Blog Entry

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

Posted on: March 18, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 8:16 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
March 18, 2011

CHARLOTTE - After a week of distractions regarding head coach Bruce Pearl's job security, it was a relief to finally get the student-athletes on the floor and let the basketball do the talking. Unfortunately the message his Tennessee team sent with their play was one of a defeated team. As they failed to rally from a second half defect and eventually fell to Michigan 75-45.

Tennessee forced the issue early, taking advantage of a Michigan frontline that could not compete with Tennessee's strength and size. Freshman forward Tobias Harris exploded for 19 points on 6-6 shooting and converted all seven free throw attempts in the first half. Tennessee clearly made Michigan guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. a priority, with Cameron Tatum shadowing his every move on the defensive end.

All eyes were centered on Pearl, and there he was screaming out offensive and defensive assignment with large arm motions and his familiar stomp. So basically it was just another game for the head coach of the Volunteers.

Michigan caught fire near the end of the first half driven by back-to-back threes after starting the half shooting 1 for 9 from deep. Pearl remained calm on the bench, but the frustrated look on Cameron Tatum's face after another missed opportunity showed the Volunteers getting sluggish. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Harris changed that all with a slam dunk of a Brian Williams assist.  Michigan quickly drove the length of the floor as Darius Morris converted on a hook shot just before the buzzer.  It was the perfect momentum swinger before the break, and the beginning of the end for the Volunteers.

Then the Wolverines came out of the halftime break with hopes of landing a knockout punch early. They brought the Big Blue faithful to their feet with a 21-4 run in the first eight minutes of the half. Tennessee struggled to answer any of Michigan's challenges. It was difficult to figure out whether it was Tennessee's inability to fire themselves up or cool the Wolverines, but the Volunteers looked helpless as they fell into a 14 point deficit by the first official timeout.

By the midpoint of the second half, the Volunteers had begun to lose their will.  The Wolverines calmly milked a significant double-digit lead while the Volunteers defeated themselves possession after possession. Being outworked on the boards, Tennessee was outrebounded 35-24 by a team which they could have easily overpowered inside. When it was time for Tennessee to dig in deep and mount a comeback, they took poor jump shots and added to their count of 18 turnovers.

So what does that reflect about their head coach? This could have been any other two teams in the tournament and you would have doubted the team's preparation. But with this specific case for Tennessee, it is the first spot you put the blame.  When the media began questioning a somber Volunteer bunch regarding their coach after the game, they did not shy away from the controversy caused by athletic director Mike Hamilton.

"Of course it was a distraction, off-court and what not," remarked senior guard Melvin Goins. "But it is our responsibility as players to step up."

Junior guard Scotty Hopson also put the responsibility on the veteran players, for not pulling the unit together as a team. As for freshman Tobias Harris' explanation of the meltdown against Michigan?

"We just quit," Harris answered plainly.

What will likely get lost in the mix is a phenomenal run by Michigan to start the half. The Wolverines have shown how dangerous they can be recently, entering Friday's contest having won seven of their last ten. But even with Tatum stuck to Tim Hardaway, Jr. like glue, Michigan found production elsewhere on the floor.

Michigan head coach John Beilein deserves a ton of credit for getting his team ready to knockout a beaten giant. After all Tennessee has been to the NCAA tournament all six years under Pearl's tenure, reaching the Sweet Sixteen four times. Beilein, in just his fourth season as head coach of the Wolverines has already gotten Big Blue to the tournament twice.  Considering the issues surrounding the program in the last two decades, Beilein's early success is reason for Wolverine fans to believe in hoops once again.

Beilein now returns to the floor, wondering how he can figure out a way to beat Duke. Bruce Pearl, on the other hand, returns to Knoxville. His challenge is far different: figure out a way to keep his job.

More NCAA tournament coverage

Since: Nov 5, 2008
Posted on: March 21, 2011 4:04 pm

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

The "low depths" of a conference that has had 4 National Championships in the last 15 years, coming from the conference that has 1 NC in the last 24 years......

Why don't you go back to talking about something you know cheese or dairy cattle or something.

Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: March 19, 2011 3:23 pm

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

The ENTIRE country (sans the South) should hope and pray the NCAA turns football into a post-freshman professional eligibility circumstance - i.e. "one and done".

If that were the case, their entire football conference would reach the low depths of their basketball conference.  The obvious reason is that most of these kids have no interest in being in school - these kids are just "passing time" until they can "move on" - while the schools support that mentality as well.  In other words, "its all about winning now" - and NOTHING else matters and that is promoted by the institutions and therefore replicated by the athletes.

Yup, hope and pray the NCAA changes that rule for football as well! The day that happens schools like Florida, Georgia, LSU, Alabama, etc would have nothing but scrubs above the age of 20 on their rosters and each program would look like the silliness Calipari is pulling at Kentucky annually.

Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: March 19, 2011 3:16 pm

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

@mauxdeverite... kind of an immature mentality - i.e. sore loser.  It would've shown a little more class to simply say, "it wasn't our day" and move on.  No, instead you had to say that Tennessee was overrated (therefore the victory doesn't really count which is actually BS as Tenn began the season in the Top 10).  As for taking shots at Michigan, again, a bush league move.  They are a young team, played in a superior conference and they weren't even going to the tourney until the B10 conf tournament.  Either way, they embarrassed Tennessee.  Well, actually, Tennessee embarrassed itself as well.  No one to hate but yourself when that happens.  Look in the mirror instead of pointing at others (that's probably some "life" advice you need as well).

Since: Dec 18, 2010
Posted on: March 19, 2011 12:27 pm

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

Ha - U Dub, you are correct.  Its funny I always coach the people who work for me about taking the high road in their business dealings, yet when it comes to blind bias in sports, I can't practice what I preach   (thanks for the props just the same Medina.   haha)
I guess living in Columbus OH and being a die-hard Wolverine, I always have to deal with the "OSU can do no wrong" type of mentality.  And it drives me nuts.  The homer journalists, and uneducated fans here liken admitting fallibility with your program or squad, or giving respect to...gasp.....another program!...... as "being a traitor" or "not supporting the school".  Just as Kirk Herbstreit who was run out of town!!
I can respect people's opinions, I can deal with people telling me I'm wrong, and even people telling me my opinion is flat out nuts!  But what I can't stand, is people who can't give credit where it's due simply b/c the colors or mascot isn't your typical battle flag.  Drives me NUTS!!!!!!!!!

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: March 19, 2011 11:42 am

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

Medina/Maize-- focus on the positive, and forget the knuckleheads...  I'm a diehard Pac 10/Washington guy (not exactly a Michigan fan) and came on here after seeing them play asking "somebody tell me about these guys, I like what I saw"...  There are TWO things that say "quality team" to me in NCAA basketball:  athleticism, and discipline.  Put those two together and A LOT can happen positively.  And that's what I saw in the Tennessee game.  Nice core of enthusiastic, quick players, playing under control-- which considering their youth, is especially impressive.  Good luck with Duke...  Would be a nice old school Pac 10/Big 10 day tomorrow if Washington can manage to topple North Carolina, and you guys can take down Duke.  Not likely, I know, but definitely possible.

Since: Jan 12, 2010
Posted on: March 19, 2011 11:00 am

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

well said maizecrazed!!!!... That guy is an idiot. I hate when idiots come on here and dont know what they're talking about. The sad fact is that anyone can post on sportsline. Frustrating trying to talk sports with a bunch of bias ass idiots.

Since: Dec 18, 2010
Posted on: March 19, 2011 9:55 am

Really Mauxdeverite?

How much of the facts do you really want to ignore when making garbage posts like this?  Accomplishments?
1)  winning 21 games thus far with a team picked to finish LAST in the conference.  Clearly the true journalists expected the youth to need more time to gel.  They were wrong, as are you
2)  In this 21 win stanza with one of the youngest teams in D1, beating archrival MSU twice, PSU twice, Clemson, Oakland, Illinois.....all tournament teams!  Honestly - did you think about this at all before hitting "submit"?
3)  taking UM to the dance twice in the last 3 years, and winning both first round games (at least)  This after being absent for 10+ years?   So, exactly why would Ann Arbor want to run him out of town?  
4)  flat-out destroying and embarrassing a Tennessee team that doesn't lose by 30 pts.  I don't care what mental issues they were battling either.  They are not Long Island, or Bucknell, or a 15 seed.  This should have been a fairly evenly matched game and UM took them apart.  If you want to talk about quality wins, as seems to be your only real case against UM, TENN was in the top 10 earlier in the year and beat UConn and a few others.  So you are saying you can only measure a team if they LOSE those games, but not if they WIN them?   Heavens, after further considering this you really do seem to be a few players short of a starting five!
I'm not sure what team you cheer for (this feels like Buckeye propaganda to me).  Nobody, including this die-hard UM fan, is suggesting that Michigan is a Final Four team, or should be preseason top 10 next year, or will even beat Duke (though they could).   What I, and many other UM fans are probably saying, is that this team is on the rise.  They are on the verge.  And they will be that much better next year and the years to come.  
As someone else suggested - grind your axe somewhere else.  

Since: Mar 18, 2008
Posted on: March 19, 2011 8:51 am

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

You realize Tressel did just about the same exact thing as this "slimeball" - right?   You know what they say about people living in glass houses....

Since: Feb 8, 2009
Posted on: March 19, 2011 6:07 am

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

If the players did actually "just quit" , then Pearl is definitely gone. He needs to slither out the door and not let it hit him in the "tail". Who is actually going to hire this guy? I know that if I was a player on a team with a coaching vacancy, that I would be praying to the gods above that this slimeball would not be coming to my campus. Good riddance Bruce and SSSSSS!!!

Since: Jun 6, 2007
Posted on: March 19, 2011 5:05 am

With distractions abundant, UT 'just quit'

I just love amature journalism! Way to put a negative slant on something that isn't nearly as bad as you make it out to be. First of all Michigan's "signature' win is not Harvard. They beat MSU twice, PSU twice, Illinois, Clemson and remeber that pesky Oakland U squad that gave Texas fits? They are a young team lacking size but they have a lot of heart and I'll root for my team aginst mighty Duke knowing they have little chance. Go grind your "slanted" journalistic axe on someone else's stone. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or