What is the best way to describe the 2019-20 Vols? A rollercoaster comes to mind, but then I think how much fun I have on rollercoasters, and this season wasn’t “fun.” Sure, beating Kentucky in Rupp Arena is always fun.
But, can you name another fun game?
Tennessee only has two wins over lock teams for the NCAA Tournament. The other win being Florida.
But, didn’t always seem like Mike White was going to lay an egg? As Vol fans, we get frustrated with Rick Barnes, but I would hate being a Florida fan. Last season, I put Mike White on the hot seat and I don’t think he did anything this season to keep his job.
So, again this season hasn’t been much fun.
And, I haven’t even mentioned Lamonte Turner’s injury or the NCAA playing chicken with Uros eligibility, Oh, and we can’t forget about Rick Barnes blaming John Fulkerson, the best player on the team, for a loss in a career outing.
Like many of you know, I love stats. I thought I would try to find some positives to the season before we turn the page to football. Here are some numbers that I found interesting to describe the 2019-20 Tennessee basketball season.
highest pace game the Vols played all season. Surprisingly that game was the 56-55 home win over South Carolina. According to KenPom, pace is measured by possessions per 40 minutes. Interesting to note, the Vols played eleven games with a pace 68 or higher. Their record was 9-2 with good wins over Alabama, Kentucky, and Arkansas.
You have to wonder why the Vols didn’t speed up play in other games.
percent of 2-point shots John Fulkerson made during his junior campaign. Fulkerson, who should be an All-SEC Second-Teamer, ranked 11th in the nation with his 2-point shooting percentage. For comparison purposes, Grant Williams shot 59.6% a season ago.
Fulkerson’s shot is ugly, yet so smooth and pretty at the same time. I give him all the credit in the world for developing a jumper that can’t be blocked. He made it work, and work well.
percent from the 3-point line was former five-star Josiah Jordan-James in SEC play. His 42.6 percent ranks 4th in the conference. However, he should have taken more. Jalen Johnson attempted two more threes than James, making only 32.7% of his attempts.
In fact, Yves Pons took 47 three-point attempts during conference play.
games in a row where junior forward Yves Pons recorded a block. Pons finished 3rd in conference play with a block percentage of 7.8, only behind Austin Wiley (6-foot-11) and Abdul Ado (6-foot-11). Moreover, Pons had at least three or more blocks in 15 games.
Pons career-high for blocks in a single game came against Jacksonville State when he accounted for six.
turnover rate for freshman Olivier Nkamhoua. Turnover rate is calculated by the number of personal possessions used on a turnover. KenPom goes on to explain, “players that do little passing or dribbling will have an artificially deflated turnover rate.”
By that reasoning, it’s even more alarming Nkamhoua leads the team. If you only consider SEC play, his turnover rate jumps from 29.5 to 37.1.
is the assist rate that point guard Santiago Vescovi finished his freshman campaign with in SEC play. That rate was good enough to rank 7th in the league. If you compare him with other recent freshman guards, here is how he shakes out:
Ashton Hagans – 28.2
Jordan Bone – 27.0
Ben Simmons – 26.9
Tyler Ulis – 25.8
games where the Vols shot 50% or under from inside the 3-point line. In those games, Tennessee went 6-10.
times Tennessee won the offensive rebounding battle, but that didn’t always equate to wins. In those 12 games, the Vols went 6-6, and four of those wins came against UNC Asheville, Chattanooga, Florida A&M, and Alabama State.
games the Vols allowed opponents to take at least 40% of their shot attempts from deep. Tennessee went 6-5 in those games.
One of the big talking points last season was Tennessee’s inability to guard the three-point line. While it wasn’t great, I always argued the Vols’ interior defense was so good that more teams had to settle for threes.
Last season displayed 17 games where opponents attempted at least 40% of their shots from three. In those games, the Vols were 14-3.
games where Uros Plavsic registered more fouls than rebounds. I’m certainly not knocking Uros; teams need those types of players, I think.
Furthermore, Uros accounted for more fouls than points in seven games.
times the Vols attempted 50% of their shots from the three-point line. They were 2-1 in those games with wins over South Carolina and Missouri. However, they dropped the Florida State game 60-57.
As much as this team struggled to shoot the basketball in most games, in at least three games against decent opponents, it appears shooting more threes helped.
NCAA tournament bids in year five of the Rick Barnes era.
It should be noted that zero is also the number of timeouts that Barnes likes to use when opponents go on 18-0 runs.