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.