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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“So, who are your top choices for the Lady Vols to replace Holly?” – Martin
Nathanael: My top choice is Becky Hammon with the San Antonio Spurs. But she’s kinda my Jon Gruden for the Lady Vols, meaning it’s never going to happen no matter how much anyone wants it to. So realistically, I’d say Jeff Walz at Louisville. If I’m Tennessee, I at least make calls to Kim Mulkey at Baylor or Dawn Staley at South Carolina, but neither of those two are going to happen either. If Walz can’t be hired because of his buyout and contract, then Matthew Mitchell at Kentucky is another good choice.
Ben: The first person I’m calling is Becky Hammon and the second person I’m calling is Dawn Staley. I don’t believe Tennessee will be able to hire either because Hammon is on the verge of becoming the first ever woman to coach an NBA team and Staley has South Carolina absolutely rolling.
After those two, I call Louisville’s Jeff Walz, who has been wildly successful having reached three final fours. If Walz were to say no, other names I would contact would be Brenda Frese at Maryland and Niele Ivey at Notre Dame.
“Haven’t done a lot of research, but wondering….do you think we have a fighting chance to see Grant Williams return for his senior season?” – Josh
Nathanael: They definitely have a fighting chance, yes. I actually am leaning towards Williams staying next season. I’m feeling less optimistic about Jordan Bone returning for his senior year, but I’m thinking there’s at least a pretty decent chance that Williams returns and competes for a third SEC Player of the Year award.
Ben: Absolutely. Now Grant Williams has been projected as a late first round pick by multiple mock drafts, but I truly believe he loves being in college and being apart of the Tennessee culture. Plus, the Vols have the chance to be really good next year with Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bone, and Jordan Bowden all being senior guards.
“How do you think lamonte Turner will handle his defensive assignment against Purdue?” – @JEDTHEPHISHHHH
Nathanael: I think he’ll do okay, but my worry about this game is that Turner isn’t always going to be the one to guard him. Edwards is so quick and moves around the court a ton that Turner isn’t always going to be the one matched up on him when the Boilermakers are running, moving the ball well, setting screens, and kicking it back out to the perimeter after drives to the paint. I think Turner will do well when he’s on him, but I have a feeling he’s not going to be on him as much as people are anticipating.
Ben: Exceptionally. That’s why I expect Tennessee to win. Lamonte Turner is at his best when he is locked in on the defensive end and not worried about his offensive game. He won’t completely shutdown Carsen Edwards because the Purdue star is an exceptional scorer, but Edwards won’t have anything close to a career day.
Lamonte Turner is a pit bull that Edwards hasn’t faced all season long.
“Will Admiral even play tomorrow or is he too much of a team player?” – Jeremy
Nathanael: I know this comment was made tongue in cheek, but I do think it’s worth talking about Admiral’s actions at the end of the Iowa game and how it might affect things against Purdue.
I don’t think it’s going to affect things. This whole situation is being overblown.
“The running back room seems to be filled with talent this year, do you see Tennessee’s run game being improved?” – @streets_weeper
Nathanael: I really like UT’s group of running backs heading into the fall, but as we saw last season, that doesn’t mean a hill of beans if the offensive line can’t open up holes for them. Barry Sanders would’ve struggled to average four yards a carry in most games last season with the way the Vols’ offensive line performed. I do, however, think the line will be better this year (it can’t get much worse), and that will translate to the run game improving, too.
Ben: All depends on the offensive line. I thought last year’s group of Ty Chandler, Tim Jordan, Madre London, and Jeremy Banks were good enough to be productive, but because of poor O-line play, it didn’t materialize. I think it will this year with the offensive line being more talented and the players I mentioned having another year under their belt. Plus, Eric Gray has the potential to be special and bring something to the room that wasn’t there last season. He’s a shifty back that can make guys miss.