Despite faltering late in the NIT against Middle Tennessee State on Monday, Cuonzo Martin's Tennessee Volunteers have plenty to be excited about as they look forward to the 2012-13 season.
The expectations were low on Rocky Top this season, as the Vols were projected during the preseason to finish 11th in the SEC. However, they more than defied their critics, going 10-6 in SEC play and finishing second in the conference.
A No. 1 seed in the NIT may have been a letdown after Tennessee's hot finish to the regular season inspired Big Dance hopes, but it was better than what was expected from a team that lost four starters in the offseason.
Sophomore Trae Golden and junior power forward Jeronne Maymon stepped in to lead the Vols as they averaged 13.7 and 12.6 points per game, respectively. They both averaged less than three points per game in 2010-11.
Maymon even earned second-team All-SEC honors.
Five-star recruit Jarnell Stokes gave the Vols a boost when he enrolled in January and earned his way into the starting lineup, pumping up the fanbase and injecting excitement into the team.
So, what reasons do the Rocky Top rowdies have to be pumped about the 2012-13 season?