Bruce Pearl pleased with Tobias Harris' production

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl has hinted that changes could be coming when his players return from their holiday break for Monday's practice.

"Here's how I left it with them,'' Pearl said. "I went around the room and asked each and every one of them if they could play better.''

Most all of the players for the 8-3 Vols will need to improve if the team is to realize its potential this season, starting with Wednesday's 7 p.m. game with 4-8 UT Martin (TV: CSS).

But Pearl has few complaints with freshman power forward Tobias Harris, who doesn't figure to be among the players who could lose minutes on the heels of UT's 66-65 win over Belmont on Thursday.

"I thought Tobias had his most productive game for us against Belmont,'' Pearl said. "He stuffed the stat sheet. He blocked shots, he stole the ball, he had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, he made a huge three and he got to the foul line.

"Look at the numbers, and write them.''

Harris, despite getting double-teamed much of the game, was 4-of-9 shooting, including 1-of-3 from beyond the arc, went 8-of-10 from the foul line, pulled down seven rebounds and posted career highs in steals (five) and blocked shots (three).

Harris ranks among team leaders in numerous categories through 11 games, including minutes played (27.6, second), 3-point shooting percentage (38.1, first), rebounds (6.2, second), blocked shots (10, second), steals (12, second) and scoring (15.1 points, second).

Super Subs: After reviewing the film of the Belmont game, Pearl was particularly pleased with the performances of Jordan McRae and Steven Pearl coming off the bench in relief of injured starter Cameron Tatum.

"The team responds to adversity,'' Bruce Pearl said. "I can't say enough about the job Jordan McRae and Steven Pearl did in Cameron's absence.''

Tatum suffered a rib injury late in the first half when he crashed over the team bench while chasing a loose ball.

That led to McRae playing a career-high 19 minutes after not playing in the previous three games and playing a combined 18 minutes in his five other appearances.

Maymon's Minutes: Sophomore transfer Jeronne Maymon also was productive in his nine minutes backing up Harris, grabbing five rebounds.

While Pearl recognizes Maymon's tremendous upside, he sees areas in which Maymon must improve.

"Jeronne Maymon provides us with a terrific dimension: great energy and toughness, and a tremendous rebounder for a man his size,'' Pearl said of the 6-foot-7, 258-pounder. "At the same time, he's got to finish plays, make free throws.''

Maymon was 1-for-3 shooting from the field and went 0-for-4 from the foul line.

"The question Jeronne would ask himself, are we better with him out there?'' Pearl said. "That's a question he's got to ask himself. He can answer that. Yes, we could be, but I don't know that we necessarily are.''

Maymon has played in three games this season, averaging 11.3 minutes, four points and 5.3 rebounds.

Attendance Up: Through seven home games this season, UT has drawn 123,889 (17,698 average) to Thompson-Boling Arena, compared with the 122,909 (17,558) the Vols had drawn through seven home dates last season.

To stay ahead of last year's pace, however, the Vols will need a high turnout for Wednesday night's game against UT Martin.

The Vols drew 21,936 for their eighth home date last season against then-No. 1 Kansas.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/mgrif32 and at http://blogs.knoxnews.com/askgriff/

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Comments » 13

Ga_Dave writes:

With the way we have played WITH CBP at the bench, I'm very worried about the 8 games coming up WITHOUT him on the bench. Merry Christmas all Vol fans! GBO

sambad writes:

Coach. Why not give Swiperboy a chance and give Pearl a seat at the far end of the bench? He did make 4 threes against Kansas and he can get above the rim when rebounding. You don't have to depend on layups with him.

wazzya69vol writes:

in response to Ga_Dave:

With the way we have played WITH CBP at the bench, I'm very worried about the 8 games coming up WITHOUT him on the bench. Merry Christmas all Vol fans! GBO

I was thinking the same thing Ga_Dave. CBP is so intense at the bench: yelling, directing traffic, calling plays, keeping refs honest, and changing tempo. I hope the assistants in charge during his absence will keep "the volume turned up" and players pumped and FOCUSED! Regardless of how you feel about CBP, he does give it a 110% (I feel) all the time. We'll be there for the game--it's not Kansas, but it'll be fun!

flatrock writes:

Swiperboy appears to be a great kid. He is not,
however, a defender, a rebounder or scrapper.
He will have a tough time earning minutes for Vols- or anybody the Vols play. Pearl, at least,
bring aggressiveness and an understanding of
what is going on. Not sure Swiperboy gets it.

Pullingguard writes:

Coach Pearl, the question a lot of us have is the team any better with Stephen Pearl on the court? Good kid, good hustle, decent defense, but not a re-bounder or a scorer so give me Maymon more minutes.

cdldoc#211897 writes:

Steven brought energy to a listless team. Immediately!

FeelVol writes:

Yes why would he not be pleased with Harris' production its easy to see he's our most consistent player and you don't have to be flashy to get it done now lets give Fields a few more minutes coach he's a much more active player than BW.

mcdevitt#229126 writes:

Same question is TN a better team with S Pearl on the floor - NO. Let the stats show it. He may hustle but he sure make more mistakes that good plays and he is another liability at the free throw line. He needs to graduate and move into the business world.

HtownVol writes:

He needs to involbe Tobias much more. He is obviously the best player we have.

VolGrad writes:

Swiperboy needs to develop some aggressiveness, tenacity and quickness. He still doesn't seem to be comfortable or fully in control of his lanky 6'9" frame. I had high hopes for him when he first came to the Vols, but mainly because of his pedigree. What I see on the court makes me wonder about his work ethic, though it is hard to see anyone who will not work hard on a CBP coached team. In any event, RW needs to find a way to take his game up a couple of levels if he wants to get any more minutes. Two of those things would be more consistency with his shots (33%) and the ability to crash the boards (11rb in 69min).

ORANGUTANVOL writes:

ALL of the southern gentalmen love MackBEE. Hes GOOD and we like him ad hes a COUNTRYBOY.

phippo writes:

in response to sambad:

Coach. Why not give Swiperboy a chance and give Pearl a seat at the far end of the bench? He did make 4 threes against Kansas and he can get above the rim when rebounding. You don't have to depend on layups with him.

who is Swiperboy

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Just a shot in the dark I know, but Maymon at 6'7, 258, with good hands, wouldn't he possibly make a pretty good tight end????

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