Unselfish acts

After losing selfishly in some years past, Tennessee's Basketball Vols are winning unselfishly in 2005-06. Instead of one or two guys taking all of the shots, scoring all of the points and hogging all of the glory, the Vols are sharing the ball and smiling at game's end.

Asked recently what has been the most significant development in Tennessee's 9-1 start, sophomore guard JaJuan Smith replied: "I'd say it's sharing the ball. We're giving up the first open look to get the next man the shot."

Junior forward Dane Bradshaw offered similar comments.

"The consistency and unselfishness has really come along," he said. "We're getting better and better each game."

Bradshaw, who is averaging four assists per game, says this Vol squad is remarkably unselfish. That's how the team managed to register a season-high 29 assists in last Wednesday's 87-69 blowout of South Alabama. Basically, UT's success can be traced to everyone's willingness to give up the ball to someone who has a better shot.

"It gets kind of contagious, once the ball starts moving and people are knocking down open shots," Bradshaw said. "It's all about knocking down open shots."

Bradshaw believes teamwork and unselfishness were key factors as the Vols beat nine of their 10 pre-conference foes, including nationally ranked Texas. As a result, they're dreaming of the program's first NCAA Tournament bid in five years as they prepare to begin SEC play Sunday at South Carolina.

"We took care of our (season's) first half, which was to have a really good non-conference record," Bradshaw said. "We won some games we weren't supposed to, like Texas."

The Vols have one non-conference game remaining. They'll visit Memphis Jan. 18, right between SEC showdowns against LSU and Florida. Because Tennessee already has a "quality win" against Texas, though, the Memphis game isn't as crucial as it might have been.

"With Memphis left, it's more of an opportunity," Bradshaw said. "It wouldn't hurt us if we lost. We've taken care of the games we're supposed to win, so nothing in our past can hurt us when it comes down to selection time."

All the Vols must do now is win their fair share of SEC games, starting with Sunday's showdown in Columbia.


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