Hopson standing out as defender

Sophomore tasked with guarding some of the SEC's best

Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson defends against Georgia guard Ricky McPhee at Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010.  McPhee scored 9 points for the Bulldogs during the game.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson defends against Georgia guard Ricky McPhee at Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. McPhee scored 9 points for the Bulldogs during the game.

It's not a whole new Scotty Hopson taking the floor for the Tennessee men's basketball team these days - just a more complete one.

Hopson has scored 14 or more points in each of Tennessee's past four games, helping the Vols to three consecutive wins and a move up to No. 15 in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll.

But it wasn't Hopson's scoring that UT coach Bruce Pearl wanted to talk about Monday, so much as his defense and focus.

Pearl believes it'll take a complete effort from the Vols (23-7, 11-5) to make a run in the SEC tournament, starting with Thursday's 3:15 p.m. game against LSU (11-19, 2-14) at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

"Scotty is now playing defense with a purpose,'' Pearl said, "and quietly, his guys don't score.''

Arkansas' Rotnei Clarke had made 95 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc entering last week's game against Tennessee - seven shy of the Razorbacks' single-season record.

With Hopson guarding him, Clarke was 2-of-8 shooting beyond the arc.

At Mississippi State, Barry Stewart was being honored on Senior Day, exiting Starkville as the Bulldogs' all-time leading 3-point shooter.

But against Hopson, Stewart was 1-for-5 shooting the 3-ball.

Hopson's latest turnaround - he has had a few false starts - began a couple of days before the Vols' road trip to Florida when Pearl singled him out for criticism during practice.

"That set a fire in me when Coach pulled me to the side and had that time with me,'' Hopson said. "I wasn't doing the things I needed to do as far as my contributions to the team.

"It made me realize the time is now to step up and play real well.''

Just to make sure Hopson got the point, Pearl kept Hopson out of the starting lineup at Florida.

The Gators beat the Vols 75-62 but not because of Hopson. The sophomore from Hopkinsville, Ky., scored 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting and played sound defense.

"I talked to Scotty about Eric Berry, and how Berry puts himself into position to make plays on the field,'' Pearl said. "Even before the snap, because of his anticipation, or as things are happening, he's one step ahead.

"Scotty was not that one step ahead.''

Pearl said Hopson's intensity and focus have carried over to the offensive end as well.

"The same thing was true with getting open, or understanding how (opponents) cover a ball screen,'' Pearl said. "Scotty has gotten better because he understands how to read the defense and react accordingly. He's thinking ahead.''

UT assistant Jason Shay has spent extra time with Hopson during the scout portion of the Vols' practices to aid the cause.

"At this time of year, the book is out on us and our players, and how we can take advantage of how a defense is guarding Scotty,'' Shay said. "Every time we ran a ball screen Saturday, Scotty made the correct decisions. He didn't necessarily make the shots, but every decision was the right one.

"Hopefully, that will carry over to the tournament.''

Wayne's World: UT senior Wayne Chism said the extra-curricular activity after Saturday's game at Mississippi State was a result of him taking up for a teammate.

"They were just mad they lost the game,'' said Chism, who exchanged words with Bulldogs freshman Renardo Sidney. "I was just letting them know, you don't run up on one of my teammates like that. I'm going to be there for my teammates.''

Chism said he's not worried about scoring one point in the win over the Bulldogs.

"That one point might look bad, but the win looked good,'' Chism said. "I realize that just my presence makes a difference for our team.

"Even if I'm not scoring, I can still rebound and get the ball to my teammates. They were all scoring, so I really didn't have to.''

Bracket Talk: The Vols are listed as a No. 4 seed in ESPN's bracketology, while CollegeRpi.com has UT has a No. 5 seed.

Pearl is hoping for a No. 3 seed, which likely would require UT beat LSU, Ole Miss (3:15 p.m. Friday) and Kentucky (noon Saturday) to reach the SEC title game.

"There's a huge difference between a 3 or 5 (seed), and there's a difference between being a 5 and an 8, and we've experienced both,'' Pearl said. "You don't worry about what you can't control. You try to put yourself in the best position. The last couple of years we've not managed to be in the best possible positions.''

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 23

tnaseevol writes:

Yea! Scotty talks as if he's ready to play! Good for him. Williams is doing better, we may have a top flight team for the SEC Tourneys. Hope WC is healing. Can't wait.

GBO

BigBadVol writes:

Looking at the polls, there is a commanality between no. 1 and no. 2, they have both been beat by TN. No team in the country has come close to accomplishing that this year. The Vols deserve a No. 4 seed at least.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ohio State had injuries to key players early in the season. Since then they've been rolling along winning 13 out of their last 15. Typical polls, move up by attrition of those in front of you whether deserved or not.

CoverOrange writes:

So what was the deal with Chism and Sidney? Griff makes an inference like it's a well known story yet this is the first I've read of it (outside of one post here yesterday). When? where? how? Griff?

VolInIndy writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Ohio State had injuries to key players early in the season. Since then they've been rolling along winning 13 out of their last 15. Typical polls, move up by attrition of those in front of you whether deserved or not.

Agreed. Having suffered through 10 years in Buckeyeland, I detest them but must give them their due (something Buckeye fans do for no one other than their own). Turner was out early on and he is the best player in the NCAA in my book so you can throw those losses out.

ArkyVol73 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Plasticman- Ohio State's RPI is 29. Their strength of schedule is 67th. Our RPI is 13th and strength of schedule is 22nd. That will go up though unfornately because of LSU and Ole Miss.

murrayvol writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Ohio State had injuries to key players early in the season. Since then they've been rolling along winning 13 out of their last 15. Typical polls, move up by attrition of those in front of you whether deserved or not.

The Selection Committee pays close attention to what you've done lately and OSU has done well lately.

If the Vols can continue their run, it'll make a difference. If not.....

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't forget Purdue was in line for a #1 seed before Hummel got injured. Our loss to them was the best game the Vols played all year (imo).

Thing is, they have losses to Michigan and NC that compare to Georgia and USC. Our loss to Forida was equivalent if not better than their loss to Minnesota. I can't imagine the rest of their losses are better than two to Vandy and one to Kentucky.

Its a function of perception. They started out slow and picked up. We had a recent stretch where we lost quite a few all together. Don't forget that the Vols also have been portrayed as an undermanned team since losing Tyler. Nevermind that it makes your wins get good press. That kind of portrayal makes voters more inclined to think that a loss to Georgia is indicative of the team than a win vs Kentucky.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to Pablopeepants:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Neither can I! I liked him in the beginning because he was so colorful and exciting, but his diarrhea of the mouth soon gave me the squirts as he obviously made you pee your pants! I do LOVE your name! Como esta usted?

BTW, love the way you are playing Hopson! Keep on keeping on! GBO!!!!!

ccantrell#227456 writes:

The good thing about college basketball, if you win, you advance. Polls will not matter. Our seeding will be comparable to OSU..They may be one ahead of us, same line, or one behind us. Just win..

FeelVol writes:

I appreciate W.C. attitude about sat. game with MSU and his performance.Wayne has matured leaps and bounds from when he was a freshman.I also really like the way we're rounding into shape this time of the year with seemingly a chance to make a nice run into both tournaments.Lets keep it rolling Vols!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Hopson's point production is definitely a key to success..His back door cuts to the basket on the baseline have been excellent.Tatum has also been a factor; He also has elevated his game..The vols must land at least a 4 seed for the tourney which is pretty probable..There is a very big difference in opponent quality playing as a 5 seed

CoverOrange writes:

in response to murrayvol:

The Selection Committee pays close attention to what you've done lately and OSU has done well lately.

If the Vols can continue their run, it'll make a difference. If not.....

Correct, Murray. I made a post on another thread that Tennessee is 7-3 in their last 10. The only way to improve that is to get to and beat Kentucky on Saturday. Do that and I can't see how OSU can't be seeded ahead of us.

Did anybody hear about the shootings on OSU's campus this morning?

lomas98 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I thing you are right about making final 4. In most cases a 5 seed is playing one of the last few teams in the tourney and those "bubble" teams sometimes are just as good as the 5. Right now Georgia Tech and Louisville are possible 12 seeds. I think both of those teams would think they could beat TN and very well may. A 4 seed usually plays decent teams but nowhere near the level of the 12's. In most cases when a 4 loses it is because the 13 played the game of their life or hit a last second shot. I think the 5, 8, and 9 are the worst imaginable slots you can get. I would rather be matched up against a Siena or St. Mary's as a 13 instead of GTech or Louisville. Just make it to Saturday this week and see what happens.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

Hopson just needs to work on offensive consistancy!

richvol writes:

Our half court offense has come a long way from the beginning of the season when we dribbled around the perimeter and threw up a three at the last second. The cuts and movement has made us a legitimate half court team especially with Hopson coming out of the daze he had been in...let's just hope he continues to show up for the games.

Also,it's not OK for Wayne to be OK with scoring one point. That attitude will get you beat and he should know better after four years.

samvol writes:

Looking good Scotty....Wayne is the MAN!!

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to Pablopeepants:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yea I watched it and usually I like the show, but your right it was a terrible show. As a Vol fan we want to win every game, but really this was a pointless arguement to spend a whole show on.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to samvol:

Looking good Scotty....Wayne is the MAN!!

Wayne didn't look like he was the man against Miss St with his 1 point.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

I like Pearl using Eric Berry as an example for a basketball player. The Big Orange Family. Go Vols!

VolunteerLifer writes:

The take-away from this is that when a player dedicates himself to playing better defense, the resulting agressiveness and pro-active attitude carries over to offense, too.

Way to step it up, Scotty. Keep up the good work. This team needs an assertive Scotty Hopson.

wayoutwill writes:

I can't imagine how the NCAA could give us a freakin' #5 seed,it blows or stinks that any bracketology group could do that like the one listed in the article above (college:rpi) has done!We are a solid #4 and should only slip to #5 IF we lose our 1st round game,I also belive that winning the SEC championship should make us a #2 seed and getting to the championship game should make us a #3 seed!I don't think any team can boast of the record "while under adverse circumstances" that we have.I realize that great coaches like Bruce Pearl are able to make miracles happen on a fairly routine basis,it's hard to belive that Bruce is not the "hands down" Coach of the Year!I guarantee that his players and us fans know who the Coach of the Year is and I hope that Coach knows that he is a respected and loved Coach as well as person by 99.9 percent of Volunteer fans and that other .1 like kool aid and a couple others have severe mental troubles that need to be treated by a licensed professional!

johnlg00 writes:

I've gotta say that "defensive stopper" is not a term I ever expected to hear in connection with Scotty Hopson! However, it might not be as silly as it sounds. I could point out three or four times a game where Scotty failed to help on defense or got caught watching the ball while his man back-cut him for a layup. Maybe he is that rare player who is a better on-ball defender than he is a help defender. After all, the thing we criticize most about him is his occasional lack of concentration and assertiveness. Maybe he responds better to simply being told, "See that guy? Don't let him score!"

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features