Fields has something to prove

Post player holds grudge against Charlotte

Tennessee's John Fields (25) blocks a shot by Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs (12) in the first half of the NCAA college basketball game in the SEC-Big East Invitational in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010.

Photo by Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

Tennessee's John Fields (25) blocks a shot by Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs (12) in the first half of the NCAA college basketball game in the SEC-Big East Invitational in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010.

John Fields has something to prove tonight.

The Tennessee senior transfer from UNC-Wilmington is returning to his home state as the No. 7-ranked Vols (7-1) play at Charlotte (4-6) at 8 p.m. in Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats.

The game will be televised by the CBS College Sports.

"This is a game I've looked forward to for a long time because Charlotte was one of the in-state schools that didn't recruit me coming out of high school,'' said Fields, who went to East Carolina coming out of Fayetteville, N.C., before transferring to UNC-Wilmington and UT. "It's my first chance to match up with them, head to head.''

Fields has been a key contributor to the Vols' early success, most notably in UT's 83-76 win at then-No. 3 Pittsburgh when he had five points, five rebounds and two blocked shots in 16 minutes.

"He's really had an impact in several games,'' said coach Bruce Pearl, who uses the 6-foot-9, 222-pound Fields to back up starting senior post Brian Williams. "John could be playing 30 minutes somewhere else, but he wanted to come to Tennessee and play at Madison Square Garden and Pittsburgh and compete at the highest level.''

UT, currently No. 6 in the RPI ratings with the sixth most difficult schedule in the nation, was Fields' top pick once he decided to transfer for his final year of eligibility.

"There were some ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) possibilities, but UNC-Wilmington stopped a lot of that contact with the (provisions of) the release,'' Fields said. "I think (coach) Buzz Peterson heard some talk about Wake Forest and some other teams on their schedule, and he stopped that.

"He didn't know Tennessee was in the mix.''

Peterson, who served as the Vols' coach 2001-2005, is in his first year as UNC-Wilmington's head coach.

"There was actually a lot of thought given to whether we'd take John; at the time Tobias (Harris) and Kenny (Hall) were both battling foot injuries,'' Pearl said. "It was the right thing to do for us.

"But another part of the decision had to do with John's personality. He's a VolScholar, and he's very mature and polite.''

Fields' easy-going disposition vanishes on the floor; he's best known for his high-energy defense and aggressive play around the basket.

"My adjustment to this level is going well, but I feel I need to be more productive scoring, maybe get two or three buckets a game,'' said Fields, who's averaging 3.8 points and 14 minutes played per contest.

"But what I really want is to get to my first NCAA tournament, and I'm eager to play in the SEC tournament,'' he said. "I feel this team has another ceiling we can reach.''

The Vols look to bounce back from Tuesday night's 89-82 upset loss to Oakland (6-5).

Both Pearl and Fields have their reasons for wanting that to happen in Charlotte tonight.

"I'd love to recruit in North Carolina more,'' Pearl said. "We have a great fan base there, and they have tremendous high school and prep school programs.

"It's ACC country, but we're one of the closest SEC schools to North Carolina.''

For Fields, it's about having the opportunity to play college basketball in his home state for what might be the final time.

"Charlotte is the Queen City, and it's where you go to show your talents in Carolina,'' Fields said. "That city breathes basketball.''

Charlotte holds a 4-6 record against Top 25 teams over the past three years, including a 2-2 mark in games played in Charlotte.

The 49ers have promoted a "black out" for fans in the arena this evening, and UT has granted their request to wear their white uniforms on the road rather than their traditional road orange.

Schedule Note: The Vols will play at Oakland next season before the Golden Grizzlies return for a game in the 2012-2013 season to complete the 2-for-1 scheduling deal.

Also, ESPN announced Thursday that the Big East Conference and the SEC have reached an agreement for 12 members from each of the two conferences to play in a men's college basketball inter-conference Challenge the week after Thanksgiving starting in 2011.

The new BIG EAST/SEC Challenge format features 12 games over three days beginning on the Thursday after Thanksgiving of each year. All 12 games each year will be played at home campus sites with each conference hosting six games a year. SEC teams will alternate home and away games.

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Comments » 15

rdrgtr writes:

I think you need more minutes there big guy!

MidTennVol writes:

I love this guy. He gives us a defense presence down low that we don't have from anyone else. Love the energy and the springs -- I bet he could touch the top of the backboard.

PopsinCapetownSA writes:

John, I don't get to see you often having to watch what is dished out here in south africa, but I liked what I saw the first time I saw you play. Keep up the good work and I'll continue to watch for tenn at 2:00 am in the morning even though I work day shift. POP$

eb502us#225637 writes:

No offense to John as he seems like a nice guy and plays hard, but it's easy to see why big name schools passed on him.

While he plays great defense and is a presence down low, his offensive skills outside of two feet are minimal and he's had four years to improve. Still, he fills a much needed role on this team and I hope he continues to play with a chip on his shoulder.

Gonzo4Cuonzo writes:

Pops,

I don't know if you can access the website, but www.firstrow.net streams pretty much every single sporting even you can imagine. They always have all of the UT games if you can't find them elsewhere on the net.

give_him_6 writes:

Congrats John, you a very tough, hard-nosed player. I love your defensive mindset. Thanks for coming to Big Orange Country!!!

nicknack1 writes:

Jay Bilas thought he made a dent in the court at Pittsburgh after that huge block. That block also made #2 on top 10 plays

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree with you BolivarBob, that was just awesome. Hope to see more of them tonight! GBO!

johnlg00 writes:

It is a hard and rare criticism to make, but it seems to me sometimes that Fields goes too hard and fast on the court. He might be more effective if he dialed down the intensity just a touch. I'm sure he feels that he has only a few minutes a game to make an impression and his MAIN job IS to bring energy on the floor, but he just seems sometimes to be rushing around the floor without a real plan. He will get most of his points on put-backs, so he should perhaps be looking more for offensive rebounds by moving his feet more and jumping over people less.

botetourtvol2 writes:

Melvin's dunk in the Pitt game was impressive - if you recorded it on dvr - watch it frame by frame - dude has major lift

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I always like it when I agree with John00#206211!?
Fields DOES need to bring more brains and a little less energy. I also agree with Bolivar bob about that awesome (if not thought out) block against Pitt. Rebounds though are always, better than blocks. I'd rather see him reaching for the ball than slappin at it.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to botetourtvol2:

Melvin's dunk in the Pitt game was impressive - if you recorded it on dvr - watch it frame by frame - dude has major lift

Goins (right now) may be my favorite player (including Cam). I'm very nervous when he goes to the bench.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

tied at 26! oops 28-26 charlotte!? I hate zone

huntined#565710 writes:

Someone go to the airport in PITT and see if you can find our VOLS as they did not get on the plane and return to TENN..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

Someone go to the airport in PITT and see if you can find our VOLS as they did not get on the plane and return to TENN..

So it seems! I wonder how the players, coaches, and fans of Pitt and 'Nova feel right now--"How did we ever lose to THOSE guys?!?!" I'm afraid this team is going be a bunch of teasers all year long. It would be a subject for a DEEP study in social psychology to explain how a team can be so schizoid; manic-depressive, almost, to use an old-fashioned term.

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