New Vol skipper toasts Pearl, past
Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 3:52 pm
By: UT Sports Information
The Tennessee men’s basketball program held a private team dinner late last week at The Foundry in downtown Knoxville.
The event provided an opportunity to recognize the many highlights the Vols enjoyed on the court and in the classroom this past season and also was a final opportunity to thank and bid farewell to six departing seniors.
Newly-appointed head coach Cuonzo Martin spoke to the student-athletes and their families about the program’s past.
“I want to acknowledge (former coach Bruce) Pearl, his players and his staff,” Martin said. “Over the past six years this has been one of the most successful programs in the country, across the board. The success he brought to this program has been unbelievable.
“I also want to thank the players for the way they’ve embraced my staff and me since we got here. It’s been fun to be around them. They’re wonderful young men who carry themselves the right way. For me, it’s humbling to coach them. We’re looking forward to the future.”
Martin also introduced assistant coaches Tracy Webster, Jon Harris and Kent Williams, along with director of basketball operations Houston Fancher.
“One of the most important things when you’re trying to build a successful program is having the right pieces,” Martin said. “Obviously the players are the bloodline, but you’ve got to have the right staff in place. I think we’ve put together a great staff here.”
Fancher presented senior guard Michael Hubert with the “Burchfield-Moss ‘Most Courageous’ Award.”
The award goes to the Vol who displays the most courage and desire to overcome any obstacle in their way.
It is named after Ricky Burchfield, a young man who was afflicted with leukemia and was “adopted” by the 1969 UT basketball team, and former Vol David Moss, who lost a leg due to cancer in 1975.
Hubert suffered a season-ending knee injury as a junior and successfully battled back from ACL reconstruction surgery in January 2010 to become a valuable contributor on the Vols’ scout team.
Senior guard Josh Bone received the “Lowell Blanchard Award,” which is given to the player who demonstrates the most improvement during the season.
Bone also received the “Academic Hustle Award” Thursday night for displaying tremendous effort toward his academics.
Last summer, senior center John Fields chose to pass on a chance to star during his final season at UNC Wilmington and instead transferred to Tennessee for a chance to experience the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his career.
That decision paid off for the Wilmington, N.C., native, as he played a valuable role for the Vols and got to experience March Madness when UT made its school-record sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
In recognition of his hard work, attitude and dedication during the season, Fields received the “Team Before Self Award.”
Freshman guard Tyler Summitt was honored as the player with the highest GPA.
For his dedication to strength and conditioning, senior point guard Melvin Goins received the “Iron Vol Award” from strength and conditioning coach Troy Wills.
While outgoing Tenn-essee seniors Fields, Hubert and Steven Pearl already have their degrees, Bone, Goins and Brian Williams will join hundreds of thousands of Vol alumni when they take part in UT’s commencement ceremonies next month.
Fields, Hubert and Pearl, along with Summitt and transfer forward Rob Murphy, also were named to the SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll on Thursday. For Pearl, it was his fifth appearance on the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Martin concluded the evening’s program with a few words for UT’s departing seniors.
“Tonight is really about the seniors and what they’ve done for this program,” Martin said. “I want to let you seniors know we’ll support you in whatever way, shape or form we can. We’re all a part of the same family. Anytime you need us, we’ll always be here for you. You guys helped to build this program, and our future teams will carry on what you’ve built.”