Vols see a bit of themselves in Aztecs

San Diego State won't be bothered by Tennessee's style

Tennessee head men's basketball coach watches the NCAA selection process on Sunday, Mar. 14, 2010. Tennessee is a sixth seed in the Midwest Region if the NCAA men's basketball tournament and will play Thursday against San Diego State (25-8) in Providence, R.I.

Tennessee head men's basketball coach watches the NCAA selection process on Sunday, Mar. 14, 2010. Tennessee is a sixth seed in the Midwest Region if the NCAA men's basketball tournament and will play Thursday against San Diego State (25-8) in Providence, R.I.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl's first impressions of first-round NCAA tournament opponent San Diego State are the Aztecs look a lot like the Vols.

"They will press some, their man-to-man is similar to ours, they will use their length to make us shoot over them on the perimeter and try to take away our post game,'' Pearl said. "The way they'll guard us is the way we'll guard them.

"There are some similarities there.''

Right down to the teams' records (25-8) and the number of teams their respective conferences have placed into the NCAA tournament (4).

The Vols and Aztecs tip off at 9:45 p.m. Thursday in Providence, R.I., in a Midwest Regional opening-round game.

Sixth-seeded Tennessee has been ranked in the top 25 from wire to wire this season, staying at No. 15 in the Associated Press poll this week.

But 11th-seeded SDSU, coming off its Mountain West Conference tournament-championship run, is among the more vogue upset picks in the NCAA tournament.

It started with Seth Davis picking San Diego State to win on CBS's selection show Sunday night, and ESPN's Jay Bilas and Doug Gottlieb have since added their name to list of analysts picking the Aztecs to upset the Vols.

"People aren't looking for Tennessee to do anything,'' UT sophomore Scotty Hopson said. "What more motivation can you ask for? Even if we win the first game, we'll be picked to lose every other game, too.''

UT opened as a 4 1/2-point favorite, but the line has slipped two points, indicating the gamblers like San Diego State, too.

What are they seeing? An Aztecs team that's athletic, well-coached and extremely efficient in the paint.

"They have some very unusual rebounding numbers,'' Pearl said. "They are 13th in the nation in rebounding and eighth in the nation in offensive rebounding.

"They rebound 46 percent of their misses.''

In other words, the Aztecs make almost half their shots (.477), and grab the rebound on half of the misses.

"Their second-shot offense is better than their first-shot offense,'' Pearl said. "They go get it well because they are athletic, long and have good size at the two (guard) as well.''

Junior Billy White (6-foot-8, 235 pounds) and freshman Kawhi Leonard (6-7, 225) highlight the front line.

White shoots .588 from the floor, while Leonard is more active and versatile, leading the team in scoring (12.8 points per game), rebounds (9.9) and steals (45).

"Billy White will remind our fans of Renaldo Balkman (formerly of South Carolina, now with the Denver Nuggets); he's left-handed, quick, a big leaper and a guy who can really score,'' Pearl said. "Leonard reminds me of a combination of (LSU's) Tasmin Mitchell and (Vanderbilt's) Jeffrey Taylor: strong, productive and physically mature for his years as a freshman.''

Junior Malcom Davis (6-9, 215) rounds out the Aztecs' front line, shooting .548 from the floor with 7.8 rebounds per game and a team-high 50 blocked shots.

"He (Davis) is a lot like what we hope Kenny Hall will be,'' Pearl said. "Our points guards will be matched against (D.J.) Gay, and he can shoot the 3-ball (.383 beyond the arc).

"Our three man, J.P. (Prince) and Cameron (Tatum) will be matched against Leonard.''

Post Wayne Chism, who was named second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press on Monday, likely will match up with White.

Pearl said there's nothing complicated about the SDSU attack.

"They are well-coached, well-drilled and they get really good looks,'' Pearl said. "They're not complicated, but they put their people in position to be successful.''

The Vols don't figure to change their personality too much for Thursday night's game.

"Defense and rebounding has been our thing; it's been our formula for success,'' Pearl said. "When we rebound, and when we play defense, we win.''

The numbers bear that out: The Vols are 24-0 when out-shooting their opponent, 19-0 when their opponent shoots under 40-percent and 22-0 when the opposition scores 69 points or less.

The Aztecs, however, won't at all be bothered by UT's grind-it-out style: They are 22-2 when they hold their opponents to 69 points or less.

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Comments » 112

SmokyMTNVol writes:

Damn, which team will show up? Thats the one thing I hate about coach Pearls teams. They are like Jekyll and hyde.

VolGrad writes:

in response to SmokyMTNVol:

Damn, which team will show up? Thats the one thing I hate about coach Pearls teams. They are like Jekyll and hyde.

I hope the one's that beat KU and UK show up.

USNVOL writes:

A very nice story Mike.

OrangeVeins writes:

I think we'll DO IT! C'mon...really? They pick us to lose? Shame on them...lol!

1974Vol writes:

in response to SmokyMTNVol:

Damn, which team will show up? Thats the one thing I hate about coach Pearls teams. They are like Jekyll and hyde.

Less about Pearl and more about Chism. When Big Wayne can play 30+ minutes (read stays out of foul trouble) we win. See MS State & 2nd KY game. When he doesn't we lose - 2nd Florida and KY Sat.

SmokyMTNVol writes:

in response to 1974Vol:

Less about Pearl and more about Chism. When Big Wayne can play 30+ minutes (read stays out of foul trouble) we win. See MS State & 2nd KY game. When he doesn't we lose - 2nd Florida and KY Sat.

As much as I would like to agree with you I cant. Since Lofton left this has been the most frustrated I have ever been as a Vol fan.
No way this is on Chism. This is on the coaching staff alll the way.

Madkels writes:

in response to SmokyMTNVol:

As much as I would like to agree with you I cant. Since Lofton left this has been the most frustrated I have ever been as a Vol fan.
No way this is on Chism. This is on the coaching staff alll the way.

Agree with the level of frustration, but disagree with blaming coaches. This group does not have the talent or chemistry of our team 2 yrs ago. Their BB intelligence level is poor in the half court offense and has been all year.

SmokyMTNVol writes:

in response to Madkels:

Agree with the level of frustration, but disagree with blaming coaches. This group does not have the talent or chemistry of our team 2 yrs ago. Their BB intelligence level is poor in the half court offense and has been all year.

Who recruited these players? Who is in charge of developing these players? Who gives these kids the playing time?
Believe me I was a coach for over 25 years and yes it is all about the coaching, win or lose.

golfballs03 writes:

I love the fact that the line is changing is much.

golfballs03 writes:

Green, Bilas, Gottlieb, Forde, Lunardi, some loser on ESPNU. They all pick San Diego State. Bring it!

VOLKING writes:

Guys, you aren't gonna win an argument with SmokyMtn....he loathes Coach Pearl. But, I think he loves Petersen, Green and Houston. Or maybe he hates going to the NCAA tourney every year. Or winning consistently. Or maybe he just likes hating Pearl.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to VOLKING:

Guys, you aren't gonna win an argument with SmokyMtn....he loathes Coach Pearl. But, I think he loves Petersen, Green and Houston. Or maybe he hates going to the NCAA tourney every year. Or winning consistently. Or maybe he just likes hating Pearl.

Or maybe...probably he's really Sybil....at least he sounds like Tater, Dog25, BOK, etc.....because the same ire comes from them about CBP!

vols1987 writes:

in response to 1974Vol:

Less about Pearl and more about Chism. When Big Wayne can play 30+ minutes (read stays out of foul trouble) we win. See MS State & 2nd KY game. When he doesn't we lose - 2nd Florida and KY Sat.

You mean the Miss State game where Wayne scored a whole 1 point. Doesn't matter if Wayne plays 15 or 40 minutes, the ENTIRE team needs to play sound defense and keep the Aztecs off the boards. We do that and we win. 'Nuff said.

gillblog writes:

Another late tip-off.....uuuugggghhhhhhh......

nola_vol writes:

I wish our bench was deep enough now for us to press more often... a couple of key role players there whose defense isn't trustworthy (or seldom match up well with opponents).

It's hard to prepare for Pearl's press under Tourney conditions. Unfortunately it's not that hard to prepare for what we've been limited to doing the past two & a half months.

Maybe CBP's been holding a surprise up his sleeve.

(Subsequent posters can have fun with that one!)

CoverOrange writes:

in response to golfballs03:

Green, Bilas, Gottlieb, Forde, Lunardi, some loser on ESPNU. They all pick San Diego State. Bring it!

If that many educated prognosticators say it's so, put your money down...the other way.

dwa7#337691 writes:

predict:

UT 73
AZZES 68

TK writes:

Hopson should know a lot about nothing. That is what he did in the SEC tourney. Bruce should bring him off the bench for the NCAA tourney. He played well when Bruce benched him vs Fla.

cloudodust writes:

I think the 'experts' see as far as Tennessee's last game. BB lays claim to be streak oriented and if the UT-KY game is any indication, they say we roll in to the Tourney on 3 flat tires. I don't doubt the Aztecs will be gunning for a big win in Round 1. It'll be a team effort to prevent it. CPB, Let your guys run. Take the leash off and let 'em play...GBO

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to gillblog:

Another late tip-off.....uuuugggghhhhhhh......

Agreed. This makes staying up to watch the game very hard for us that have to get up at 5:00 to go to work. No game should start after 8:00 p.m.

4UT_N_LEXKY writes:

GO Vols...show Green, Bilas, Gottlieb, Forde, and Lunardi that we are to be respected in this tournament!!

TommyJack writes:

pizz & moan, pizz & moan. worst fans in U.S.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

pizz & moan, pizz & moan. worst fans in U.S.

TJ, you got that right. Wouldn't be happy if they won it all

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

two words.... Norm Sloan

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Two more... October 1989.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thankfully, CBP deals with player issues w/integrity.

lomas98 writes:

Looks like they have a pretty good front line, but I don't see how they will better than the front lines TN saw against KY, Miss. St, Vandy, FL, Kansas. It appears everyone thinks this San Diego St. team is one of the best teams in this tournament. Every year there seems to be a couple of teams the media tag as their cinderella so it makes them look like they know what they are talking about. This year San Diego St. and Richmond are the 2 winners. I think TN should and will win this game. It will set them up against a good GTown team but we will not be overmatched against them either.

TommyJack writes:

in response to budd#207344:

TJ, you got that right. Wouldn't be happy if they won it all

Yessir. Amazing.

utk1996 writes:

I heard from an administrator at a Big Ten school that the hot rumor at the Big Ten tournament was that Pearl was putting feelers out for the Iowa job (which wasn't open yet). I don't think he would go and the source doesn't either, but the job is open and they are planning a 43 million dollar renovation. Makes me just a little nervous. But really, that's a step down and would make little sense.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to lomas98:

Looks like they have a pretty good front line, but I don't see how they will better than the front lines TN saw against KY, Miss. St, Vandy, FL, Kansas. It appears everyone thinks this San Diego St. team is one of the best teams in this tournament. Every year there seems to be a couple of teams the media tag as their cinderella so it makes them look like they know what they are talking about. This year San Diego St. and Richmond are the 2 winners. I think TN should and will win this game. It will set them up against a good GTown team but we will not be overmatched against them either.

Yeah, you'd think listening to the talking heads of the sports world, that UT should be #11, and SDSU #6. Drives me crazy

brad2235951 writes:

Im as big as a vol fan can be but i just dont see us goin that far in the tourny this year. When u get to the tourny u need to be a good shooting team or a have a star player that can get his on shot during the droughts u have during the game. But come thursday i will be cheering my vols with all i have and more than likely be yelling at the refs as if i were at the game. Win or lose just give em hell while were there, at least were not at home like bama!

DC_Vol writes:

in response to eldee:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Eldee,

He has stated in previous posts that he coached high school girls for 25 years. Not really the same type of pressure college coaches face in my opinion.

Good coaches respect their profession. I suppose that is why SmokeyMTNVol never made it to the college level. He blames everyone else for his shortcomings.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

Can somebody please tell me why this game is scheduled so late? It just doesn't make any practical sense.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

pl3

I agree 100%

DC_Vol writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Excellent post!!! I agree 100%. I believe most of these guys who post negative responses, about the greatest coach in Vol history, are KNS wannabe writers. I believe they work for KNS answering phones and part of their job is to increase site postings to increase ad revenue.

No way anyway, with any knowledge of the history of UT basketball thinks we would be better off with out Pearl. They just come on here to stir the pot and increase the hate postings.

The truth someday when Pearl is gone, we will all look back and remember some of the best basketball memories ever for UT Basketball. We are in the Golden Age of UT Basketball. That is fact! Everyone continue to enjoy Pearl while we have him. True Vol Fans are enjoying the ride.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_Vol:

Excellent post!!! I agree 100%. I believe most of these guys who post negative responses, about the greatest coach in Vol history, are KNS wannabe writers. I believe they work for KNS answering phones and part of their job is to increase site postings to increase ad revenue.

No way anyway, with any knowledge of the history of UT basketball thinks we would be better off with out Pearl. They just come on here to stir the pot and increase the hate postings.

The truth someday when Pearl is gone, we will all look back and remember some of the best basketball memories ever for UT Basketball. We are in the Golden Age of UT Basketball. That is fact! Everyone continue to enjoy Pearl while we have him. True Vol Fans are enjoying the ride.

Couldn't have said it better.

lomas98 writes:

in response to usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid:

Can somebody please tell me why this game is scheduled so late? It just doesn't make any practical sense.

Just like all conference tournaments there are 4 games at the same site. Somebody has to play early and somebody has to play late. Some people will probably think this is another conspiracy against TN just like the seeding, but it is what it is. We either complain about our opponet, our seed, or time we play. As long as we continue to play in the NCAA every year I don't care if they play at 2:00 in the morning.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to lomas98:

Just like all conference tournaments there are 4 games at the same site. Somebody has to play early and somebody has to play late. Some people will probably think this is another conspiracy against TN just like the seeding, but it is what it is. We either complain about our opponet, our seed, or time we play. As long as we continue to play in the NCAA every year I don't care if they play at 2:00 in the morning.

Whoa, hold your fire, buddy... You're reading me all wrong. I don't think it's a conspiracy; That's why I'd like to know... I'd understand if this were a game out west, but 9:45 on the East Coast is awfully late!

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Go ahead... google University of Tennessee sanctions, and see what you come up with.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

yeah, you know, it's funny, but I don't specifically recall us having to forfeit games or suspend our program over that one... in fact, I think the NCAA was satisfied w/the way it was handled!

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

5 NCAA tourneys in 5 years coaching isn't good enough for you? your team was closer to slipping into the NIT. Remember this one? Hey, I'm going to go coach the Orlando Magic! Psyche! So Florida-like! Say one thing, then change your mind.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid:

5 NCAA tourneys in 5 years coaching isn't good enough for you? your team was closer to slipping into the NIT. Remember this one? Hey, I'm going to go coach the Orlando Magic! Psyche! So Florida-like! Say one thing, then change your mind.

Of course, if I were the owner of the Magic and saw this, I wouldn't want him coaching my team either.

http://www.mallardsbaseball.com/image...

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

KevDVol writes:

in response to utk1996:

I heard from an administrator at a Big Ten school that the hot rumor at the Big Ten tournament was that Pearl was putting feelers out for the Iowa job (which wasn't open yet). I don't think he would go and the source doesn't either, but the job is open and they are planning a 43 million dollar renovation. Makes me just a little nervous. But really, that's a step down and would make little sense.

Here are two words that may give you solace: Tobias Harris.

Pearl has resurrected the program to the point that he can recruit/sign the top power forward in the country. Hopefully, he will stick around to enjoy fruits of his labor for a decade or two.

TLepage writes:

in response to SmokyMTNVol:

Damn, which team will show up? Thats the one thing I hate about coach Pearls teams. They are like Jekyll and hyde.

i feel like we play well when we have a chip on our shoulders.... and let's face it, the haters are out in full force right now... Because of that I like our chances in this one... I feel like when people start buying into to us we never play well and go out and lay an egg.... I've noticed a lot of pearl bashing going on? What gives? Remember, he had to kick tyler smith off the team and he still finished the year #15 and with wins against kansas and kentucky.... I would say that he got the most out of his team this year and we probably over-achieved.... Next year will be our year if we can get Josh Selby..... At this point he is the missing link we need to be an elite team.... Selby, Hopson, and tobias harris would be an awesome line-up with the combination of two of any of our other players depending on our match-ups...

tneagle writes:

How is a 15th Ranked team a "6" seat?
Should have been a "4" or "5" seat.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

sorry, but close only counts in horseshoes, hand-grenades, and nuclear war.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

rumors... yawn.

Southland writes:

in response to budd#207344:

TJ, you got that right. Wouldn't be happy if they won it all

both of you fellows are wrong. You must be thinking of UK fans who think every ref and ever announcer is againt them They have never lost a game fair and square. But yes UT fans are doing a bunch of whining even though UT is doing a bunch of winning

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