Did notoriety hurt Hoop Vols?

Apparently, the Vol basketball team suffers from ADD ... Attention Defeat Disorder. If the Big Orange gets too much attention, it suffers a string of defeats.

When the Vols capped a recent six-game winning streak by knocking off fourth-ranked Florida, they became national celebrities. Seemingly unnerved by their newfound notoriety, they responded by losing consecutive games to South Carolina, Alabama and Kentucky.

In retrospect, the attention brought about by the defeat of Florida may have been a distraction.

''If we'd lost to Florida and beaten Alabama we wouldn't have gotten near as much attention ... but we'd have the same record,'' head coach Buzz Peterson said recently. ''We got SO much attention ... ''

The Vols got so much attention that they apparently forgot the things that vaulted them onto the national stage in the first place — crispness on offense, hustle on defense and teamwork in all phases of play.

As Peterson mused: ''All summer, I will look back on this past week and wonder, 'What if (Dick) Vitale's people didn't name us Team of the Week? What if (Ron) Slay hadn't been SEC Player of the Week back-to-back? What if he hadn't been National Player of the Week in two (Internet) services? What if we hadn't been talked about on ESPN?''

Although the Vols played reasonably well in Wednesday night's loss at Kentucky, you have to wonder if their three-game losing streak can be traced in part to their inability to handle the national spotlight.

''Thaydeus Holden had never seen that before,'' Peterson said. ''C.J. Watson had never seen that before. Ron is a really good player but he had never received that much attention.

''We all got a lot of notoriety. How did we handle it? My first impression is, we didn't handle it well at all.''

Inside Tennessee Top Stories