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).



PREP SCHEDULE

(Please notify us of any schedule changes and times as well as game and match scores at news@chattanoogan.com) Softball: THURSDAY, APRIL 19 Brainerd at Signal Mountain Rhea Co. at Cookeville East Hamilton at Soddy Daisy Howard at Central Bradley at Cleveland Baylor at Whitwell 5:30 p.m. Silverdale at Chattanooga Christian Meigs Co. at Hixson ... (click for more)

Soddy-Daisy Lacrosse Wins 18-2 Over Dalton State

The Soddy Daisy Trojans' high school boys lacrosse team extended its winning streak to nine games with an 18-2 home victory over out-of-state rival Dalton High School. The win marks the 8th time the Trojans have scored in double digits this season. The undefeated Trojans were again ranked 1st in their classification in Tennessee according to the weekly TSLA Playoff Poll. ... (click for more)

Federal Jury Finds Gillispie Guilty Of 6 Counts In Sex Trafficking Case

A federal jury on Wednesday morning found Corrie Gillispie guilty of six counts in his sex trafficking trial. Gillispie was ruled guilty of two counts of sex trafficking, two counts of kidnapping, one count of transporting a person across state lines for prostitution, and one count of money laundering.  The panel found him not guilty of another charge of transporting ... (click for more)

Attorney Says There Was No Valid Reason To Euthanize Monteagle Family's Pet Raccoon Boomer

A Chattanooga attorney who specializes in wildlife cases says there was no valid reason for health officials to have euthanized a pet raccoon belonging to a family in Monteagle. Candace Bone said the family had owned "Boomer" for three years after getting her from an approved raccoon farm. She said, "We are all devastated. He was just like a baby to us. Boomer slept between ... (click for more)

A Tribute For My Brother – Sgt. Jonathan Gardner, U.S. Army

Seven years ago today, my family and I found out that my brother, Sgt. Jonathan D. Gardner, was seriously injured by a roadside bomb, (explosively formed penetrator - EFP), while on a mission in Kuwait. The EFP went through the bottom of his seat and put a softball size hole in his upper thigh. The doctors said that if the bomb had entered the Humvee an inch to the right, he ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Teacher's Pay Cut

The Hamilton County School Board will hold a “working session” Thursday afternoon as steps continue to formulate the FY2019 budget and it is a frightening process in a badly-broken system. Everybody knows it is equally embarrassing and after watching teachers who “have had enough” go on strikes in Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kentucky this spring, I guarantee you that Tennessee is ... (click for more)