Gut Check

This is the worst I felt after a regular season loss EVER. I feel like I just got punched in the gut. In a matter of a week we went from the Penthouse to the Outhouse.

The feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, etc are all there. I know it’s not but if feels like all the hard work in getting to where we were after our win verse Pittsburg is lost. We need to find that edge again. Was it the notoriety in public and the media of all that our team accomplished that got to our heads? What happened to no matter what we are going to play harder than our opponent at all times? Are we making our teammates better right now? Where did our edge go? Every team on our schedule is too good to not play energized, with purpose and together. We can’t beat anybody without every guy on our team but we can also beat everybody when we play hard, together and smart. We’ve shown it on the two biggest stages we’ve played on all year.

Two for our last 27 from 3; 34.9% from the field; 2-7 from the free throw line; 8 assists; 48 points. Lost by 1. We’ve talked about defense and rebounding over and over again but this game wasn’t lost because of our defense. Sure we had some missed plays defensively but if you hold a team to 30.2% from the field, 26.3% from 3pt, out rebound them by 5 and get up 10 more shots than your opponent, you’re supposed to win that game. Our Director of Video Scouting, who was formally a Div. I head coach, said that he has never been part of a game where we held our opponent to 30% shooting and lost. So what does that say? Everybody can see those stats from Friday night and Oakland. Our coaching staff is just as accountable as the players. How are we going to change it?

First of all we need to get back to practicing and playing with that edge we had early on this season. The edge that was created because most people outside of our locker room doubted us. Preseason 4th in the SEC? Thank you. What are they going to do with the loss of three great seniors? Thank you. Comments like that gave us a chip on our shoulder that WE were going to prove everybody wrong. But now that WE have shown WE are good, our focus has changed and it needs to stop. The only agenda that any member of this basketball team must have is “I will do my job to the best of my ability to help this basketball team win games”…period!

Since I always talk about our defense and considering I think we played it pretty well Friday, I am going to skip that for now and focus on our offense. Offensively, as teams have done in the past, our non shooters and big guys are not being guarded when they are out on the perimeter. Thus forcing us to shoot a lot of jump shots and play from the outside in. Therefore, we must first get back to sprinting in transition, advance passing it up the floor and looking to score in the fastbreak when the opportunity is there. If we don’t have a good scoring opportunity we then must start executing our stuff better. Understanding the defense we are facing, making sharp cuts, timed passes, proper spacing, and correct timing are all needed. One of the biggest things we talked about after last season was that when we went on our run in the NCAA tournament was our offensive execution. No matter who the play call was designed to get a shot for, we all executed. If a guy was supposed to come off a down screen on the weak side of the play as though he was getting a shot just to keep the help side occupied so the strong side guard could drive it, we did it and we did it hard. We aren’t doing that right now. If the play isn’t called for me we are slopping through our part of the play. This is carried over from practice. Our players need to execute better and our staff needs to be held accountable for making them think the game and execute efficiently in the “play call review” that we do daily.

The good part about the slippage above is we can fix it! We have the talent and the staff to do it. We all did it just one week ago and we can do it again! To do so though, we must all be accountable for our mistakes and our own demons. We must be willing to make the necessary changes and that put in the mental and physical effort so that we can improve. When we play another good team in USC on Tuesday night-one that embarrassed us up and down the west coast last year- each player and coach can’t try to get us out of this ditch on their own. We must do it together. If we don’t stay together and play together a group of individuals will lose their 3rd game in a row but if our TEAM, our family, plays with and edge and for each other we will get back on the winning track.

I really hope you come out on Tuesday! It is a huge a game!



About Mark Pancratz's Blog

A native of Schaumburg, Ill., Mark Pancratz played Division I basketball at UW-Milwaukee, earning his degree in marketing and finance. He joined Tennessee's staff in 2006 as a graduate assistant, earning his master's degree in sports management later that year. Serving as a G.A., director of video scouting and assistant to the head coach, Pancratz was an integral part of Tennessee's six-consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. At 26, Pancratz boasts an impressive 18 games of NCAA Tournament experience as a player and/or administrative staff member. He is a member of the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame and voted one of the 100 Legends of Illinois High School Basketball. Pancratz resides in Knoxville and is married to the former Brooke Waddell.
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2 Responses to Gut Check

  1. Randy Roberts says:

    Mark, I don’t understand why Tobias, Scotty and Cam don’t get 34/35 minutes a game. They can’t possibly get into any kind of offensive rythym the way they are jerked in and out. Would love your perspective on this…we follow u everywhere, buy, it sure was embarrassing walking out of the arena Friday night in charlotte. No way in the worls should we have lost that game. Good luck against USC….u are going to play two good teams this week…both very well coached!!

  2. Ronnie Martin says:

    That’s all nice and fuzzy Mark, but at what point after 6 years are you going to starting recruiting some shooters? Our athletes are able to matchup and force their will on the defensive end, but at some point you have to make more shots than the other team. That’s what basketball is, a shooters game. We haven’t had a quaterback so to speak since Dane and he wasn’t really a point guard type. Juwan was hot and cold and thought anything inside 35 feet was a green light shot. Sorry, he wasn’t JJ Reddick.

    Lastly, just like last year against MSU we can’t seem to get a good play in for the last shot. WTF man! Dr Tom was the master at that sort of stuff. Is Bruce just pre-occupied? I think you answered your own question, the coaches need to be held accountable for coaching these guys up. Or start recruiting basketball players like yourself, instead of athletes that just run, jump, and dunk.

    Thanks and hang in there.

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