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Published:January 11th, 2010 20:50 EST
Tennessee Stuns Number One Ranked Kansas with "Volunteer Spirit"

Tennessee Stuns Number One Ranked Kansas with "Volunteer Spirit"

By Geoff Dean

 Living in Japan, as I often point out I do, you don`t get a lot of basketball information. There is the occasional NBA game in the wee hours of the morning. Since I am a Pacers` fan and that is currently nothing to be proud of, I can hardly bring myself to wake up for them.

 NCAA Basketball is an even rarer commodity. The other day, I found a game (in mid-afternoon, no less) on my local cale network. Enthralled by the rare find, it took me thirty minutes before I noticed that it was a replay of an NCAA tournament game of 2002! I didn`t remember who had won the game so I watched it anyway.

 Point being, I am not exactly well informed on NCAA basketball. To be honest, I had no idea that the Kansas Jayhawks were the no. 1 team in the nation, although in all fairness to the great state of Kansas, what do they have besides college basketball? I mean, even Kansas City, home of the Chiefs and Royals, and despite the name association, refused to be located in Kansas. Dorothy and Toto left, too. Probably right now, the Kansas Jayhawks are thinking that indeed "there is no place like home."

 Since, in theory, this is about basketball, why don`t I talk about the game a bit? If that`s all right with everyone out there...

 The depleted Tennessee Volunteers upset the Kansas Jayhawks, despite the loss of Tyler Smith, arrested on gun and drug charges, as well as, Cameron Tatum, Melvin Goins, and Brian Williams, all of whom were arrested along with Smith. Furthermore, starters Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince spent a large portion of the game on the bench in early foul trouble.

 So how did the "reserve" squad beat the number one team in the country? They scored more points, silly! want analysis? Well, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl put it down to "chemistry" which may not have been the best choice of words considering the drug arrests. He also referred to "putting their minds to" it and "backs up against the wall" and "rallying" around each other and "not quitting" and "believing in themselves" and just about every other cliche in the sports cliche catalog.

 Kansas Coach Bill Self lacked self-confidence about his teams` effort. Tennessee was "a team" and Kansas was "not yet", he opined, which probably explains why they were number one and undefeated to that point in the season. Maybe they needed more "selfless" play? Or Coach Bill just wasn`t his usual self? (I`ll stop now; I promise.) 

 Perhaps, Renaldo Woolridge of the Volunteers (they really were volunteers in this game, eh?) and 14 points had it right when he said that "we`re just hungry." And I don`t think he had the munchies, either.