Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl and the Vols looks forward to a trip to the Caribbean in November.
That sort of anticipation is why UT accepted an invitation to play in The U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam tournament Nov. 20-23.
"Playing in this type of tournament early on gets the guys ready sooner,'' Pearl said. "If your first big game isn't until December or January, preseason workouts aren't as exciting.
"Looking at this field, our guys will get going from the minute they step on campus in the fall.''
Big Ten tournament champion Purdue and Atlantic Coast Conference spoiler Boston College highlight the eight-team field along with the Vols.
"You saw what Purdue did in the Big Ten tournament, and Boston College beat North Carolina,'' Pearl said. "Last year we almost won a couple of tournaments in Florida, so it would be nice to get to the title game and win this one.''
The Vols beat Siena and Georgetown before falling to Gonzaga in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., last November. In the SEC tournament in Tampa, UT beat Alabama and Auburn before falling to Mississippi State in the title game.
The tournament pairings announced Friday have Tennessee's run for the Paradise Jam trophy will begin against East Carolina on Nov. 20.
Other first-round games include Northern Iowa playing DePaul, Boston College battling Saint Joseph's and South Dakota State against Purdue.
The Vols' non-conference schedule next year still is under construction, but it already includes December games at Southern Cal and Memphis in addition to contests with Middle Tennessee State, East Tennessee State and UNC Asheville.
Kansas will play at UT in January.
East Carolina, a member of Conference USA, was 13-17 last season. The Vols have met the Pirates twice in the schools' history, winning 89-71 in 1978, and scoring a 93-58 win in 1991.
At least four of the Paradise Jam games will be televised nationally by Fox Sports.
Fans interested in purchasing travel packages to accompany the Vols to the Paradise Jam can call 865- 974-9066.
Award Winners: UT athletic director Mike Hamilton and former player Tony Harris (1998-2001) were among the more interesting of the award winners at the annual banquet Thursday night at the Knoxville Marriott.
Hamilton won the inaugural Tennessee Volunteer Award, presented by Pearl to the individual who makes a special and unique contribution to the program.
Harris, who was not in attendance, received recognition from team academic advisor Kelly Brock for recently being awarded a Chancellor's Most Improved honor from the university.
Sophomore Brian Williams won the award for most improvement, freshmen Scotty Hopson and Renaldo Woolridge won the Team Before Self award, and junior Wayne Chism won the Strength award for his work in the weight room.
Freshman Emmanuel Negedu and senior walk-on Tanner Wild won the award for courage, while Tyler Smith was honored with the Coach's Award.
Pearl also presented the practice squad - Josh Bone, Quinn Cannington, Daren Chand ler, Ryan Childress, Michael Hubert, Justin Jackson, Steven Pearl, Tyler Rosenbaum and Wild - with the Coach's Award.
Hubert also won the award for highest GPA, and Hopson and Negedu were recognized with the Best Academic Effort Award.