Re: Tennessee Vols Basketball 2011 Season
No one will win the SEC easily. The East is a murderer's row as Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee could each win the conference. The West has Mississippi State but they only play hard when it comes conference tournament time and will find playing defense a little more difficult without Varnado basically holding the entire paint down by himself. With regards to Tennessee they'll be good and a contender in the conference but not legit Final Four contender good.
Florida should be the favorite in the SEC. It can be hard to win without bigs, experience, senior starters, athleticism, defense, depth and 2 offensive black holes taking up a quarter of your available healthy players as the Gators have learned the past couple of years. Right now the Gators, who were a remarkable turnaround jumper away from sweeping the Vols last year, appear to have none of those challenges this year. They return all 5 starters from an NCAA tournament team who would have advanced and won a lot more of the close games they lost during the season if they had more than 8 healthy, available bodies. Of those three available non-starters two were offensive black holes (Werner and Shipman) that defenses didn't pay attention to and the other was a freshman PF (Murphy) who lost 20 lbs due to a bout with mono before the season and had trouble competing physically*and*with*regaining*his*conditioning.
Both black holes are gone, Murphy's back up to 230 lb, Patric Young is the best rebounder and defender in last year's class, Casey Prather was one of the best defensive wings in last year's class and has drawn Corey Brewer comparisons due to his athleticism, Will Yeguete's a hard-nosed combo forward who's a rebounding machine and a little underrated after only recently coming over from France via Côte d’Ivoire, Iowa decommit Cody Larson would have been snatched up by Ohio State had Big Ten rules not stood in the way and Scottie Wilbekin reclassified to get in this class but was get 2011 top 50 buzz after blowing up at Boo Williams. The freshmen are already bringing the kind of physicality and defense Florida's lacked in the past and not only will their additions permit us to keep our legs fresh throughout the season (4 starters averaged between 30-35 mpg last year) and hold 5-on-5 practices but we'll actually be able to press for the first time since 06-07.
They've got the pieces. The only question now is will they have the killer instinct that separates good teams from great teams.