It's 4 a.m. and I'm sitting here chatting college basketball with Andy Coppens, the editor of WiscoBadgers.com, and making fun of a Hawai'i basketball player with a hairline that seems to be retreating faster than the French. At the same time I'm Googling the general properties of the chemical element gold (it's atomic number is 79, for the record.) The periodic table escaped me years ago, along with just about every other "useful" thing they teach you in high school.
At this point I can only assume that you're reasonably questioning the relevance of EVERYTHING I'm talking about, and for the most part there is none. Except for the gold part, because Cuonzo Martin and the Tennessee Volunteers may have struck it, and blatantly obvious puns are literally part of my job description.
If you're still scurrying to connect the dots, I'm talking about Tennessee point guard Trae Golden, and at this point you should probably get used to cheesy headlines in regards to his name, because chances are he's going to make a lot of them (headlines that is.)
Friday night Tennessee kicked off their season against UNC-Greensboro, and Trae Golden had himself a coming out party. True, Greensboro is a long way from Chapel Hill. Well, at least it is a long way from Chapel Hill in the figurative sense (literally it's only 47 miles.) However, that doesn't do much to diminish what Golden accomplished on the night.
Golden dominated the basketball game the way a star point guard should dominate an inferior opponent, and in just a single game he made a dynamic leap into the upper echelon of SEC guards. Trae put up a staggering stat line with 29 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds to just two turnovers, and he was a model of offensive efficiency with a 10 for 14 night from the floor.
Of course, if the last name Golden wasn't enough for you in the way of wordplay, there's always "Trae" to fall back on. Known as a big-bodied guard capable of taking contact and getting to the rim, Golden is often considered a streaky jumpshooter. Yet, on Friday Trae Golden did the sportswriters of the world a gigantic favor by knocking down five "treys" on just nine shots.
It's as if the basketball gods felt bad about the whole Bruce Pearl thing and granted us a parono'mastically named point guard just to keep us entertained, and trust me I appreciate it. Now, if the football gods are out there taking requests how about a bruising linebacker named "Payne" or a blazingly fast running back named "Speed?"
Maybe I'm just easily mesmerized, but they say a lot is in a name, and they weren't kidding when it came to Trae Golden. Tennessee was picked to finish second to last in the SEC by the media, but if Golden can consistently produce night-in and night-out, specifically in league play, the Vols may be able to pun the pundits.
We'll find out a lot about these Vols when they head to the islands to participate in the Maui Invitational, but for now I'm comfortable in saying that the Vols will be as good as Golden. Literally.