Knecht again steals the show

Marvin Westwestwords

The Dalton Knecht Show is back in town and will next appear at Food City Center on Saturday afternoon. Ratings are said to be going through the roof.

Highly regarded drama critic Rick Barnes says “Dalton is just a terrific story of a guy whose hard work has enabled him to steadily improve his game. He’s grown nearly a foot since he started playing high school ball. And as he’s grown, he’s expanded his skill set as well.”

Knecht (pronounced connect) has been playing to full houses except when it snows a foot or two.

Dalton came out of Thornton, Colorado, as something of a secret. He entertained in semi-privacy at Northeastern Junior College, attracted a few more followers at Northern Colorado but has achieved stardom under the bright lights of metropolitan Knoxville, Tennessee.


Thus ends the brief public relations promotion. Now back to our regular programming.

Knecht scored 39 for the Volunteers Monday night in the 85-66 disassembly of the Florida Gators. He scored 36 at Georgia on Saturday. No Tennessee player has had such back-to-back performances since Allan Houston in 1990.

Knecht again was an accurate shooter – 13 of 23, four-for-six on three-pointers, nine for nine on free throws. He added eight rebounds in an all-around spectacular showing.

Tennessee is now 13-4 and 3-1 in Southeastern Conference competition.


Freshman forward J.P. Estrella #13 scored seven points in the Jan. 16 win over Florida.

Jonas Aidoo led the supporting cast. He scored 19 and had 10 rebounds. He, too, was accurate – nine of 16. Freshman J.P. Estrella was something of a surprise with seven points.

Zakai Zeigler didn’t shoot much, scored only seven but gave Gator guards headaches with his defensive harassment. He wouldn’t let them run their offense. Florida made more free throws than field goals. It shot a discouraging 29.4 percent from the floor.

Barnes does not admit alarm over the inadequate offensive play of Tennessee veterans Josiah-Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi. They combined for five points.


The understated Barnes said what Knecht did “was pretty impressive.”

What the 6-6 senior did was score all but two of the final 22 Tennessee points in the first half. This outburst was peak entertainment for only seven minutes.

The coach thought the other Vols started feeling it, too, that they knew Dalton was in a good rhythm or a zone or somewhere in another world.

“They really tried to get him the ball.”

He said “To be honest with you, I was oblivious about Dalton getting close to 40 points, but his teammates were trying to get it for him.”

Dalton Knecht #3 scored 39 points in Tennessee’s 85-66 win over Florida. (Photos by Andrew Ferguson/ Tennessee Athletics)

Barnes was asked what he thought about the Vols scoring 85 and Ziggy getting only seven.

“I’m not surprised. Zakai is all about winning.”

The coach said some teams probably come in thinking Zeigler is supposed to do everything. He noted that Tennessee indeed has more than one option.

“And we still haven’t got everybody playing at the level that we’ve seen them play at some point in time, as a matter of continuing to put it together.”

Barnes covers well for Vescovi and James. Last night he included Jahmai Mashack with “the older guys.”

Barnes said they want to win and they want to play well, there’s no doubt about it.

Could Knecht’s big scoring games be affecting the old-timers?

“Those two guys are two of the most unselfish people I’ve ever been around in my life. They’re happy for him. They get it and, believe me, they’ve embraced him because they want to win.”

Barnes said he thinks, once he gets everybody going. “we’ve got an unselfish team, we really do.”


Barnes was generally pleased with the Tennessee defense. He said Florida is an outstanding offensive team, one of the fastest playing teams in the country.

He said transition defense was good for the most part. He said one of the objectives was to prevent no-pass paint touches and one-pass threes …” and work hard against ball screens because Florida is a very explosive team.

“I thought overall, defensively, we were good. At the start of the second half, not so good, but, if you hold a team of 29 percent, you’re doing a good job.”


Marvin West welcomes comments or questions from readers. His address is


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