Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics
Tennessee basketball has had many doubters and haters this season. National and local pundits, Vol fans and many more have expressed their disbelief in this Tennessee team over the course of the season.
It’s something Tennessee players have acknowledged, most only on Twitter, this season. Josiah-Jordan James talked about it Monday before Tennessee departed for Orlando even acknowledging that there’s been some good reasons people have doubted on Tennessee.
No one is hating Tennessee — besides Duke faithful — after the Vols knocked off the Blue Devils to advance to the Sweet 16.
So what is Tennessee’s message to the haters after the impressive weekend in Orlando?
“We love y’all,” Olivier Nkamhoua, who scored a game-high 27 points against Duke, said.
Circling back to the subject, James echoed a sentiment Zakai Zeigler shared earlier this season when discussing the doubters.
“Don’t try to switch up now,” James said. “Don’t try to come in and rejoice with us. We have everything we need right now. We have the people we need and you guys can stay on that side. I hope that they keep doubting us.”
More From RTI: How Tennessee Defeated Duke To Advance To The Sweet 16
Senior center Uros Plavsic quickly brought up CBS’ analysts picking Louisiana to upset Tennessee in the first round when asked about his message to the haters. The Serbian big man was well aware of the public and pundits belief that Duke would knock off Tennessee.
“Whoever said that people are doubting and disrespecting us, that is correct,” Uros Plavsic said. “I like that, honestly. Being that underdog every time you step on the court against some big time schools and big time names. I feel like we showed throughout the season this year especially that we take care of the business when it comes to that time.”
Freshman Julian Phillips kept his message simple after scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds against the Blue Devils.
“Y’all see what’s going on,” Phillips said. “That’s all I can say. Y’all see what’s going on.”
Even the even keeled Rick Barnes gave his own version of a message to the haters while talking to his team in the locker room after the game.
“Everybody thought we were dead,” Barnes said. “We’re alive and kicking, baby.”
Tennessee can prove the doubters and haters even more wrong next weekend as they head to New York City for the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Vols will face the winner of Farleigh Dickinson/FAU in the Sweet 16.
Tennessee Basketball: Message to the haters pic.twitter.com/gt5ANgDX0M
— Ryan Schumpert (@rschump00) March 18, 2023