Adams: Perimeter defense 'terrific'

John Adams
Tennessee fans cheer on the Vols as they take on the Ohio Bobcats during the second round of the NCAA tournament in Providence, R.I. Saturday, Mar. 20, 2010.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee fans cheer on the Vols as they take on the Ohio Bobcats during the second round of the NCAA tournament in Providence, R.I. Saturday, Mar. 20, 2010.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Ohio guard Armon Bassett was desperately looking for an opening on the perimeter as his team struggled to stay within single digits of Tennessee in the last six minutes Saturday afternoon.

All he saw were the clawing hands of UT's Bobby Maze and J.P. Prince.

They trapped him, stripped him and took off on another getaway basket in UT's 83-68 victory in a second-round NCAA tournament game at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

Bassett looked bewilderingly at an official and his own bench, as if to say: "It's not supposed to be that way."

It wasn't that way in the Mid-American Conference tournament, where Bassett averaged 29 points in four games.

It wasn't that way Thursday night when Bassett scored 32 points in the Bobcats' 97-83 victory over third-seeded Georgetown.

But it was that way all afternoon against a deep, determined UT defense intent on not letting Bassett and point guard D.J. Cooper work their upset magic.

You could attribute UT's success to NBA-like size on the perimeter, as well as the NBA strategy it picked up from the Denver Nuggets in defending ball screens, which are such an integral part of the Bobcats offense.

"The way they guard ball screens in the NBA: We had to go learn how to do that," Pearl said of his staff's off-season work. "In this case, we didn't let their guards get to the ball screen, because once they got to the ball screens and turned corners, it was anything they wanted."

Cooper and Bassett turned the corner repeatedly against the befuddled Hoyas. But they just kept running into trouble against UT's extended defense Saturday.

Their problems were best reflected in Bassett's one-on-one encounters with UT's 6-foot-7 guard Scotty Hopson, who had the lead role in stifling Ohio's leading scorer.

"You just don't see many teams, regardless of their league that have a two and three man that are 6-7," said Ohio coach John Groce in reference to Hopson and J.P. Prince, who was another huge distraction on the perimeter.

Bassett, who had scored in double figures in 14 consecutive games, made only two of 10 field-goal tries and scored seven points. Cooper had 16 points but made just five of 13 shots.

"They just played real hard defense," said Cooper, who's listed as 5-11 but looks shorter. "They jumped the ball screens … It was frustrating playing against a good defensive team like that."

UT so shackled Ohio's star guards, they didn't know what to do with their rare moments of freedom. They were 5-for-13 from the foul line, stunning numbers for two players who combined to make 80 percent of their free throws over the first 36 games.

"Certainly, Tennessee's defense is terrific," Groce said. "But we didn't have it.

"I think the biggest indicator to me is us going 14 for 26 at the line. That's not us."

Conversely, the Vols were very much in character. Their perimeter defense was the best in the SEC this season, as South Carolina's Devan Downey - the conference's leading scorer - could attest. He made just nine of 38 shots in two losses to the Vols.

There was a correlation between Downey and the Bobcats.

"One guy couldn't cover Downey, and one guy couldn't cover (Ohio's guards)," Pearl said. "So we gave whoever was on them help on both sides of the ball screen.

"We just weren't going to let those two guys beat us."

John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 34

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

Maze absolutely denied their point guard from using his left hand. That was good scouting and our d made it happen.

VolinCalif writes:

Thanks John. That was a good write up.

Down_The_Field writes:

sounds like good coaching to me.

keep it up bruce!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Keep corching 'em up, Bruce.

Next!

LEXKYVOLS writes:

Did you know San Diego State (18) has a higher RPI than Ohio State (22)?

volonthehill writes:

A positive article from knews: who would have thought that was possible?

volonthehill writes:

RPI is just a number. It doesn't really mean anything unless you play against the top teams. The RPI doesn't really have anything in it to reflect that. So Ohio States' RPI of 22 is more meaningful than SDSU's 18. Our RPI is way more meaningful than SDSU's because we have Kentucky and Kansas on our schedule. If you play a lot of crappy teams that have great records, your RPI is going to be higher.

UT4ever writes:

wow......best article of Adams' life.....John, there is hope 4 you yet!! wait a minute, maybe not!! HOHOHOHOHOOOO!!!

Brillovol writes:

Pin this win on coaching. I am firmly convinced we have some great bball coaches (women too, of course). If they could only cure that inconsistency problem...

As for today, I think I'll get me a nice, tall, cool glass of SWEET tea! Way to go, boys!

miatatom writes:

The players play the game, but give this one to the coaches who had a perfect scheme against Ohio.

GO VOLS!!!

beachvol1 writes:

Great, but it's over....now get ready for a better opponent, either OSU or GaTech....going to be tough, just wish somehow, could get a shot at Kentucky again...proud of the Vols....great game plan and execution coach Pearl...just don't leave us...last time you had a team reach the sweet 16, you left them...stick around...you look good in Orange!!!!

johnlg00 writes:

Maybe you forgot CBP's Vols made two Sweet Sixteens before this one! Except for Evan Turner--a HUGE exception!--neither OSU's or GT's back-courts scare me. The main difference between Ohio and both of them is that they have much better front-court players. Wayne and Brian are going to have to play even bigger than they did Saturday. It would also be nice if Hall really came to play. Still, with almost any team, if you cut off the head, the body dies, so the back-court will still have to play great defense.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

I'm telling you....there is not a single team out there that wants to play us, we are a very dangerous team with the best coach in the NCAA with the best defense in the NCAA and the best bench in the NCAA which pretty much makes us the best TEAM! Even KY doesn't want to face us again, but they will! Wheeeew that sentence was WAY to long!
VOLS....TCB....KOKO.....GBO!!!!!!!!

UTByrd writes:

That defense was something to see. I've never seen anything quite like it. It looks like a hybrid of man to man/zone. I'll call it the manzone defense.
CBP now has the depth to change game plans to defend low post games. I really like our chances. Keep going with your gut, CBP. I have faith.
Go VOLS!!!!!

Strap writes:

Mr. Adams did not comment on what I though was the key to the perimeter defense. The guards did a terrific job, but what really shut down the Ohio offense was bringing 6' 10" and 6'9"post players to the top of the key to apply the double team. All day long the Ohio guards would turn to find the open three and look up at Wayne or Brian towering over them. Congratulation to Coach Pearl for a job well done!

ibvolman writes:

in response to UTVOLSRROCKN:

I'm telling you....there is not a single team out there that wants to play us, we are a very dangerous team with the best coach in the NCAA with the best defense in the NCAA and the best bench in the NCAA which pretty much makes us the best TEAM! Even KY doesn't want to face us again, but they will! Wheeeew that sentence was WAY to long!
VOLS....TCB....KOKO.....GBO!!!!!!!!

...and poorly punctuated as well. (lol)

I am not sure I would say we are the best at this point. There is the issue of a lack of consistency that has poped up from time to time. Certainly, UT has the capability to play with anyone on any day, and beat them. Let's just keep hoping we move past the 16 to the 8 this time, and GO VOLS!!!!

BigOrange_supporter writes:

I hope we continue to play well, if, thats if, we lose, I don't want to hear the naysayers bashing CBP, he has done a remarkable job, also we have a top 5 class coming in next year. Another thing, what I like about this team is you never know who is going to step up. Keep it rolling, guys. GO BIG ORANGE.

vol_4_fan writes:

in response to beachvol1:

Great, but it's over....now get ready for a better opponent, either OSU or GaTech....going to be tough, just wish somehow, could get a shot at Kentucky again...proud of the Vols....great game plan and execution coach Pearl...just don't leave us...last time you had a team reach the sweet 16, you left them...stick around...you look good in Orange!!!!

This is his third "SWEET 16" since he left a team only to get a better job. CBP knows and has proved over the last 5 years that he can win at UT! Let us be proud of how much the program has improved and to know that we are only going to get better under CBP! Go Vols

BigBadVol writes:

The analyst for CBS have it right about TN. They are capable of winning this whole thing or they are capable of being blown out by 30. I hope they continue to stay focused. I also hope Hopson and Prince don't decide to go into a shell. Chism must stay confident and aggressive. The bench must continue to contribute. If these things happen, TN will win it all. Go Vols!

givehim6 writes:

in response to UT4ever:

wow......best article of Adams' life.....John, there is hope 4 you yet!! wait a minute, maybe not!! HOHOHOHOHOOOO!!!

Yes, I was shocked myself reading a positively written article about the VOLS from John, hope he didn't jinks us.

coastal_vol writes:

i would have loved to watch their perimeter defense but CBS chose to show the entire second half of the butler-murray game here in south alabama. they went to UT game with about 6 minutes left.

Pompey writes:

in response to Down_The_Field:

sounds like good coaching to me.

keep it up bruce!

Saying Bruce Pearl is a good coach is like saying Michael Jordan played basketball.......

BAFLETCHER writes:

Did anyone catch TN's 2012 starting point guard, Chris Jones, score 32 for Melrose last night against White Station in the TN State Championship at MTSU?

crappieking writes:

in response to BAFLETCHER:

Did anyone catch TN's 2012 starting point guard, Chris Jones, score 32 for Melrose last night against White Station in the TN State Championship at MTSU?

He is a really good player. The Memphis fans are trying to get him to reconsider and play for the Tigers. FOUL!!!!!!

richvol writes:

Great coaching and execution on the defensive side. Our defense has won most of our games this year as we are certainly no offensive juggernaut.

Another thing I noticed was Chism staying mostly around the basket and allowing us to rebound. The little tiff that Prince and Chism got into towards the end of the game was caused by Chism being out at the top of the circle trying to play guard...he has no business being out there or bringing the ball up the court. Remember the last game when he tried to dribble behind his back and got stripped? A perfect example of one of those stupid plays that are completely uncalled for.

VOLsince68 writes:

in response to Pompey:

Saying Bruce Pearl is a good coach is like saying Michael Jordan played basketball.......

Unfortunately, there are several on here that just don't get that concept.....

Great game yesterday guys. Coupled with the Kansas loss, we have a great chance to go deep in this tourney. Kansas would've been tough to beat a second time. I believe our next game could be the hardest until the Final 4 (IF they keep playing defense like they did yesterday).

Bring on OSU. A rematch from a couple years ago to get to the Elite 8. Only this time, we will continue on.

I'm pissed because my bracket is shot, but I'm loving the fact that we have a legitimate shot at going to the Final 4.

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to ibvolman:

...and poorly punctuated as well. (lol)

I am not sure I would say we are the best at this point. There is the issue of a lack of consistency that has poped up from time to time. Certainly, UT has the capability to play with anyone on any day, and beat them. Let's just keep hoping we move past the 16 to the 8 this time, and GO VOLS!!!!

I agree with your entire reply! I am well aware of our inconsistencies as I have watched all the games. I guess you could say that I am just a "Positive" person almost all of the time. GBO!

OrangeVeins writes:

I'm SOOOOO PROUD to be a VOL! (Win or Lose, it don't matter), but right now is SWEEEEET!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

in response to BAFLETCHER:

Did anyone catch TN's 2012 starting point guard, Chris Jones, score 32 for Melrose last night against White Station in the TN State Championship at MTSU?

Actually it was 35 points and he outplayed Joe Jackson. He is a terrific player that Memphis is going to go all out to get away from UT.

johnlg00 writes:

Now the Vols have to come up with another variant of that perimeter defense to keep Evan Turner somewhat under control. One thing I noticed about Turner is that he sometimes has a high, loose dribble. Our somewhat shorter PGs should be able to keep him too busy protecting the ball to really go off on us. We also need Hopson, Tatum, Prince, or someone to keep a hand in Diebler's face. If they can do both of those things, we have every chance of winning that game Friday. GBO!!! TCB!!!

Porterhouse writes:

in response to volonthehill:

RPI is just a number. It doesn't really mean anything unless you play against the top teams. The RPI doesn't really have anything in it to reflect that. So Ohio States' RPI of 22 is more meaningful than SDSU's 18. Our RPI is way more meaningful than SDSU's because we have Kentucky and Kansas on our schedule. If you play a lot of crappy teams that have great records, your RPI is going to be higher.

Not necessarily correct. Also takes into account the SOS of the teams you play. SDSU's RPI is pretty accurate. No more or less so than ours.

But if it makes you feel better......

volbald writes:

Keep coaching Bruce, and let's hope the team keeps responding. Go Vols!

KingsportsGoat (Inactive) writes:

in response to UT4ever:

wow......best article of Adams' life.....John, there is hope 4 you yet!! wait a minute, maybe not!! HOHOHOHOHOOOO!!!

I guess you missed the Fire Fulmer article?

volonthehill writes:

in response to Porterhouse:

Not necessarily correct. Also takes into account the SOS of the teams you play. SDSU's RPI is pretty accurate. No more or less so than ours.

But if it makes you feel better......

True, but I wasn't going into the details. The point is that for the RPI to be truly meaningful, you have to play a least a set of the top teams. And don't get the idea I'm getting the logo confused in this. It is easy to demonstrate that crappy teams winning most of their games can have outrageous RPIs without a truly good team having been in the mix. This is well demonstrated through the first third of the season when looking at team RPIs. There are a lot of real head turners in there. So, this effect continues to the end of the season, but not quite as dramatically.

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