Dan Fleser: Thoughts On Tennessee's Ventures To Connecticut, Kansas

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - by Dan Fleser

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee and Connecticut resume an historic women’s basketball rivalry Thursday night after a 13-year hiatus. Meanwhile, who’s playing for Kansas and who’s not when the Jayhawks host Tennessee on Saturday?

Some thoughts on some basketball things:

The ripple effect from the postgame basketball brawl involving players from Kansas and Kansas State Tuesday night resulted in a 12-game suspension for Jayhawks forward Silvio De Sousa and a two-game suspension for forward David McCormack on Wednesday.

“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and these suspensions reflect the severity of last evening’s events,” Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement.

Kansas coach Bill Self had announced an indefinite suspension for De Sousa earlier on Wednesday before the conference took action.

“As I said last night, we are disappointed in his actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior,” Self said.

The 6-foot-10 McCormack has been the most productive of the two players, averaging 7.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Thoughts: Under the circumstances, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Tennessee’s 76-68 victory over then-No. 1 Kansas on Jan. 10, 2010. The improbable result occurred two days after then-Vols coach Bruce Pearl dismissed forward Tyler Smith following his arrest for misdemeanor drug and gun charges. Fellow Vols Cam Tatum, Brian Williams and Melvin Goins also were arrested and suspended for the game.

Reserve Skylar McBee was an unlikely hero in the victory, hitting a clutch 3-pointer inside the final minute.

That Tennessee team winning under those circumstances was a lot less likely than Kansas prevailing on Saturday without its two players.

Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper has heard from several of her former Tennessee teammates in advance of Thursday’s game. Some even spoke of traveling to Hartford, Conn., for the occasion.

They’re drawn to the memories.

“For us as players, it was fun to play in those games,” Harper said. “Those were some of our biggest crowds. I think we all enjoyed it, enjoyed the competition.”

Thoughts: My best memories of those games involved the players and how the competition brought out the best in them.

Granted, coaches Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma deserved credit for preparing their teams. But they weren’t the performers. The players made the court into a stage for their compelling feats.

Wonder if any of this history will repeat itself?

A final thought: The Lady Vols biggest challenge Thursday likely will involve guarding the Huskies. Averaging 7.4 blocks per game isn’t enough of a deterrent against an offense as capable as UConn’s

“They are so efficient,” Harper said. “They are so fast in terms of running their sets, pushing in transition. Every action they do is at an elite speed and we have not seen a lot of that. I think just guarding that action is relentless and constant. You have to be mentally tough and physically tough to be able to defend (the Huskies).”

* * *

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri who covered University of Tennessee athletics for the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1988-2019. He may be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com


Soccer Shots Provides Families With Virtual Game For Kids, 2-9 Years Of Age

SSAC Announces 2020 Women's Golf Awards

Dan Fleser: Dungy, Manning Among Those Paying Tribute To Tamika Catchings


Families impacted by COVID-19 in Hamilton, Bradley and Catoosa counties with children ages 2 – 9 years of age are being offered relief by Soccer Shots based out of Chattanooga. In the form of ... (click for more)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Southern States Athletic Conference announced the 2020 SSAC women's golf award winner, highlighted by William Carey's Papatsara Niamrungrueang being named 2020 SSAC Women's ... (click for more)

KNOXVILLE – While listening to a compilation of video tributes to Tamika Catchings, it didn’t take long to come upon a Tennessee presence. Right after former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony ... (click for more)




Sports

Soccer Shots Provides Families With Virtual Game For Kids, 2-9 Years Of Age

Families impacted by COVID-19 in Hamilton, Bradley and Catoosa counties with children ages 2 – 9 years of age are being offered relief by Soccer Shots based out of Chattanooga. In the form of planned activity and state approved soccer practices/curriculum, children can now participate actively via virtual coaching. According to owner Leslie Bennett, “Soccer Shots has been ... (click for more)

SSAC Announces 2020 Women's Golf Awards

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Southern States Athletic Conference announced the 2020 SSAC women's golf award winner, highlighted by William Carey's Papatsara Niamrungrueang being named 2020 SSAC Women's Golf Player of the Year. Dalton State's Sydney Hermann collected Freshman of the Year honors, while all seven Lady Birds made the All-Conference team. Rijos, Daniel, Gasaway, ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Tennessee Has 15 More Coronavirus Deaths; Now Up To 94; Cases Rise To 4,634; Hamilton County Has 10th Death

Tennessee has an additional 15 coronavirus deaths - bringing the count to 94, state Health Department officials said Thursday afternoon. Cases are listed at 4,634 - up from 4,362. Officials said 505 people have been hospitalized in the state from coronavirus - up from 449. The state report shows 98 cases in Hamilton County - an increase of four - and an additional death, ... (click for more)

Georgia Has 43 More Coronavirus Deaths To Go To 412; Cases Reach 10,566; Whitfield Has 21 Cases

Georgia state health officials said Thursday that another 10 people in the state have died from the coronavirus since Wednesday, bringing the total to 379. The confirmed cases are now at 10,885 - up from 10,566 on Wednesday. Officials said 2,298 have been hospitalized in Georgia with the deadly virus. Whitfield County is up to 21 cases and three deaths. Walker ... (click for more)

Opinion

Coronavirus Brings Out Kindness In People

Sept. 11 brought out greater kindness in us to strangers. After 9/11 I immediately noticed increased kindness in the simplest of things, holding doors open, courtesy in public. The coronavirous has had that same effect but even more intense. I see strangers concerned for the well being of others, not just in terms of social distancing but myriad acts of personal kindness and ... (click for more)

Joe Smith: I'm In Rhonda Thurman's Corner

I didn’t sleep well last night. It was one of those times when this old boxing coach was in a 10-round boxing match in my spirit. So many people are hurting right now. I have friends that have lost their jobs and are struggling to feed their families. My 11-year-old grandson tells me, “Pops I want to go to school.” I miss Sunday morning worship with my pastor and church family. ... (click for more)