Note to reader: this column was written before the NIT announced pairings late last night. The following is merely educated speculation.
To all you Vol basketball fans left after Thursday night's 84-49 thrashing at the hands of Alabama, there's still some good news.
UT has made a postseason tournament, albeit the Not (even remotely) Interesting Tournament.
Congratulations, big guys. We all knew those early wins over Wofford and Tennessee Tech would pay off.
Seriosly, what does it take to play postseason ball anymore? Apparently 15-13 is good enough.
But with good news always comes bad news.
While Buzz's squad has clinched an unprecedented second consecutive NIT bid, the mighty road warriors will undoubtedly be playing away from Thompson-Boling Arena in their first-round matchup.
In case you haven't paid attention the last four months, the Volunteers are a cozy 1-10 in games not played in Thompson-Boling, which, by the way, is the one of the five worst places in the country to watch a basketball game.
And while you may have thought the listless Vols' first-round SEC Tournament game against 'Bama meant nothing, you're wrong.
Before the festivities began in Atlanta this past weekend, Vol coach Buzz Peterson speculated his team would host an NIT game if they could slip by the Crimson Tide.
Instead, it was 'Roll Tide, Roll' and the Vols' hosting chances were gone.
The Vols were terrible. Not bad - terrible.
We found out Thursday night that there are a lot of things stronger than the heart of a Volunteer. Mainly, any random assemblage of five guys on a basketball court. Honestly, my high school team could beat Tennessee, as long as the game wasn't in Knoxville.
Alabama's 53 percent shooting mark from the field didn't help things, but we've all heard that excuse before. "They just couldn't miss any shots." Of course they couldn't - Division I players should hit shots when no one is within 10 feet of them.
Alabama had so many open looks they might as well have been playing a friendly game of horse.
Flat out, the Vols gave up and played like a bunch of quitters. I think Buzz Peterson agreed. The third-year coach forced his players to stay all day Friday to watch what players who hustled played like.
Of course, it didn't help matters that Maryville native Lee Humphrey's shot sent Florida to the semifinals Saturday. Peterson passed on Humphrey, opting not to give the local product a scholarship. Good move.
A few other matters of importance.
o Brandon Crump is quite possibly the least physical big man in the SEC not born in Europe. Crump is 6-foot-10 and 255 pounds, for crying out loud. Congratulations, he has a killer hook shot, but the soft touch on his shot doesn't even begin to compare to the soft attitude he plays with.
o Dane Bradshaw, despite the pitiful waste of an evening by his teammates, at least displayed some effort against the Tide. Even when the Vols were down big late in the game, he was hustling for loose balls. He's been a winner his whole life, as evidenced by the three state championships he won in high school. It's up to him to teach these guys how to win. Kudos, Great Dane.
o After listening to my own rambling, it has come to my attention that probably no one really cares about the Vols in the NIT. And if you still do care, may I remind you about the nightmare effort the Ron Slay-led Vols displayed against Georgetown last year.
o The court inside the Georgia Dome was orange, albeit a giant orange peach. Shouldn't that have propelled the Vols to a convincing win? Guess not.
o There's no doubt that everyone likes Buzz Peterson. Along with Pat Summitt, he is the most personable coach on campus. But nice only gets you so far. Next year is a big year for Buzz. Every one of his players will be back, so it's time to put up or shut up.
Quitting time: Vols give up against Tide
Published: Mon Mar 15, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:55 p.m.