Steven Pearl doesn't mind dirty work

Senior's goal: hit 75 percent at free-throw line

Steven Pearl knows fans weren't at Pilot Rocky Top League games this summer to watch his offensive exploits.

"I'm still the guy who does the dirty work,'' said Pearl, the rising senior and son of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl. "Diving for loose balls, taking charges, bumping and bruising with the big guys.''

And yes, taking abuse from fans - home and away - who will always see him as the coach's son.

"There are always going to be people telling me I'm not good enough,'' Pearl said. "It motivates me. But at the same time, there are some who like and appreciate the things I do.''

Pearl had two steals and two rebounds in the final 3 1/2 minutes of Thursday consolation game, but it wasn't enough for Ray's ESG (3-4).

First Tennessee (4-3) scored a 126-120 win behind 47 points from Lincoln Memorial University's D'Mario Curry. Former UT guards Bobby Maze had 33 and Jon Higgins added 19.

Bruce Pearl was in attendance to see former UT star Chris Lofton score 43 points in the loss and incoming freshman Trae Golden score 13.

Bruce Pearl's purpose at the game, however, was to be there in support of his son.

"Steven's doing the things I envisioned with his toughness,'' Bruce Pearl said. "He's already a defensive stopper, but he's also got the ability to take the ball to the basket and create. I'd like to see him add a jump shot.''

Steven Pearl said his shooting practice begins at the free throw line.

"Obviously, I've been a terrible free throw shooter,'' Pearl said. "This year I'll shoot 75 percent. Write that down, because if I don't, I won't be out there anyway.''

Bruce Pearl agreed with that assessment.

"He probably won't play much if he's not shooting his free throws,'' Bruce Pearl said. "But he's worked to get the respect of his teammates, then coaches, and now more people in the stands are understanding what he can do.''

Lofton said he's been impressed with Steven Pearl's effort from the onset, and now, his physique.

"Steven came in and was one of the hardest workers in the weight room when he played scout team, he competed like he was supposed to beat the starters,'' Lofton said. "He's obviously gotten a lot stronger and come a long way.''

Steven Pearl's style might not sell tickets, but as UT proved in its Elite Eight run, defense still wins.

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Comments » 13

cdldoc#211897 writes:

I have respect for the play of this blue collar forward. Toughest guy on the team. Now let the small minded critics begin.

Southland writes:

Say what you want about him, no one out hustles him.I am glad he is on our team.I am glad he gets to play for his dad and the Vols.He may get more minutes than he should but until someone beats him out of them he has earned them.He has the ugliest shot in the history of the Vols but he plays de and he does a lot of good things

tninct writes:

No criticism from me. He has made the most out of what he has, inspires his team, and understands his role. Wouldn't surprise me to see him coaching against his dad one day. Glad to have him as a VOL.

vol_till_i_die writes:

Steven worked VERY hard in the game tonight! I am excited to see what he does this season as a Vol!

jmlong111#464842 writes:

I like watching him play. He is like a turbo charger for the team. he has earned his time. I just wish the magnifine glass would come off of him for some little mistakes. When most of the team plays 80% so they can look cool, Stephen gets in there and bloodies it up. I'll take 10 Stephen Pearls on my team and watch the other team limp off the floor.

nola_vol writes:

Every successful basketball team needs someone who regularly demonstrates the basic truth that--even when jump shots aren't falling and seemingly everyone's finesse game has taken the night off--there remain other ways to win a basketball game.

Count me as a Steven Pearl fan.

I can ADMIRE the play of someone with a 45" vertical leap, 72" wingspan, who plays with point-guard quickness. But I can IDENTIFY WITH any one who gets the most out of their potential by learning the game, understanding their role, and working their butt off, on and off the court.

THAT'S real life, and what sport is at its purest.

CoverOrange writes:

Maybe with more players at power forward this year, SP can slide back to small forward and get better defensive match ups. Definitely needs to work on FTs and jumpshots, could also work on 2 on 1 fastbreak alley oop shot to Scotty.

tmartin writes:

in response to vol_till_i_die:

Steven worked VERY hard in the game tonight! I am excited to see what he does this season as a Vol!

I know what you mean. Steven Pearl is creating a lot of buzz around town with anticipation of what he will be able to do this season. The sky is the limit for this kid, he will no doubt amaze the Vol Nation.

smokeyrocks writes:

He doesn't have the same athletic skills but he brings a toughness that UT hasn't had since Steve Ray. Keep hustlin' little Pearl.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Maybe with more players at power forward this year, SP can slide back to small forward and get better defensive match ups. Definitely needs to work on FTs and jumpshots, could also work on 2 on 1 fastbreak alley oop shot to Scotty.

Agree. I see him at small forward, too. Last year he was mismatched against the 6'9" power forwards that posted him up and simply went over him. He's not much of an offensive threat, but I bet he can defend against any small forward you can throw at him.

Given that he doesn't take up a scholarship, the depth that he gives us is all good.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

I've never been a Steven Pearl fan, but I will say that he looks like he's understanding how to be productive. The guy has a great NCAA physique and if he continues to learn, he has the potential to be an important contributor next season.

largeandincharge writes:

if the curry guy is that good why do we not try to get him in knoxville?

vol_till_i_die writes:

in response to tmartin:

I know what you mean. Steven Pearl is creating a lot of buzz around town with anticipation of what he will be able to do this season. The sky is the limit for this kid, he will no doubt amaze the Vol Nation.

I agree! He is going to amaze us all! I definitely think he is working VERY hard to play this year. He is definitely ready to bring Tennessee to the 'ship!

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