New-look Vols make Pearl 'anxious to see what we do'

Four new starters open exhibition season

One of the largest overhauls in Tennessee men's basketball begins tonight.

"I've got four out of five guys that are new starters going in this one,'' coach Bruce Pearl said with exasperation. "It's going to look different. I'm anxious to see what we do.''

The Vols play host to Division II Brevard, the defending South Atlantic Conference tournament champions, at 7:30 tonight at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Senior Melvin Goins is a returning player taking over as the starting point guard, but other starters - senior transfer John Fields at the post, freshman Tobias Harris at power forward and freshman Jordan McRae on the wing - will be making their first game appearance in Thompson-Boling Arena.

"I'm very excited to be playing my first game in the arena,'' said Fields, who set a single-season record at UNC-Wilmington last season with 59 blocked shots. "My main objective is to help the team. Coach Pearl has given me an opportunity, and I don't want to let him down.''

Pearl said Fields would start over senior Brian Williams, who just returned to practice after missing five days with a sprained ankle.

The high-flying McRae has raised eyebrows in team scrimmages, shooting the highest percentage from beyond the 3-point arc when he's not dunking.

McRae, a finalist in the slam-dunk competition at the Derby Classic high school all-star game in Louisville last spring, said he hopes to please the fans.

"It's good to know the fans have been behind me, but I haven't really done anything yet,'' the 6-foot-5 McRae said.

But if he's alone on a breakaway?

"The crowd will be on their feet,'' he predicted with a laugh.

McRae gets the start on account of fourth-year junior wing Cameron Tatum being out with a bone bruise on his knee. Tatum was sidelined for three weeks before returning to practice Monday.

Harris said he predicts a windmill dunk from McRae, who has been working on a series of other highlight moves.

"There's no telling what he'll do,'' Harris said. "Me, I just want to get out there and get my confidence going, and show the fans that I can be an asset.''

Harris will split time at power forward with Steven Pearl, who has a team-best 11-4 record in the team's mixed inner-squad scrimmages this fall.

Sophomore post/forward Kenny Hall won't play tonight after re-aggravating an injury to his right foot Tuesday. Hall, who left Pratt Pavilion practice facility wearing a protective boot, underwent surgery on the same foot on July 23.

Senior Josh Bone, a combo guard, is questionable with a quadriceps injury.

Freshman Trae Golden will see plenty of minutes at the point guard position behind Goins.

"It's a big step to play for the team to play with fans in attendance,'' Golden said. "It will give all of us some adrenaline.''

Live Media: The game will be available on a video stream on www.utsports.com, and the News Sentinel will feature a live blog from the game in "Ask Griff."

Tickets: Tickets are $5 apiece, and the first 2,500 in attendance get a free schedule poster. Anyone who brings a book to donate to Knox County Libraries gets free admission.

Hamilton's Game: Brevard was set up as an opponent by UT athletic director Mike Hamilton, who worked in the Brevard College cafeteria from the time he was 15 until he graduated from Brevard High School.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. He may be reached at 865-755-5599. Follow him at http://twitter.com/mgrif32 and at http://blogs.knoxnews.com/askgriff/

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Comments » 20

GloryVols12 writes:

Too many injuries...hopefully we'll heal up quickly. Excited to see our team in action tonight!

Major_Magilicutty writes:

Love it! Can't wait! Go VOLS!

VOLDoll writes:

Just get rid of Pearl and Hamilton!
Anybody can do what he does if they cheat.

tomatosoup writes:

As I said before baby....It's all in the tomato soup!!!! I can't wait for this season and sure hope the fella's have been filling up on the tomato! Go Vols!

CoverOrange writes:

17 total players minus
5 not available due to injury or transfer status
5 available but with no UT experience
2 squad players
Equals
5 players with experience and available

Interesting way to start the season.

10SCVOL writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree. That will come back to bite us. When he misses a dunk or lay-up and we lose by two because he was showboating, we will remember these comments.

VictorKruger writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Speaking of misplaced priorities...why are you spending time on this site tearing down UT instead of on the UK site supporting UK? I'll ask you the same question someone else asked you a week or two ago: Why have you changed from a respectful commenter to a troll?

10SCVOL writes:

in response to VOLDoll:

Just get rid of Pearl and Hamilton!
Anybody can do what he does if they cheat.

note to VOLDoll: Kevin O'Neill and Buzz Peterson are still coaching....go to their websites and cheer for them. What Bruce did is not acceptable, but he admitted his mistake and is being punished along with his assistants. Get over it. If you think CBP is the only one doing that, you live a sheltered life. The difference in Pearl and Callipari is Cal would NEVER admit he had done wrong (see Memphis and UMASS).

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I've been off all week just to read comments by people who just want Tennessee to fail. Don't know why...I've never wanted Kentucky to fail.I don't know what kind of character Calipari has...I admit to some jokes concerning him but too many on here take it too far and seem to spend there days thinking of bad things to say about Pearl and Hamilton. The NCAA probably knows how to handle this...I hope.
Now Catscratch Your comment about McCrae isn't that bad and probably is true. Freshmen "stars" often get a little inflated. If it hurts his play we'll find out soon. One or two rejected dunks will take you down a little. I hope he keeps his enthusiasm and "cocky" attitude some.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to VictorKruger:

Speaking of misplaced priorities...why are you spending time on this site tearing down UT instead of on the UK site supporting UK? I'll ask you the same question someone else asked you a week or two ago: Why have you changed from a respectful commenter to a troll?

A person's true colors emerge over time.

TN2011 writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm an avid Vols fan in all aspects. I realize that we are struggling in a few area, but all teams go thru that from time to time. With that being said, I can't imagine ever allowing myself to be so consumed with another team that I would browse their sports news and post comments on their sports articles. Apparently, CatScratch is either a bandwagon fan that cares more about bad mouthing other teams than he does supporting his own, OR he's just a plain ole loser that has nothing more to do in life than to make senseless comments to try to start an argument, on a website. Or, maybe he can't figure out how to log onto a Kentucky website because these computers are just too dang complicated. Either way, it's just sad and I feel sorry for the poor guy. Good luck CatScratch! I hope whichever team that you are loyal to does well in the NIT this year. Go Vols!

LEXKYVOLS writes:

Kentucky's first exibition game $35 per ticket, Tennessee's $5 or bring a book to donate. Now that is saying we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!

LEXKYVOLS writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, but I do remember some folks paying $25-$50 to get into a "football" Orange and White game the year it was held in Chattanooga. I guess Tennessee basketball fans are smart but football fans are stupid? :)

murrayvol writes:

in response to VictorKruger:

Speaking of misplaced priorities...why are you spending time on this site tearing down UT instead of on the UK site supporting UK? I'll ask you the same question someone else asked you a week or two ago: Why have you changed from a respectful commenter to a troll?

Wasn't generating enough action with the "good ole boy" schtick I spose.

murrayvol writes:

in response to LEXKYVOLS:

Kentucky's first exibition game $35 per ticket, Tennessee's $5 or bring a book to donate. Now that is saying we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!

It's the only opportunity lots of Cat fanciers have to see their one and doners play.

nola_vol writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Certainly does not reflect the values of our generation, does it.

Nevertheless (or, "sadly enough"), dunks and show-play get seen on SportsCenter, YouTube, etc., and really do appeal to top-tier recruits who want to show their stuff in college so the NBA takes notice. Short-term, it's probably a net plus (no pun intended) for our program.

IMHO, it's not good for sport or society... but for now it is what it is.

VOLDoll writes:

in response to LEXKYVOLS:

No, but I do remember some folks paying $25-$50 to get into a "football" Orange and White game the year it was held in Chattanooga. I guess Tennessee basketball fans are smart but football fans are stupid? :)

Now do you believe PL3 is a former athlete? To damn laughable. Obviously he hasn't been to to many games, let alone played for the VOLS. What a clown

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I vent a little on Facebook...but it's ok I mean it has my picture and my name right there where every one I criticize can see me!!! Not that all these invaders comments aren't funny at times.
Also, I'm a fan and I've been to very few games in person. As a teacher and the only income I can't afford to go. I'm still as big a fan as most people on here. However if you can afford to go then you should...I know I would.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I hear ya, pl3! I could just barely dunk when I was that age, but I tried it every time I could! I don't remember missing too many of them; I could usually tell by the time I was up there whether or not I could throw it down or had to just lay it in. But maybe that is just selective memory on my part! Like most freshmen, I'm sure McRae will have his "uh-oh!" moments but I'm equally sure he will have quite a few "OMG!" moments as well.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Doesn't a "better team" look good by definition? Kentucky will dunk some and they will have some Knight highlights.,,unfortunately.
Oh and you UK fans must love that people are taking the scrutiny of your own coach for a change. However I wont say he ever cheated without proof. He sure did lose a lot of games tho' because of cheating!

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