The View From 217

The announced crowd at Thompson-Bolling Arena yesterday was 13,042. But here is the quote from the Knoxville paper: "Jonathan Hargett, the freshman point guard Tennessee tried to sign a year ago, drilled a 3-point shot with 4.2 seconds to play, lifting the Mountaineers to a 74-72 win before a crowd of about 7,000 at Thompson-Boling Arena."

My opinion is that 7,000 was closer to actual than the announced figure. Interest here in basketball is abysmal. The sports bar in the Hyatt had a listing of the sporting events on a calendar in the front door of the bar, and Saturday's game with WVU wasn't listed. And while there were large poster sized football and NASCAR schedules, no basketball schedule could be seen.

When we were leaving a different restaurant, one hour before the game, the hostess asked us why we were leaving so soon. When we informed her we were going to the game, she replied: "What game?".

We drove from downtown to the arena exactly sixty minutes before tip-off. Not only was there nobody directing traffic at the light on the street directly in front of the arena, there was not one needed. In fact, had there been a constable around, we would probably have gotten a speeding ticket right in front of the bulding. Ever sped in front of the "Big Mushroom" an hour before tip-off?

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After the first TV timeout the PA announcer invited all those sitting in the upper level to come down to the lower deck, as plenty of seats were available. I could plainly see people getting seats at mid-court ten or fifteen rows from the floor. Wow.

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WVU needs more production from the center position, or it will be a long year. Tennessee's best weapon yesterday, Ron Slay, was saddled with four fouls with 7:26 remaining in the game, but never left the game, and was in no serious trouble of committing his fifth because he didn't have to guard anyone.

John Oliver had five fouls, no rebounds, and one point, but played respectable defense. Ales Chan got five minutes off the bench on Saturday. He was credited with one blocked shot and two fouls in five minutes, but he had two blocked shots on one play, and clearly influenced shots around him while he was in. One of his fouls was picked up while banging on the blocks with Marcus Haislip. Haislip was trying to push him under the hoop, and Big Al was having none of it. And winning the battle, until the zebra stepped in.

Chris Garnett, on the other hand, didn't look ready for prime time. He was inserted into the game in the first half when Chris Moss picked up his second, rebounded a missed free throw, promptly turned the ball over and committed a foul that led to a three point play, cutting the first half lead to two. He was never seen on the floor again. Hopefully this was just a bad spot for him, because WVU really needs his presence on the floor.

If you are keeping score at home, that is on rebound, eight fouls, five assists, two blocks and one point out of the center position. Yo.

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Tennessee has a beautiful campus. They have a tremendous selection of UT items in several stores around town. Their basketball arena is top notch. They have better locker rooms, better parking, better scoreboards and better video boards than the Coliseum in Morgantown. What they don't have is a win over WVU in 2001.

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