Tyndall's First Week on Rocky Top
To say that new coach Donnie Tyndall has had a rough first week at the University of Tennessee would be an understatement. After two weeks at the University, it is going to be an uphill battle to win back the fans to the Hill.
Many of the Rocky Top faithful were left in dismay with the departure of Coach Cuonzo Martin, but not completely surprised. Donnie Tyndall was hired a week later to try and maintain a program that is now an upper half program in the SEC after years of struggling under the leadership of O'Neal and Peterson. The challenge is there but not insurmountable.
However, in the first day of Martin's departure, the Vols lost Okoroh, a 7 foot JuCo transfer, to the Golden Bears. This is to be expected though as many recruits follow their coaches after they change jobs. The unexpected came later. Tennessee's once top 30 recruiting class no longer existed by the end of the week. All of the Tennessee basketball commitments requested and were granted releases from the LOI by the University after the hiring of Tyndall. This left Tennessee in a bit of a hole.
Enter the return of Junior College recruiting. Jabari McGhee and Kevin Punter both enter the University of Tennessee with two years to play. Recruiting for next season in May is tough to accomplish and Tyndall has done a good job trying to find players that fit his scheme that can come in and play right away. The challenge then remains of keeping the core of what was left of the team in orange.
The last two days have been tumultuous for Tyndal. Darrius Thompson and AJ Davis have both asked for and been granted a release from the University of Tennessee seeking transfers to new schools on Monday. Today, rumors are swirling that Robert Hubbs III and Josh Richardson are both considering seeking the same release from the school. This would be in addition to losing Jordan McRae, Antonio Barton and Jerronne Maymon to graduation as well as Jarnell Stokes to the NBA Draft.
If Hubbs and Richardson leave, that leaves Armani Moore as the top returning scorer for the University of Tennessee. Moore averaged 3.1 points per game last season. It also means nine players from the University of Tennessee basketball team will need to be replaced by Tyndall.
Tyndall is in for a rocky first season on the Hill. How he and his team handle it will go very far in how he is viewed by the fans of the University. A fan base that has already made its voice heard in the past with Phillip Fulmer, Derek Dooley, and most recently Cuonzo Martin. Members of this fan base have already created a site devoted to Tyndall being fired. Proceed with caution Coach Tyndall as it is going to be a bumpy ride.