Chris Dortch


Duke is No. 1 in Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook’s Preseason Top 25

Notre Dame vs Duke.  Notre Dame won 95-91.  Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Durham, NC.  January 16, 2016.

(Jon Gardiner/Duke Photography)

Duke has been chosen Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook’s preseason No. 1 team for the sixth time in the publication’s 36-year history. The Blue Devils, who were also selected No. 1 in college basketball’s “bible” in 1991-92, 1998-99, 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2010-11, were a solid choice for the top spot by Blue Ribbon’s editors and writers whose opinions and votes combine to put together the Top 25. Oregon was No. 2, Kansas No. 3, Kentucky No. 3 and defending national champions Villanova. No. 5. The Wildcats have appeared somewhere inRead More

Have Vols transformed into ball-hawking defensive team?

KNOXVILLE,TN - JANUARY 06, 2016 -  bb during the game between the Florida Gators and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

The 14,000 or so fans who turned up at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night and an ESPN2 audience witnessed a transformation of Tennessee’s basketball team. Will it last? Only time will give us the answer to that question, but in talking to coach Rick Barnes and his staff after the Vols’ surprising 83-69 destruction of Florida, it appears that a page has been turned in the development of this team, and lest anyone try to turn that page back, there now exists one compelling reminder, a stunning game tape, thatRead More

One shot speaks volumes for Vols in win over ETSU

Dec 22, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Detrick Mostella (15) dribbles against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers during the game at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

One shot spoke volumes about the state of Tennessee’s basketball team as the Vols held off a determined instate mid-major on Tuesday night in a situation coaches dread—the pre-Christmas trap game. The last game before a team embarks on a break for the holidays is scary enough, given the commonly held belief that players might be thinking ahead to a little rest and relaxation at home and not focused on the task at hand. Throw in the fact the opponent was East Tennessee State—a team that has come into Thompson-BolingRead More

Transfer of McGhee gives Vols a chance to add size to frontcourt

KNOXVILLE,TN - NOVEMBER 16, 2015 - Forward Jabari McGhee #21 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

Last year during his aborted freshman season, Tennessee forward Jabari McGhee was listed somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-foot-7 or 6-8. Before the current season began, McGhee had somehow shrunk. New Tennessee coach Rick Barnes doesn’t want the heights and weights of his players inflated. And when it was revealed that McGhee, once thought to be a potentially useful power forward, was just 6-5, that might have foreshadowed the announcement that came late Tuesday night. The redshirt freshman, who played in just nine games a year ago before breaking aRead More

Tennessee recruiting class shores up point guard position

KNOXVILLE,TN - NOVEMBER 19, 2015 -  Tennessee Volunteers Head Coach Rick Barnes and Guard Kevin Punter #0 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Marshall Thundering Herd and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Andrew Bruckse/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes has said many times this season that his team will have to fight and scrap for every win. Anyone who’s seen all four of the 3-1 Vols’ games would agree with that assessment. The reason the Vols can’t just show up and overpower any opponent is twofold: One, the lack of an experienced, mobile post player who can get easy baskets and defend the rim. And two, the lack of a pure point guard that can make teammates better with court awareness, blow-by quickness andRead More

Here’s what to look for in Rick Barnes’ first season at Tennessee

KNOXVILLE,TN - NOVEMBER 06, 2015 -  Tennessee Volunteers Head Coach Rick Barnes during the exhibition game between the Alabama Huntsville Chargers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

Making predictions about how Tennessee’s basketball team might fare in Rick Barnes’ first season as coach is a risky proposition, given the small sample size of its work against outside competition. Basically, all we’ve got to go on is a closed scrimmage against Davidson from which few stats have emerged, and a slugfest against an outmanned Division II team that nevertheless managed to ring up 83 points and 51.5 percent second-half shooting against the Vols. Barnes isn’t going to settle for the 43.8 shooting his team surrendered against Alabama-Huntsville. HisRead More

Vols turn to Canadian connection to fortify frontcourt

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes works with young big men Kyle Alexander (11) and Ray Kasongo (2). (Tennessee

Length has been one of college basketball’s buzzwords the last few years, referring not necessarily just to height, but wingspan, all the better to close off passing lanes, block shots and keep quicker offensive players from getting where they want to go on the floor. So length is good, but tack a little modifier in front of it, and it’s even better. Athletic length. Not since the days of Isiah Victor and Marcus Haislip—both in the vicinity of 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds—about 15 years ago has Tennessee’s basketball program hadRead More

How Rick Barnes learned to love transition basketball

Armani Moore and Rick Barnes

Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes looked like a college professor as he stood, remote control in hand, in front of the giant screen in the Vols’ film room on Monday. He was there to show the media the way his team will play this season, on both ends of the floor. But for more than an hour, Barnes concentrated on offense, to the exclusion of defense, which, in winning everywhere he’s been in a 27-year career as a head coach, had been his calling card. The 61-year-old Barnes hasn’t forsakenRead More

Blue Ribbon picks Dunn as national POY, Simmons as top newcomer

Seton Hall Providence Basketball

Providence guard Kris Dunn has been chosen by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook as its preseason national player of the year. Also in its 35th anniversary edition, Blue Ribbon picked LSU freshman Ben Simmons as its national newcomer of the year. The 6-foot-4 Dunn racked up impressive numbers last season (15.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 7.5 apg, 2.7 spg) and gives Providence an opportunity to continue winning in what coach Ed Cooley called a “semi-rebuilding” situation for a team that has made the NCAA tournament field the last two years. “EveryRead More

Kentucky again tops Blue Ribbon’s preseason Top 25


Kentucky tops Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook’s preseason Top 25 poll for the second consecutive season. The Wildcats, reloaded again by coach John Calipari and his staff with another top recruiting class to join holdovers Alex Poythress, Marcus Lee and Tyler Ulis, will try to pick up where they left off last season, when they won their first 38 games before falling to Wisconsin in the Final Four. That team was gutted by the NBA Draft, including No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, but the Wildcats have been stocked forRead More