Sanning: Barnes' Philosophies May Not Be Enough to Keep Vols Afloat This Season
When I first met Rick Barnes three years ago, I was well-aware of the legacy he had left behind at Texas. One of the better recruiters and developers of talent in the country, he had experienced his fair share of high's in the lone star state.
Little did I know that he would only elevate his status once he arrived in Knoxville. His tenure with the Vols didn't get off to a picture-esque start, either.
Tennessee went just 15-19 in Barnes' debut season, failing to qualify for the NCAA Tournament while recording a 6-12 conference record.
Two years later? The Vols won 26 games and took home a share of the SEC regular season title. Fast forward to 2018-19 and UT was among the best teams in the nation.
With that being said, that same transitional period may not be among us.
Not because of a lack of coaching expertise or anything of the sort, but simply put, this year's Vols do not boast the experience or talent needed to win consistently in the SEC.
Does that mean they won't next year, or any season following that? Nope. It just means that for the remainder of 2020, Tennessee fans must wrap their heads around the thought of embracing themselves for what could be a bumpy ride.
Wednesday night's result at Georgia was indicative of that.
While yes, it's likely very difficult to stay in front of a talent such as Anthony Edwards, the Vols simply can't allow Rayshaun Hammonds to hit 7 of 10 shots. They can't allow teams to jump on them early because, frankly, they're not capable of overcoming large deficits. Not on the road.
At halftime, UT was down by 19 points. As a team, Tennessee combined to shoot just 40 percent from the floor and 23 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
With Lamonte Turner out for the season and many of the Vols' shooters from last season now playing in the professional ranks, Barnes has been in search of consistent outside shooting since the season began in October.
Unfortunately for him, he's yet to find it. At this point, it seems unlikely that he before the season ends.
The aura surrounding Tennessee heading into Wednesday was one of excitement, as redshirt freshman Uros Plavsic was set to make his debut with the team after a 10-week fight with the NCAA for an eligibility waiver.
Needless to say, his debut did not got as Vols fans had hoped.
Plavsic finished with five points and three rebounds while shooting 2-of-6 from the field in 17 minutes of action. He also committed two fouls and did not get to the free-throw line once.
I'm not saying to read too much into it, because he still needs to play his way into game shape and get fully acquainted with in-game situations, but Plavsic has been able to fully engage himself in practice for some time.
This is in no way an indictment on how the young man played. He just needs time, and that is completely understandable. Tennessee development program is one of the best in the country and recent results have proven just that.
Trusting the process may be frustrating at some point, but as Barnes and his staff proved with Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, it's usually worth the wait.
Now, the Vols just need results. It doesn't appear likely that they'll come in the near future, but as Barnes has shown before, just give him time and the rest will take care of itself.
For now, Tennessee is on to Vanderbilt.