Something special taking place in K-Town

Published 9:48 am Thursday, December 28, 2017

While the talk of the town, and the entire state as a matter of fact, lately has been the Tennessee football team, there is something else going on that isn’t receiving a whole lot of press ink.

Does 21-2 mean anything to anyone?

It should as it is the combined record of the University of Tennessee men’s and women’s basketball teams as the Lady Vols stand at 12-0 while the men have crafted a very respectful 9-2 ledger to this point in the season.

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While many would wonder why 9-2 is special for the men, it only takes a quick glance at the schedule to see that both losses came to two teams who were crowned National Champions for the last two seasons in Villanova and North Carolina.

After struggling in her first four seasons as the head coach of the Lady Vols, Holly Warlick may be doing her best coaching job to date as she has her Lady Vols undefeated at this juncture in time and ranked seventh in the country.

Warlick has been struggling to do two things in her time as the head coach with both requiring fan’s understanding and being able to produce a product that can reach the apex that the Lady Vols once stood atop of.

To say taking over for a head coach like Pat Summit was like a walk in the park would be also like saying that walking over a path of broken glass is good for one’s feet or sitting in the middle of a cage full of hungry lions is good for one’s health.

Many fans felt that Warlick didn’t possess the intestinal fortitude to make the Lady Vols stand among the elite teams in women’s college basketball once again, but Warlick has turned the tide and now has a chance this season to erase all the bad memories of her early head coaching career and hold her head high.

There is still a lot of ball to be played, but the Lady Vols have been showing their resilience and if they continue on the same path for the next couple of months as they have for the first two then the future may lead to top of the brackets once the national tournament gets underway.

On the flip side, the men’s team under head coach Rick Barnes is beginning to jell into a solid team and if Barnes can continue to land top-quality players as he has since coming on board, the Vols may once again elevate to the years of the Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King era.

Barnes has proven to Vol fans that if you get the right coach and give him a couple years to spin his magic, great things happen.

Barnes was a winner before he landed at UT taking the Texas Longhorns to the tournament 16 of the 17 seasons he coached at Texas.

From all appearances, the Tennessee coach is getting the Vols shaped into the same type of team and although some have doubts on this year’s squad, the quick start shows that the program is definitely making giant strides in only Barnes third season at the helm.

There is definitely a high level of excitement inside Thompson-Boling Arena this season and it is something that basketball fans and especially fans of Tennessee basketball need to be awakening to.

In an atmosphere where it seems that a school that is strong in football is weak in basketball and where strong basketball schools are not so strong in football, Tennessee may be setting itself up in the best kind of way.

If both the football and basketball programs at Tennessee can reach the upper echelon in its respective sport, the Vols could be counted in a handful of other schools that can brag of both strong football and basketball programs.

Time will tell, but the sky is the limit for both programs, and basketball appears to be in good hands under each respective floor general.