Steve Phillips is a great writer and this article absolutely sums up the season. Great job, Steve.<quoted text>
Check out this article. It says it better than I could. Unless you have personally traveled with this team, as I have, you don't have a clue.
STEVE ON SPORTS: Bruce Pearl's Vols really put the team first
By: Steve Phillips, Sports Director
Date created: 3/28/2008 3:49:04 PM
Last updated: 3/28/2008 5:53:06 PM
Commentary by WBIR Sports Director Steve Phillips
My job is to be a neutral observer, reporting what I see.
Like 98 percent of my colleagues, I try to keep a little space between my personal feelings and my professional duties.
That being said, the somber Vols' locker room in Charlotte early Friday morning was a tough place to be.
This team has been one of the most fun groups I've covered in my career. Fun-loving and hard-working, what's not to like? There are several jokesters on the team, a few who are shy, and the Smith fam; JaJuan, Tyler and Ramar Smith. What is missing--that so many teams unfortunately have--is an unchecked ego here or there.
Bruce Pearl's players not only talk the talk of "team first," they walk the walk. The free-flowing tears in the wee hours of Friday were a testament not just to personal dreams that had fallen short, but of disappointing teammates; the feeling of having let someone down, someone who you care about and who cares about you.
While some didn't play their best game of the year, it is safe to say they all played hard, a trademark of Pearl's teams.
I believe that is a characteristic responsible for bonding Tennessee fans to this team and to the coach himself. If there's one thing East Tennesseans know and appreciate, it's hard work.
I confess my admiration for the team's spunk, their grit and their work ethic. I also admit to genuinely liking every one of the players and coaches I deal with. So that locker room was not a fun place.
The experience temporarily put me on the side of those in football who prefer bowls to a playoff because more teams go home happy when it's over. At least when you know it's your last game, you can prepare for it. The jolting, jarring finality of a loss in the NCAA tournament is rarely expected and always painful.
In the end, basketball is just a game, and the players will move on to other things. Tyler Smith for example will have a decision to make about taking care of his family.
A lot of things are more important than any game, especially relationships. Jordan Howell talked about the privilege of having played ball for four years with his best friends.
This year's team didn't advance past the Sweet 16, they didn't make the history they had hoped, and some of them won't get the chance again.
Seeing and sensing the bond among that band of brothers, I believe they've discovered something even more important. I'm just glad I had a chance to be a witness to it
Join the discussion below, or Read more at WBIR Knoxville.
Since: Jun 07
#137 Mar 28, 2008
#138 Mar 28, 2008
Obviously better than Fla. Gators.....
#139 Mar 28, 2008
It's 349 miles to Bloomington.
#140 Mar 29, 2008
First of all you are a complete moron. Anyone can tell by the way you talk that you don't know a dang thing about basketball. You're one of those blind, hardcore Lady Vols fans that would probably cheer for them even if they were a team of murderers. You have some vendetta against the men's team or else you wouldnt have started talking negatively about them in the first place. They deserve more pub than the Lady Vols because more people are INTERESTED in them. If you want proof look at attendance figures, ESPN spots, and the fact that you see kids wearing one Candice Parker jersey for every 20 Chris Lofton jerseys. It's just a fact, people care more about the men's team. It's not even close. The Lady Vols are inferior in every way. Also, this is a story about the MEN'S team so go post on your own Lady lesbian website. Pat Summit=greatest coach and winningest coachmale or female...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHA!! What a load of horsesh!t......
Since: Dec 06
#142 Mar 29, 2008
Seriously though..who watches womens basketball ?
I can go my entire life without ever watching a womens game an be completely happy.
Since: Jun 07
#143 Mar 29, 2008
I realize this is a forum about the successes of the mens team and I am very proud of what they have accomplished this season. But I could not help but respond to this post.
The load of horse%&#$ is the fact that you think Pat Summitt is not one of the best coaches in history, male or female. She is the winningest coach in NCAA history (check the facts if you want to!) and should be commended for her hard work and dedication to her teams. She has one of the highest graduation rates among ALL NCAA Division one programs and reminds her teams that there is more to life than basketball. She instills in them the importance of actually going to class and that life after basketball shoudl be a priority.
And, in response to attendance records, the Lady Vols, until Bruce Pearl showed up, always outsold the men's games.
All of that said, I am very proud of all of UT's sports programs. That is what a true fan is-someone who supports all programs, not just the men's teams.
#145 Mar 30, 2008
I think Louisville played a REAL TEAM las night, don't you?
#146 Mar 31, 2008
No doubt. Had the Cards not played well it could have been really ugly, UNC was on.
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