Slay snub should help Vols

Unwittingly, the Atlanta Tipoff Club probably clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the Tennessee Vols ... by insulting Ron Slay.

The ATC recently announced four Southeastern Conference players among 20 finalists for the annual James Naismith Award but Slay was not among them. This is a major snub, since Slay was SEC Player of the Week each of the past two weeks and National Player of the Week last week, according to espn.com and foxsports.com. Oh, yeah, he's leading the league in scoring at 21 points per game and is emerging as a serious candidate for All-America honors.

So, what happens when Slay feels snubbed?

Well, Georgia head man Jim Harrick snubbed Slay earlier this year by omitting him from a list of the top five players in the SEC. Slay responded by posting his two highest scoring outputs in league play -- 33 and 29 points -- against Harrick's Bulldogs.

Instead of Slay, the Atlanta Tipoff Club tabbed Kentucky's Keith Bogans, Florida's Matt Bonner, Georgia's Jarvis Hayes and Mississippi State's Mario Austin as candidates for the Naismith Award. All are great players but none is as vital to his team as Slay is to Tennessee, which is 15-7 and closing in on an NCAA tournament bid.

Slay, who didn't even make the midseason checklist for the John Wooden Award (and, as such, is not in the running for that award) should be feeling fully motivated these days. And a fully motivated Slay is bad news for anyone who will be trying to stop him in Tennessee's five remaining regular-season games.

Just ask Jim Harrick.


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