Spoelstra addresses Vols on ‘Championship Wednesday’
By Grant Ramey | (email@example.com)
KNOXVILLE — It was ‘Championship Wednesday’ on Haslam Field.
With two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on campus to visit the Vols, Tennessee worked out for 90 minutes in pro pads Wednesday morning, the first session of the third two-a-day of fall camp.
Spoelstra, who shares not just an agent but also a close friendship with first-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones, addressed the team after the practice.
“I think, first of all, any time you can bring an individual like Erik Spoelstra, the stature that he brings, to come in and spend an entire day with your football program means everything,” Jones said after practice. “First class individual, high character, loves college football and he’s a winner, he’s won back-to-back NBA world championships. So he’s going to have a great message for our team.
“He’s a great friend, and I’m really indebted. He doesn’t have much time off. For him to come here, to come to Knoxville and spend an entire day with our football program, means a lot.”
The message Spoelstra to the team was simple: Championship teams start with a championship-caliber foundation.
“There’s so many similarities, and I think, the building of the Miami Heat — everyone remembers right now, everyone remembers the last two years — I think a lot of people forget the building process that went through that,” Jones said. “Prior to his first year the Miami Heat won 15 games. He’s going to talk about the building process, building it brick by brick and building that culture, building that structure that it takes to be successful, that they have in Miami.”
Tennessee’s support staff dotted the practice field in white T-shirts with ‘Championship Wednesday’ printed across the chest, above side-by-side ‘Power T’ and Miami Heat logos.
Jones said the relationship between the two goes back a couple years.
“It’s about two years now,” he said. “It was late March and I went and watched him play the Phoenix Suns. We kind of hit it off and really forged a relationship. He’s been a great resource for me.
“To be able to watch him really have the success he’s had, there’s nobody more deserving that Erik Spoelstra. The work that he’s done, and he’s always tried to be different, he’s always tried to stay one step ahead of the game, and I think that’s what makes him special.”
It’s a visit that should reverberate on the recruiting trail, too.
“This is part of our Vol For Life program as well,” Jones said. “We want as many successful people to come in and have an impact on our players. That’s part of being Tennessee.
“The ability to bring people that are successful, like Erik Spoelstra, to campus, that want to come, that want to be part of Tennessee football. It’s very exciting and I think it’s a great illustration moving forward of what we have here at Tennessee.”
Corner Riyahd Jones (knee) again missed practice with an injury that’s still not been disclosed.
“We’re still waiting,” Butch Jones said. “He’s still going through the evaluation process with our doctors and our trainers.”
Maurice “Mo” Couch (calf strain) was back to being a full participant in practice ... corner Michael Williams (shoulder) didn’t practice ... Paul Harris (ankle) was again out of his walking boot, but continued to be limited to sideline work.