Head coach Donnie Tyndall and senior guard Josh Richardson briefly discussed the departure of two members of Tennessee’s basketball staff Wednesday morning before departing for Orlando to compete in the Orlando Classic.
Assistant coach Adam Howard resigned earlier this week, citing “personal reasons.” Subsequent reports noted that R.J. Rush, a special assistant to Tyndall, stepped down a week earlier, citing “family reasons.” The defections almost certainly are related to an NCAA investigation of Tyndall in connection with alleged rules violations during his two-year tenure at Southern Miss (2012-13, 2013-14).
While this week has been challenging, Tyndall said he and his team are doing OK.
“It’s been one of those weeks where you face some adversity,” he said. “You face the adversity and hit it right between the eyes. Our team’s had great practices. Our team I think is a mature team for our lack of experience and not a lot of veterans. I think we’re fine. I think we’re ready to go and we’re looking forward to playing against a really good Santa Clara team (Thursday at noon).”
Citing the leadership of Richardson and junior Armani Moore, Tyndall expressed confidence that “everyone is focused and ready to go.”
Beau Braden has been elevated from video coordinator to succeed Howard on the coaching staff. Braden was director of basketball operations Tyndall’s final year at Morehead State (2011-12) and was a full-time assistant at the school the next two seasons.
"Beau is a very intelligent, hard-working guy," Tyndall said. "In game preparation, he will be organized and do a fantastic job. He was on the floor as a full-time coach for two years at Morehead State, so he has experience in regard to being on the practice floor and recruiting. So I'm very comfortable and confident he'll do a good job."
Ty Proffitt, who played for Tyndall at Morehead, has been elevated from graduate assistant to fill Braden’s role as video coordinator.
Richardson is no stranger to distractions. He was part of last year’s team that saw nearly 4,000 people sign an in-season petition requesting that former Vol coach Bruce Pearl be rehired if Cuonzo Martin was fired.
“Yeah,” the player said, “you can just put it in the distraction box at this point.”
Still, Richardson admitted that Adam Howard, who worked with Vol guards, was an integral part of the program.
“We all miss Coach Howard,” he said, “but we’re just going to have to move on.”
When questioned about the departure of Howard, who worked with Tyndall his last two years at Morehead State and both years at Southern Miss, Tyndall asked to change the subject and talk about the Orlando Classic.
Prior to his departure, Howard spoke about the new dormitory going up on campus at Tennessee, the relationships with coaches from other sports, the meaning behind having large crowds at Thompson-Boling Arena and more:
Adam Howard speaks 1-on-1 with InsideTennessee