Unbeaten Vols still under construction

Pearl looking for better shooting, rebounding

Just call him Picky Pearl.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl likes a lot of things the Vols are doing heading into tonight's 7:30 tip with Prairie View A&M (1-1) at Thompson-Boling Arena.

But UT's 3-point shooting, rebounding and press are not among those things.

The Vols (2-0) are shooting 28.8 percent (13-of-45) beyond the 3-point arc through two games, in part because of Chris Lofton's 1-of-10 shooting from long distance.

Last year, UT was hitting at a 37.5 percent clip through two regular-season games and Lofton was 2-of-7.

Last year, the Vols spent their preseason shooting in Thompson-Boling Arena. This past preseason, UT worked largely at Stokely Athletics Center and more recently the Pratt Pavilion while the arena was undergoing renovations.

"That's not an excuse, but it's probably a factor," Pearl said. "The sightlines and backgrounds are different, and you don't have the advantage of seeing that same lighting or look.

"But that won't last much longer."

Neither should the Vols' struggles on the boards. UT has out-rebounded its opponents by only three through the first two games.

"Where we've dominated some statistical areas, our rebounding advantage is only three,'' Pearl said. "Another one of the things we did not do well was press, nor did we adjust well on the fly or at halftime.

"I didn't do a good job of communicating it to the kids, and once communicated, they didn't do a good job of adjusting quickly."

Pearl is pleased with the Vols' field-goal percentage defense, which stands at a gaudy .330. Last year, UT allowed its first two opponents to hit .412 through the first two games en route to finishing the season with an SEC-worst .457 field goal percentage defense.

"It continues to be very good for us,'' Pearl said.

It better. Pearl spent the bulk of UT's offseason working to improve the Vols in that area, and he has made it clear numerous times over that playing time is based on defensive effort and execution.

It appears the players are getting the message, as 10 players are averaging 10 minutes or more per game and none of the players averages more than 24 minutes per game.

The scoring is as balanced with four players averaging 10 points or more per game. No UT player has scored more than 15 points in either of the first two games.

"Every game, we get closer and more comfortable," Pearl said. "We just need to keep learning and getting exposed to different offenses and defenses and responding to different things.

"It's still about us, not about our opponent."

Tonight's game against the athletic, uptempo Panthers is the second of four in the StubHub Legends Classic tournament. UT plays West Virginia on Nov. 23 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., before finishing against Texas or New Mexico State on Nov. 24.

Tres Bien?: The Vols actually shot a better 3-point field goal percentage on the road (.366) than at home (.363) last season.

"You know why that is?" Pearl said. "Because usually you are more patient on the road. You have greater respect for your opponent so you're not as likely to rush your shots."

RPI: Pearl said he's not as concerned with the Vols' RPI as some have suggested even though two of UT's first three opponents this season are low in that basketball ranking system.

"Our schedule is so difficult, and we have so many tough and rough non-conference games that our RPI will be fine,'' he said.

NCAA Practice: Pearl said playing five games in 11 days is good experience.

"This turnaround is similar to an NCAA Tournament situation," Pearl said. "We've talked to our guys about how they receive a one-day scout, a one-day practice and getting ready to play in a day."

The Duke: Duke Crews, who saw his first playing time this season in Wednesday night's 101-44 win over Arkansas-Monticello, is back in the rotation - somewhere.

"Four practices and one game doesn't allow me much room to change things up," said Pearl, who made Crews the 12th player to enter the game. "But I was very pleased with the way Duke played."

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Comments » 26

Huntingdonvol writes:

coach !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!put the duke of hazard in and keep him there!!!he might crews you to a number top seed

iowavol writes:

10 players averaging more than 10 minutes!!!! Awesome!

Orangefever writes:

play duke instead of childress!!!!! he should be the backup 4 behind tyler

CoverOrange writes:

So, what is the RPI? Seems relevant to include in this article.

The stupid thing about FG% is that it doesn't take into account turnovers before a shot. Pearl plays a gambling pressure defense designed to deny opponents a chance to even shoot. What would be the defensive percentage if you counted FGs per possession?

bleed_orange writes:

Coach has said he likes a 10 man rotation better than a 11 or 12 man. So, who will that leave out come SEC time-Duke,J.P.,Cameron,Brian,Ryan or Josh. I think the Freshman will probally end up sitting on the bench more than the rest of them. We know Ramar,Chris,Jajuan,Tyler,& Wayne will be playing at least 20 minutes a game. I also know we will need Jordan to give Ramar a rest at PG for 10-20 minutes a game. Maybe Lofton needs to play 25-30 minutes a game to get in a good rhythm. But I donn't really know anything about basketball except the Big Orange has alot of players with alot of talent. We need to put it to PRAIRIE VIEW A&M and MTSU. Then get ready for some good teams like West Va, Texas or New Mexico State. Practice those Foul Shots! GO VOLS!

bleed_orange writes:

Excuse my type o's or spelling. GO VOLS!

mattlock writes:

Most people know what the RPI is which is why it is not included in this article. Should he explain the "NCAA Tournament" too?

kkebean#233101 writes:

I just found out Coach Pearl is going to be on the new Dennis Miller show tuesday night on the Versus channel at 9:00 PM eastern time I believe!!! I have not seen any mention of it here in the great KNS!

bleed_orange writes:

I think come SEC play Ryan will be trading out with Wayne at C and Duke will be trading out with Tyler at PF, J.P. will be trading out with Jajuan, Josh will give Chris some breaks and Jordan will trade out with Ramar and Brian,Cameron and Steven will play clean up the last 2-3 minutes if possible. GO VOLS!

newtonrail writes:

The rivers may run backwards and the sun shine at night. CR has actually written something I agree with. How they perform overall should determine playing time, starting, etc. The exception may be Lofton has to be allowed to shoot. We will need him later, although not as much as last three years.

DenmarkVol_aka_Mbumburu writes:

Defense and free throws = wins for this team.

bleed_orange writes:

I think TN might end up with 5 players average 10 points or more(Tyler 16,Chris 15,Jajuan 14,Ramar 12, & Wayne or Duke or JP 10).Back in 84-85 TN had M. Brooks 17.0,T. White 15.9,R. Jones 12.4,A. Richardson 10.8,F. Jenkins,10.1. Another year with a better team was Yarbrough 14.8,Tony Harris 14.6,Slay 9.7,Victor 9.7,Black 9.3 finished 1st in the SEC. Look out SEC. GO VOLS!

GreenbackMike writes:

Mattlock, I am pretty sure wd40 was wanting to know WHAT the ranking was, not what RPI was.. Give the gy a break before you atack him like that. I have not seen UT's RPI anywhere, Has anyone found it?

DSaVol writes:

ARMAGEDDON IS UPON US!!! CR, NEWTON AND I AGREE!!! LMAO!! Although one thing that will change CR's line-up slightly is grades. Don't assume that all will be eligible. If they are though, the freshmen should enjoy the minutes they get now cause they won't last.

Now can we please stop talking about RPI!? It's November! It's like talking about BCS rankings in August - it will take care of itself and it doesn't matter til March!

volfan73120#211815 writes:

It seems that the traitors to the football program are trying to be nice to the basketball program, That still doesn't make thenm a Vol Fan.

CoverOrange writes:

Thanks, VolnAZ, for the benefit of a doubt. Appreciate when people look for the real question rather than a way to denigrate their fellow Vol.

And lord above, CR comes through with the answer. Woohoo, uh, I mean, yawn. J/K. Thanks.

volfan73120#211815 writes:

I am glad you recognize who I was talking about CR.

Ironcity writes:

Guys don't kid yourselves about Duke. He plays with a leval of intensity and athleticism that is paramount to what Pearl wants and needs on the press. UT will be a better team if he is out there 15-20 minutes a game. That said I would like to think Duke has improved his shot from outside beyond 4 feet.

threehundredbowler writes:

and you cr, feel free to continue to give those sarcastic answers.The reason you will not cooperate is because you are in love with Bruce Pearl and Chris Lofton and hate the football program. You sometimes make a valid point but according to you,no one else knowes jack sh--.You need to fall out of love with yourself also.Listen to other people's opinions and you might find you are not as smart as you think you are.

redneckerson writes:

Iluvfball, the answer is no. It's a simple answer because your convoluted scenario simply won't happen.

ssukonic#254241 writes:

ilove_football........Lofton WILL NOT have shooting problems into January......mark it down and take it to the bank. Even if he has a little bit of problems, he adds so much more than just his shooting. It's alot like the guy we lost last year, ya know, the only guy we lost from last year's team. Would you have suggested last year that if Bradshaw didn't shoot well, we should remove him from the starting line up? You'd be a fool to do that. Baskeketball is more than just shooting the 3's. You need that guy who does the little things for the TEAM to be successful......that guy that people to look up to. Plus, his shooting will come around. Mark it down.

ssukonic#254241 writes:

i love_ football........hmmmm......after reading lots of the posts I HADN'T READ from about 3 o'clock on, I realize that I only responded to half of your argument/discussion. I'll go back in my cave and read now........you boy's play nicely now............ :-)

doctorvol#211700 writes:

lofton experiencing prolonged shooting issues is as likely as watching frogs grow wings.

DenmarkVol_aka_Mbumburu writes:

UGLY, UGLY win tonight in NY. Awful at 3 pointers, even worse at free throws. Yet we still win -- barely.

I would hate to be at practice the next week or so.

Colliervol writes:

Oh Lord, that was pitiful. Hope it was just an aberration. Free throws (21 of 47???) are going to kill them again if they don't get that fixed.

And what genius said Ramar Smith will probably turn pro after this year? Oh my goodness. He'd better learn to do more than 0 for 12 at the free throw line if he wants to play in the NBA. (Not to mention finding a consistent outside shot.) There isn't a chance in Hades that he'd be drafted at the end of this year.

redneckerson writes:

ilove football, really? Free throws will cost a basketball team? Man, I hope Coach Pearl knows that.

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