While we remind you that it's only 36 days until football time in Tennessee, it's also only 112 days until the defending SEC Champions take the floor again at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The 2008-2009 schedule was released today, with times and television to be determined. Remember when the Vols used to play schools you'd never heard of? Not anymore:
2008-09 Tennessee Basketball Schedule
Sat 11/15 - vs UT Chattanooga
Tue 11/18 - vs UT Martin
Fri 11/21 - at Middle Tennessee
Thu 11/27-Sun 11/30 - Old Spice Classic (Orlando)
Gonzaga - Georgetown - Maryland - Michigan State
Oklahoma State - Siena - Tennessee - Wichita State
Wed 12/03 - vs UNC Asheville
Sat 12/13 - at Temple
Tue 12/16 - vs Marquette (Nashville - SEC/Big East Challenge)
Sat 12/20 - vs Belmont
Mon 12/29 - vs LA Lafayette
Sat 01/03 - at Kansas
Wed 01/07 - vs Gonzaga
Sat 01/10 - at Georgia
Tue 01/13 - vs Kentucky
Sat 01/17 - vs South Carolina
Tue 01/20 - at Vanderbilt
Sat 01/24 - vs Memphis
Wed 01/28 - vs LSU
Sat 01/31 - vs Florida
Wed 02/04 - at Arkansas
Sat 02/07 - at Auburn
Wed 02/11 - vs Georgia
Sat 02/14 - vs Vanderbilt
Wed 02/18 - at Ole Miss
Sat 02/21 - at Kentucky
Wed 02/25 - vs Mississippi State
Sun 03/01 - at Florida
Thu 03/05 - at South Carolina
Sun 03/08 - vs Alabama
Thu 03/12-Sun 03/15 - SEC Tournament (Tampa)
NCAA First & Second Round Sites - March 19-22
Boise - Dayton - Greensboro - Kansas City
Miami - Minneapolis - Philadelphia - Portland
NCAA Regional Final Sites - March 26-29
Boston - Glendale - Indianapolis - Memphis
NCAA Final Four - April 4-6 - Detroit
Under Bruce Pearl, the Vols have moved from relative obscurity to national relevance in three short years. And while the '08-'09 Vols must replace program mainstays Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith, the Vols scored big in both recruiting (Scotty Hopson) and on the junior college circuit (PG Bobby Maze).
The new faces will combine with returning starters J.P. Prince, Tyler Smith, and Wayne Chism.
The Vols will look different in the upcoming season, no doubt—the shooting touch simply isn't there (on paper, at least) for the Vols to be jacking up threes at the rate they've enjoyed the last three seasons with Lofton and JaJuan around.
But the team should be more physical, while maintaining the athleticism that Pearl's "controlled chaos" system demands.
If it's true that the Vols don't rebuild anymore, this schedule will test that that theory for sure. Nonetheless, the Vols should open as a preseason Top-20 pick and will have a chance to earn their keep on a national stage in '08-'09.
We now return you to your regularly-scheduled football conversation.