Vols flunked first road test

Pearl hopes loss is a wake-up call

Southern California's Nikola Vucevic, left, and Tennessee's Tyler Smith go after a loose ball during the second half of their NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, in Los Angeles. USC won the game 77-55.

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Southern California's Nikola Vucevic, left, and Tennessee's Tyler Smith go after a loose ball during the second half of their NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, in Los Angeles. USC won the game 77-55.

LOS ANGELES - Tennessee's men's basketball team left Southern California's Galen Center on Saturday afternoon in a collective state of shock.

"It was our first road test, and we failed,'' UT coach Bruce Pearl said after the Vols' stunning 77-55 nationally televised loss to the Trojans. "I hope it wakes us up to the point we get to practicing better and playing better.''

The Vols (8-2) are sure to fall from their No. 9 ranking before playing North Carolina A&T at 7 on Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

But it's a safe bet plenty of practice shots will be hoisted as UT looks to regain its touch after two of the worst shooting performances of Pearl's five-year era.

Tennessee made only four of 20 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc Tuesday against Wyoming and struggled through a 2-for-22 shooting performance beyond the 3-point arc in the loss to Southern Cal.

"We have to shoot with more confidence,'' UT sophomore Scotty Hopson said. "The more shots we get before practice and after practice, the more confidence we'll have.

"It has been tough for some to get the extra shots these last couple weeks with finals.''

Senior Wayne Chism was disappointed with the loss, but he said the Vols must get over it.

"We're still together as a team, and everyone is taking it upon themselves,'' Chism said. "We're a more mature team than last year; nobody is pointing any fingers.''

Chism said college basketball lends itself to getting over losses much easier than football.

"It is easier to move on in basketball, because we've got another game in a few days,'' Chism said. "In football, a loss lasts all week.

"And we do have a tournament at the end of the year.''

Southern Cal coach Kevin O'Neill was asked if the win was any sweeter for him because he coached the Vols 1994-97.

"Not one bit; I loved my time at Tennessee,'' O'Neill said. "I acted like an immature baby and left after three great recruiting classes. I had a disagreement with the athletic director (then Doug Dickey.).

"I've admired from afar what Bruce Pearl has done there. To me, that was seven jobs ago: I've held five pro (NBA) jobs and another college job since then.''

O'Neill said he still considers the Vols one of the elite teams in the nation.

"You can't judge us by one game tonight, and I don't think you can judge Tennessee by one game,'' said O'Neill, whose Trojans improved to 5-4. "They flew to the West Coast, had a three-hour time difference. We played Texas at their place, without Mike Gerrity and got into early foul trouble.''

Gerrity, who had been out awaiting an academic waiver after transferring from Charlotte, made his debut at point guard Saturday, scoring 12 points and dishing out 10 assists.

Without him, the Trojans lost to the No. 2-ranked Longhorns 69-50 after trailing 48-44 with 8:45 left.

"Tennessee is certainly in the same league as Texas,'' O'Neill said. "What they do well, they do very well, and Bruce has a proven formula for winning. They'll be a top-10 or top-12 team most of this season.''

Pearl's recipe for future success is to put the loss behind the team and get back to work.

"You've got to shoot from three against a team that packs it in like that,'' Pearl said. "We got good looks, but we just struggled.

"We've got to regroup and put this behind us quickly.''

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Comments » 74

newportvol writes:

flunk? that not the word i would use.. I watched the game.. They didnt even show up.. Did the team even get on the flight to cali? I just wanna ask one question why so many 3's?

zigvol writes:

I wonder if we ever practice free throws.....

mdvol writes:

Oh how we miss Chris Lofton and JuJuan Smith. Guard play is how you win on the road and go deep into tournaments and our guards SUCK. And Tyler Smith is so overrated.

MTSUVOL writes:

They laid down and quit. Currently they have NO heart!!!

khelton657 writes:

Why no comment about the poor effort rebounding ? Our starting 5 had 7 rebounds.....7....

Southland writes:

lack of comments show the magnitude of the humiliation we all feel after that performance. Good grief, we dont even have basketball to make us feel good. we have leveled off and are a one and done team this year as well. Are there not any guards that will come to Tennessee. All the possible recruits would have to do is watch a game and they would know they would playing time right away

ArealVolFan writes:

The biggest problem with this team is there is no true leader on it...no Lofton or Smith or Bradshaw type. You needed a shot...go to Lofton. You need a big play on D....go to J. Smith. You need all the other basics covered...go to Bradshaw. This team is arguably far more talented on this team than the others, with the possible exception of Loftons last year, and yet they don't play nearly as well. Tyler needs to step up and be the leader. He needs to get the ball going, put the confidence back in this team. Bad 3 ball shooting can be fixed, so can free throws and even defense. However, without a leader to step up and guide this team. Things could get ugly quickly. Sadly you can't coach leadership or Bruce would have that fixed by now.

kdaff51 writes:

Flunked? Didn't appear to me that they even showed up for the exam!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

in response to khelton657:

Why no comment about the poor effort rebounding ? Our starting 5 had 7 rebounds.....7....

Easy, because we had 4 guys standing at the 3 point line passing to each other most of the game. Hard to rebound when your post players are jackin' three's.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

I honestly believe we would be better without Tyler. All the players are standing around waiting for him to take the lead but he just mopes around. If he had not come back, I think Scotty or Wayne would have taken the leadership role and been more effective. I really think next year's team will have better chemistry and better results when the 4 seniors leave.

khelton657 writes:

Such poor rebounding is a sign of lack of heart...as if all they want to do is throw up a three, long before they get close enough to have to make contact w/ anyone and definitely before they would have to go to the boards..throw it up, turn around.

Poor defense and poor rebounding go hand in hand...

Ironcity writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

I honestly believe we would be better without Tyler. All the players are standing around waiting for him to take the lead but he just mopes around. If he had not come back, I think Scotty or Wayne would have taken the leadership role and been more effective. I really think next year's team will have better chemistry and better results when the 4 seniors leave.

JHayes you touched on something, its not that we don't need Tyler, we just don't need him to be the leader. Tyler is a great role player but he is not a great player. He needs someone to jump is phooey when he is dogging it. He needs someone to get into him when he plays soft as he did all of Saturday.

Right now we don't have a player that truly has earned or commands the respect of the team. We don't have a player that everyone feels is the true leader or superstar. We don't have a player that will sell out every minute of every game. Without that player it often looks like a rudderless ship.

Hopson could be that player in the future but he is to immature right now. Other then that, I just don't see anyone on this team resembling the type of player anyone should follow.

doctorvol#211700 writes:

Tyler has heart, but has lost how to play. Should be playing in tight, with Wayne. They both have good hands and can pass; would get each fouled a lot and avoid big lapses. He currently plays like a 5'10" jitterbug who can't score. Also, fts, offense movement, and off rebounding! No one goes to boards. noticed during wyoming game. Two get back, shooter and two others admire shot.

RJ_Vol writes:

What an original headline - not. lol.

azorange writes:

I was at the game and was excited to see the Vols live and in person for the first time in ages. Even made the trip from AZ with my son. I'd like to ask UT for my money back. I love my Vols but I walked away from that game feeling they were overrated. They appear to have no inside game which kills them when the 3-pointers don't fall. Their press looked good at times but provided no momentum changers. They have some real work to do before KY shows up. I love what CBP has done for the program, but he's got to find a point guard who's a leader, disciplined and able to distribute the ball as well as be a dependable scorer. Is that asking too much??? Maybe we can talk the Phx Suns into lending us Steve Nash. Go Vols!

cdonsbach writes:

This team is in desperate need of a leader.

1vavolfan writes:

I agree a totally pathetic performance.In regards to rebounding, yes it is about effort but USC was getting rebounds off of Tennessee bricks and on the other end USC was making most of their shots. This helped the rebounding margin get to where it was, still embarrassing.

235lbVol writes:

Tyler needs to move back to the 4 spot, he was very dominate there, I know Pearl is letting him play 2 or 3 for his pro chances, but he's ruining UT's chances by not being the player he can be at the 4 spot. and frankly, I don't think he's a pro player, but he's a very very good college player at the 4.

volaboard writes:

I agree with the comments about the poor rebounding. But, I am concerned that our defense cannot stop our opponents dribble penetration. We have not had a guard the past two years that could stop it. We made Gerrity look like a Wooden finalist.

richvol writes:

There are 4 seniors on this team and not one of them is a leader? That's a recruiting problem. Pearl got more out of the 3 star player that would sellout that he recruited at Wisconsin-Milwalkee than he does out of these so called star players. Why do you think he likes Skyler so much? Skyler is at least willing to play hard even if he can't shoot...and he certainly is not playing because he is draining three pointers. Hell,he and Woolridge couldn't hit their rear with either hand.

I am sick of investing emotional support to a bunch of soft slackers that don't even care enough to TRY to get a rebound. 7 rebounds...7...that's pathetic. They do whatever they want on the court whenever they want with no consequence and I'm sick of it.

volinky writes:

Loved O'neil's comments. He did leave like a baby and he did have 3 great recruiting classes. Makes me wonder what if...?

martinvol34 writes:

in response to newportvol:

flunk? that not the word i would use.. I watched the game.. They didnt even show up.. Did the team even get on the flight to cali? I just wanna ask one question why so many 3's?

Did you read the article? You said that you watched the game, right? Then why did you ask why so many threes. We pass around the perimeter or dribble standing around with no screens or dribble drive penetration until deep in the shot clock against a packed in zone. Solution: jacking up lots of threes with the shot clock winding down. Result: poor shooting from rushed shots and getting thumped on the road.

For the record, USC and Coach O outplayed and outcoached and looked hungrier from the start to the finish. We will be fine.

rocky_topper writes:

just do as i've learned to do with this team, go to the game if i am hard-up for entertainment and have nothing else to do, if there is something better to do, do it or just sit home and let the tickets collect dust in the drawer! this team isn't going anywhere anyways!

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Reading these posts seems everyone knows what wrong with this team and according to you all it's absolutely everything. I don't know much about basketball so I think I will just listen to CBP to fix it, I mean he is the guy that UT is paying a lot of money to figure it out.

NashvilleVolsincebirth writes:

in response to mdvol:

Oh how we miss Chris Lofton and JuJuan Smith. Guard play is how you win on the road and go deep into tournaments and our guards SUCK. And Tyler Smith is so overrated.

I don't think he is overrated, I think he is underperforming and I wonder where his head is because it sure is not been focused on playing basketball. He drives to the lane and jumps in the air with no clue what he is going to do and never shoots a three. He's not really looking for a shot and he is supposed to lead this team. Wayne can't do it all by himself. At least despite his poor performances, Hopson looks to be on the uptick. That point gaurd of SC's shredded ours and exposed a liability for years to come if that next one coming in, I forget his name, can't get it done.

mmynatt writes:

pheweeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The first post said it all --- they did not even show up. I will say this----- that little squirt (McGerrity) for USC left the entire defensive team for the Vols (I know -- what defensive team?????) standing still. He is the quickest player I have ever seen, still......

The women didn't show up either -- the West coast was not a good place for Vols ..... so sad.

kevin151 writes:

Not a top 25 team period.

razin55 writes:

This team is not mature enough to win ballgames against any team that has a greater desire to fight. We love to be seen but dont understand what commitment is. Example is Chisms statement "we're not pointing fingers at anyone" Exactly right, there is no 1 person to blame, they all stunk. And thats because they dont know what effort is. I was behind this team 100& till the effort saturday, and I saw no effort, no heart, no desire, and no will to win from anyone. we showed all America what Tennesse basketball is.......

samvol writes:

Coach (and I use the word coach lightly) BP needs to re evaluate his system cause the present isn’t working!!

JMP_Vols writes:

Like O'Neill said, "You can't judge Tennessee by one game", but there are several red flags with this team.

1. The point guard play needs to improve. At some point Bobby or Melvin will have to step up and ensure we're making the most of our offensive posessions.

2. Wayne needs to become a consistent low-post threat. I feel like we've been saying that for three years now.

3. We need to value the ball. So many times we settle offensively. Good teams don't do that.

4. Rebounding: USC embarrased us on the glass. Even Wyoming out-rebounded us.

5. Someone needs to be the leader when things start unraveling like they did Saturday. I thought that guy was Tyler Smith, but maybe its not. I would think with the amount of seniors on this team that wouldn't be an issue.

6. Teams that slow us down and make us play half-court, like USC did, will always give Tennessee trouble.

jzt writes:

Need more practice shots? How about some defensive intesity and rebounding. This team just like last years lacks the heart and effort to become an excellent team. Bruce needs to take a long look at why he had early success at Tennessee.

Ironcity writes:

in response to richvol:

There are 4 seniors on this team and not one of them is a leader? That's a recruiting problem. Pearl got more out of the 3 star player that would sellout that he recruited at Wisconsin-Milwalkee than he does out of these so called star players. Why do you think he likes Skyler so much? Skyler is at least willing to play hard even if he can't shoot...and he certainly is not playing because he is draining three pointers. Hell,he and Woolridge couldn't hit their rear with either hand.

I am sick of investing emotional support to a bunch of soft slackers that don't even care enough to TRY to get a rebound. 7 rebounds...7...that's pathetic. They do whatever they want on the court whenever they want with no consequence and I'm sick of it.

When you get transfers they are not likely to be leaders and thats obvious with our Seniors. As for Chism he is a great player but not a leader.

bobbarbilly writes:

They appeared to enter the game " in a collective state of shock".

vol98champ writes:

I sat through the 19-2 run Wyoming put on us and decided this year is going to be disappointing if not a disaster. Playing like that won't even get us in the tournament. I would swap 3 of our seniors for the USC point guard.

Ironcity writes:

in response to PETE_BELL:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Pete you need to worry about your Gators they lost to Richmond at home.

jone8191#247590 writes:

I haven't been on board with this team from the beginning of the season. We haven't won a close (one or two point) game since Lofton left. If Tyler Smith is Tennessee's premier player, then we are in trouble. And we are. There are some long nights in the SEC ahead. The Vols have a team that lives by the three—and they can 't shoot the three!!

samvol writes:

Why was Goins guarding that 7'0 white kid.

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

in response to newportvol:

flunk? that not the word i would use.. I watched the game.. They didnt even show up.. Did the team even get on the flight to cali? I just wanna ask one question why so many 3's?

Disgusting play and coaching .

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to PETE_BELL:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Iam not sure what's happened to Woolridge;He showed some potential last year but now he can't even bring the ball up court and probably hasn't even hit the rim all season..McBee and Hall will produce points next year but don't need to be playing when the team is behind or on a 14 to 2 run.

nvavol writes:

In the article regarding the Lady Vols' game, Coach Summit stated that part of the responsibility was her's for running so many plays. At other times, she has not been hesitant to call out players and herself when the effort was not there. The next time that we hear Pearl either call out players or himself for the men's poor efforts will be the first time. The responsibility lies with him. He should put his social and love life on hold and get this team to the level it should be by assuming responsibility for it's poor performances. They've played two games against what should be considered mid to upper level competition and lost both of them. Hamilton needs to pay some attention to where this is headed for unless some changes are made in both coaching and playing efforts.

huntined#565710 writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Cat, it may have been the BALLS that lost this game but not BASKETBALLS. We don't have a leader or someone that can take over a game and win it for us.Buy the way looks like 2000 win will come real soon CONG for that.

ssgdebity writes:

On that game saturday, this was an embarassment. The team did not even show up to play. They had absolutely no DF or OF. I would not be surprised at all if they were to drop out of the top 25. If they don't take this loss and learn from it it is going to be a long season.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volinky:

Loved O'neil's comments. He did leave like a baby and he did have 3 great recruiting classes. Makes me wonder what if...?

I was pleasantly surprised at the magnanimity of O'Neill's comments. The "old" O'Neill would have been gloating to beat the band. Maybe he still did behind closed doors, but he showed restraint in being civil in public. It's not easy to follow West Coast basketball from out here, but I will be interested to see how USC does the rest of the way. I always thought O'Neill had a good basketball mind but he was terrible with people except maybe as a guy to have a beer and a basketball talk with.

Bloodrunzorange writes:

The Vols have no inside game and poor guard play. They are not a good team. There are no excuses. I hope for the best, but fear the worst. Go Vols!

tennrich1 writes:

in response to kevin151:

Not a top 25 team period.

If i remember correctly this team had the last possession in a one point game against #4 Purdue...possibly a final four team....Folks let your emotions out...thats what this forum is for...but man dont act like the "immature baby" that Oneill said he was when he left UT...I am as embarassed as anyone about the loss...USC packed it in and made us shoot from the perimiter...and we couldnt....also lack of defense didnt help....end of story....

jimr07 writes:

Bruce, looks like the honeymoon is over. No more one and dones. 0-1 against a ranked team. 0-1 to a decent team on the road. Bring on UTMartin.

volboy81 writes:

that was the worst UT men have played since the early to mid 90s when we were winning 5 to 10 games per year! That was embarrassing! It looked like about 1000 people were there, including the players, coaches and band! I think USC only has a basketball team because theyre obligated to...and we LOST to them!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We should have realized Tyler's lack of leadership skills at the end of the Oklahoma St game last year. Remember Tyler jogging up the court then looking confused and trying to hand the ball off as the seconds ticked away. No plan. No execution. No "dang it, this one is mine!"

That said, what is lacking in Tyler is not the only key to the downfall of UTBB. The offense of this year and last looks more like Buzz's than Bruce's first three years. Why did Bruce change? Supposedly it was because of new players last year. This year?

volboy81 writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

25 in a row in the sport that REALLY matters!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

The typical amount of posts after a Vol game is 50;This game over 300;all negative!!Iam not quite ready to put a gun to my head;fire the coach or call the team overated bums like the rest of you..Every team has at least 2 games every season when they just plain suck and the opposing team has their best game of the season; That's basketball; be it high school or pro..The only major concerns brought to light by all this is; Bruce needs to make adjustments in his half court offense.More effort needs to be made to keep Chism closer to the basket and let him do what he does best!!They also need to find a way to allow Tyler to shoot the ball from 12 feet without 3 guys contesting his shots.Let's be honest here usc watched the film and used what size they had to shut down anything 12 feet or closer..They also knew if the outside shoots weren't being made than everything else they did on defense would work and they would eliminate all 2nd chances by blocking out around the boards and get lots of easy rebounds.If the vols had shot their usual 50% from the floor and made 80% of the free throws we wouldn't even be talking about this game!!The reason USC scored 77 points instead of the usual 60 is because they shot 27 free throws in the second half and made 95% of them.Basketball is a simple game..Shoot the shot and make at least 55% of them.Once you have accomplished that defense;rebounding;intensity;coaching and leadership don't mean all that much..If you need an example look at Smith and Lofton; Most games they shot well; 3 defenders moved out past the arc to defend them which led to Chism and Smith having their way closer to the basket..

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