G10. It’s a ramp in a parking garage that Tennessee head basketball coach Rick Barnes used to instill “it” into his team. After a Vols loss in the 2017 SEC tournament ended their season at 16-16, Barnes felt his team just didn’t have “it.” After G10, Tennessee has it.
The Vols are now the No. 1 ranked college basketball team in the nation and have been for the past three weeks. Barnes and Tennessee beat Missouri 72-60 on Tuesday night for their 17th straight win. The Vols are now 21-1 and almost a lock for a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. It all started with Barnes and G10.
Texas’s Loss, Tennessee’s Gain Barnes has put up 20-plus-win seasons at five different schools – George Mason, Providence, Clemson, Texas, and Tennessee. None of the five schools are what you would call “basketball” schools. After 17 years, 402 victories, and 16 trips to the NCAA tournament, Texas tired of Barnes and fired him after a 20-14 season in 2014-15.
Barnes already had the Tennessee job when he went to his final press conference as the Longhorns coach. Barnes knew better than to trust an athletic program that fired its national championship-winning head football coach – Mack Brown. What Texas lost, Tennessee gained though it wasn’t all candy canes and roses to start.
.500 + G10 = Winner Barnes and the Vols went 15-19 in 2015-16 and followed that up with the 16-16 season. It was after that season that Barnes realized he just didn’t have a very tough team. To instill that element of toughness, he had Tennessee strength coach Garrett Medenwald take Vols’ players to a nearby parking garage. There, players would run up the G10 ramp over and over. For weeks after the 2016-17 season, Tennessee players never dribbled a basketball. It would pay off.
2017-18 A Program on the Rise In the Battle 4 Atlantis early season tournament, Tennessee beat Purdue and North Carolina State, both very good programs. The Vols would lose but play very well, to eventual national champion Villanova. Barnes and company would go on a 13-2 late-season run and nail down an SEC co-championship and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Grant Williams, one of the Vols’ stars, would earn the SEC Player of the Year award. Tennessee would eventually fall victim to the Cinderella run by Loyola-Chicago in last year’s tournament. Still, the foundation was laid for success.
In the Present Williams averages 20.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game and is the favorite to win a second consecutive SEC Player of the Year award. Admiral Schofield, a 6-6 senior guard, averages 16.6 points and 6.3 rebounds. The pair is one of the big reasons for Tennessee’s success.
The Vols’ lone loss this season was to Kansas, 87-81 when the Jayhawks were ranked second in the nation. Tennessee has impressive wins over a then-No. 1 Gonzaga (76-73) and the Big 12’s West Virginia, 83-66. Barnes and the Vols will face the meat of their schedule over the next few weeks. Tennessee will face No. 5 Kentucky twice and No. 21 LSU on the road. Don’t bet against Barnes. He has proven he can win anywhere, even at Tennessee.