Basketball's booming

All of those people who have been saying Tennessee is a football school whose fan base won't support basketball might want to bite their tongues. They're wrong. Dead wrong.

Exhibit A: The Vols' average home attendance zoomed from 12,225 per game in 2004-05 to 17,954 in 2005-06.

Exhibit B: Registration is way up for the summer camps conducted by second-year basketball coach Bruce Pearl and his staff.

Exhibit C: The Vol basketball awards banquet was a hard sellout.

Obviously, winning 22 games and the SEC East title last winter was good for business.

"Oh, it's definitely good for business," assistant head coach Tony Jones said this week. "Our camps are booming. A couple of them are sold out. The team camp has doubled."

Jones anticipated the 2006 camps would outdraw the 2005 camps but he never expected the growth would be quite so dramatic.

"The numbers are out the roof," he said. "We're turning people away because we don't want it to be too crowded."

Jones wasn't even aware that Friday night's awards banquet had sold out well in advance. When informed of this, he broke into a huge grin.

"Wow!" he said. "That's great."

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