New Vols coach Donnie Tyndall has had a busy first month.
Not bad for one month, Donnie Tyndall.
Thursday marked the one-month anniversary of Tyndall's introduction as Tennessee's basketball coach. One day earlier, UT announced the signing of 6-foot-10 forward Tariq Owens — the eighth new Vol.
Talk about an extreme makeover. In the course of a month, Tyndall has reshaped UT's roster. And he might not be done just yet.
Things have been in a state of flux since Cuonzo Martin departed and Tyndall arrived. The Vols lost four seniors plus junior post player Jarnell Stokes, who declared for the NBA draft. Josh Richardson is the only returning starter.
In addition, three players were granted releases to transfer elsewhere. Among them was point guard Darius Thompson of Murfreesboro, who is headed to Virginia. There are whispers seldom-used center Rawane "Pops" Ndiaye won't be back for his senior season, with a decision on his future likely to come next week.
The attrition leaves quite a void. The departed Vols accounted for 75 percent of the points, 71 percent of the rebounds and 79 percent of the assists off this season's Sweet 16 team. And by the way, all four of Martin's signees were released from their scholarships and have joined other programs.
Credit Tyndall for doing the right thing and clearing the path to the nearest exit for those who wanted to leave UT. Sure, it hurts in the near term, but Tyndall says he is in this for the long haul. And he doesn't want players on the roster who are not totally committed to the program in this transition phase.
Vols hoops coach Donnie Tyndall talked about his recruiting class after throwing out the first pitch at the UT-Florida baseball game on Thursday.
The last thing a new coach needs is someone — talented as he may be — who has second thoughts about where he wants to be playing.
Tyndall's recruiting fast break features players from seven different states, none of them his current base of operations.
Moving forward, Tyndall has made it clear that he wants to recruit Tennessee first, locking down the state's borders and cracking the recruiting code in the talent-rich Memphis area.
Anybody surprised? Of course not. All seven of the coaching hires at UT in the past quarter-century have said the same thing, and all failed to varying degrees.
Shortly after getting the job, Tyndall suggested he would try to fortify the roster with whatever was available — transfers, junior-college talent, high school seniors, prep schoolers. And that's exactly what he's done.
Five signees have attended a junior college or prep school. Nobody should be surprised by that. Of the 14 players he signed while coaching at Southern Miss, nine were from junior colleges. Along those lines, Tyndall has shown an ability to successfully merge quick-fix recruits with returning talent.
Of course, it's fair to wonder why these players were available at this late hour. There are risks in the group.
Eric McKnight is among them. McKnight, who is transferring in from Florida Gulf Coast, was available because his old coach, Joe Dooley, said he would not have been allowed to return for his senior season after breaking an undisclosed team rule.
For all the transition, the cupboard was not completely bare at UT. Richardson capped his junior season with an impressive run in the NCAA Tournament when he shot 61.7 percent and averaged 19.3 points, up from 9.2 in the regular season.
Robert Hubbs was a five-star recruit but missed all but 12 games of his freshman season because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. Armani Moore showed flashes, particularly on defense and in the open court. Derek Reese had his moments.
Beyond that, though, the roster will be made up of new arrivals. The Vols lack size and there's not a true point guard. There are a lot of moving parts.
His one-month recruiting blitz shows us just how resourceful and resilient Donnie Tyndall is. Those are traits that will be tested often next season.