Things can change in a New York minute for Vols

Cameron Tatum talks about what it will take to win NIT

NEW YORK - It has been said that the present in New York is so powerful that the past is lost.

The Tennessee men's basketball team is hoping that proves true, if only for this evening, as the Vols play No. 7 Villanova (5-0) in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game in Madison Square Garden (TV: ESPN, 5 p.m.).

The 24th-ranked Vols (4-0) will be in search of their first tournament championship in Bruce Pearl's six-year tenure at UT.

"If we can win this,'' UT post Brian Williams said in the days leading up to the tournament, "they'll have to talk about our team.''

The Vols have received plenty of attention early this season, but most of it has involved the ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting-related violations and Pearl's misleading testimony with investigators.

In the meantime, Tennessee has quietly gotten off to its sixth consecutive 4-0 start.

Tonight's game offers the Vols an opportunity to do something no other Pearl-coached team has done: win a tournament.

"Doing something that hasn't been done in a long time would be special and get us back to being talked about for what we're doing on the court,'' UT junior Cameron Tatum said. "Every team I've been on here, we've made it to the championship game, but we've never finished the mission.''

The Vols lost to Purdue, 73-72, in the title game of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam in St. Thomas last season.

Two years, ago, at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., Gonzaga defeated UT, 83-74, in the finale.

The Vols played in the Legends Classic in Newark, N.J., in 2007 and got blown out by Texas, 97-78.

Villanova, which has won 17 consecutive games in the month of November dating back to 2007 - including Wednesday's 82-70 win over UCLA - is a formidable opponent.

"They have a great backcourt, and it's a very tough cover for us,'' Pearl said. "They are very good in transition, and we have struggled at times to get matched up. We better find those three guards.''

Senior guard Corey Fisher leads the Wildcats with an 18.4 points-per-game average and scored 26 in Villanova's win over the Bruins. Senior guard Corey Stokes leads the Wildcats' 3-point attack, hitting 13 of 33 (.393), and sophomore guard Maalik Wayns has a team-high 31 assists.

UCLA coach Ben Howland said the Bruins simply couldn't stop the Wildcats' three-headed monster.

"We were trying to slow them in transition and stay in front of the ball, which was really a big problem with their guards,'' said Howland, whose team never led and trailed by as many as 15 points.

"They were able to attack our bigs when they got by our guards. They don't turn it over a lot. They are very good at spreading you out, and they get to the line.''

Tennessee believes it could have an advantage inside, but only if the 6-foot-10, 260-pound Williams can hold his own with Wildcats sophomore post Mouphtaou Yarou (6-10, 250).

"It's going to be a tough assignment, but I think I'm ready for it,'' Williams said. "I've been working with Wayne Chism for four years, so I don't think there's a tougher post in the nation.''

The Vols might not face a tougher crowd, either.

Villanova, a Big East power from nearby Philadelphia, will enjoy a partisan crowd as well as having their cheerleaders and pep band on hand.

"It will have a road game feel for us,'' said Pearl, whose team has neither a pep band nor cheerleaders at Madison Square Garden. "It could elevate Villanova's play, but it should not detract from ours.

"We will have to continue to step up if we're going to take advantage of this great opportunity.''

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/mgrif32 and at http://blogs.knoxnews.com/askgriff/

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 40

Rickbox writes:

First, woohoo! Beating these Wildcats will be good practice for any others on our schedule.

wigmeister writes:

They are going into a big time game. Big time opponent, #6 in the country. Big time venue. Big time national TV audience. Hunker down, play smart, and make us proud!!!

theoldbear writes:

If Brian Williams really thinks that Wayne Chism is as tough a post player as there is in the nation, he's in for a rude awakening and we're in for a long season. Tough is not a word I'd use to describe Wayne Chism.

We are going to need tough play inside from Williams and outside from three or four guards. Wish I knew if Josh Bone was available. He may be our best "stopper" out front.

I watched Villanova play UCLA. I'm worried, scared, threatened.

If the Vols win this game, it will be one of the biggest wins of Bruce Pearl's tenure.

crutch1966 writes:

if it started at 5 is this thing not over yet?

rockytopatl writes:

in response to crutch1966:

if it started at 5 is this thing not over yet?

How many times do people have to be told that these stories are written for the next day's newspaper?

volfreak#210492 writes:

in response to crutch1966:

if it started at 5 is this thing not over yet?

Um, the game is not until Friday... As has been posted on many occasions, the stories for the next day's paper are posted on-line the evening before.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Griffith didn't write the headline. Blame that on a copy editor.

crutch1966 writes:

whoops! sorry. no need to be ugly about it.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ZZ, you would know because you've been here posting about five years. Too bad about your Gators crashing and burning. What a shame to see all those 5*s totally wasted by mediocre coaching.

You know something else? I would take our freshman QB over Brantley or any of his stand-ins.

theoldbear writes:

Folks, I just read a story on line about Corey Fisher, a 6'1" guard who starts for Villanova.

Seems he scored 105 points in a summer league game in NYC.

Go Vols, stop Corey Fisher!

OwensboroVol writes:

I watched the game yesterday and the Vols aren't going to beat anyone until they start practicing their free throws. I've seen middle school teams shoot better from the line than these grown men. It was pathetic watching them miss shot after shot. VCU would not have been in the game if the Vols had hit their free throws.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to theoldbear:

If Brian Williams really thinks that Wayne Chism is as tough a post player as there is in the nation, he's in for a rude awakening and we're in for a long season. Tough is not a word I'd use to describe Wayne Chism.

We are going to need tough play inside from Williams and outside from three or four guards. Wish I knew if Josh Bone was available. He may be our best "stopper" out front.

I watched Villanova play UCLA. I'm worried, scared, threatened.

If the Vols win this game, it will be one of the biggest wins of Bruce Pearl's tenure.

Plumb damn stupid are your posts

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I think we'll win...Our overall team is better than their 3 guards.

UT 89- Villains 85

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No Tn shouldnt have a problem next year.Fla will continue to have problems next year.Let me guess Urbie will be rotating 4 QBs next year ?

HtownVol writes:

in response to theoldbear:

If Brian Williams really thinks that Wayne Chism is as tough a post player as there is in the nation, he's in for a rude awakening and we're in for a long season. Tough is not a word I'd use to describe Wayne Chism.

We are going to need tough play inside from Williams and outside from three or four guards. Wish I knew if Josh Bone was available. He may be our best "stopper" out front.

I watched Villanova play UCLA. I'm worried, scared, threatened.

If the Vols win this game, it will be one of the biggest wins of Bruce Pearl's tenure.

If you watched the game yesterday they showed Bone on the side with a cast on his hand. I think he has 3-4 more weeks atleast. Broken hand (or wrist).

On another note we are going to be much better in a month by getting a big time big man (Maymon) and Bone coming back so we never have to play McBee at Point. I like McBee but he is no PG, needs work on his screen Defense and a big time Hair Cut (he is no Steve Nash!)

rockytopatl writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well Shirley, I won't book it like you always do, but I think it could very well happen.

DooleysOrangePants writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

glad to see the VOLS r still in ur heart.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'll tell you what is a given, Little ZZ. The Gators are on the way down, and the Vols are on the way up. You see it in Urbie's sad little eyes every time you see him on the sidelines.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I think we'll win...Our overall team is better than their 3 guards.

UT 89- Villains 85

Love your optimism! Hope our guys rise to the occasion! GBO!!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vol guys and gals,

The topic is Tennessee basketball. Question..........
what is this freakin' troll ZZ doing here again???

Troll ZZ, find a life somewhere, crawl out of Lake Alice and find one.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ZZ, I live in Atlanta, not Knoxville, but if there had been fires in the streets, I know I would have heard about them. Meanwhile, down in Gainesville, Urbie is burning the midnight oil trying, trying, trying to find an offense. He has no idea where it's all gone. Maybe Denver??

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Ethel,The only thing thats a given, is the gayfors are on a downward spirl and you even know it.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

Cam, guys....
ain't no one going to pay attention at all to you guys. Enjoy the 'free pass'.

In the VCU game, they spent all night gushing about the ball-headed shaka dude. They (announcers) never quite got to the point that they realized he was being 'out-chessed' by Bruce....or they didn't want to compliment Bruce.

IMHO, all season will be about Bruce; this can be a good thing if it brings the players together and they play with some anger.

richvol writes:

in response to HtownVol:

If you watched the game yesterday they showed Bone on the side with a cast on his hand. I think he has 3-4 more weeks atleast. Broken hand (or wrist).

On another note we are going to be much better in a month by getting a big time big man (Maymon) and Bone coming back so we never have to play McBee at Point. I like McBee but he is no PG, needs work on his screen Defense and a big time Hair Cut (he is no Steve Nash!)

I would be happy if McBee could hit a shot in a game...he may be a great shooter in practice but he can't hit anything in a game.

MidTennVol writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

I watched the game yesterday and the Vols aren't going to beat anyone until they start practicing their free throws. I've seen middle school teams shoot better from the line than these grown men. It was pathetic watching them miss shot after shot. VCU would not have been in the game if the Vols had hit their free throws.

Good point. BUT, we wouldn't have won the game at all had we not hit 6 of 8 FTs in the last couple of minutes. It's very weird/uncanny how these guys hit clutch FTs with a game on the line -- second game we've done that already.

Titan writes:

Quoting KNS - "'It will have a road game feel for us,''' said Pearl, whose team has neither a pep band nor cheerleaders at Madison Square Garden."

Did they send the cheerleaders home? They were at the game Wednesday.

jdcdjc writes:

"The Vols have received plenty of attention early this season, but most of it has involved the ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting-related violations and Pearl's misleading testimony with investigators."

KNS would you give it a break, we are all Tn fans and know wha has been going on. Just give Bruce and the Vols a break from all the NCAA infractions thing!!!

iowavol writes:

in response to jdcdjc:

"The Vols have received plenty of attention early this season, but most of it has involved the ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting-related violations and Pearl's misleading testimony with investigators."

KNS would you give it a break, we are all Tn fans and know wha has been going on. Just give Bruce and the Vols a break from all the NCAA infractions thing!!!

I'm surprised they didn't add two paragraphs detailing the charges and infractions. Must be paid on a minimum word count. Anyway I agree with you - enough is way past enough.

nola_vol writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's one of the (increasingly) few, non-negative things you can say about NYC—the town so disreputable they call it by its initials.

dcap8424 writes:

in response to theoldbear:

If Brian Williams really thinks that Wayne Chism is as tough a post player as there is in the nation, he's in for a rude awakening and we're in for a long season. Tough is not a word I'd use to describe Wayne Chism.

We are going to need tough play inside from Williams and outside from three or four guards. Wish I knew if Josh Bone was available. He may be our best "stopper" out front.

I watched Villanova play UCLA. I'm worried, scared, threatened.

If the Vols win this game, it will be one of the biggest wins of Bruce Pearl's tenure.

There was no one in the country tougher than Wayne Chism after the New Year's incident last year. Smart is not a word I'd use to describe you. Shouldn't you be hibernating? It would save us all from your ignorance.

Josh Bone broke his wrist right before the season started. It's hard to play with a broken wrist, so no I don't think he'll play. I agree with you on his defense.

LOL, scared and threatened!? Really? Who threatened you and what did they say?

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

Good point...we miss Josh Bone.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Quick hint inside print journalism....most writers do not write their own headlines! So, give Griff a break.

OrangePride writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

I watched the game yesterday and the Vols aren't going to beat anyone until they start practicing their free throws. I've seen middle school teams shoot better from the line than these grown men. It was pathetic watching them miss shot after shot. VCU would not have been in the game if the Vols had hit their free throws.

Foul shooting has been issue on and off for a few years now.....that said, this group has really been making the shots during crunch time at the ends of the game. So, I am at least happy for that.

OrangePride writes:

in response to Titan:

Quoting KNS - "'It will have a road game feel for us,''' said Pearl, whose team has neither a pep band nor cheerleaders at Madison Square Garden."

Did they send the cheerleaders home? They were at the game Wednesday.

I think Pearl was referring to the band and the distinct crowd advantage more than just the cheerleaders.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

I watched the game yesterday and the Vols aren't going to beat anyone until they start practicing their free throws. I've seen middle school teams shoot better from the line than these grown men. It was pathetic watching them miss shot after shot. VCU would not have been in the game if the Vols had hit their free throws.

The Vols wouldn't have won the game, or last week against Missouri State, if they hadn't made nearly every free-throw in the last couple of minutes. Over the course of a game, anybody is likely to be fouled and not all of them are going to be great free-throw shooters. In crunch time, the Vols have seemed to have the ball in the hands of the guys who CAN shoot them and they have made them. BTW, if you watch a lot of games besides just the Vols, you would know that most modern players don't shoot free-throws as well as many of us old-timers think they should. I agree that we could have put both games away EARLIER if we had made all our free-throws, but I would rather have them late when they REALLY count if we can't make them all for the whole game.

tennrich1 writes:

Guys, I think what we will win early will be ugly. We will have to win with defense right now. I think we can grow and become fun to watch but for right now its probably not going to be poetry in motion. Once TH and the team figure out just how to work together we should be okay. I know this. So far I am impressed with TGolden. If we can get in to camp a solid big man, I think we will be okay. One question? Will Maymon help our "big man" problem? I know he left Marquette because he was playing the 5 due to injuries but with our offense, I'm not sure we have to have a true 5. Any thoughts.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Guys, I think what we will win early will be ugly. We will have to win with defense right now. I think we can grow and become fun to watch but for right now its probably not going to be poetry in motion. Once TH and the team figure out just how to work together we should be okay. I know this. So far I am impressed with TGolden. If we can get in to camp a solid big man, I think we will be okay. One question? Will Maymon help our "big man" problem? I know he left Marquette because he was playing the 5 due to injuries but with our offense, I'm not sure we have to have a true 5. Any thoughts.

Williams, Fields, and Hall are all we need for 5s. None of them are reliable scorers but all of them can rebound, defend, and expend fouls on opposing big men. Maymon will likely be splitting his time between the 3 and the 4 positions. I'm guessing he will get most of his minutes at the 4 since Hopson and Tatum will get most of the minutes at the 3. If he can really play, I see him relegating Steven Pearl and Woolridge to the bench more or less permanently. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do. If he has the right defensive instincts, I can see him playing a little 5 on a running/pressing team in short spurts, at least. In a more fluid game, he may not object to a little "heavy lifting" in the post for a few minutes. I hear he IS a pretty sturdy guy.

TKO writes:

Looks like a Wildcat weekend.

TNVOLNTX writes:

in response to TKO:

Looks like a Wildcat weekend.

WRONG!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to TNVOLNTX:

WRONG!!

Maybe he meant a good weekend for BAGGING Wildcats, Villanova and UK.

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