I wrote this article back in February of 2008 the day after Tennessee knocked off #1 ranked Memphis, and assumed the #1 spot in both the coaches, and AP polls. I thought it a fitting tribute to the legacy left behind by Coach Bruce Pearl...it goes as a tribute to all Pearl accomplished in his tenure as the floor general for the mighty Vols and showed the Big Orange nation that Tennessee Basketball could be relevant on the national stage.
Coach Pearl, you will be missed by all fans and I we wish you nothing but the best. Thank you for all you contributed to Tennessee Basketball, and the East Tennessee community both on and off the court. I was proud to call you "coach."
ALL ALONE AT THE TOP
On a night when Chris Lofton played only 27 minutes, and hit only 2 field goals, neither of them treys;
On a night JaJuan Smith played only 27 minutes and scored only 9 points;
On a night when Tennessee had more turnovers than their opponent;
On a night when Tennessee was playing in the most hostile environment it may have ever seen;
On a night when the pressure was undoubtedly greater than it's ever been;
On a night when Memphis was shooting for 48 straight home wins;
On a night when Memphis was shooting for 27 wins in a row;
On a night when Tennessee hit only 6 three pointers, and Memphis hit eight in the first half;
On a night when everyone was talking about the elusive undefeated season in store for Memphis;
On a night when Memphis had 5 more steals than Tennessee;
On a night when Memphis blocked 9 shots and Tennessee blocked only 3;
On a night when Tennessee turned the ball over more than it's opponent;
On a night when the world was watching;
On a late, star filled February night at Fed Ex Forum against the number one ranked and undefeated Memphis Tigers on their own home court;
On a night when most people thought it was all too much for Tennessee to overcome...
Tennessee showed the whole country that they could beat anybody.
Tennessee showed they could do it even if Chris [Lofton] had a bad shooting night;
Tennessee showed resolve.
Tennessee hit crucial free throws down the stretch.
Tennessee showed grit;
Tennessee showed heart;
Tennessee showed pride;
Tennessee showed determination.
Tennessee stood tall;
The Vols painted a solid blue city orange.
The Vols painted the whole state orange.
Tennessee had done what no other team could do on Memphis' home court since 2006;
Tennessee did what no other team has been able to do this season;
Tennessee showed that the city of Memphis, is still in the state of Tennessee. Tennessee won.
When I woke up yesterday morning, Tennessee was the 2nd best team in the country. When I went to bed last night, Tennessee was the number 1 ranked team in the country.
On a beautiful Tennessee night in late February, there were no Blue Devils. There were no Tar Heels. There were no Jayhawks. There were no Bruins.
There were only Volunteers. Clad in orange, they were all alone. For the first time. At the top.