UT ready for Big East battle

Vols planning to limit No. 3 Pittsburgh's rebounding edge, get transition game going

PITTSBURGH - It wasn't too long into Tennessee's first film session on Pittsburgh that Vols coach Bruce Pearl saw what all the fuss was about.

"I've never played a Jamie Dixon team, but his numbers are staggering and after watching the film of his team it's understandable,'' Pearl said. "What they do all fits together, and it complicates any strategy you might have to play against them.''

Pearl and the No. 11 ranked Vols (6-0) face a No. 3-ranked Panthers team (10-0) at 3:15 today (TV: ESPN) that's bigger and stronger than UT at most every position.

"There are going to be a lot of great matchups within the game,'' Pearl said. "We certainly don't have the edge in the coaching box.''

Dixon is the winningest coach in Big East conference history (94-41, .696) and ranks third among active coaches in winning percentage - one spot ahead of Pearl.

Pearl said his 6-7 record against top-5 teams is best attributed to him "keeping it real'' with his players, and letting them know exactly what they need to execute to win games.

"(UT athletic director) Mike Hamilton came up with a T-shirt a few years ago that said, 'Expect to win,' " Pearl said. "In my case, in these type of games, it's 'prepare to win.' "

Ultimately the players will settle the marquee game in this year's SEC/Big East Invitational at the Consol Energy Center.

Pitt, like most UT opponents, figures to try to limit the Vols' scoring in transition by keeping its turnover numbers near its season average (11.6).

Tennessee, meanwhile, will try to control the Panthers' second-shot offense, as Pitt rebounds 48 percent of its shots missed.

A look at how the Vols starters match up with the Panthers:

Point Guard: Melvin Goins vs. Ashton Gibbs - Gibbs is a physical 6-foot-2 combo guard who leads the Panthers in scoring, and he can do it from all over the floor.

Gibbs is Pitt's top 3-point shooter, both in makes (33) and shooting percentage (.458), so Goins will have to be alert at all times and won't be able to sag off and offer much help defense.

Shooting Guard: Scotty Hopson vs. Brad Wanamaker - Wanamaker is the best playmaker on the Panthers' squad, leading Pitt with 5.7 assists per game.

"Wanamaker will probe the lane and can turn corners, that's why Dick Vitale rated Pitt's backcourt as one of the best,'' Pearl said. "Scotty goes to the lane to score and attack the rim, which is what we ask him to do. Wanamaker is more patient and sets up his teammates.''

Wing: Cameron Tatum vs. Gilbert Brown - Both players are 6-6, but Tatum is giving up 20 pounds to the athletic Brown, who is second on the team in assists.

"Brown is a physical player, but Cam is a cagey veteran,'' Pearl said.

Tatum will need to be, as the Panthers figure to try to post-up Brown in the paint.

Power forward: Tobias Harris vs. Talib Zanna - More than anything, the Vols are looking for Harris to play big on the boards, as Zanna is pulling down 6.2 rebounds per game and scores on put-backs.

"(Zanna) has a physical presence on the block, and he'll try to be physical with me and push me around,'' Harris said. "But there aren't many four men fast enough to stick with me on the outside, so I'll try to use my versatility and maneuver around him.''

Post: Brian Williams vs. Gary McGhee - McGhee is a 6-11, 250-pound senior who leads the Panthers with 6.8 rebounds per game.

Williams will be charged with staying between McGhee and the basket, as McGhee commonly gets offensive rebounds on Pitt's misses.

Like UT, the Panthers are deep at center and won't be afraid to use up their allotment of fouls.

Assuming both teams meet their main objectives - UT limiting Pitt's second shots, and the Panthers preventing the Vols from scoring in transition - the game could come down to free throws.

Tennessee leads the nation in free throws per field-goal attempt and is third in the country with 32.7 free throws per game while hitting at a .684 clip.

Pitt shoots .667 from the foul line and has made more free throws (158) than its opponents have attempted (156).

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Comments » 39

MusicCityVol writes:

The Pittsburgh Diary - Day 1

www.checkerboardchatter.blogspot.com

Can't wait for the game!

FatElvis writes:

You can't win the big ones if you don't play them. Great early season match up and this is when CBP is at his best. GBO

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to MusicCityVol:

The Pittsburgh Diary - Day 1

www.checkerboardchatter.blogspot.com

Can't wait for the game!

I hit suggest removal on ALL your advertisements.

AlphaMan1 writes:

(Wrong story to comment on, but...) Why did UT's provost, Dr. Martin, announce at the last minute that she was unwilling to clear Maymon for this game? Since the beginning of Fall semester this was UT's plan and apparently it was one that was based on precedence.

She has some big questions to answer, starting with-How long ago did she make this decision? Her answer will reveal whether she was clueless and incompetent or an enemy within of UT's athletes.

Greyfeathers writes:

Not to worry. Lyin' Bruce will pull them through. Lyin' Bruce can walk on water.

SouthDakotaBob writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen, well said. GBO!!!

MusicCityVol writes:

in response to Lostvolinhighweeds:

I hit suggest removal on ALL your advertisements.

Sorry...I guess???

Is it truly an "advertisement" if I don't make a penny off of it and it's something I occasionally do in my spare time?

I've gotten responses from several GoVols posters that they enjoy my blog. Just letting other Vols fans know when I get the chance to update it. No other intentions on my end.

volfreak#210492 writes:

Sure would be nice to have our players' stats against their players' stats. How tall is Williams? How heavy is he compared to McGhee? How many Ppg/assists per game do Goins and Harris have?

The comparison is missing the comparators without having to bounce back and forth between a UT sports site to get the stats and this article....

BigBadVol writes:

After reading this article, why should we even show up? Apparently, they are bigger,stronger, and better at every position. I refuse to believe that Pitt is that much better than TN athletically. TN will be in this game.

Dobervol writes:

So . . . Hammy "came up with" the slogan "Expect to win" a few years ago? If so, he stole it from Vandy's HORRIBLE marketing slogan, "Have fun; expect to win!", in football during either the Widenhofer or Dowhower eras. Add another one to the MH tally: stealing bad slogans from Vandy, of all places.

8ball writes:

in response to MrPearl:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't believe we have anyother girls less informed ...

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Is Mr. Pearl gone now? What a Psycho! LHM
PSYCHOOOOOooooooooo! His/her handle should be psychoposter!!! or nutjob or TROLLMAN/TROLLWOMANpersonlol

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Oh GBO Go Vols beat the Pitt!

8ball writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Is Mr. Pearl gone now? What a Psycho! LHM
PSYCHOOOOOooooooooo! His/her handle should be psychoposter!!! or nutjob or TROLLMAN/TROLLWOMANpersonlol

Can only hope..

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LHM there p13!? You may have gone a touch below his/her level! Well no you didn't...you're not even down there yet. I don't consider p13 Psycho and the"mrpearlhandle" is for sure.

rab63 writes:

I wonder how many times the announcers will mention the NCAA violations by Pearl. I'm guessing three.......once before the game starts, once at halftime, and one of them will have to bring it up during the game.

johnlg00 writes:

As a life-long Vol fan, I am surely HOPING for a win at Pitt today, but it is better for my blood pressure not to EXPECT one. If the Vols who played Kansas last year show up, or a team like the one that beat Texas in Austin in CBP's first year, this could be a glorious day indeed. On the other hand, if the bunch who laid down at USC shows up, we could get killed on national TV.

If Williams and Fields get two fouls each in the first 10 minutes or less, we could be in for a LONG day. If Scotty starts out with his too-common "thousand-yard-stare" and doesn't have his head FULLY in the game, ditto. Someone we don't usually count on for a big night, such as Tatum, really needs to step up, too. This would also be a bad time for Harris to start looking like a freshman. On the whole, I reluctantly conclude that too many things have to go exactly right--too many of which they can't control, such as officiating or shooting percentages, for and against--for the Vols to prevail but they DO have a chance. GBO!!! TCB!!!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Very Interesting! I don't ever use fouls for an excuse...but it sure seems lopsided so far!! Even the TV commentators said something. We are fouling a lot but they are too. Still we're good if we can keep shooting like we are and our D is awesome.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

halftime and "mrPearl" must be sweatin'! btw I wasn't serious about you or "MrP" being psycho. I'm just playin' 90% of the time on here...I don't take much of this seriously. It's all in fun to me.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

fouls are killing us...and I'm not smart enough to know why they are being called. I seriously don't want to go the 'jobbing' theory (we aren't in lexington), so must be how we are executing our screens has a ref pissed.

Comments?

wazzya69vol writes:

So far looking good; not sure about those "moving screens"--gave them the ball and foul shots. Hope Scottie keeps lighting it up. They're all hustling,,,GBO!!

Slystone writes:

Vols laieth the smack down on Pitt at this moment.

Tilley1 writes:

Good thing for Pitt the refs have kept them in the game, they may stay in the top 20 after this AS* whipping we just gave them!!

ps11824 writes:

Scottie, beam me up a win

Sometimes that bert birtleberry gets my goat. He's so whiney. I can't listen to the tv guys either, they are anti UT

Notice every move WE make is a foul. Has pitt shot 40+ freebies? The stripes sure like taking the fun out of a game... Too bad they don't have to use their own inner whistles. Bet they would be more selective with them.

Brian will have a little som'in som'in for the dweeb that threw him to the mat.

Tilley1 writes:

This is RIDICULOUS !! Everything we do is a foul and anything they do is nothing?? How can the last 10 minutes of a game last an hour!! OH well, GREAT win on the road at a so called "neutral site". GBO!!

eduardo writes:

Pitiful last 5 min of officiating...That last 5 min took almost 45 min to play. Should have eaten their whistles. Pathetic!!!

Tilley1 writes:

in response to MrPearl:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Where are you now MRPearl?? After that whipping we just gave Pitt I am sure you have something to say?? Get a life loser

Ironcity writes:

in response to eduardo:

Pitiful last 5 min of officiating...That last 5 min took almost 45 min to play. Should have eaten their whistles. Pathetic!!!

First 35 were not much better. UT wins by 30 if its not in Pittsburgh. Best I have seen them play. I have been an anti Goins guy forever but his defense and ferocity is something special.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I don't doubt most of the fouls called were fouls but it seemed to me they were letting some of their fouls go inside. Poor BW was getting used as a ladder. I'd like to see a replay to see if it was me just pulling for UT.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

As a life-long Vol fan, I am surely HOPING for a win at Pitt today, but it is better for my blood pressure not to EXPECT one. If the Vols who played Kansas last year show up, or a team like the one that beat Texas in Austin in CBP's first year, this could be a glorious day indeed. On the other hand, if the bunch who laid down at USC shows up, we could get killed on national TV.

If Williams and Fields get two fouls each in the first 10 minutes or less, we could be in for a LONG day. If Scotty starts out with his too-common "thousand-yard-stare" and doesn't have his head FULLY in the game, ditto. Someone we don't usually count on for a big night, such as Tatum, really needs to step up, too. This would also be a bad time for Harris to start looking like a freshman. On the whole, I reluctantly conclude that too many things have to go exactly right--too many of which they can't control, such as officiating or shooting percentages, for and against--for the Vols to prevail but they DO have a chance. GBO!!! TCB!!!

Well, alrighty, then! Never mind the above! Dang, Scotty WAS THE MAN today! He can hardly be this sharp many more times--can he?--but maybe his mysterious disappearances will be a thing of the past. I saw a tweet by Wes Rucker on the home-page where he asked when Goins will be recognized as one of the greatest defensive guards in the college game today. He has clearly earned that accolade already. And while he is not everything a purist might desire as a true offensive PG, he is absolutely DEADLY at the line in crunch time. Harris didn't have one of his better offensive outings, but he didn't melt down completely the way MANY freshmen do when they encounter their first bit of adversity. The officials were almost as hard on the Vols as I feared, but luckily Pitt wasn't making their free-throws. I was a LITTLE disappointed that the Vols didn't hold their lead better in the second half, and Jay Bilas had a good point when he said that the way the Vols didn't react well to press gives everybody else a clue about how to defend them. STILL, it is hard to see how the Vols could have defended better and the rebounding was a revelation. Basketball is a funny game, and there is no guarantee that so many Vols will play so well in every game, but this is surely shaping up so far to be one of the most enjoyable Vol seasons EVER.

Tilley1 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I don't doubt most of the fouls called were fouls but it seemed to me they were letting some of their fouls go inside. Poor BW was getting used as a ladder. I'd like to see a replay to see if it was me just pulling for UT.

NO WAY it was just you pulling for UT. There is no way the last 5 minutes of a game should take an hour to play! One word PITIFUL !

johnlg00 writes:

in response to dead_vol_foul:

fouls are killing us...and I'm not smart enough to know why they are being called. I seriously don't want to go the 'jobbing' theory (we aren't in lexington), so must be how we are executing our screens has a ref pissed.

Comments?

The Vols DO move too much on their screens, they reach a lot against cutters, and they challenge every possible shot. Also, in today's game, Pitt was trying to drive the lane and/or post up on nearly play, so they CREATE more fouls than the Vols usually do in THEIR offense. Still, it didn't seem Pitt was being called NEARLY as much on their screens, which were often moving, too.

All things considered, the Vols WILL foul a lot, as hard as they work on defense, but the big men simply MUST understand that they just CAN'T MOVE once a screen is set. The screener must be RIGID; it is then up to the ball handler/cutter to set his man up to make the screen work. Also, while the Vols get a lot of mileage out of their quick hands on defense, they still reach in too often when they don't really have a chance for a steal.

Sorry for the long post; I'm still a little hyped after SUCH a big win!

Slystone writes:

I will be very disappointed if Thompson-Boling Arena isn't rocking to the highest of heavens next game. Come on folks the Vols are undefeated and just knocked off two ranked teams from the Big East one being ranked 3rd. TBA should be sold out regardless if the Holidays are approaching.

Slystone writes:

in response to johnlg00:

The Vols DO move too much on their screens, they reach a lot against cutters, and they challenge every possible shot. Also, in today's game, Pitt was trying to drive the lane and/or post up on nearly play, so they CREATE more fouls than the Vols usually do in THEIR offense. Still, it didn't seem Pitt was being called NEARLY as much on their screens, which were often moving, too.

All things considered, the Vols WILL foul a lot, as hard as they work on defense, but the big men simply MUST understand that they just CAN'T MOVE once a screen is set. The screener must be RIGID; it is then up to the ball handler/cutter to set his man up to make the screen work. Also, while the Vols get a lot of mileage out of their quick hands on defense, they still reach in too often when they don't really have a chance for a steal.

Sorry for the long post; I'm still a little hyped after SUCH a big win!

John I agree on the screens but this was a poorly officiated game. Pitt got away with so much out there. Even Jay Bilas called the refs out on a few plays.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

BTW the way john00#2o6211 your assessment before the game I don't think was off. It's just that few of those things actually happened.LOL Hopson and Williams both were Giants tonight and don't forget GOIN'S D. MEN! argh

easleychuck writes:

in response to MrPearl:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Now can you just go away?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

BTW the way john00#2o6211 your assessment before the game I don't think was off. It's just that few of those things actually happened.LOL Hopson and Williams both were Giants tonight and don't forget GOIN'S D. MEN! argh

Thanks for not condemning me as a faint-heart! That's why they play the games. The guys REALLY came through and I couldn't be prouder of them.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Slystone:

John I agree on the screens but this was a poorly officiated game. Pitt got away with so much out there. Even Jay Bilas called the refs out on a few plays.

I was CERTAINLY not defending the officiating, just pointing out that the Vols DO foul a lot. I even said that Pitt was not being called for some of the same things the Vols were doing, if not worse in some cases.

johnlg00 writes:

PS to Sly: The Vols play an aggressive, hard-nosed style that takes opponents out of their normal sets and patterns. As MANY have pointed out, free-throw shooting is all but a lost art in the game today, so a deep team like the Vols generally benefits from sending the other team to the line a lot. That said, the team should do everything it can to avoid, well, avoidable fouls. Moving on screens, reaching in on secured rebounds, and taking bad angles on drivers and cutters--and then fouling WEAKLY--don't really help the overall defensive effort and they DO result in unnecessary foul trouble for key players.

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