particularly poor game, as he was physically unable to get into the lane against a team that was channeling him heavily to the right.  The oh-so-sophisticated Bruce Pearl knew exactly how to play him—“He goes left and lefter” was the operative phrase.

The good news is that the Tigers really laid an egg and lost by seven to the 14th-ranked team in the country.  Whether or not they can correct the silly errors that cost them games like this is a matter to be left to Pastner.  Somebody needs to attach a prosthetic right arm to E-Dub, somebody needs to remind Coleman that he is freaking huge, and somebody needs to refresh Sallie’s memory of that 35-point game he had last year in the tournament.  Honestly, this team could be good.

One more thing to take away from this game: Tennessee is vastly overrated.  They still have what appears to be the worst shot selection in the history of basketball (except maybe for the other teams that Pearl has had since he’s been in Knoxville), they did absolutely nothing with what was a pretty poor zone defense from the Tigers, and they also turned it over 16 times.  Against an average team that played fairly abysmally.  Luckily, they’ll probably get a lot better pretty soon.  A bunch of upstanding citizens, aren’t they?

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