ATLANTA — As the national news about University of Tennessee athletics continues to focus on its flagship college football program, and specifically, its lack of stability with the football head coaching position and at the top of the athletics department, the young men on the hardwood have provided a level of stability and consistency that may allow diehard gridiron zealots to really concentrate on the turnaround the hoops team may pull off in 2017-18.
On Sunday night, the Volunteers continued their impressive start to the season with a road victory against Georgia Tech, last season’s NIT runner-up, 77-70. Not only did the win improve Tennessee to 6-1, the win also was its second win this season against an ACC opponent, as they beat NC State earlier in the season at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. That tournament also saw the Volunteers pull off a signature victory against then-No. 18 Purdue in overtime, as well as own a 12-point halftime lead over then-No. 5 Villanova before the Wildcats came back to win on their way to winning the tournament the following day.
It’s not too surprising that third-year Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes would have the basketball team near the top of the Southeastern Conference in short order, as his glittering 31-year D-1 coaching resume includes three conference titles, 22 NCAA Tournament appearances, six Sweet 16 appearances and a Final Four appearance in 2003 when he was the head man at the University of Texas.
In our first edition of Coachspeak for the 2017-18 season, ALOST‘s Adesina O. Koiki went one-on-one with Barnes after the Volunteers’ win over the Yellow Jackets. Barnes talked about what the main difference is so far between his team this year and the the teams in his first two years in Knoxville, what makes Grant Williams, the team’s leading scorer, such a load in the interior and his thoughts on the much-improved Southeastern Conference, a league that he thinks could see at least half of its 14 members reach the NCAA Tournament this season.
There will be many more one-on-one interviews with some of the best college basketball minds during the season, and make sure you continue to follow A Lot of Sports Talk‘s NCAA page to stay in touch with all of our college basketball coverage throughout the season.