With that in mind, knowing I don't "bleed orange," lifelong Vols fans may dismiss this, but I can identify exactly when it became clear the program needs a coaching change: Tennessee's last possession of the 3rd quarter, in last night's home loss to Vanderbilt.
The screenshot from the play-by-play (top) shows the outcome, but not the process. UT had a one-point lead and a chance for a momentum boost before the horn. But they were teeth-grindingly slow getting into their set and sluggish in their execution. The shot they took was forced and off-target, and the turnover that came from it gave the Commodores time enough for a good shot of their own. They cashed it in to take the lead for good and spark a 13-3 run that gave them enough cushion to fend off Tennessee's comeback bid.
The Lady Vols, in an important possession during their most important game of the year, lacked energy and urgency. They appeared to be disinterested. Even with the prospect of a home loss to a bad team -- and, lest we forget, last night was Vandy's first win in Knoxville in THIRTY-FOUR TRIES -- becoming a torpedo to the hull of their NCAA Tournament chances.
The apathy can't be overlooked. It reminded me, as a lifelong Packers fan, of Green Bay's embarrassing home loss to Arizona last December, which dragged the dirty laundry out into light and effectively ended the head coach's employment.
Coaches will tell you that they'll deal with a loss if their teams play hard and smart. They'll also bristle at a win if it came after a sloppy effort. The Lady Vols slumbered last night and lost a game they had no business losing.
There's still time to salvage something out of this season, but that would require something akin to a miracle, and perennial programs like Tennessee shouldn't be in that position. It's time for a change.