It’s official: the Tennessee Vols’ and Lady Vols’ 2011-2012 basketball season is in the air.
    
Students all over campus are now talking about the Vols’ basketball season. It all started Tuesday night, as the Lady Vols had their first exhibition game versus Carson-Newman, winning 105-40. Thursday night, the men’s basketball team also starts its preseason with a game against Carson-Newman as they try to forget about the offseason and the controversies with Bruce Pearl.
    
“I am excited for a new year, especially after the disappointment the Lady Vols faced last year,” Michael Aleman, freshman in biomedical engineering, said. “Also, I’m eager to see how our men’s coach does and see which direction he takes the team.
   
 “I totally believe this could be one of the most meaningful seasons yet. We have not been able to ‘bring home the gold,’ and I think the situation surrounding coach Pat Summitt could give us the edge.”
   
 However, Aleman wasn’t the only one ready for a new year.
   
 “Despite losing Bruce Pearl and being hit with the shocking news from Pat Summitt, I am more excited for this year because our Lady Vols virtually have everyone returning and look to make a run for the national title,” Quinton Joynes, freshman in electrical engineering, said. “As for the men, they are just looking for a fresh start, but it should be an interesting year.”
    
Much of the excitement has clearly been sparked by the lack of success the UT football team has had this year following a few key injuries.  
    
“This school needs something to click for it so the UT spirit can be restored, and I personally think it will be the Lady Vols basketball team led by Meighan Simmons upon many seniors,” Joynes said.
    
The students filled up the student section Tuesday night and are sure to show a bigger crowd at the men’s preseason opener. Just from observing the student section, one could sense positive vibes towards the new season.
    
After speaking with a few of the students after the game, there seemed to be an overall consensus on how the teams were going to do. They all believe the Lady Vols will reach the championship and win, and the men will do well but eventually lose in the tournament.
   
 It is also apparent that a lot of the spotlight this season will be on the men’s new basketball coach, Cuonzo Martin.
    
“I am looking forward to see what Cuonzo Martin is doing with our basketball team,” undecided freshman Chris Blakley said. “With that said, I believe the men’s team has the makings to reach the NCAA Tournament, but only if we get dealt the right hand do I think we will survive the first round.”
    
Nonetheless, everyone on the UT campus knows all eyes are on beloved coach Pat Summitt. After being diagnosed with early onset dementia, all of Big Orange Country has her back. Especially after being ranked No. 3 in the preseason polls, Summitt may be in for one of the most meaningful seasons of her career.
   
 Now only time will tell how the Vols’ basketball program will do this year. The students can only hope that their support and excitement for their teams will propel them to new heights for the 2011-2012 season.