published Friday, March 7th, 2014

5-at-10: Friday mailbag

Great questions gang. Truly superb.

We're hoops heavy but that's the time of year, you know?

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's get two.

From Chas9

Question for Friday: How much better would The Vols be with a Golden point guard?

9er —

  • photo
    Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin talks with Trae Golden (11) in this file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

They couldn't be much worse. UT's point guard play has been average on good nights and a coach-killer on bad ones.

That said, Golden was hardly a point guard in the Stockton mold. He was more Marbury in the shoot-first, pass-last approach. Still, better is better and the Vols would be better on the floor with Golden.

Not sure what his dynamics with the club was off the court, so that may be wash.

Plus, Golden's presence would be a help but there's a real chance that if he had stayed Jordan McRae would not have become one of the three best offensive players in the league.

So to recap, the Vols would be a little better offensively because of the improved flow, but quite possible very much the same in the standings.

So it goes.

————

From Brent

What celebrity would you most like to change places with? Thanks and maybe this could be a Rushmore on Press Row. You guys are good.

And have you noticed that since you starting doing Rushmores it seems like everyone is doing Rushmore?

Brent —

We have noticed the increased number of Rushmores.We think we may start mixing in a "Who's on your Stone Mountain?" angle since a) We are in the South; b) it's a Rushmore without being a Rushmore; c) It gives us the option of only needing to come up with three answers.

Deal? Deal.

  • photo
    File photo of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

As for celebs, the first name that popped in our head was Derek Jeter. Dude has had a Hall of Fame run on and off the field.

If we're talking about going forward, we'd look to go younger. We'll think on that.

As far as professionally, in the sports media BID-ness, well, Jim Nantz has a pretty sweet gig, considering every year he goes Final Four-Masters and every third year he adds in a Super Bowl. But professionally, we're pretty happy grinding along here at the 5-at-10, at the TFP and on Press Row.

Good Times.

————

From T-Wreck

I have been on the Will Wade bandwagon almost as long as you have. This Mocs basketball season has been a lot of fun -- one of the most fun I can remember.

Question for Friday: What do you think this team would have done if Coach John Shulman had stayed one more year?

Thanks, and thanks so much for the 5-at-10, I find myself watching the clock until 10 o'clock waiting on your column.

T-Wreck —

Thanks for the question and the kind words.

We think the Mocs would have likely inverted their record. UTC is 18-13 and the No. 2 seed in the SoCon tournament in Will Wade's first year. To call that anything short of a smash hit is inaccurate.

UTC would have been lucky to finish 13-18 if Shulman had stayed, and that has little to nothing to do with coaching and much more to do with the situation. In some ways, Shulman's time has been viewed too harshly by everyone — including the 5-at-10 — since it's only fair to mention he made two NCAA tournaments in nine years.

But the end was apparent and all-encompassing. Shulman's time with the Mocs had finished and everyone knew it. The mood and environment were toxic within the program and the fan base and short of LeBron or Steph Curry joining the roster, there was no way to rescue the slide UTC hoops was on without making the change.

Wade, like a lot of new coaches inheriting a team longing for success, got the benefit of belief and hunger. The Mocs wanted this — not to say they didn't last year too — but this group got a new start with the new staff. There were no scars or black clouds.

They got a reset button, and no matter what Shulman could or couldn't do, he could erase the past.

How Wade continues to build on this will be the defining part of his time at UTC. Remember, Shulman made the Dance in Year 1 building on what Jeff Lebo had left.

When you inherit a mess, you can be above average and everyone thinks you're Wooden. We believe Wade is the real deal, but you get the idea.

If you are in complete darkness, the smallest spark delivers a lot of light. When the room starts to be visible, how you enlighten it takes more effort and creativity.



————

From SportsFan

Jay - for Friday...Chatanooga has somewhat of a sports town reputation. Softball tournies at Summitt and Warmer parks, the Head of the Hooch regatta, Ironman competitions, US Cycling championships, high school wrestling, soccer, baseball, basketball, football, minor league baseball, the Mocs, as well as outdoor climbing and whitewater sports. If you were king of Chattanooga and could add new sports venues or events (non-major league) in the Noog what would they be?

SportsFan —

Great question. Here's a Stone Mountain of things we'd do if we were Chattanooga Sports King (and had unlimited resources, especially for No. 1):

1) We'd implode McKenzie and build the 2.0 version of the multi-use facility in Duluth, Ga. It may be bigger than most of you would like for UTC (it has 13,000 seats), but that size venue would be a hub for a slew of activities, but it also would give options for hosting NCAA events, minor league hockey and potentially Arena League football. We do not have the population to have a major-league franchise, but we can do up an event.

2) We'd beg the good folks at The Honors — even if we were the King of Chattanooga, we'd have to ask The Honors nicely — to have a Masters of Amateur Golf every year. Think of the possibilities for a world class course like that to house an annual event for amateurs only like Augusta does for the world's best.

3) We'd build soccer and youth baseball complexes like The Summitt and sit back and watch the dollars roll in. That's the future of sports-tourism recruiting folks: Kids sports. In fact if we had the personal coin, we'd invest in this today and run the complex. Good times.

The King is dead, long live the King.

————

From Stewwie

Jay, (mailbag?), I wish the Southern Conference would do away with the neutral site conference tourney. Let the higher seed host all games and spread the tourney out over the course of the week (how about a Tues/Thurs/Sat/Mon?). No teams play back-to-back conference games during the season, but they're expected to suddenly play at least 3, possibly 4, days in a row to win the conference title. I think it's a bad setup and should be changed. What do you think?

Stewwie —

Not sure we could make your set-up fly — especially the home-court advantage (no way the league would sign-off). UTC coach Jim Foster referenced your valid point about consecutive games and how that's not teams prepare. Side note: Coach Foster hates him some conference tournaments.

In truth, the conference tournaments need to be overhauled. They wreck the regular season's value and they carry too much weight.

Here's an alternate proposal Paschall and I kicked around on Press Row on Thursday:

In one-bid leagues (or leagues outside the top 10 in the computer rankings) you have the regular-season conference champion play the tournament champion at the regular-season champion's court with the winner getting the Dance invite.

If the same team wins both, no worries. This seriously rewards winning the regular season since home-court advantage is big in hoops and would add an extra big gate to the ledger. It also gives every team the chance to catch lightning in the bottle and win their way into the Dance.

Thoughts?

————

From Jomo

Question for Friday: How boring would March Madness be if the football powers screwed it up and broke away from NCAA and formed 4 "power" conferences of 16 teams and all 64 made the tourney?

Jomo —

It would be worse than the bowl season, since at least the bowl season has the occasional Boise State or Northern Illinois crashing the party.

It's impossible to view Kansas State or LSU as the potential Cinderella. This would completely change the fun of the tournament.

Would it diminish interest? Probably not as much as you think because as much as we like to romanticize the Dance, the biggest attraction is your bracket, and the bracket would still be a major fixture of the power tournament.

And if you doubt that, ask yourself why the NFL is the monolith of sports. A) Gambling; and B) Fantasy Football, which is a subtle legal form of A) Gambling. That's the biggest public hook to March Madness.

Now that said, the NCAA will die trying to prevent that since it gets 90 percent of its budget from the NCAA tournament TV rights. It's also one of the main reasons the NCAA placates the big schools, because if they break-up in hoops, the NCAA is a dead acronym walking.

———

From Bill T.

Are you going to have a contest for the NCAA tournament? It's been a while since you've had one.

What do you look for when filling out your bracket?

Thanks, and maybe you can mention this letter on Press Row -- I listen almost every day. You and David really know your stuff.

Bill T. —

Yep, we're having two contests — our regular one here and a full bracket challenge in conjunction with Press Row.

As for our bracket, well, we picked our Final Four on Feb. 1, and we'll keep that secret until next week.

As for sleepers, we look for two things. Experienced teams who will be desperate — a collection of guys knowing this is there last meaningful hoops experience is beneficial. Second, we look for teams that can shoot it.

Teams that rely on shooting it have a hard time winning the whole thing (Duke in recent years) because you have to be on for six straight games. But double-digit teams that could survive the first weekend only have to get hot for a weekend and live in the moment.

That can be the difference in your bracket.

Great questions today gang.

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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jomo11 said...

Disagree with you on the Sport King re: MacKenzie arena. I would blow it up, but replace it with an 8,000 seat on campus state of the art facility. . . .If the CITY of Chattanooga wanted to build a new arena, near Finley Stadium of 13,000 to 15,000, then the powers that be could knock themselves out. Wouldnt be fair to put that size arena, which would ultimately be an albatross on the University as a dumping ground, with the highly outside chance of hosting an NCAA game

March 7, 2014 at 10:14 a.m.
chas9 said...

BiB--Correction to my response to your query yesterday about the XX SEC tourney. The Lady Cats' matchups are Florida, SC, UT (if they get to the final game), so it's a tough road. But I'll repeat my contention that they are good enough to beat anybody. They beat the Lady Vols in Knoxville and #15 ranked A&M in College Station in recent games.

Jay, I read lips fairly well, and I think I know what Frank Martin said to his player. But given your channelling abilities, maybe you could clear the SC coach's name by revealing what he MIGHT have said. And I like your plan of the tournament winner playing the regular season winner for the invite.

T-wreck--Be sure to adjust your clocks forward this weekend so you don't wait one hour more than necessary Monday morning.

True Stone Mountain story: A few years back I flew from The Big Apple to The Big Peach on an airline that had just added that flight. About 30 minutes into the flight the pilot announced that we could look out the windows to the left and see Stone Mountain.

I looked and what I saw was nothing like the distinctive stone face we know and love. And I knew we hadn't been in the air long enough, so I began worrying that our pilot was confused, lost, or otherwise incompetent. So I held my breath.

Then, as we actually did approach the ATL, he again announced that Stone Mountain was visible from our windows. This time it was the old familiar view.

Turns out, I later learned, there are different mountains named Stone in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

March 7, 2014 at 10:24 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay,

May I remind you that Green Bay is smaller then Chattanooga? I'm just saying.

I'm hard-pressed to see McKenzie go. If it was as old as Chamberlin Field was that's a different story. I like the idea but it would need to be built just "slightly" off-campus onto city property. That way, if Chattanooga hosts a minor league NBA franchise or arena football team, they can serve beer-mixed drinks and not run afoul of the "state property = no beer/booze" law.

I agree the conference tournments need an overhaul. There's too much power over the one-bid conferences making the regular season completely useless.

March 7, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.
Stewwie said...

[Not sure we could make your set-up fly — especially the home-court advantage (no way the league would sign-off).]

I clarified in the comments yesterday that I meant that higher seeds should get to host each game, not the best team host the entire tourney. To me, this is what would keep the regular season important by rewarding the teams who did well with a home game. But it also would allow for a team who was peaking to have a shot at making the Dance.

[In one-bid leagues (or leagues outside the top 10 in the computer rankings) you have the regular-season conference champion play the tournament champion at the regular-season champion's court with the winner getting the Dance invite.]

The only problem I would have with this is that the tourney final wouldn't mean near as much if the regular season champ wasn't playing in it. Simply because a trip to the Dance wouldn't be on the line in this game. Plus, would ESPN be willing to televise in prime time the title game AND an extra play-in game? Not sure that they would want to take that chance each year with our conference.

[It may be bigger than most of you would like for UTC (it has 13,000 seats), but that size venue would be a hub for a slew of activities, but it also would give options for hosting NCAA events, minor league hockey and potentially Arena League football.]

The reason we don't have minor league hockey or an AFL franchise right now is because the demand for those is low in this area. A new arena wouldn't change that, IMO.

McKenzie doesn't need to go anywhere anytime soon. The powers that be have hinted at putting luxury boxes in and I think that and other investments would be the way to go. We have a great venue and probably the best home court in the league. We just need to continue to figure out ways to enhance the great asset that we already have.

March 7, 2014 at 11:21 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

There definitely are hiccups in the regular-season winner vs. tourney winner idea, but something needs to be tweaked. Playing three months of technically scrimmages for three days in the first week of March is fractured.

Not sure about demand or not but we have been told that since it was built before Arena football and after the Flames had burnt out in the ATL the cleared out bottom in McKenzie does not configure for either Arena or hockey dimensions. We could be mistaken there but that's what we have heard.

Jomo —

Fair point. OK, UTC keeps McKenzie and the builds a state of the art facility for those things then. If the Mocs want to play there, great. If not, fine. We were asked to be Chattanooga Sports King not UTC Sports King.

JMC —

And if Green Bay had not been grandfathered in, they would not have a sniff of an NFL team either.

9er —

Well, as for Frank Martin, he may have thought his player was an horticultural transportation major and said he's a "Trucking Grass Knoll."

Or maybe they were discussing fishing and Martin wanted to share a "Bucking Bass Bowl" he knows about on Lake Martin.

He could have been covering some recent TVA issues and wanted to talk about a "Fracking Gas Hole."

Who really knows?

March 7, 2014 at 1:23 p.m.
Stewwie said...

How about this...maybe change the conference tourney to only have the top 4 play for a chance at the Dance. Semis on a Sat., final on Mon. That would put an emphasis on doing well in the regular season in order to have a shot at the Dance. The drama down the stretch of the season would pick up a bit too as teams would make a strong effort just to get into the postseason.

That's very possible that McKenzie wouldn't be able to hold those sports anyway. Maybe if one of the sideline bleachers were pushed all the way up they could fit? But then you lose lots of good seats doing that. But again, if the demand isn't there anyway, I don't think it should be held against McKenzie that it can't facilitate those particular things.

March 7, 2014 at 2:54 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

I'm intrigued by this multi-use facility King Greeson(The Scenic City Squire. The 'Nooga Nobleman. All-around righteous dude.)is proposing. Would us lowly commoners be welcome or would this be one of those highfalutin joints that turns its nose up at monster truck rallies and rasslin' shows?

What do we want...bread and circuses! When do we want it...eh, we'll get around to it.

March 7, 2014 at 2:58 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

But 5, if you win your regular season in a non-big time conference, your reward is getting the top seed to feast on the crap teams in your less than stellar conference. And if you can't beat them in your conference tournament, do you really deserve a shot? Granted, it happens, though rarely, where a sub .500 team makes the conference championship game and pulls off a stunner. I think that only adds to the allure. And if you're the regular season champ and face the tournament champ after you didn't win it, do you deserve a second shot?

March 7, 2014 at 5:57 p.m.
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