published Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

5-at-10: UT falls, NBA Rushmore, unions and Dog days

Gang, hope this finds you warm and cozy. If you don't have to get out, don't. We have to go to work.

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    Shani Davis of the U.S. competes in the second heat of the men's 500-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics on Monday in Sochi, Russia.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

And sweet taste of good scotch, when did we move to the weather epicenter of frustration? Do you know it's going to be 56 degrees at the Winter Olympics today? In the South, it's Snowpocalypse 2.0. Hope you got your milk and bread.

From the "Talks too much" studio, don't forget your booties... it's cold out there.

Tick-tock

Tennessee fought. It battled and scrapped.

In the end, though, it was not the Vols' toughness that was in question. It was their talent at point guard and technical execution that befell a group that is looking for a signature moment in the make-or-break third season of coach Cuonzo Martin.

Yes, the December win over Virginia was a highlight moment that has become a sizable win because of Virginia's success since. The win over Virginia is a fine wine that gets better with age while these Vols are 100 percent Spam — the exact same with an uncertain mixture of mystery whenever you open the can.

They fight and rebound and you know Jordan McRae will bring energy and most nights score 20. Jarnell Stokes is delivering on his five-star pedigree — and the extra work in the weight room and the foul line have paid huge dividends — and is double-double machine. Old Man Maymon is tough and plays extremely hard, even if it is below the rim on surgically repaired legs that remind of his grit and limitations on almost every play.

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    Tennessee guard Jordan McRae, center, reacts to a play in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Knoxville. Florida won 67-58.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

That's the good. And at times the Vols' good can be great. Ask Virginia. Or LSU.

But the rest, well, that's a hodgepodge that is as consistent and dependable as local weather forecasts. The prolonged absence of Robert Hubbs to injury and the enigmatic absences of Antonio Barton to streakiness and Darius Thompson to youth have besieged a backcourt that is starved for a point guard. How starved you ask? Well, the Vols Spam table-setting would go from Hardee's to Hennon's with a a steady diet of point guard consistency.

So it goes, and so it went as the Vols battled a Florida team that is experienced and tough and defensively superb. As our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer detailed here Tuesday night was every bit as much about Florida's strengths as UT's shortcomings in the Gators' 67-58 win.

But as we have coined frequently this UT basketball season, these Vols collectively are not as good as they should be considering the skills they have individually. Take the two best SEC teams — Florida and Kentucky — and put them aside, and Tennessee likely has two of the top three players in the league with McRae and Stokes. Heck, those two Vols likely start for any club in the SEC, and how many other players in the conference would crack the rotations in Gainesville or Lexington?

The sums of these Vols is not as good as the parts and that has a lot to do with the deficiencies at point guard. It also has a lot to do with coaching. When was the last time UT got an easy basket because of a called play or an in-bounds set? The margin for these Vols offensively is simultaneously enormous and miniscule. Because they pound the offensive glass, UT gets more looks, which creates a wide margin of opportunity. But because of their stagnation, the Vols have to work harder than most everyone else to get good looks.

It's confounding and potentially hazardous for Martin's job security. Another tournament-less March would be difficult to stomach, especially when these Vols — with seniors McRae and Maymon and potential NBA draft entry Stokes likely moving on — are much better than next season's bunch will be.

So it goes and here we are. UT is talented enough to play in and win during the NCAA tournament. Ask Virginia or Xavier. They have the pieces now, but the question looms if they have the point guard and the coach to get them there.

We'll see.

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Big day in court

As we in the Chattanooga area are following closely the machinations of the VW-union decisions, the future of the college sport realm could change forever starting today as the Northwestern football players go before the National Labor Relations Board this morning for a hearing that will be the first step in a process that will determine whether they are student-athletes or employee-athletes.

Today is mostly a procedural event and will deal mainly with the legal scheduling of the days, weeks, months and possibly years ahead. In fact, according to ESPN legal ace Lester Munson, things really start at the next scheduled hearing which is Feb. 18.

The debate and the discussion of this will be endless, and there are major hurdles — Title IX, insurance, taxes, you name it — but the avenues out there and the exploration that could come of this could be game-changing.

Buckle-up.

———

LeBron speaks — then delivers

LeBron James says he will be on the Mount Rushmore of the best NBA players of all-time. And yes, considering that we are a big fan of LeBron and a regular constructor of Rushmores, well, giddy-up.

In an interview with NBA TV James said his current all-time NBA Rushmore is Jordan, Magic, Bird and Oscar Robertson. James added that "I'm going to be one of the top four that's ever played this game, for sure. And if they don't want me to have one of those top four spots, they'd better find another spot on that mountain. Somebody's gotta get bumped, but that's not for me to decide. That's for the architects."

So there's that. And we agree with James that he'll eventually be on the Rushmore. We definitely have Jordan on there. And Bird. James will be there sooner rather than later. As for No. 4, well, we'd lean toward Kareem Adbul-Jabbar over Magic.

Thoughts?

———

— Michael Sam gave three interviews to discuss his sexual orientation Sunday. He informed his father by text message last week. Yes, text message. Hey, this is a situation of which we have very little familiarity and as we discussed on Press Row, the judgement will be left for the Man upstairs. But a text message? Michael Sam Sr. said he is having a hard time handling the news and left a dinner at Denny's to go to Applebee's for a drink when he got the text. Sam Sr.'s story is in the New York Times and is a raw reminder about the human elements in all of the stories that we discuss.

— Michael Jordan's wife gave birth to twin baby girls. Jordan will turn 51 on Monday.

— The Yankees introduced their $175 million No. 3 starter to the media on Tuesday. He rented a 200-person private jet for the trip to New York City, There were five people and a poodle on the plane. Good times. And Tanaka, who went 24-0 last year in Japan, said hello to the media and Rodney Dangefield somewhere mumbled, "Hey, it's a parking lot, enough with the pictures."

———

Today's question(s)

We got covered up yesterday, and you guys were aces Tuesday.

Riff on any or all of the above and we're curious if you have LeBron on the path to being on the NBA Rushmore.

If you still need another talking point, well, here's one:

The Westminister dog show was yesterday. What's your all-time Rushmore of dogs? Go. (And it's going to be hard to keep Lassie off the list. She's the Jordan of the category in truth.)

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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chas9 said...

UT held The Gators to 36% and won the block battle 9-2. Florida won on the little big things that don't show in the box score: smarts, passing, discipline, and spacing.

I've been dogging Barton; he's no Wilbeiken, but he had a good enough game. Richardson is just good enough to get you beat. He follows up whizbang plays with boneheaded plays, like missing a crucial breakaway dunk.

Weeds' perspective on the game has it right. He closes with a quote from the big guy, who went 20/11. "I wouldn't say every game left is a must-win." Love his play, but I WOULD say they have to win them all now.

Toughest will be @Mizzou. The good news is, if The Vols play like they did last evening, they CAN win them all.

The frustrating part is, it's clear that Cuonzo's cagers could've had a much better season if they'd been playing closer to their potential all season.

I had thought UK and UF would split their games. But I doubt that The Cats will play as hard as the gritty Vols did, so I now think it's likely Donovan's dandies will sweep Kentucky.

The good news for BBN is that Tennessee showed that Florida is not unassailable.

Best game tonight isn't UK-Auburn or Dook-UNC. It's Pitt-'Cuse. Heard it here first: Orangemen go down.

Double figures for MJ. As Jay reported, his wife gave birth to twins. No word on whether Holly has offered them scholarships yet.

And the MJ of the dog world was XX in the role, but the canine actor playing her was XY. Add Rin-Tin-Tin, Frazier's Jack Russell, and either Deputy Dawg or the resurrected Brian.

Kareem before Magic. But in this matter, you really need two generations. Don't Cousy, Wilt, Walt, Oscar, and Bill deserve accolades?

February 12, 2014 at 10:47 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

My birthday dinner with two of my brothers was at Ruth's Chris. Only bad thing is I paid for it. I think birthday dinner, Denny's doesn't automatically come to mind. To each his own, Mr. Sam. Say what you will about his stance and his reaction, but at least he was honest about it.

So LeBron believes he belongs on the Rushmore of NBA. Which is fine. Maybe he does. But perhaps King Bron ought to include who else he puts on such a pedestal. I go Bird, Wilt, Big O and Wally Szczerbiak. Just because it's fun to spell Szczerbiak.

A Rushmore of dogs? The dog from Air Bud. Snoopy. Marmaduke. Eddie, the dog from "Frasier."

February 12, 2014 at 11:04 a.m.
chas9 said...

Spy's right. Snoopy's there. I'm beginning to realize we need a top ten, not a Rushmore. There's Cerberus, Toto, Clifford (the big red dog), Annie's Sandy, and Mighty Manfred, the wonder dog (Tom Terrific's ever-faithful companion). And unless we exclude mascots, somebody'll want to include Smokey and Uga.

February 12, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.
jgreeson said...

And you cats have not even touched on UnderDog or Hong Kong Phooey or Huckleberry Hound or QuickDraw McGraw.

Or Droopy. Droppy has to be considered.

This may be a tough Rushmore to decide.

February 12, 2014 at 11:25 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

The Vols do not have to win them all from here on out. They were in every bracket this week, usually not as one of the Last Four In. That's after losing to Vandy. A loss to Florida may knock them out for now, but they would still be right on the bubble. A loss at Missouri will hardly cause too much more hurt to their bracket chances. They can afford probably one more loss. Maybe even two. The way the bubble is in late February/early March, there is no telling. The Vols are in a precarious position, no doubt, but they are a little bit safer than we think. The bubble may be worse this year than last year.

Sorry 9er, but I already read on Pomeroy that Pitt is the favorite against Syracuse. So I didn't hear it there first. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if Syracuse lost at all. That being said, I watched Pitt at home against Duke a couple of weeks ago, and it was U-G-L-Y. I wasn't particularly impressed with Pitt in that game. Syracuse loses at least two or three games down the stretch. That should come as a surprise to no one. They've only played five road games all year, with the toughest opponent of those five being St. John's in Madison Square Garden. That place that Syracuse fans NEVER go to. Wait- they do go there? Huh. So we really don't know much about the Cuse at this point. They are on my short list of contenders (along with Arizona, Michigan State, Florida, Kansas and Duke) that I made back in late January. But they were the last team I put on the list. It was between them and Wichita State, and I came within an eyelash of picking Wichita State. While the 5-at-10 believes in the Orange, I do not particularly.

I'm planning on getting bubble stuff to you at some point. I've just been too busy. Maybe tomorrow?

Let's fill up McKenzie again. This game between Western Carolina and Chattanooga is a huge game. Can't wait to tip it off.

February 12, 2014 at 11:26 a.m.
Stewwie said...

NBA Rushmore: MJ, Kareem, Magic, Bird. If/when LeBron gets on it, Bird flies off of it.

We need two Dog Rushmores...one for real dogs and one for animated dogs.

Real Dog Rushmore: Lassie, Benji, Air Bud, Rin Tin Tin (K9 Cop!)

Animated Dog Rushmore: Snoopy, Scooby Doo, Goofy, Huckleberry Hound

February 12, 2014 at 11:37 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, I'm really tweeked as opposed to twerked about this players union nonsense coming out of Northwestern. As kooky as a union sounds, the NLRB is stocked with five Obama appointees.

If there is to be a union, how long until it gets into politics like the rest?

What we have here is a proposal for a new Komsomol, the Soviet's All Union Young Communist League agitating for less practice time, more money and benefits a say in how drills conducted and which time of day is acceptable. That's just the beginning. Even at your beloved Auburn, the players will be singing "The International." That's if Auburn players can remember the words.

February 12, 2014 at 11:44 a.m.
chas9 said...

Stuck--I like The 'Cuse much more than The Shockers. No serious augment with any of your analysis.

The bubble has so many moving parts that depend on what everybody else does. I agree it looks weak. The Vols' soft schedule here out hurts their chances to move up, but none of the other bubble teams looks any better. I love The Vols' grit. If I knew they'd always scrap, I'd want them in The Dance.

Do you have an opinion on the mega-dollar plans to renovate Rupp?

Stew--Any truth to the rumors about Minnie Mouse and Goofy?

Don't forget Ol' Yellar.

February 12, 2014 at 11:53 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

How about a Rushmore of Cats...no C-Niner, not the your 'cats.

Off the top of my head, I'll go with Mike the Tiger, Aubie, The Pink Panther and...the Pussy-Cat Dolls. Honorable Mention: Sylvester + Morris.

Billy-In-Brainerd

February 12, 2014 at 12:09 p.m.
chas9 said...

Snoopy's fine, but his evil cousin Spike's way cooler.

The Pussy Cat Dolls are fine, but Pussy Riot's a whole lot more fun.

February 12, 2014 at 12:38 p.m.
chas9 said...

And did you read that adult star Ava Devine has offered a Pussy Riot of her own to help the Cleveland Cavaliers?

February 12, 2014 at 12:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

That last entry... Wow.

And Old Yeller is a great call.

BiB —

Only one entry on a Cats Rushmore — dead cat.

Although who has less talent Pussy Cat Dolls or Spice Girls? Discuss, and someone get George Will on the phone to chime in on this one.

FE to the C —

Is the beat to "The International" similar to "War Eagle" and if so, we'll see if we can hum a few bars.

Stuck —

Doubt the Orange at your own peril. Thinks of the great contributions Orange has made to our society.

Orange juice. Orange Jell-O. Orange you glad we didn't say banana (the punch line to our 3-year-old's favorite knock-knock joke). O.J.... wait strike that last one.

Stewwie —

True, we likely do need live dog/cartoon dog divisions.

Live dogs we'll start with Old Yeller, Lassie, Baxter and The Beast from The Sandlot, with much apology to Benji, Fred (Snowman's dog in Smokey and the Bandit) and Petey from the Little Rascals.

Cartoon division we'll go Droopy, Scooby, Snoopy and Santa's Little Helper. Although Scrappy Doo is the reason Bob Barker supported Spay and Neutering.

Spy —

You said Air Bud just to torment us didn't you.

Tsk, tsk. That's not very nice, even during the Snowmageddon.

Happy Birthday good man.

February 12, 2014 at 1:15 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Chas, nope. Apparently it was only a misunderstanding. Haha.

Cat Rushmore: Pink Panther, Simba, Garfield, Tom (from Tom and Jerry)

February 12, 2014 at 1:21 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Jeter done after this year? Whuh?

February 12, 2014 at 2:18 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

chas9,

Minnie and Goofy? Nah. But that Pluto? Play-yah from the get-go.

February 12, 2014 at 3:16 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

How about Cujo for the Rushmore? And will Auburn basketball ever be fixed?

February 12, 2014 at 4:04 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

mcpell3, I do know a very good vet in the Chattanooga area.

Oh, not that kind of fixed.

February 12, 2014 at 6:37 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

Spy, that might be the only solution, they do have vets in training on the plains. Might be good practice.

February 12, 2014 at 7:59 p.m.
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