Pearl: 'We're not there yet'

Vols get early wake-up call after exhibition loss

Bruce Pearl wanted the Tennessee men's basketball rotation to play out on the court, like it has in his first five years as coach.

But UT's stunning 79-64 exhibition loss to Division II Indianapolis on Monday night changed the plan.

Pearl started Tuesday with his players at 5:30 a.m. with a film review of the loss to the Greyhounds, and he ended it with a clear-cut 10-deep rotation following the afternoon practice.

"I like guys to play themselves into or out of the rotation,'' Pearl said. "But enough of the cream hasn't risen . . . we're not improving fast enough.

"I'm going to have to step in and define roles sooner than I wanted to.''

The 23rd-ranked Vols play host to Chattanooga at 9 p.m. Friday, and Pearl is intent on having his team prepared for victory.

"We have a lot of pieces that have to come together quickly,'' Pearl said. "Obviously, we're not there yet.

"It's not my job to make all the right decisions; it's their job to make my decisions right.''

One of the adjustments is freshman forward Tobias Harris becoming even more involved in the offense.

"Tobias is one of those guys capable of accepting greater responsibility,'' Pearl said. "He's in a position where I can put the ball in his hands to distribute it or to score.''

Junior Scotty Hopson, who fouled out after playing only nine minutes against Indianapolis, said the morning film session was as unpleasant as one might expect.

"It was very intense, and that's how it needed to be,'' Hopson said. "It wasn't a good mood; it didn't feel good in there.

"We saw guys have to stick to their strengths, and there were times we didn't do that. We can't panic or get complacent.''

Hopson said the silver lining to the loss is it could spare the Vols a more costly defeat down the road.

"I'm glad it happened now instead of later in the season,'' Hopson said. "It's very disappointing, but it's a teaching point for us.''

Pear joked the early film session wasn't as much of an inconvenience as one might think.

"I figured they weren't going to be able to sleep well anyway," he said, "I know I didn't."

Williams Cleared: Center Brian Williams, who left Monday's game late with an apparent elbow injury, was back with the first team Tuesday and didn't appear limited.

"I'm never coming out of game like that again,'' Williams said. "I can tell you that much.''

Sophomore Kenny Hall is still recovering from a foot injury and remains day-to-day. Hall played with the scout team Tuesday, though the drills were not at full speed.

10-Man Rotation: While the Vols' 10-deep can and probably will change, for the moment it consists of Williams and John Fields at the post; Harris and Steven Pearl at power forward; Cameron Tatum and Renaldo Woolridge on the wing; Hopson and Skylar McBee at shooting guard, and Melvin Goins and Trae Golden at point guard.

Remember West?: Former UT player Daniel West, who was unable to get cleared to play for the Vols two seasons ago, came off the bench for Rhode Island and played 20 minutes in the Rams' 83-75 loss to Pitt on Monday night.

West, whose eligibility issue involved a standardized test not being cleared, had 10 assists, four points and three steals at point guard.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. He may be reached at 865-342-6289. Follow him at http://twitter.com/mgrif32 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/askgriff/

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 » 33

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say we wont be talking about this come March.
Bones never lie.

lomas98 writes:

Mcrae not in 10 man rotation. Just shows more to playing basketball than dunks and scoring in summer league. This young man has all of the tools and hopefully he can contribute this year. He is going to have to outplay Woolridge to do it.

wigmeister writes:

Ya think!

UT4ever writes:

I would play Mcrae over Mcbee at the 2-guard....I thought he was much better, IMO.....

RoadTrip writes:

I hope everybody's confidence in their future performance is justified. At this point I do not see the leadership of last year. We lost some really good players that had guts and the ability to put the ball in the hole. There is ample talent - just need the guts and experience.

Not a Hopson hater - but give me Cam Tatum everyday of the week. Get Tatum, Goins and Harris clicking on offense together and everybody else in support roles. Keep them on the court together for 25-30 minutes per game. Tell Williams to rebound everything he sees and play tough post defense. Work it down to 4-5 other guys to go with them instead of 10+. You need guys in rhythm that play well together, not a bunch of loose cannons doing their own thing at both ends of the court.

My 2 cents worth - that is probably worth less than the 2 cents.

Go Vols!

thebadsamaritan writes:

From a UofMemphis fan...
I hope UT wins all but two games this year: When you play us in January and your first game of the NCAA tourney. We need your RPI to be high when we play to help our RPI/SOS. Bruce Pearl isn't my favorite person in the world, but he is a really good coach. Good luck this season - except for the two aforementioned games.

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

When we look back in late April at this team, we will remember this game, and hail Cam Tatum for getting us "there." Where ever the hell "there" is remains to be seen.

nola_vol writes:

Whoever scheduled this Indianapolis team (and coach) for an exhibition game was GENIUS. What better than to show your guys how it's supposed to be done, while there's still time to respond.

I'm guessing this exhibition loss to Indy will prove to have been worth 2 extra regular season victories for this team.

This is my nomination for "Most Valuable Loss of the Year" at the post-season banquet.

OldVols68 writes:

I was hoping basketball would make me forget the awful football team and season, but.....better not say any more:)................

needa_momma writes:

"We're not there..", obviously.

wigmeister writes:

How do we miss so many of these guys we don't ever recruit. Everybody always wants these 4 and 5 star recruits, and so many kids that just don't get the exposure are so good. Case in point - the two guards that just ate us alive!

1vavolfan writes:

Great to see Steven Pearl has made the 10 man rotation again...........not!!!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to UT4ever:

I would play Mcrae over Mcbee at the 2-guard....I thought he was much better, IMO.....

Pearl knows McBee has worked hard to evaluate his game..And now the time has come to truly find out if he can shoot 3's at a 40% rate.McRae's strong point is slashing to the basket..McBee is just a soph. and it will be interesting to see where he's at as a senior.

veinsoforange writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

I hope everybody's confidence in their future performance is justified. At this point I do not see the leadership of last year. We lost some really good players that had guts and the ability to put the ball in the hole. There is ample talent - just need the guts and experience.

Not a Hopson hater - but give me Cam Tatum everyday of the week. Get Tatum, Goins and Harris clicking on offense together and everybody else in support roles. Keep them on the court together for 25-30 minutes per game. Tell Williams to rebound everything he sees and play tough post defense. Work it down to 4-5 other guys to go with them instead of 10+. You need guys in rhythm that play well together, not a bunch of loose cannons doing their own thing at both ends of the court.

My 2 cents worth - that is probably worth less than the 2 cents.

Go Vols!

I agree with your logic. With Cam, Harris, & Goins being the scoring nucleus, guys like Hopson, Golden, McBee, Fields, and eventually McRae will contribute and fill in the necessary gaps.

Following CBP's rotation strategy over the past few years, you can rest assure this 10-man rotation will continue to be tweaked and shrink to more of a core 8, maybe 9-man rotation at most. He knows what he's doing. He'll get the chemistry lab in high gear!

martinvol34 writes:

in response to wigmeister:

How do we miss so many of these guys we don't ever recruit. Everybody always wants these 4 and 5 star recruits, and so many kids that just don't get the exposure are so good. Case in point - the two guards that just ate us alive!

We don't miss them. The beauty of Division II to these great athletes that could play Division I is that they can't qualify because they don't have all the "help" that the 4 and 5 star kids receive.

Just because it's D-II or D-IA does not mean it's inferior talent. One on one versus team - team wins every time! That's what we witnessed!

kazoo writes:

Did I read that correctly? Hopson fouled out after 9 minutes of play? That would have to be described as exceedingly dumb basketball. That's got to be some sort of record for quickest foul-out--good grief.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to UT4ever:

I would play Mcrae over Mcbee at the 2-guard....I thought he was much better, IMO.....

McBee has the cooler head ,but McCrae's talent can't be denied.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to kazoo:

Did I read that correctly? Hopson fouled out after 9 minutes of play? That would have to be described as exceedingly dumb basketball. That's got to be some sort of record for quickest foul-out--good grief.

It came from frustration and trying to make it happen instead of letting the ball come to him. He was by far not the only one to loose his cool...Goins was the biggest problem on the court. I say that with respect because I know how good he can be. He did not get control back on the offense. He can but nerves or something (perhaps their guards) didn't let him.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to thebadsamaritan:

From a UofMemphis fan...
I hope UT wins all but two games this year: When you play us in January and your first game of the NCAA tourney. We need your RPI to be high when we play to help our RPI/SOS. Bruce Pearl isn't my favorite person in the world, but he is a really good coach. Good luck this season - except for the two aforementioned games.

Never thought I'd say this ...thanks tbsam..

VolunteerLifer writes:

Best for fans not to overreact to a preseason exhibition game loss. (But I expect Pearl to react to it, and how) It's a long season, and the task is not to be at your best early, but instead to be there in your conference play and in the post season tournament.

I agree with other posters about Hopson. Give him the spot in the rotation and see if he can do a good job. If not, sit him down. Don't put pressure on him to be a leader. He's just naturally inclined to do that. Ask him to play his position as best he can and contribute that way.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

IMO this team will finish a respectable 3rd in a tough east but won't lead us to another elite 8..Harris might be SEC freshman of the year..Much will depend on the success of Goins;Hopson and Tatum..Cameron being the most important piece to the puzzle!!Tatum has the tools to be the most complete of all the guards and when he's hot and drawing double teams the floor really opens up for Harris to dominate..From what little we've seen so far the team is slowly building chemistry and considering all the new players our passing is pretty respectable and will get better and better in the all important transition game.Fields will probably lead the league in blocked shots..The intangible is Woolridge;who last year was totally inconsistent;as a junior he must play smart and shoot well instead of having 4 game COLD spells..All in all there aren't many easy games in SEC play and with slightly lower expectations this will be a fun team to watch!!!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to OldVols68:

I was hoping basketball would make me forget the awful football team and season, but.....better not say any more:)................

Actually I've posted too much today, but I couldn't let this one slide!
Anyone that thought the football team would turn around in one year lives in lala land! I enjoyed every game I could watch. We played with the best teams in the country...at least the first half and some games did well in the second half too. It'll take a coupla years maybe but we're headed in the right direction.

huntined#565710 writes:

Just not ready for BB yet as we have 3 big SEC games left to play and maybe another one if we win the three...

lomas98 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

IMO this team will finish a respectable 3rd in a tough east but won't lead us to another elite 8..Harris might be SEC freshman of the year..Much will depend on the success of Goins;Hopson and Tatum..Cameron being the most important piece to the puzzle!!Tatum has the tools to be the most complete of all the guards and when he's hot and drawing double teams the floor really opens up for Harris to dominate..From what little we've seen so far the team is slowly building chemistry and considering all the new players our passing is pretty respectable and will get better and better in the all important transition game.Fields will probably lead the league in blocked shots..The intangible is Woolridge;who last year was totally inconsistent;as a junior he must play smart and shoot well instead of having 4 game COLD spells..All in all there aren't many easy games in SEC play and with slightly lower expectations this will be a fun team to watch!!!

Agree on the east finish. If elite 8 is the goal just because they were there last year, I would suggest you lower expectations. This will be a different team. We will certainly miss Chism and Prince on the defensive end. Both were underated as defenders. Fields will be a force that we have not had from a true shot blocker.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to MrPearl:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Mr.Pearl"(Uwish)
Did you read my 10(stopped their to conserve space) reasons Pearl has been great fot UT? You probably haven't had the time with all the love you're showing UT on here. You should read some other posts as well as your own tho'. I mean just to get a perspective on how the real world thinks. If you think this stuff u post is funny??....ok. But if you really hate Pearl sooooo much then maybe you should talk to someone...well besides KNS news.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Forgive my typing "Mr. Pearl"(Uwish) I meant for not fot. Fot is what you put in your mouth...or maybe what you do every time you open it...hence the smell. (Don't worry I'm just being funny)(really I am)

JDL211 writes:

Heading into this game the Univ. of Indianapolis website was bragging "Men's basketball nearly beats Division I Southern Illinois" after losing 65-58. Of course, they were coming off a 12-15 record last year, losing their final 6 games of the season and 12 of the last 15. The Greyhounds just couldn't keep the momentum of the win streak against Cincinnati Christian, Lake Erie, Saginaw Valley and Robert Morris going and the season fell apart. So until this week, the good showing against SIU, only losing by 7, was something to talk about. I'm sure after drubbing UT on the road their fans are hoping the team can keep it going heading into upcoming big games againts IU Northwest, Urbana, Wilberforce (coming off their own big win against Allen College)and Brescia (the Bearcats for the uninformed). UT fans will be able to do some calibrating after the Indy - Brescia game, as the Bearcats took on Georgetown this week, losing a tough one 114-68.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

JDL211- your post means absolutely nothing. You said nothing that applies to UT!? I get that this was a nobodyish team we lost to, but this means nothing. Our loss to them more than anything else showed that they had 2 great guards...at least in this game. That's what beat us. Without either one of those guys we would easily have won....Any other night we would have won against any team you mentioned in your post, and you know it. That probably includes Georgetown but I'll have to think on that one.

JDL211 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

JDL211- your post means absolutely nothing. You said nothing that applies to UT!? I get that this was a nobodyish team we lost to, but this means nothing. Our loss to them more than anything else showed that they had 2 great guards...at least in this game. That's what beat us. Without either one of those guys we would easily have won....Any other night we would have won against any team you mentioned in your post, and you know it. That probably includes Georgetown but I'll have to think on that one.

Oh come on. I’m just having a little fun because your coach is a scum bag. But let’s engage. You said, “they had 2 great guards” and if they took those two off the court “we would easily have won”. Ok, well, there have been a lot of great guards who came out of Indianapolis and who played in Indianapolis, and then for sure in the state of Indiana, I just don’t think they ever, ever played at the U. And then, see, although your scum bag coach gets to pick the lambs to the slaughter opponent in the exhibition season, after that he has to play them. At home, of course. Your guys didn’t get beat at the buzzer by a lucky shot, they got beat by 15. At home. Then your coach had them be at the gym at 5:30AM (although to be fair most of them except his son probably just came in straight from the night out) to reinforce just how bad they can be. All year long now they will remember how bad they were against a really bad team. At home. Where every home team gets every call. The great thing for me is, because your coach is a scum bag, I was able to discover there is basketball being played at schools like Wilberforce and Urbana. Bless those kids.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Jaldlelet2or11, whatever? You still didn't make many points...you just want an opp to put Pearl and UT down!! Which may be funny to UK fans or MU fans or even Me when in the right mood!
2 great guards was NOT my only points dufus! An even more important point in my posts was the play of our guards. I believe (by past performances) that our gouards , especially Goins can play with anybody...They didn't play with Indy. They were nonexistant. Pearl,whom you LOVE to hate, was not happy with our guards either! It was plain on his face every time we gave the ball away. The 5:30 am thing? So what. I doubt the kids noticed it after a Mountain Dew or 2.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

GUARDS! but we may have played like gouards!

JDL211 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Jaldlelet2or11, whatever? You still didn't make many points...you just want an opp to put Pearl and UT down!! Which may be funny to UK fans or MU fans or even Me when in the right mood!
2 great guards was NOT my only points dufus! An even more important point in my posts was the play of our guards. I believe (by past performances) that our gouards , especially Goins can play with anybody...They didn't play with Indy. They were nonexistant. Pearl,whom you LOVE to hate, was not happy with our guards either! It was plain on his face every time we gave the ball away. The 5:30 am thing? So what. I doubt the kids noticed it after a Mountain Dew or 2.

I think it's funny you called me a dufus for my point of view and then referenced points you had made in your original post that you didn't actually make. You made the single comical point that if you took the two best players off a bad D2 team then your Top 20 D1 team would have won playing at home. And by that tortured logic, if your aunt had balls, she would be your uncle right?

lyons1960#229889 writes:

Pearly has always been a snicher or a leaker or a tattletail or.....just hope he doesn't turn Hambone in...or maybe he should and we could work out way out of the hole we find ourselves in all sports except Pat's.

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