Is Lofton missing mark due to missing Bradshaw?

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While waiting for Tennessee to get to the big games in this new basketball season, there's a time-filling activity growing in popularity:

Wondering when Chris Lofton is going to engage his shooting touch and posing theories as to why the All-American is struggling.

Easily the loudest cheer Wednesday night in a 101-44 romp past Arkansas-Monticello at Thompson-Boling Arena came with 7:46 to play when Lofton drilled a 3-point basket.

In two exhibitions and two regular-season games, Lofton is 2-of-18 from 3-point range.

"People try not to talk to him about it,'' said teammate and pal Jordan Howell.

"I joked about it when we went out and ate together Monday night. We know he's struggling but I keep telling him he's the best shooter in the country.''

That's the consensus approach among his teammates: speak softly and wait until Lofton rediscovers his big stick.

"Whenever we need him, he'll be there,'' said UT coach Bruce Pearl.

Lofton scored the first points of the game Wednesday - on a layup - and then let his teammates take care of the next 77.

At one point, Pearl yelled to Lofton on the court and used sign language to encourage him to quit passing up shots.

After his trey, Lofton missed two more attempts and finished 2-of-7 from the field, 1-of-5 behind the arc.

"We've talked about it,'' said Pearl, "about working hard to get open.

"We're not running many set plays out there. When we run a lot of set plays, a lot of them are for him. But there hasn't been the need to do that.''

Other theories include the new black seats, using a different ball Wednesday for the Legends Classic. One Pearl buys into is missing Dane Bradshaw, who had a knack for dishing the ball to Lofton the past three years.

"No question, he probably misses Dane,'' said Pearl.

"It was (Steven) Pearl (the coach's son) who actually got him a look tonight (the assist for his 3-pointer). I told Chris it took Bradshaw-reincarnated to get him a good look.''

Noting that walk-ons Tanner Wild and Quinn Cannington came off the bench in the final minutes and each sank a 3-pointer, Pearl said, tongue in cheek, "When Quinn and Tanner shoot a better percentage than Chris, that might put his job in jeopardy.''

Nah.

"We've got to believe in him and still get him the ball and keep his confidence up,'' said senior JaJuan Smith.

"We've got his back, no matter what. And he's not discouraged. He's happy we're winning so that's a sign of a good teammate.''

Cover Boy: Lofton is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated's college basketball preview issue. He and Chris Douglas-Roberts of Memphis share one of five regional covers.

It's the first time UT men's basketball has graced the cover since Feb. 9, 1976, when Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King posed (although Lofton was one of many players pictured in a montage on the cover of last year's NCAA tournament preview issue).

Crews Is Back: Wayne Chism was glad to see Duke Crews back in action. After returning from a 30-day suspension, Crews suffered an ankle injury. He made his belated debut with 8:44 to play and had five points and four rebounds in nine minutes.

"He probably wouldn't say it to nobody, but me knowing Duke and how close I am to him, I can see it in his face that he missed being out there,'' Chism said.

"He was sitting down for a while. When he gets back I know he's going to be a lot of trouble for some other teams.''

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Comments » 15

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

Everyone is sweating Chris's shooting, eh??? Maybe no one is getting a hand in his face.

From what I remember, he shoots his best falling down with a defender about an inch form his nose.

lnbadger320 writes:

oh goodness, are we going to set up a lofton cam or have the lofton 3 pointer watch now. are we going to have an article every time lofton doesn't hit more than one 3 pointer. maybe KNS should interview some sport psychologist after every game and analyze lofton.

mloaks#222092 writes:

Only Fulmer gets more grief here than the KNS...

KnoxVol_in_TX writes:

There's a lot to be said about the damage that media overkill can do. Leave the kid alone and let him play ball. Thank God it's not a situation where he is focused on himself to the detriment of the team.

Chris is a great player and he will find his stride soon. When he does, we're final four bound!

GO VOLS!!!

mj54 writes:

I personally attribute Lofton's shooting ills to global warming.

DenmarkVol_aka_Mbumburu writes:

We all need to reread all this nonsense about Chris later on in the season when he's SEC Player of the Week, knocking the lights out, and raining down jumpshots from Alcoa.

pabashia#208095 writes:

Lofton will be lights-out when it counts. He will be ready come tourney time - that's what matters.

UT_Tim writes:

The SI cover jinx is true.............
Look it up

hdhurst writes:

"That's the consensus approach among his teammates: speak softly and wait until Lofton rediscovers his big stick." Now, tell me, what the he** does the "rediscovers his big stick" comment have to do with basketball. I could understand if this were baseball or hockey, but please...get past your inhibitions and make a real basketball gesture...such as "hammer it home." GO VOLS!

chipper10 writes:

Shooters should just keep shooting. No need to worry about Lofton. The rest of the team should not focus on Lofton to win games. Everyone does their job and play with confidence.

mbradshaw1#655539 writes:

Lofton is a shooter when then game is on the line. Not when everybody else is doing the job. There is no need for his heroics just yet but that will come. right now he has some talented players around him so he doesn't feel the pressure to do what he has in the past

vol52 writes:

As a general rule when a person focus more on their defense it takes a toll on their offense. I believe that is what has happened to Chris. He will warm up soon enough.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

mj54, it is global warming! Al Gore told me so! Then it may be a carryover from the trash cans that catch the water from the roof leaks in Stokley! He'll do fine!

Basketball_Jones writes:

Yea I agree about the SI Cover Jinx....Man Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Peyton Manning, Emmitt Smith, all those had horrible careers after their first cover...Sorry Chris better start finding a new hobby...gimme a break

ColumbusVol writes:

He just needs a good psychologist. Its purely mental.

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