Vols make progress in tune-up for season opener

Rebounds go up, turnovers come down; Hopson scores 20, adds crowd-pleasing dunks

Rebounding up, turnovers down, mission accomplished.

Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl came into Wednesday night’s exhibition game against Division II Lincoln Memorial University looking for improvement in those two specific areas, and he got it.

The Vols scored a 97-58 victory over the Railsplitters before an announced crowd of 17,924 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee forced LMU into 30 turnovers while committing 17 itself and outrebounded the Railsplitters 48-34.

“We were better defensively, we rebounded better, and we handled the ball better and forced them into 30 turnovers,’’ said Pearl, whose team committed 26 turnovers in last Friday night’s exhibition win while forcing North Alabama into 28. “I would have liked to have shot the ball better; early on we settled for some shots ... instead of getting great shots.’’

Sophomore Scotty Hopson led UT in scoring for the second consecutive night, getting 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Hopson connected on 2 of 3 shots beyond the 3-point arc, and soared high on more than one occasion for crowd-pleasing dunks.

“The guys are encouraging me and expecting me to be more of a playmaker,’’ said Hopson, who averaged 20 points in the exhibitions with a scorching .789 shooting percentage from the floor, including 6 of 8 beyond the 3-point line. “My overall aggression has stepped up.’’

Freshman walk-on Skylar McBee, a graduate of Grainger High School, has proven a capable backup for Hopson at shooting guard. McBee scored nine points (3-of-7 shooting beyond the arc) and pulled down four rebounds in 19 minutes.

“I think Skylar continues to be a steady performer,’’ Pearl said. “In addition to making threes, he defends, he rebounds his position, and he’s a real threat out there.’’

Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism scored 11 points apiece, with Chism also leading the Vols with eight rebounds.

Pearl changed the lineup Wednesday, starting junior college transfer Melvin Goins at point guard and Cameron Tatum at small forward.

“ Melvin put a lot of effort in defensively and really showed what he could do defensively,’’ Pearl said. “You’ve got to remember he’s just a few weeks out from (arthroscopic knee) surgery.’’

Freshman center Kenny Hall also had an impact, scoring nine points and pulling down five rebounds in 11 minutes.

“You’ve got to be happy with all three of those (newcomers) being factors and contributing,’’ Pearl said, referring to Goins, McBee and Hall.

Pearl said in the days leading up to the exhibition games that he felt Tatum deserved a start in the preseason on account of the hard work he has put in over the offseason and fall camp.

“J.P. came to me before the game and said, ‘let Cam start in my place,’ ” Pearl said. “But J.P. has also played very productively.’’

Prince was only 1-of-3 shooting from the floor, but he made 6 of 8 free throws, dished out three assists with no turnovers and recorded a team-high four steals.

D’Mario Curry led LMU with 24 points on 7-of-10 shooting (9 of 12 from the free throw line) and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

The Railsplitters hung tight with the Vols through the first five minutes, but UT’s continuous substitutions and swarming press eventually wore them down.

Pearl said the Vols will return to the court today for “two hard days” and advance scouting on future opponents.

“Then next week it will be all Austin Peay,’’ Pearl said.

The Vols open the season against the Governors at 9 p.m. on Nov. 13 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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Comments » 28

EB4Heisman writes:

For those that did not go, Scotty had a sick dunk in the first half and Kenny Hall is a man, he took off from the SEC emblem in the lane for a really nice dunk

TooLegit2Quit writes:

This team looks awfully familiar. I mean, I know this is an exhibition game and it's very early in the season but this team looks exactly the same. We still play sloppy, almost glorified street ball. We are still lazy on defense. This team really needs to step it up if we are to do anything in the Tourney this year.

TooLegit2Quit writes:

I also think we need to lose the press. It's just not as effective as it once was and it appears to hurt our team more than help it. So far it looks just like early last year, very easily broken.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to TooLegit2Quit:

This team looks awfully familiar. I mean, I know this is an exhibition game and it's very early in the season but this team looks exactly the same. We still play sloppy, almost glorified street ball. We are still lazy on defense. This team really needs to step it up if we are to do anything in the Tourney this year.

If you can't tell a major difference in this team then you need to look again. Scotty Hopson is much bigger, confident, and offensive minded this year. The other guys will probably be the same, the Vols will not win on the backs of Chism and Smith.If Hopson can play up to his capabilities and Skylar can take some pressure off Tyler and Wayne by making a few 3's then this team will be dangerous. It is hard to look "polished" playing a D2 team while experimenting with lineups.

VOLoom writes:

Hustle JP, don't strut, saunter or whatever it is you call that thing you do. And please don't make that face every time they call a foul on you. As a team don't believe your press, preseason rankings mean nothing. You must earn it, be hungry. Put as much effort in as McBee does every play and you will go far.

longball writes:

I'm glad McBee is getting to see some time, even if it is in preseason against D2 opponents. I almost cried when I heard Tatum started, but Prince isn't much better. Everybody whines about our point guard play, but it's the 3 position that kills me.

askUncleMaze writes:

in response to longball:

I'm glad McBee is getting to see some time, even if it is in preseason against D2 opponents. I almost cried when I heard Tatum started, but Prince isn't much better. Everybody whines about our point guard play, but it's the 3 position that kills me.

I agree with U.. JP Prince does not play team ball @ all.. He needs 2 b put on the bench until, He gets it n His head that B-Ball is a team sport... If we let B.maze stayn the game maybe it will be better this year.. Who subs a starting PG every 4 min?

alfrizzle097 writes:

Tatum and Hopson are both capable of hitting the three. The problem last year was their slow release. Part of the reason that Lofton was so deadly is because all he needed was for a defender to have his weight on the wrong foot. If Tatum and Hopson improved release speed on the three, that will go a long way towards fixing last year's offensive problems.

Its a shame that there weren't more set plays and a few post ups with the back to the basket by the big men. I was hoping to be able to see if the team had improved on their weak spots from last year. I think everyone knew that the guys can get above the rim...

Brian Williams looks like a different guy which is amazing considering that he was already a new man when last season started. Much lighter on his feet and much more agile. Still seems a little timid with the ball. Doesn't have a feel for when to go up strong and when to finesse.

alfrizzle097 writes:

And 17k in attendance? Maybe 7 or 8 thousand. I hate those fake attendance numbers when they have the scanners to EASILY provide the real numbers. I know it doesn't look as good, but at least its not a blatant lie justified by ticket sales.

vol88 writes:

in response to longball:

I'm glad McBee is getting to see some time, even if it is in preseason against D2 opponents. I almost cried when I heard Tatum started, but Prince isn't much better. Everybody whines about our point guard play, but it's the 3 position that kills me.

Agreed about the 3 guy. IMO that's where a big chunk of your scoring should come from. If your 3 can't hit a 15-footer, you're toast unless you have a 7-footer rebounding.

kevin151 writes:

Prince is tough to watch.... A turnover waiting to happen

orangeoptimist writes:

in response to TooLegit2Quit:

This team looks awfully familiar. I mean, I know this is an exhibition game and it's very early in the season but this team looks exactly the same. We still play sloppy, almost glorified street ball. We are still lazy on defense. This team really needs to step it up if we are to do anything in the Tourney this year.

"this team looks exactly the same." You don't know what you are saying.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to askUncleMaze:

I agree with U.. JP Prince does not play team ball @ all.. He needs 2 b put on the bench until, He gets it n His head that B-Ball is a team sport... If we let B.maze stayn the game maybe it will be better this year.. Who subs a starting PG every 4 min?

I'm thinking Pearl was just looking at lineups and options in the preseason. I'm sure he'll leave Maze alone in the season. GO VOLS

DonJuan writes:

Why is everyone soo down on Prince?

Not a team player?
‘J.P. came to me before the game and said, ‘let Cam start in my place.’
He had three assists…

Turnover waiting to happen?
… with no turnovers (on a night when the rest of the team had 17).

No hustle?
He led the team in steals. I don’t care what his shuffle to the bench looks like, he goes fast and makes plays when the game is on.

Complaining about the face he makes after a call?
Are you serious? You may not like his face, but that’s his way of letting the ref know he disagrees, and it’s under control. He will never get a ‘tech’ for that face when other players will for throwing their arms up or doing something else stupid.

Look, we all know the guy isn’t the best shooter, but he does bring a lot to the table. Tennessee is a better team when he is on the court.

Rockygrass writes:

in response to DonJuan:

Why is everyone soo down on Prince?

Not a team player?
‘J.P. came to me before the game and said, ‘let Cam start in my place.’
He had three assists…

Turnover waiting to happen?
… with no turnovers (on a night when the rest of the team had 17).

No hustle?
He led the team in steals. I don’t care what his shuffle to the bench looks like, he goes fast and makes plays when the game is on.

Complaining about the face he makes after a call?
Are you serious? You may not like his face, but that’s his way of letting the ref know he disagrees, and it’s under control. He will never get a ‘tech’ for that face when other players will for throwing their arms up or doing something else stupid.

Look, we all know the guy isn’t the best shooter, but he does bring a lot to the table. Tennessee is a better team when he is on the court.

Well said DonJuan. Prince is in on every play hustling, hustling, hustiling (thats for you kat). He's one of our better players that drives to the basket and follows his shot. Twice last night he was there to tip the ball in after Tyler/Wayne missed. We are a better team when he is on the court.
JP Rocks

kevinlimbo#326134 writes:

Bob Kesling: The crowd is hanging around to see if the vols can get 100.

Burt Bertlekamp: What, do they get a free sandwich or something?

PoochPuntOn3rdDown writes:

Most of y'all sound like a bunch of whiny babies.... I really can't stand this element of our fanbase. I wish that y'all would go find another team to b-tch about, like lacrosse or baseball...

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to kevin151:

Prince is tough to watch.... A turnover waiting to happen

Hopefully Prince is fully recovered. He seems to have a lot of potential and plays well when he feels well. I don't think celebrating after every good play is needed tho.

volsunited writes:

Didnt Jp lead the team in assists last year and one of the top 3 in steals and offensive rebounds? How is that not team ball and Hustle.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to TooLegit2Quit:

This team looks awfully familiar. I mean, I know this is an exhibition game and it's very early in the season but this team looks exactly the same. We still play sloppy, almost glorified street ball. We are still lazy on defense. This team really needs to step it up if we are to do anything in the Tourney this year.

While I would always agree that the team's overall game could be tightened up in some respects, I think you may be applying an inappropriate standard to its style of play. As I posted on another thread, it's not always about how well WE play, it's about how BADLY we can make the OTHER team play.

For one thing, it matters far less HOW MANY turnovers WE have, it's about HOW MANY MORE turnovers THEY have than we have. In this game, for example, they had 13 more turnovers than we had; if we score on half of those possessions, that's about 14 more points on that difference alone.

For another, for most teams, running up and down the floor for forty minutes, even if they are getting a lot of uncontested run-outs, is NOT the way they want to play. If they are still falling behind, they will be tempted to run it up there even if they AREN'T scoring and their offensive efficiency goes down. If they aren't deep enough or aren't used to getting up and down the floor that fast or that often, they will tire out and not be able to execute in the last five minutes when most games are won anyway.

The analogy is imperfect, but on a football thread, some Vol fan was criticizing Alabama's offense because, as he said, they scored all their points in the 3d and 4th quarters after the other team was tired. I pointed out that the other team was tired because of the bruising way Bama had played earlier in the game, and that that was the way they MEANT to play it.

CBP's Vols will seldom look as "pretty" as some teams, and a continued lack of a reliable half-court offense will hurt us against some of the better teams, but on the whole, this style is different enough from what most teams face most of the time that it will give us an excellent chance to win nearly every time out. As long as our depth holds out, this team could be REALLY hard to beat this year.

johnlg00 writes:

Sorry; LMU had 14 more turnovers than the Vols had. The Vols also had a 14-rebound advantage. Since rebounds either limit the other team's chances to score or increase our team's chances to score, each rebound advantage translates into at least one extra point for the team with more rebounds.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to askUncleMaze:

I agree with U.. JP Prince does not play team ball @ all.. He needs 2 b put on the bench until, He gets it n His head that B-Ball is a team sport... If we let B.maze stayn the game maybe it will be better this year.. Who subs a starting PG every 4 min?

I had high hopes that by now Prince would have his mind right; He's definetly blowing what little hope he had at being a NBA prospect..On the good side his one man show often works since he only plays half the game anyway..There are times when he's in the zone and for 10 minutes on the floor he takes over the game at a crucial time and pours in 8 much needed points..Case in point;late in the Memphis game which we won because of him..We can only hope that sometime this season the light bulb goes on.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to vol88:

Agreed about the 3 guy. IMO that's where a big chunk of your scoring should come from. If your 3 can't hit a 15-footer, you're toast unless you have a 7-footer rebounding.

I agree; Last year we (Tyler) struggled with shots 12 to 15 feet out because of double teams and just bad shooting..He used to be deadly from there hitting at least 60% or better and other teams were helpless to stop him..Hall and kick outs to some better 3 point shooters will proably help.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to orangeoptimist:

"this team looks exactly the same." You don't know what you are saying.

It's early to tell but this team may dominate like the Smith; Lofton team..Not many teams can boast a 10 man rotation!!!The thing I like is we have 6 or 7 guys capable of putting up 15 to 20 point games on any given night..If one or 2 are having a bad game (shooting) than someone else takes up the slack.. Brian Williams must start handling the ball better;He's must have lead the teams in turnovers last year..It's also time for Tatum and Maze to be consistent game to game..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good post; agree with all. I'm expecting a great year, but I HOPED for the same last year(:-/). I DO think we will be better this year for all the reasons you mentioned.

CleverUserNameVol writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Chism is a consistent 3-pt threat, but try to tell that to all the backwoods idiots on this board who spent all last year b*tching about "The big man being so far from the basket". You rednecks do understand that 3 is a higher number than 2, right? No? I didn't think so.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to A_VOICE_OF_REASON:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Win-loss predictions aside, I think many of us have had some of your reservations about consistent production throughout the lineup, the in-game coaching, and the definition and acceptance of roles on the team. The optimistic view--my view, until the team proves me wrong on the court--is that a lot of this can be attributed to the high number of newcomers on the roster last year. After a whole year together, players and coaches should at least have a better idea of what to expect from each other. It also seems clear that everybody associated with the program realizes that the team underachieved last year and will be eager to show progress this year. From this uninformed outsider's point of view, either the "objective" or the optimistic prediction is equally likely right now, though I am sure you will disagree.

DC_Vol writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

If you can't tell a major difference in this team then you need to look again. Scotty Hopson is much bigger, confident, and offensive minded this year. The other guys will probably be the same, the Vols will not win on the backs of Chism and Smith.If Hopson can play up to his capabilities and Skylar can take some pressure off Tyler and Wayne by making a few 3's then this team will be dangerous. It is hard to look "polished" playing a D2 team while experimenting with lineups.

I agree Scotty Hopson will be a force this year. His improved outside shooting and his aggressive moves to the basket will open up the middle for easy baskets for Chism and Smith. I expect both of these guys to even better in the paint. GBO!

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