Randy Smith: Preparing For The Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from Steve Early, the vice president and general manager of IMG College Sports, “The Vol Network”.  He asked if I would be interested in filling in for “Voice of The Vols” Bob Kesling, when the Tennessee men’s basketball team plays in San Juan Puerto Rico in November.  The U.T. football team will be playing at Vanderbilt that weekend so Bob would not be available to go. I eagerly said yes, even though it had been seven years since I had done basketball play-by-play on the radio. (There is a difference in radio and tv play-by-play.)

My broadcast partner for the three games in San Juan will be popular former Vol, Dane Bradshaw, and the Vol Network also invited my wife Shelia to go as well. So, while I hone up on my radio play-by-play preparations, Shelia is packing her swimsuits and sun block for a few days at the beach.

The Puerto Rico Tip-Off is a made for television, early season college tournament, staged by ESPN Regional Television, a subsidiary of ESPN. The 2012 event is the sixth annual Tip-Off, and it will be played at the 9,000 seat Coliseo Rube’n Rodriguez in Bayamon. Tennessee joins seven other schools in the tournament to be played November 15, 16, and 18. The Vols will draw UNC Asheville in their first contest on Thursday November 15th, at 12:30 pm EST. (Puerto Rico is on Atlantic Time, which is an hour ahead of the eastern time zone.) If the Vols can win over UNCA, they face the winner of the game between Akron and Oklahoma State on Friday November 16th, at 10:30 am EST.

Oklahoma State lists 6’-11” senior post player Phillip Jurick on the roster. Jurick is from East Ridge and was a member of the Tennessee basketball team his freshman season.  North Carolina State, Penn State, Providence, and UMass are the other four teams in this year’s event.

Tennessee’s second year head coach Cuonzo Martin said, “ We’re looking forward to representing the SEC in Puerto Rico this November. It’s a quality field and should provide a great early test for our team. Every team in the field had an RPI near the top 150 last season, and they’re all well coached. From a fan perspective, you can’t ask for a much better destination than San Juan. You’ve got great weather, great beaches, and great basketball.”

An SEC team is the tournament’s defending champion, as last November Alabama scored a 65-56 win over Purdue for the title. While the Vols would love to make it two in a row for the SEC, N.C. State and UMass are considered as co-favorites. The 2011-2012 Vols were 19-15 in Coach Martin’s first season as head coach, but they were a much better team at the end of the season than they were earlier in the year. They barely missed an NCAA Tournament bid, and lost an early round NIT game to Middle Tennessee State. This year’s squad should be a lot better; they’re ranked 17th in the pre-season Top 25 poll, and picked to finish fourth in the SEC.

We all get an early look at the Vols on Friday night as they host Kennesaw State at 7:00 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will be televised on Fox SportSouth and Bill Justus will join me on that broadcast.

Last season, Tennessee paid a visit to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.  I didn’t get to tag along on that trip, but I’m looking forward to seeing Puerto Rico. It’s supposedly a beautiful country, but chances are my beach and touring time will be at a minimum. I may have to ask my wife Shelia to tell me about what I will miss. Dane Bradshaw and I will be pretty busy!

rsmithsports@comcast.net

---

Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).


Randy Smith: Some SEC Games To Watch This Fall

We're a month away from college football's opening weekend. While I'm still pondering my annual pre-season picks, I have noticed a few "must see" games in the SEC this season. And while I say "must see" games, they will all likely have serious implications as to how the final standings will shape up. September 3rd : Alabama vs Southern Cal in Arlington, Texas.  ... (click for more)

Rhea County Picked To Win Region 4-5A

Rhea County's Golden Eagles have been picked to win the Region 4-5A championship in Murphy Fair's Tennessee High School Football magazine. Coach Mark Pemberton has led the Eagles to a state quarterfinal and two semifinals in his three years as head coach. Senior Mason Stephenson rushed for more than 1,400 yards last year and Eddie Bice ran for another 1,200. Ooltewah ... (click for more)

Nashville Man Arrested By TBI For Trafficking 12-Year-Old Texas Girl For Sex

Special Agents in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Human Trafficking Unit, working alongside local and federal partners, have arrested and charged a Nashville man accused of trafficking a 12-year-old from Texas for the purposes of commercial sex. On Friday evening, the TBI received information from the U.S. Marshals Service about the possible whereabouts of a Texas ... (click for more)

Michael Ford Sentenced To More Than 13 Years In Prison On Drug Charges

Michael Shawn Ford has been sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison on drug charges. On April 20, 2105, Ford was arrested at his house in East Ridge. Police found him hiding in the closet with a laundry bag which contained a loaded pistol and 7.9 grams of crystal meth. Officers said that two backpacks were found in the same bedroom, one with 257.3 grams of crystal meth ... (click for more)

Olympic Events On The Ocoee River Made History – But It Wasn’t Easy

It started with a simple “what if” question while Atlanta officials were working on a bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.  A group of amateur kayakers from the city began asking themselves: “What if Atlanta’s bid is successful? Then where would the Olympic whitewater canoe and kayak races be held?”  To some of the members of that group, the answer was obvious. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Don’t Kick A Man’s Neck

From the minute my brothers and I each became cognizant, my dad started teaching us the rules of becoming a man. Dad was from deep in Mississippi and he’d been taught a lot of life’s secrets from his father. These lessons have been passed for generations and, the older I have become, I’m convinced a lot of them were borne from The Sermon on the Mount. Our favorite, back in the ... (click for more)