Editorial: Success at last

Vol men’s team on a roll, with a major test coming tonight
Feb. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The resurgence of the Tennessee men’s basketball team has been wonderful to watch and experience, even as fans. It’s likely that those who were becoming doubters, who began to use of all manner of social media and talk radio to question Coach Cuonzo Martin. The amount of patience found in the average sports fan often is not enough to measure.

Now the Vols are on a roll at just the right time. The team has won five in a row, capped by that marvelous four-overtime classic win against Texas A&M on Saturday in College Station. What a remarkable game, the longest in Tennessee men’s basketball history. Making the NCAA tournament may remain a longshot, but Coach Martin will keep the team striving for that, even if it seems elusive.

So why the success of late? It can’t be easy to coach young men of this age, high school stars who arrive on campus as celebrated athletes. Molding them into the image you as a coach want is a challenge for the best of them. Martin proved his skills last season, showing he had the leadership to be a successful coach.

In these days of instant gratification and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? mentality, it is difficult for a coach to win over the hearts and minds of the fan base and keep that loyalty no matter what happens. Still, Tennessee has the right guy making such an attempt. The team listens to him, works hard to perfect his system and adopt his philosophy.

It didn’t help that the Vols lost Jeronne Maymon for the season, or that Trae Golden was hampered by a nagging injury for much of the year. The team stumbled and sputtered. Now things are going their way. However, in fairness we’ll find out tonight how far they have come. Florida comes to town for a nationally televised game. Florida has been projected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but the Gators have to play the Vols in Thompson-Boling Arena, a tough location for any team.

The place will be packed. The student section will be loud and boisterous. It will be fun.

This is the major test in the Vols’ successful run of late. A win has to put them at least on the bubble for a spot in the NCAA tourney, provided they have a good conference tournament. Once again, it’s a fun time to be a member of the Vol Nation.