By: Dallas Bowlin
Senior Staff Writer/
The All Vol Call In Show
The conclusion of the 2022-2023 Tennessee basketball season has left the Volunteer faithful with an all too familiar bitter aftertaste. Before being eliminated by a team that would eventually reach the final four, the ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic Owls, Tennessee had just defeated legendary blue-blood Duke, holding them to their lowest point total in NCAA Tournament history.
The question now becomes, what is next for Tennessee basketball? What will the team look like next year? Take a look at my Tennessee basketball offseason wish list for 2023-2024:
Veteran experience -
Tennessee will be extremely young for the 23-24 season due to the loss of seniors Santiago Vesocvi, Josiah-Jordan James, Uros Plavsic, Tyreke Key, and Olivier Nkamhou, so finding some extra veteran experience in the transfer portal can only be viewed positively.
The loss of Santiago Vescovi, arguably the best shooter for the Vols since Chris Lofton, will be difficult to replace entirely, but finding some consistent perimeter shooters in the portal will be required if the Vols hope to "contend" in the SEC.
Post scoring -
The emergence of freshman Tobe Awaka was huge, Jonas Aidoo continued to show promise, and the Vols are bringing in two highly touted four-star prospects in Cade Phillips and JP Estrella. However, Aidoo is more of a defensive anchor with a developing offensive game, Awaka is a rebounding machine with a developing offensive game, and relying on freshman post players to score is a risky game. Finding a capable post-scorer would be extremely beneficial for Tennessee.
Slight coaching style tweaks-
Rick Barnes is a near-lock for the coaching hall of fame at this point in his career and has most likely forgotten more about the game of basketball than I or anyone in the fanbase will ever know, so suggesting he "change some things up" seems silly. However, the game is constantly evolving, with the rise of analytical sites such as KenPom and Evan Miya, among others, influencing how coaches coach.
For starters, when you have a veteran player (especially a guard) with two early first-half fouls, you have to start trusting them to continue playing and not pick up a third foul. You are simply fouling them out by sitting them early yourself.
This second and final one is similar to the first, but Coach Barnes needs to relax his grip on the players' leashes a little and just let them play. We've seen a lot of players come to Tennessee and completely change their playstyle to fit the offense, and the majority of the time, those changes negate what made them special in the first place. I'm not advocating isolation basketball, nor am I advocating the Alabama brand of basketball, in which you just chuck up countless three-pointers, but I am advocating for a little more offensive freedom.
Obviously, these are just my opinions. Be sure to sound off and post a wish list of your own in the comments or on our social media pages.
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