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From The Stands: It was a heckuva season Dalton Knecht!

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It’s hard to believe its over so quickly.  He came to Rocky Top and almost single handedly elevated Tennessee Basketball in popularity and expectations of what the season could be.  He made 3-point shooting look easier than a free throw.  He made take-offs with his long strides that ended with towering dunks look routine.  He made all the twisting and spinning moves during driving layups that left opponents flat footed.  Dalton Knecht brought a brand of basketball to Knoxville that has seldom been seen by a player wearing Tennessee Orange.  And just as quickly as he appeared out of the Rocky Mountains, he’s gone.  Out of eligibility but leaving with a high draft number for the NBA where he will most likely have another star career if he can avoid injury and remain healthy.  

His last game in only the second Elite 8 game Tennessee has reached was a classic.  A disappointing loss but a typical Knecht performance in a big stakes game.  37 points on 14 of 31 shots that included 6 made 3-point shots out of 12 attempts.  He wasn’t perfect as he missed a few mid-range shots in the second half that we’ve come to expect him to make and that Tennessee desperately needed in the moment.  But he did enough to win the game with just a little more help from some of his teammates.  A few of them seemed overwhelmed by the pressure.  After all, reaching this level in the NCAA tourney is not a frequent occurrence for Tennessee Basketball.  Hopefully it can become a more frequent event in the future.  

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I was only able to see Knecht play live one time in his brief Tennessee career but it was a memorable game.  Living in the Atlanta area, I usually attend the Vols game in Athens against UGA.  In this year’s game, Tennessee jumped out to a 14 point lead in the first half only to go down by 11 in the second half in a roller-coaster swing that wound up with the Vols winning by 6.  Knecht was an astounding 12 for 20 from the field that included 5 for 8 from the arc ending the game with 36 points.  He was the key in the Vols comeback in a game that was highly likely to end in a SEC road loss for the Vols without Knecht.  I feel fortunate to have been in attendance that afternoon in Athens to see one of his better clutch performances in a Tennessee uniform.  

Dalton Knecht left his mark on Tennessee Basketball in a brief one season appearance.  Now we Tennessee fans are left wondering what can Rick Barnes possibly do for an encore for next season to replace the void left by Knecht’s departure to the NBA.  

Thank you Dalton Knecht for one memorable and historically successful season on Rocky Top. 

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