- Tennessee Volunteers - January 24, 2017 - 9:00 PM EST - Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn. - ESPN
I went to Mass this morning and had a chance to reflect on where we have come from this season, what we have been through and where we are right now.
I believe in this team if our players will compete and battle, which they have the ability to do. I’ll say this again: Confidence is from within. It’s developed through hard work and demonstrated performance during games. They have showed it in spurts this year, but no one is going to give us anything. We are going to have to earn it and fight for it, which I believe we can do.
With all that we’ve been through this season – from Ryan being out early in the season, to Willie missing two weeks, to inconsistent individual play, to having young guys learn how to play at this level and at this stage, to now Nerlens being out – why wouldn’t we fight back when we’ve battled so hard all year to put ourselves in a position where we can still do some special things?
Make no mistake about it, we are still in a great position to do whatever we want to do. We can still write our own story.
The only way to do that is to fight back, to fight our way out of this. We can blame whoever we want to – fate, luck, whoever – or we can take it upon ourselves to choose our own path and fight our way back. If we don’t fight, we don’t have a shot.
I refuse to believe they don’t have the fight in them to do this. I refuse to believe they aren’t coachable. I refuse to believe either one of those because we’ve got good kids.
There has to be a reason why guys are walking out of timeouts and not doing what they are supposed to. I may say publicly they are “uncoachable,” but I refuse to believe that because I believe in these guys and I believe they can change. I say it to get them to change, to prove to themselves and others that they can do this.
I’ve had teams get beat like we did yesterday that came back a little mad, a little ticked off and said they weren’t going to let that happen again. They didn’t win every game, but they didn’t let something like that happen again. Are we really going to let go of the rope after one loss like that? It is just one game.
This comes back to, you either take the fight to them or they take the fight to you. Historically my teams have always taken the fight to the other team. Our job now, as a coaching staff, is to get our guys to believe in that and do it again.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that I shared with the guys today: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
With that quote, I asked the guys, “How will we be measured? Fight and battle every possession and that will show who we are.”
No life raft is going to be thrown at us. We’ve got to swim back because this is going to be hard. But if we want it, it’s still there for us. Now let’s go get it.
Let’s do everything we can to take care of our kids