Taking over a new program can be a daunting challenge for some coaches, especially if they find themselves having to deal with a significant amount of roster turnover. That was the case for Tennessee’s Donnie Tyndall, who in April made the move from Southern Miss to a program that lost four seniors, a highly productive junior in Jarnell Stokes, two transfers and an entire recruiting class.
The process of putting together a roster capable of being competitive next season was going to be a difficult task, especially when considering the fact that most recruits have already decided on a school by the time the spring signing period rolls around. Yet Tyndall was successful on the recruiting trail over the last month, adding eight players to the program and raising the level of enthusiasm surrounding the program.
And in a story written by Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart discussed how pleased he’s been with the start of the Tyndall era in Knoxville.
“I think he’s done a remarkable job putting a roster together, because I was actually concerned [if] we’d have enough players to have meaningful practices at one point, but he’s done a great job of patching together a roster and actually with some pretty competitive kids,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart told the Times Free Press in Johnson City last Tuesday.
“This isn’t the template going forward, but for what he was dealt with and the time frame — he’s done this in a month. He’s done a really outstanding job of putting together a roster.”
Just as important as the recruits who have signed on are, Tyndall also successfully kept highly-regarded shooting guard Robert Hubbs III on board. Hubbs played in just 12 games last season due to injury, and the expectation is that at full strength he can be a high-level producer for the Volunteers.
Hubbs’ decision to remain at Tennessee is an important one for the program, which has four newcomers on the perimeter to compete for minutes alongside Hubbs and leading returning scorer Josh Richardson.
After a month of uncertain times, Tyndall has his program in a good spot heading into the summer months. While some may not expect this group to duplicate its Sweet 16 run of last season, Tennessee’s far better equipped to build on that performance than it was in mid-April. The next step for Tyndall and his coaching staff: putting their philosophy to work on the court. And if their work recruiting this spring is any indication, it may not take long for the lessons to get through to the players.