Tennessee Volunteers Basketball Could Learn Lesson from Mascot Smokey

tre wellsCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2011

CLEVELAND - APRIL 01:  Smokey, the mascot of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, performs against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their National Semifinal game of the 2007 NCAA Women's Final Four at the Quicken Loans Arena on April 1, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As the Tennessee Volunteers fully immerse themselves in the meat of the SEC schedule, one point of emphasis remains perfectly clear.

You simply have to hold serve at home.

The grind of the conference schedule, coupled with the talent of the league as a whole, combine to make any road trip a potential loss. The teams are too good, and cupcakes are hard to find over the course of the league schedule.

To compete for the division title, you aim to win all of your home games and split your road record. While both of these goals seem lofty, winning at home is paramount.

It is something that the past Tennessee teams under Bruce Pearl have done very well. This year, however, is different.

The Vols are 2-0 against top-10 teams this year. But after losing to Oakland, USC and College of Charleston at home, it’s becoming more and more apparent they are playing up, and down, to the level of their opponent.

This can drive a coach mad and a fan to drinking.

Maybe it’s time for Smokey to have a talk with this ball club.

If there is one thing you can learn from a dog, it’s if a stranger comes into his house, he is going to protect it. He will show his teeth, growl and attack if the stranger poses a threat to his turf. He will put himself between the danger, and that which he is trying to protect. There is no thought process, it is simply instinctual.

One thing a dog does not do is pay attention to how talented the intruder is. The dog doesn’t care if the stranger is a veteran felon, or a petty thief. He isn’t worried if the burglar is ranked in the top 25, or if he has a .500 record.

He simply protects his turf.

He treats any potential threat as a faceless opponent. He will go for the jugular. His aggression never waivers until either he or the attacker is taken down.

It’s why many intruders fear going into homes with dogs.

For Vols fans, it’s time teams started fearing going into Thompson Bowling Arena again.