published Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

5-at-10: Vols answer, LeBron answers, college football questions

Gang, you know what day it is. Tell 'em about it Jo Jo.

From the "Talks too much" studios, six minutes, six minutes, six minutes Doug E. Fresh and you're on.

Vols answer

  • photo
    Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes (5), right, shoots a layup past Georgia forward/center Tim Dixon (5) during the first half at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Tennessee men's basketball team delivered for coach Cuonzo Martin and in support of their NCAA tournament hopes with an impressively physical and physically impressive 67-48 win over Georgia on Tuesday night. It was not a clinic but it was a much-needed victory.

The Vols delivered on Martin's pledge/plea to get the ball inside to Jarnell Stokes, and the 6-foot-8 junior returned the favor with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

UT managed to win in a very non-UT way. They won ugly, something that has been difficult for this bunch to do despite how hard they consistently play.

The inside focus gave the Vols an identity for at least one game, although their struggles at point guard — they managed eight assists, 8! — are apparent whether they are winning or losing and when they play well and poorly.

It is the hand Martin has been dealt, and playing it to the end will be tough each and every night.

Still, despite a lack of easy opportunities, the Vols shot 47 percent — a number that is better than acceptable and a plateau for success for this bunch.

It was especially impressive considering the quiet night from Jordan McRae, who took only five official shots — he did get to the foul line — and was part of the oriented movement of getting the ball inside.

McRae's five official shots was not the only eye-popping number from a must-win game that the Vols landed. The crowd of 13,852 was the smallest SEC crowd in Thompson-Boling Arena this season. Whether that's apathy or late starting times or what have you we'll let you be the judge.

———

NBA restart

And with that it's on. It's go time.

Kevin Durant won the NBA first half. In the last week, LeBron James increased his volume and made sure we knew he was still there.

James lofted his Rushmore of all-time players. He leaked a video of his eye-popping dunk arsenal. He drained a buzzer-beating 30-footer for a game-winner in the Heat's final game before the All-Star break.

Dude was calling his shot. Tuesday night, he landed the first punch in his second-half assault, going 16-of-23 from the floor and scoring 42 points with nine rebounds and six assists in a 117-106 win at Dallas. James had 12 fourth-quarter points as the Heat pulled away. (Side note: It's the 50th time James has scored 40 or more in his NBA career, which is second among active players. It's doubtful, he'll pass the current leader since Kobe has 120. Wow.)

Thursday night James and Durant, who suddenly announced that he wants to be called The Servant because he does not like the Slim Reaper nickname, will face off again. And the timing of Durant picking The Servant as his new nickname is puzzling, considering KD has been the best player in the league by assuming the alpha dog role while point guard Russell Westbrook has recovered from injuries. Westbrook returns Thursday and if KD becomes the best wing-man since Goose died, then the Thunder are worse with Westbrook on the floor.

If Westbrook comes in and accepts a Robin role to KD's Batman, then giddy-up. But two alpha dogs is like having two quarterbacks — it seems good in theory but rarely works in the real world.

Yes, we're excited.

———

College football news

More times than not, as we have discussed frequently here and on Press Row from 3-6 on ESPN 105.1, if your favorite college football team makes news after signing day and before spring practice, it's bad 99 times out of 100.

So it goes with Georgia, which, as TFP SEC ace David Paschall tells us here, had to dismiss Josh Harvey-Clemons from the team. Harvey-Clemons was a supremely talented athlete from south Georgia who was a top-35 national player by almost every recruiting service coming out of high school.

Much was expected of JHC, who was believed to be athletic enough to play receiver or linebacker before settling in at safety. And considering that his lasting image in a Georgia uniform will be colliding with Tray Matthews and knocking the pass into the air that became Auburn's miracle, 73-yard touchdown on fourth-and-18 in a 43-38 win over the Bulldogs, JHC now may be one of the biggest recruiting busts in UGA history.

  • photo
    Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter speaks during a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday, Jan., 28, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

While the team-specific news is bad, the two biggest college football storylines of the day could alter the fabric of the sport.

Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter testified before the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday, saying that football is a job and that college football players are employees of the university. In what ESPN legal expert Lester Munson termed a "hopeful" first day for players, Colture repeatedly said football was a job and that his scholarship and stipend were paychecks. In fact, the legal representatives of Northwestern even altered their argument, saying that the NLRB could view athletes as employees — something that Northwestern's defense team has steadfastly fought until Tuesday — but if they are employees, they are simply "temporary employees." As Munson noted, temporary employees are not permitted to form a union under our national labor laws.

Still, that Northwestern is already changing legal strategy speaks volumes about the seriousness of this suit and raises a potential disaster that could change the face of one of college football biggest growth areas.

Granted the change in strategy — saying that players could possibly be employees but as temporary employees they can't form a union — by Northwestern could prove to be effective long term. If the NLRB views college eligibility as temporary, the union issue is dead. But that debate — whether college football players are temporary — is also complicated and layered. Yes, college scholarships are issued on a yearly basis, and that screams temporary, and college players have a four-to-six-year maximum timeframe. But compare that to the NFL, which also has a lot of one-year deals and has an average career expectancy of between three and four years, and remember that the NFL has a union.

If the NLRB determines that college players are temporary employees, the recruiting process could be completely overhauled. If our national board of labor relations determines college football players in particular and college athletes in general to be temporary employees, the next wave in recruiting will be Temp Athletics Agency — T&A Agency if you will — that will for a price connect players and schools.

Heck, this could be the step to pay players on a per sport basis if a sliding scale is set for the various sports and the various degrees of talent in said sports.

Change is coming.

———

This and that

  • photo
    Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on to the field in this Oct. 26, 2013, file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— The other major storyline in college football is the rule change proposed about slowing down the offenses. It was a sneaky add-on to last week's proper proposed alterations of the targeting rule that teams can't snap the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock. It's a rule that was suggested and supported by Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas's Bret Bielema, two guys that have been long outspoken against hurry-up offenses, and they have suggested that fast-paced offenses increase the danger for the defenses. No one has produced a shred of data or proof to support that claim, and several hurry-up proponents have asked to see the basis for the safety concerns of the hurry-up. That request has resonated with Troy Calhoun, the head of the college rules committee, who is starting to backtrack amid the loud and fast criticism of this proposed change.

— Ted Ligety won gold in the Winter Olympics giant slalom, becoming the first American man to do so. Good times. Side question: If Darrell Waltrip was doing the announcing for that race, would he have said, "LIG-ety, LIG-ety, LIG-ety." We say yes, yes he would.

— From the Dallas-satelite office comes the story of a woman carrying the ball against men in an 8-on-8, indoor football preseason game. She finished with three carries for minus-1 yard. (Side question: Is minus-1 yard singular? It feels like it should be but are you simply one if you are negative one when it comes to conjugation cases? And conjunction junction, what's your function?)

————

Today's question

Bring you A game and feel free to drop some mailbag moments.

Let's play a game of "Finish this Sentence" brought ot you by Mad Libs, the world's first way for pre-teens to giggle about cuss words without knowing what they mean.

  • This time next month, UT basketball will be getting ready for the __.
  • A union for college athletes is _.
  • If forced to pick the best basketball player on the planet, it is _.

Feel free to offer one of your own, and remember to use Mad Libs wisely kids.

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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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
MocTastic said...

Somebody ought to inform Mr Kain Coulter if he is an employee and his scholarship and stipend were paychecks, then he will have to report them as income and pay income taxes on them come April 15. He might change his mind when he looks at what he will owe given a Northwestern scholarship is worth on the high side of $50,000 per year.

With respect to Nick Saban this proposed rule change, if he doesn't wise up and change with the times he will become obsolete. Just as the dinosaurs ruled the world, where are they now?

This time next month, UTK basketball will be getting ready for the off season workouts.

A union for college athletes is the first step in the ruination and possible demise of collegiate sports.

If forced to pick the best basketball player on the planet, it is probably Bill Russell. 11 rings. Didn't say he had to be currently playing.

February 19, 2014 at 10:09 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- I actually feel sorry for the Conz, He is now probably going to win enough games, with the easy schedule and how week the SEC is to make the NCAA tourney. The problem is the fair-weather UTK fans who get mad when they lose a game. Those fans who think that the solution is to simply "dial up" Bruce Pearl. . .THAT SHIP HAS SAILED AND CANT COME BACK, no matter how many names you get on a petition. If Conz makes the NCAA tourney, at that point you almost have to give him a contract extension even though that wont sit well with the UTK fair weather fans, as evidence by the empty seats last night. . .WOW what a mess

February 19, 2014 at 10:14 a.m.
chas9 said...

BiB--You're not the only one confused by what I wrote yesterday. I confused myself. What I meant to say is that SEC teams fill their facilities when UK comes calling, and I would think they'd also sell out for a Florida visit (not have 3K empty seats), since The Gators are one of this year's elite teams and fun to watch. And don't Vols fans love to hate UF?

And the game yesterday with a good Gawga team had 7K empty seats.

Both UT (at home) and UK (road) looked good enough to give their fans hope. Stokes and Randle (25/13) got their habitual double doubles; Julius had his at halftime.

On the distaff side, the new AP poll has Tennessee #10, Kentucky #15, and MTSU and Chattanooga among the first six also receiving votes. ESPN has the XX Mocs seeded #12 in their brackets.

February 19, 2014 at 10:39 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, glad to see the press, the fans and the boo birds finally convinced Coach Martin to pound it into Stokes. Heck, to Martin's credit, it only took two games to make the adjustment.

So, Durant wants to be called the "Servant." That's a moniker uncomfortably close to savant. Durant needs a strong name that's heckle proof. I'm willing to part with fechancellor, as in "Iron Chancellor," if it does him any good against the likes of Lebron and his slobbering savants.

Welcome readers to the TFP Lebron Blog. 10 Ring have you secured a lock of Lebron's hair off of Beezid.com yet? If so, I'm betting it rests inside a pendant around your neck.

As for exhorting the board to bring our "A" game. Almost to a person the gang here does that daily. Can't say I'm one them, but you do get the best I can deliver sandwiched between other pressing constraints here at the enterprises.

February 19, 2014 at 12:45 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

The long awaited Bubble Watch. Remember, I keep teams on this longer than most. I move teams to lock slower than most. So, there are strange things here compared to other watches, but there you go.

One bid leagues (15): America East Big Sky Big South Big West CAA MAAC MEAC Northeast OVC Patriot Southern SWAC Summit Sun Belt WAC

LOCKS (20) American Athletic: Cincinnati, Louisville Atlantic Ten: Saint Louis ACC: Syracuse, Virginia, Duke Big 12: Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Big East: Villanova, Creighton Big Ten: Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin MVC: Wichita State Mountain West: San Diego State Pac 12: Arizona, UCLA SEC: Florida, Kentucky

BUBBLE (62) American Athletic: SMU, Connecticut, Memphis Atlantic Ten: VCU, George Washington, St. Joseph's, Massachusetts, Richmond, Dayton ACC: North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina State, Florida State Atlantic Sun: Mercer Big 12: Oklahoma, Kansas State, West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma State Big East: Xavier, Marquetter, St. John's, Providence, Georgetown Big Ten: Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana Conference USA: Lousiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP, Southern Miss Horizon: Green Bay Ivy: Harvard MAC: Toledo MVC: Indiana State Mountain West: New Mexico, UNLV Pac 12: Arizona State, California, Colorado, Stanford, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Oregon State SEC: Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Texas A&M Southland: Stephen F. Austin West Coast: Gonzaga, BYU, Saint Mary's

So with the 15 spots from one big leagues, the 20 locks, and the 7 conferences that have a team listed on the bubble but not in lock status, that means 42 spots are accounted for. That means there are 26 spots available to get to 68. That's 62 teams listed for the 26 spots. If you assume that one of the teams on the bubble or in lock status wins every conference tournament, that's seven fewer teams on this list, and means 55 for 26 spots. Some are distant long shots. Some are probably impossible in the real world, but I couldn't take them off because I struggle with how a committee keeps a team that is 13-5 in SEC play with a 21-12 overall record (the exact situation for Georgia if they win out all the way to the SEC Championship Game and lose there) out. At least from where I'm sitting today, I struggle with that. Is Georgia going to do that? Almost certainly not. But why not include them on the bubble until there's no chance of them doing it?

I'll update again next week and we'll see where we are.

February 19, 2014 at 1:55 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[This time next month, UT basketball will be getting ready for the...]

next season.

[A union for college athletes is...]

a bad idea overall.

[If forced to pick the best basketball player on the planet, it is...]

LeBron among active players. MJ is the GOAT.

I think Westbrook is content playing Robin to Durant's Batman. Maybe 3 or 4 years ago, that wasn't always the case.

February 19, 2014 at 1:58 p.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

The taxes point will be an interesting future detail for sure.

And you can keep Billy Russell (former Celtics center, not the former Dodgers shortstop) since we did not clarify.

Jomo —

Yes, Pearl is a no-go in Knoxville. And to make Pearl matters worse, we believe he'll land an SEC gig and coach against the Vols.

And for UTC fans, this circle feeling of dread in UT hoops — especially if he makes the tournament and the UT brass is forced to give him an extension — seems somewhat familiar, no.

FE to the C —

We have no LeBron locks — just a full profile tattoo on our back and a King James script on my foot.

And you are 100 percent correct — the voices here bring it day in, day out.

Stuck —

Welcome back to society — that's some impressive research.

February 19, 2014 at 2:18 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

I won't pretend, or portend for that matter, any guise of being a college basketball analyst. With my pedestrian knowledge of basketball I'm not even qualified to play an analyst on the interwebs. That being said, it would appear to me that if Tennessee needs to get something going they could always just dump the ball inside to Jarnell Stokes. I don't know how many times Stokes worked through a double team to score an easy basket last night, but it was not a rare occurrence. We had nothing for him last night.

As for Josh Harvey-Clemons...It is disappointing news that he was cut from the team, but not at all surprising. Regardless of whether he was in Athens or not, the 2014 season was going to be a no-go for JHC. With a one-game suspension coupled with another incident that led to three more games and yet another incident that would have meant at least three additional games, Josh would not have been eligible to play his first game until the November tilt against Florida. So many five-star recruits are like really good looking women with issues. They seem so perfect during the recruiting process but when the drama starts, a three-star with a good attitude seems like a better option.

That's all I got. Not an "A game" performance, but not a crash-and-burn performance either. And the sun was in my eyes.

February 19, 2014 at 2:25 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, to answer your questions I will say ...

offseason.

ludicrous.

Larry Bird.

Do you think LeBron sees all the attention The Slim Reaper gets and goes, "I'm Moe Greene! I was making my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders!" and then proceeds to remind the rest of the world that he's more Michael Corleone than Moe Greene.

February 19, 2014 at 3:14 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I just attempted to read Simmons' Grantland piece on the 30 worst contracts in the NBA. Is he getting paid by the word? Good night, even William Faulkner is rolling over in his grave about how tediously long that is.

February 19, 2014 at 4:22 p.m.
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