Having struggled to go 2-3 in our last 5 games, its apparent our confidence has been shaken. Like everyone else out there, we know we aren’t playing well. Our guys are rattled and you can see it through the inconsistency of our play. I don’t think many of them have dealt with this much basketball adversity throughout their career. I thought we played harder at times and showed glimpses of improvement last night but we have such a LONG way to go. We lost so many hustle plays last night, missed some easy shots, got driven by too easily and have begun competing against ourselves at times and each other rather than our opponent. The first 3 we can accept and get to work on. The latter will not be tolerated.

Who do we play? Even with Skylar just returning from illness and Renaldo still not fully healthy from his ankle injury, we played 12 guys last night. I played in the system so I know it’s tough to get in a rhythm when that many guys are playing. But right now, due to our inconsistency, our staff is searching for the right lineups. Some guys have earned playing time because of how well they practice but then when the game lights have come on they are struggeling. Other guys we know are our best players. They have proven it time and time again over the years. However, even some of these guys have been inconsistent from game to game, half to half or even play to play. So who do you play? It’s our job to figure that out and I can promise you that we will continue do everything we possibly can to get it turned around. Coach Pearl’s track record shows he doesn’t care who it is. Whether it’s a walk-on or scholarship player, if you can help us win, you will be out there.

One thing we can’t do is get down on ourselves and be afraid to fail. If you begin doubting yourself and your head gets filled with “I cant’s”, your right, you won’t. It doesn’t matter what aspect of life we are talking about; whether it’s basketball, business, relationships, etc., if you are afraid to fail and unwilling to take chances you are reducing your potential for greatness. If you aren’t afraid to fail and willing to learn from mistakes, it’s ok when you fall down because you know it’s a part of the process to grow and be successful.  I was always taught the difference between a loser and a winner isn’t that they fail, it’s that a loser mistakes excuses for answers while a winner views failing as an opportunity to improve and never quits. Coach Pearl’s system is no different. You can’t be successful in Coach Pearl’s up-tempo style if you are afraid to fail or don’t play with energy. It’s not possible.

Friday we have an opportunity to play another really good team in College of Charleston. We don’t play many cupcakes. We aren’t going to play a weak non-conference schedule to inflate our record before conference season. We schedule top tier high-major and mid-major teams like Charlotte, Belmont, Oakland and College of Charleston every year. Charleston brings in a potent offensive line led by one of the top scorers in the country Andrew Goudelock (23.5ppg). His Chris Lofton-esque ability to shoot the ball in their team’s very good ball screen offensive scheme will challenge our defense. Their team is going to make some great plays and they may have the lead at times but no matter what, our confidence cannot get rattled. Our self-assurance, trust in one another and effort are the only things that will help us improve. If we focus on these things throughout the game Friday, I am confident we will be happy with the result.

Good Luck to our FootVols tonight and I hope that everyone has a blessed and safe New Years!



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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