Pearl still adjusting players' roles, rotation

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl holds his head as he walks the side of the court in the first half of the NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh in the SEC-Big East Invitational in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010. Tennesee won 83-76.

Photo by AP Photo / Keith Srakocic

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl holds his head as he walks the side of the court in the first half of the NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh in the SEC-Big East Invitational in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010. Tennesee won 83-76.

A wise man once said you can't expect different results by doing things the same way.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl approaches today's practice as the Vols (8-3) return to the court in preparation for Wednesday's 7 p.m. game at Thompson-Boling Arena against UT Martin.

The Skyhawks are 4-8 heading into their game tonight at Ohio State.

Tennessee broke a three-game losing streak by defeating Belmont last Thursday, 66-65.

And while Pearl was pleased with the result, there were plenty of elements in the win over the Bruins that weren't up to his standards.

"I've got a bunch of guys that could play better,'' Pearl said. "From an accountability standpoint, a lot of guys have waited for this opportunity, and the question remains to be seen whether or not they will take full advantage.''

Pearl constantly addressed two issues at the start of the season: 13 players fighting for 10 spots in his rotation, and four new starters taking on new and expanded roles.

While each starter has had their good moments, Pearl is not pleased with the end product, and the rotation is subject to change.

"We've got to work on not having unforced turnovers, free-throw shooting and offensive efficiency,'' Pearl said. "Our body language needs to be better, more mental toughness - the whole team.''

Pearl plans on sticking with a deep rotation, but some starting jobs and minutes could shift as UT uses the next two games to prep for its annual showdown with Memphis (Jan. 5) and the start of the SEC season (Jan. 8 at Arkansas).

"Against Belmont, eventually our depth played a role,'' Pearl said. "Just the fact that we weren't popped at the end of that game.''

The Vols went 27-1 last season when leading or tied with five minutes remaining and are 126-13 in the Pearl era when leading or tied with five minutes left.

Pearl, however, is not satisfied with the bench production this season, as the Vols' reserves have been outscored in seven of 11 games this season.

"They have to understand if your role is 10 minutes a game on the team, then in those 10 minutes you have the opportunity to be as productive as the starter playing 30 minutes,'' Pearl said. "And be as happy, and as willing to do the job and be just as accountable.''

Pearl said that with the exception of the second half of UT's 89-82 loss to Oakland on Dec. 14, he has been relatively pleased with the defense.

"Offensively, I think our shot selection is not good, and that's guys making decisions to go to their strengths and stay away from their weaknesses, to be unselfish and turn down shots,'' Pearl said. "We're not a pressing team, where we can press teams into submission and wear them down and win every game we're supposed to win by virtue of our depth.

"That's not the case because of the tempo this team needs to play at to be successful,'' he said. "We're too big and too slow to force tempo, so there are going to be close games. We know we can beat anyone on the schedule, but there will be a lot more close games than their should be.''

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 » 17

DSmith1669 writes:

Anything but FIRST here -

Ironcity writes:

Glad he addressed the pressing issue. I think our height at the 3 and 4 is not utilized effectively on offense if those guys don't post up the smaller defenders once in a while. It looks like this team is going to make every exciting and I am not sure if that s good or bad.

stompintheswamp2 writes:

in response to DSmith1669:

Anything but FIRST here -

Well thanks...I guess. I thought the whole purpose of eliminating the FIRST posters was to stop wasting time reading worthless garbage. I am sorry to tell you this but.......

RoadTrip writes:

I know we are waiting on the two quicker guards to get here next year to pick up the tempo. However, we lose a quick guard and those two will need time to ramp up before being thrown to the wolves. We lose our top two centers. This does not sound good to me. Tobias may be a two and done. I am just curious how we got in this shape after 5 years of recruiting.

VolMoment writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. It has been reported in many articles and on sports TV and Radio that he can be involved at practices and game planning. He just can't be around the team on game day. Go post somewhere else since you don't keep up.

rdrgtr writes:

I would give Brian Willaims less minutes and give Kenny Hall more minutes. If we are way ahead with 1:30 left I would put in Steven Pearl, well, only if we had 85 points. If we were 3 points away from 85 I would have to put in Tyler Summit and leave Pearl on the bench. This would give us a much better chance at those chicken dinners. Winner winner chicken dinner!!!

wigmeister writes:

I hope he gets it right soon as they have looked pretty bad as of late. Entering league play soon. No time for screw-ups. Wish they would ALL show up every game, at least intensity wise.

wazzya69vol writes:

in response to wigmeister:

I hope he gets it right soon as they have looked pretty bad as of late. Entering league play soon. No time for screw-ups. Wish they would ALL show up every game, at least intensity wise.

I agree, especially with "at least intensity wise".

Madkels writes:

Why does it seem like the intensity is only up as we play top tiered teams? These guys need a killer attitude no matter the competition.

SunshineVol writes:

There is to little movement during the first 20 seconds of ball possession on offense. The cutters just aren’t there. Maymon & Fields are excellent defensive players but the appearance is that neither can effectively drive the lane nor shoot the floater. If Williams hadn’t miraculously gone from shooting lay-up bricks to suddenly having a soft touch, basketball at UT could be much worst off.

This team has a lot of moving parts and getting them in proper synch is certainly a big challenge for the coaching staff.

vol75 writes:

Teams are pressing Tobias. Melvin is a street player. Scotty is forced to the lane to drive at a 50% turnover rate. Cam runs hot and cold. Don't worry about not having a center next year because we don't have one this year either. Bench adds little. All this equals no offensive identity. The optimistic view is that Hall and the freshmen will grow into expanded roles that eventually lead this team to greater success. Don't give up on this team. Circle February on your calendar.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

I agree back door cuts and give and goes have been few..Maymon is a great rebounder but can't make a lay up and his FT's are just embarrassing.Fields rebounds and blocks shots but who cares.Hall hit a beautiful jumper against belmont and might be due more playing time..Say want you want about Pearl but when he came in late against belmont the defense elevated and his man never scored or even got a shot off.AS it stands this team's success is based on consistent guard play..If Maymon and fields are seeing 14 minutes playing time than 6 ppg isn't asking much..Defense is good but scoring wins games.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

in response to rdrgtr:

I would give Brian Willaims less minutes and give Kenny Hall more minutes. If we are way ahead with 1:30 left I would put in Steven Pearl, well, only if we had 85 points. If we were 3 points away from 85 I would have to put in Tyler Summit and leave Pearl on the bench. This would give us a much better chance at those chicken dinners. Winner winner chicken dinner!!!

Kenny Hall over Brian Williams, tell the truth you haven't watched a game this year?

CUSA_NEWS writes:

Steven Pearl & McBee for Mayor and Sherrif

allvol34 writes:

It is clear that Steven Pearl is as good as anyone on the team on defense and loose balls. All of the Pearl haters posting here clearly have never played ball or watched UT play this year or last. Hopson has got to be more consistent!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to tonyvick#213307:

Kenny Hall over Brian Williams, tell the truth you haven't watched a game this year?

I'm not convinced any of his post was serious. Though I'd like to see more rotation at the 5 spot. They need more playing time to really get better...Williams though is a pretty sure rebounder.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to CUSA_NEWS:

Steven Pearl & McBee for Mayor and Sherrif

Stephen would have to be the sheriff as McBee would get run over. McBee for Mayor 'cause has more of a following.
Actually I love watching them both play strictly for their hustle...Maybe they get too many minutes maybe not ...just depends on who you talk to. I don't remember but one game where they out stayed their ability on the court. I think it was Oakland?

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