Vols' mixed emotions

Mixed emotions is seeing a team you beat twice win the national championship. Just ask Tennessee's Basketball Vols.

They swept Florida during the 2005-06 regular season but lost in Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament, then watched as Billy Donovan's Gators won their way to the college game's ultimate prize.

On the one hand, the Vols feel regret; they know they were good enough to win the game's top honor if they could've played as well in the NCAA Tournament as they did in the two meetings with the Gators.

On the other hand, the Vols feel great; they know they were good enough to beat the best team in the land … not once but twice.

Associate coach Tony Jones believes UT's players and coaches should view their sweep of Florida as a significant stepping stone for the program.

"When Florida's the national champion, and Tennessee's the only school that beat them twice, that speaks volumes," he said. "It speaks volumes for the future."

Assistant coach Jason Shay was happy to see a Southeastern Conference team claim the NCAA crown. He would've preferred it was wearing orange and white, instead of orange and blue, but he still found himself pulling for the Gators.

"I was kinda' rooting for them," Shay said. "But once they won it, it was like ‘Aw, now we've got to put up with that (boasting), being in the same league with them.' I was pulling for LSU to make the title game, too, because they're in the SEC also."

Florida's march to the NCAA top spot surprised many observers but not Shay. He felt entering post-season play that the Gators had a chance to run the table.

"I thought Florida was the most balanced team we played all year," he said, "and that's what made them a difficult team to beat."

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