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Green's job may be on the line

Sixty-five coaches took teams to the NCAA Tournament. How many were asked before the first game if they were worried about being fired?

Even though Tennessee is 22-10 and has spent most of the season in the rankings, things are not all sunshine for coach Jerry Green's team heading into today's first-round game against Charlotte.

Fans and alums are calling for Green's firing. Letters to the editor and callers to talk radio have savaged Green all season, not so much for the losses but for how his players comport themselves on and off the court.

Leading scorer Vincent Yarbrough was asked if the Vols needed to win a couple of games to save Green's job.

"I don't think Coach Green's job is in jeopardy. A lot of media and fans have pumped it up to be something it's not," Yarbrough said. "He wins 20 games every year. We lost five or six in a row, that's the reason for the uproar."

Tennessee won 16 of its first 17 games, including victories over Wisconsin, Syracuse, Iowa and Alabama. But the Vols lost six of the next seven and are 6-9 since rising to No. 4 in the polls.

Tony Harris, regarded as the best player on the team, missed the Kentucky game with an ankle injury midway through the season. But when there was a skirmish on the floor, Harris sprinted along the sideline to get to the action.

A column in the Knoxville News-Sentinal the next day called Harris a "punk." A day later, Tennessee athletic director Doug Dickey called a news conference to blast the columnist.

Seventy-five percent of the more than 1,000 e-mails sent to the newspaper agreed with the columnist's assessment of Harris.

"You don't take a program that was 85-123 in the seven years before we got there and turn it into an ideal program in three recruiting classes," Green said. "I would be the first to say we have a ways to go to get it where it should be."

TEMPLE: The Owls started the season up, winning four straight Preseason NIT games to reach the tournament final. Then the Owls lost a terrific game to Duke 63-61 and lost seven straight, suffering injuries and discipline problems.

Then Temple won six straight. Then lost five of nine. Finally, Temple finished with seven straight wins.

"They didn't allow somebody to tell them they couldn't make it," coach John Chaney said.

The injuries and discipline problems left Temple with eight or nine players for practice. Chaney said that when his team arrived at practice Thursday, "somebody asked if I left some players on the bus. I said, "This is it.' "

The 69-year-old Chaney even had to practice with the team recently.

"I ran down the court one time," Chaney said. "And I said, "We're going to play halfcourt. And nobody is allowed to play me.' "

BUZZER FINALLY BEATEN: The second half of the Arkansas-Georgetown game was delayed about 10 minutes when the arena horn sounded _ and kept going. After about four minutes, power went out briefly on the scoreboards and press row. A Boise State spokeswoman said an electrical circuit apparently tripped, causing power to overload on the side of the court that included the circuit for the horn.

_ TIMES WIRES

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