Lofton's lofty goal

Winning recognition as the UT Daily Beacon's Male Athlete of the Year may not be particularly newsworthy. But the comments of the winner are quite newsworthy.

Shooting guard Chris Lofton, who drained a school-record 114 shots from 3-point range in helping the Basketball Vols win 22 of 30 games and the SEC East title last winter, told The Beacon he merely had an "okay" year.

And, although Tennessee far exceeded expectations in 2005-06, Lofton wasn't satisfied with that, either. A second-round loss in the NCAA Tournament left a bad taste in his mouth.

"We worked hard this year," Lofton told The Beacon, "but we didn't end up the way we want to. We have to work even harder to get to where we want to be."

And where the Vols want to be may startle long-time UT hoops fans.

"I want to be in the Final Four and win a title," said Lofton, who has two seasons of eligibility left to make that dream a reality.

Apparently, his teammates have their eyes on the same prize.

"Everybody here is talking about going to the Final Four," guard Jordan Howell said. "We really believe that."

This time last year the Vols were just hoping new coach Bruce Pearl could lead them to a winning season. Now they're EXPECTING him to lead them to the Final Four.

That's quite a jump in expectations, huh?

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