Bernard King stared around the empty confines of Thompson-Boling Arena as the Vols warmed up for practice.
"This is a special arena," King said looking up at the rafters. "I wish I had the opportunity to play in this place when Ernie and I were here."
If the Vols weren't past their gut-wrenching loss against Texas A&M yet, they would find it hard-pressed not to be as the Volunteer legend took time out of his busy schedule to attend practice Tuesday afternoon.
Following their practice, the team received a pep talk from the former UT forward. King was quick to state his speech would be from the heart.
"I'll get a chance to address the team today, which is great," King said. "I'm very spontaneous and I don't predetermine what I'm going to say when I'm talking to players, so I'll simply see how they are reacting after the practice session and we'll go from there."
King also took time to deliver some advice to Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon, who play a similar style to the one King played back in the day.
"My advice would be to prepare yourself properly for each game and to ensure that your actions measure up with your goals," King said. "They have to play together as a unit because it's a team game, and the more chemistry you have as a team, obviously the better you are going to play."
While Stokes and Maymon may share a similar play style, college basketball in general is known as a completely different league than the one King played in; but he doesn't see it that way.
"I don't think there is much of a change other than the popularity of the game," King said. "And obviously the speed and quickness is a little bit different, but from my perspective I don't think the change is that much."
As for the current Vols, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame-inductee thinks the Vols should be able to rebound and take care of business against the Tigers.
"I saw them play last weekend," King said. "Unfortunately that was a loss, but I think in the Auburn game we'll be competitive and I think it is one we can win."
Anyone who has watched the Vols play in the past two seasons knows how important Jordan McRae is to the team's success.
So seeing the All-SEC guard in a walking boot as he nursed a sore toe Tuesday probably wasn't the easiest sight to swallow.
The Midway, Ga., native, however, said that he will be good to go for tonight's contest against the Auburn Tigers and for the rest of the season.
"I'm alright; it's a long season," McRae said. "I'll be fine."
A team's ability to take care of the basketball can make or break a season.
The Vols are no different.
In the non-conference portion of their schedule, Tennessee looked to have corrected the turnover-prone ways of the 2012-13 season, giving the ball away only 9.2 times per game.
The SEC schedule has been a different story for the Vols, however, as they have given up 16 turnovers in each of their two conference matchups.
"We have to take care of the ball better," junior guard Josh Richardson said. "We've been getting loose with it the last couple of games. We like to play fast so we have kind of gotten out of control the last few games, but we have to fix it tomorrow."