On Saturday I outlined how Florida should do this year. Today, it’s Tennessee. But before I share how UT will fare this season, I have to post one of my favorite youtube videos that needs to be posted every time I write something about Tennessee.
That video just gets better and better every time I watch it. Ok, back to basketball…
(H/t to UK Athletics)
2012-13 Season: 20-13 (11-7), advanced to the NIT before losing in the first round to Mercer (well at least that makes me feel better about Bobby Mo’)
Who’s Gone: G Trae Golden, G Skylar “Mustache” McBee, F Kenny Hall
Who’s Back: G Jordan McCrae, F Jeronne Maymon, F Jarnell Stokes, G Josh Richardson
Key Incomers: G Robert Hubbs, PG Antonio Barton (transfer from Memphis)
Strengths: After missing all of last season with an injury, stud forward Jeronne Maymon is back and will pair with Jarnell Stokes to form one of the most formidable starting frontcourts in both the SEC and the nation. Maymon averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a junior and claims to be 100% for Tennessee’s opener. The frontcourt won’t be the only strength for the Vols, either, as UT has scorers all over the place. Leading ’13 scorer Jordan McCrae is back and incoming four-star guard Robert Hubbs can score the ball in a variety of ways. Those four are going to be heavily relied on for the season which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering their high level of talent.
Weaknesses: For as good as UT could possibly be (should be top 25 preseason), there are two big problems with their team. First, is the lack of a true point guard. The Vols were hit with some bad news this offseason when returning point guard Trae Golden decided to head to Georgia Tech for his final season of collegiate play. To make up for this, Tennessee added transfer Antonio Barton who has some experience playing the position before moving off the ball for his sophomore and junior seasons at Memphis. Barton’s impact on the team will play a major role in the success of UT this season even though Barton was a very marginal player at Memphis. The second hurdle for Tennessee this season is depth. Beyond Barton, Hubbs, McCrae, Stokes, and Maymon (their projected starters), Tennessee doesn’t have much for a bench. Guard Josh Richardson figures to be a key cog again after averaging over 30 minutes per game last season, but after him, who? Sophomore Quentin Chievious had some nice moments towards the end of the season, as did Armani Moore. Both players are going to have to step up their games in a big way though if Tennessee wants to make a major push at second in the SEC.
Bottomline: Weak starts have handcuffed the Vol’s postseason chances the last couple years, and a weak non-conference schedule won’t do them any favors if that happens again. Tennessee should have enough talent and balance at the top of their squad to make the NCAA tournament this season and challenge in the SEC. But, if they want to make the move from pretty good to really good, the Vols are going to have to find success from point guard Antonio Barton and their bench.