Five big questions for Pearl

And how UT's coach may or may not answer

Bruce Pearl has gone from riding the high of Tennessee's first NCAA Elite Eight appearance to the low of an NCAA investigation in the offseason.

The men's basketball coach takes to the podium today at media day, where the aftershocks of both events will play a role in the question/answer session.

A look at five questions Pearl could be asked, and what he might and might not say:

1. What's the latest with the NCAA investigation and how has it affected the program?

What Pearl will say: Pearl's not happy he and his assistants haven't been out on the road to recruit since Sept. 24. The flip side is the off-campus recruiting ban has allowed them to be present at more of the individual workouts. With five newcomers -transfers Jeronne Maymon and John Fields, and freshmen Tobias Harris, Trae Golden and Jordan McRae - that should pay dividends against a non-conference schedule ranked as the fourth-toughest in the nation by CNNSI.com.

What Pearl won't say: The Vols have taken a beating in the national media over the investigation, and while there doesn't seem to be any new developments, it's safe to say no one in the athletic administration can breathe easy until the NCAA delivers its letter of allegations in December. UT's unprecedented self-imposed sanctions could take some of the sting out of the NCAA's pending penalties, but probation is likely and more sanctions are possible:

2. Who are the projected starters?

What Pearl will say: The evaluation process is ongoing and there are a number of possibilities as far as who will start and how deep the rotation will go.

The focus in the preseason is individual skills and fundamentals; it has yet to be seen how players fit into the scheme. Players will distinguish themselves based on how quickly they learn and how they perform on the court and in the classroom.

What Pearl won't say: Point guard Melvin Goins and shooting guard Scotty Hopson are as close to locks as it gets, and Harris' abilities are such that it's hard to imagine him not winning a starting spot. Brian Williams and Cam Tatum have the edge at the post and on the wing.

3. What are the team's strengths and weaknesses?

What Pearl will say: This is the deepest and biggest team Pearl has had at UT, and the Vols plan to play a more physical style that should lead to better defense and rebounding. UT will press in spots, but it won't rely on it like it did when the Vols had smaller players.

What Pearl won't say: The players have rallied around Pearl and the program as a result of the NCAA investigation. But the true test of team chemistry comes when the playing rotation shakes out and there are hurt feelings among the 14 players vying for 10 or 11 spots.

4. Who has had the best offseason?

What Pearl will say: Pearl is pleased with the senior leadership provided by Goins, while Williams' weight loss and Hopson's summertime travels to elite camps have been well-documented. Tatum also has had a strong offseason. The work ethic has been contagious, as other players have followed suit.

What Pearl won't say: Goins could be one of the biggest surprises in the SEC having played last season at less than 100 percent after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in October (2009) and missing games as a result of the Jan. 1 traffic stop. Williams and Hopson put in hard work, but the proof will be in the consistency of their performances. Both players know they have doubters, and how they answer them could ultimately decide UT's season.

5. How good can this team be?

What Pearl will say: The goal each year is to win the SEC East, but with Florida returning a veteran front line and Kentucky adding another marquee recruiting class, UT won't be picked to finish higher than third in the East. This is still a top-25 program, but it's too early to project how far UT could advance in the NCAA tournament.

What Pearl won't say: This team has more potential than any of Pearl's previous squads. Hopson and Harris are future NBA players, Goins bring a necessary swagger and toughness to the point, and the Vols' front line is as big, physical and deep as any they'll face.

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Comments » 77

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

This fan is onboard!! The investigation will run its course, NCAA will dole out the punishments, and life will go on. Still proud of Pearl, Vols, and will cheer them on again this season! GBO!!!!

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Have no idea about Harris yet, but just cannot imagine Hopson being a "future NBA player" as Mike Griffith has said unless he's REALLY worked on his game and shows some passion. Hope I'm wrong, though.

Go Big Orange!!!!

BigDaddy101 writes:

I can't wait to see this team in action. Hold on boys and girls it's a bumpy ride to a national title, but I'm all in on this team!!

VolFanNC writes:

This team has our best shot at a final 4. SEC E this will rival best of ACC or Big East with 3 teams capable of elite 8

ATLHOOPSCOACH writes:

EVER HEARD THIS SAYING....DON'T QUESTION GOD....BRUCE PEARL IS GOD.....

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

What I think (duh, huh):
-one or two will get injured, as scrimmages will be brutal
-only Harris will play much from the freshmen, though the other two will play some
-I'm not seeing anything about Hall. Has he developed his game, put on weight??
-McBee had better learn to 'warm up quickly' and nail shots as needed.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

BTW, not to beat this to death...

still wish Bruce would come out proactive on this NCAA stuff. Mainly, I want to see him hire a personal asst who does NOTHING but P's and Q's of recruiting.

ATH writes:

No way in hell that Scotty Hopson is a "future NBA player."

Chris4Vols22 writes:

I've gotta say, I don't think I disagree with anything on here. Rad.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to ATH:

No way in hell that Scotty Hopson is a "future NBA player."

I'd be right there with you if every manager in the NBA didn't count "potential" as 50% of their criteria for selecting draft picks....and I also say that before this season has started. You may change your mind when it's over. Go SCOTTY!

ATH writes:

in response to Chris4Vols22:

I'd be right there with you if every manager in the NBA didn't count "potential" as 50% of their criteria for selecting draft picks....and I also say that before this season has started. You may change your mind when it's over. Go SCOTTY!

Haven't Tennessee fans been waiting for the last 3 years for Hopson's "potential" to actually manifest itself? And NBA GMs are going to draft him to play against the best in the world based on this so-called "potential" that no one has seen? No chance. Hopson has been an absolute bust.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to ATH:

Haven't Tennessee fans been waiting for the last 3 years for Hopson's "potential" to actually manifest itself? And NBA GMs are going to draft him to play against the best in the world based on this so-called "potential" that no one has seen? No chance. Hopson has been an absolute bust.

Lol I stand by what I said. I'm certainly not arguing that he can be a force in the NBA right now, but NBA scouts really pay attention to what every prospect has going for them. Based on the numerous reports of his improvement (even from Bilas and ESPN, who hardly ever compliment the good things about UT), his trips to elite camps this summer, and his inevitable upgrade in the experience department, I would bet that he does become a force in the SEC and NCAA this year. Yeah, call me delusional or drunk on Kool Aid, but I am basing my prediction on stable sources (not to say I will definitely be right or anything).

cdldoc#211897 writes:

What about Hall? I expect big things from him and he is not mentioned.

midnite__VOL writes:

SWIPERBOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tennfan4075 writes:

GO VOLS AND GO PEARL. The he!! with the NCAA.

madisonvillevol writes:

in response to ATLHOOPSCOACH:

EVER HEARD THIS SAYING....DON'T QUESTION GOD....BRUCE PEARL IS GOD.....

blasphemer, you better repent to GOD, not bruce pearl.

Ironcity writes:

in response to ATH:

No way in hell that Scotty Hopson is a "future NBA player."

Lets try to spend less time hating our team and players and more time enjoying what we have.

RoadTrip writes:

Orange koolaid anyone? Too much sugar for me this early in the morning. Not a hater, just want proof. Team chemistry is much more important than individual appearances in the off season.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to jmr68ut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctors ghost say to jmr68ut

# step off high horse

# ask your posed questions while looking in mirror.
# drop stones.
Bones never lie.

kyvol98 writes:

True Catscratch. They pay them in Turkey, don't they?

pappyq writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Lets try to spend less time hating our team and players and more time enjoying what we have.

Hating? Hating? where in the world do you get hate out of this opinion?...you are a complete idiot with that comment........Hating?...

Greyfeathers writes:

Pearl is a liar and a cheater. I hope the NCAA nails his hide to the barn door and socks it to UT for not firing him. He is a disgrace and so is UT for keeping him.

skm writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

that's what a kentucky fan calls a liar. lol

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Greyfeathers:

Pearl is a liar and a cheater. I hope the NCAA nails his hide to the barn door and socks it to UT for not firing him. He is a disgrace and so is UT for keeping him.

Witch Doctor say you also said he was going to Indiana..."heard it hear first". Witch Doctor say go away.
Bones never lie.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to ATH:

No way in hell that Scotty Hopson is a "future NBA player."

He has not done well here, has he???

Makes you wonder, Jajuan and Chris and CJ all thrived playing for Bruce. I'd say Wayne and JP got all they could out of themselves, too.

But Hopson?? He seems to need a strong 'push'.

Now, here is where we both need to just shut up and wait:
he's just barely out of his teens...and most people mature at different times. Scottie may well be like several football players we've had, he may need all four years to get prepped and 'man' ned up enough.

TkelynN writes:

I would love to see this team make the final four and its a real possibility BUT if we are placed on probation then... no can do... I will be glad in December when we know what will happen and can move forward either way. Maybe the NCAA will give Bruce a nice gift for Christmas...er, I mean Hanukkah!

scubadad1 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctors ghost say to jmr68ut

# step off high horse

# ask your posed questions while looking in mirror.
# drop stones.
Bones never lie.

what happened to witch doctor?

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to scubadad1:

what happened to witch doctor?

Witch Doctor killed in his sleep by jealous KNS employee..Witch Doctors ghost now haunt this board(works pretty good with Halloween)lol.
Bones never Die.

NO_DIGGITY writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Many people that post on here think it is a Jet.

VOLliven2it writes:

Hold on gang, this should be one ofthe best if not the best team we have had. I agree that the chemistry issue is a huge factor. But no matter how good we are, there will be no final four if the NCAA does the do on us. I hope they don't but it is likely more sanctions take us out of the postseason next year. Then it will be "if only..." I hate that potential and hope it does not develop. If it does, then it's all on Pearl. Don't blame the NCAA for the fact that he lied, ere be it a "little white" one as the old non-politically correct saying goes. We then will have to ride out the bad waves. On the other side, I'd be happy if we were only handsmacked for being proactive and unprecedented in hitting Pearl's wallet and the recruiting limits. Do not be deceived, the negative national media attention WILL NOT be helpful. I just hope they don't hurt us more. GO BIG ORANGE ROUNDBALLERS, Bring it strong!

brod writes:

i can't wait. i wish the chattanooga game didn't start at 9:00. geez.

scubadad1 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor killed in his sleep by jealous KNS employee..Witch Doctors ghost now haunt this board(works pretty good with Halloween)lol.
Bones never Die.

has the kpd been alerted to this dastardly deed? i have a pretty good idea as to who the perp is and not surprised this has not been reported in kns. i hope WDG is 'trolling' the kns hallways at night. may lead to better articles...

hikerdude writes:

Much bench time this season for McBee, Hall, and Swiper Boy

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to scubadad1:

has the kpd been alerted to this dastardly deed? i have a pretty good idea as to who the perp is and not surprised this has not been reported in kns. i hope WDG is 'trolling' the kns hallways at night. may lead to better articles...

Witch Doctors ghost tell all "good" KNS employees..."dont eat the donuts in the break room!' Witch Doctor say they made with special Zombie ingredients. lol.(Witch Doctor kidding...enjoy!)
Bones never lie.

DRORANGELOVE writes:

in response to ATH:

Haven't Tennessee fans been waiting for the last 3 years for Hopson's "potential" to actually manifest itself? And NBA GMs are going to draft him to play against the best in the world based on this so-called "potential" that no one has seen? No chance. Hopson has been an absolute bust.

There is only one person in this world that can show you that you are wrong about Scottys future in the NBA and his name is Scotty Hopson.
Lets all pull for Scotty to live up and PLAY to his potential this year. ITS UP TO YOU SCOTTY.

Jediphysics writes:

Hopson... the second coming of Vincent Yarborough

Chris4Vols22 writes:

For those of you concerned about team chemistry: Brian Williams has said a couple times this off-season that this team has the best chemistry he's seen in his 4 years at the program. Take it for what you think it's worth, but I've predicted a great season since last year, even before we made it to the Elite Eight.

volinuptonky writes:

Now that the Braves are out of the playoffs I am ready for College BBall. Go Vols. Should be another fun year.

richvol writes:

From what I have seen Hopson is nowhere close to being an NBA player. His ballhandling skills are suspect and he is way too passive. If he becomes aggressive in taking a real role in scoring and gains enough strength to rebound,finish his drives to the basket and get in the paint and bang with the others then he might make it. I'm pulling for the kid but he's got to show me the money.

Fields should be a great addition. He and Williams could dominate the paint.

rudy123 writes:

in response to richvol:

From what I have seen Hopson is nowhere close to being an NBA player. His ballhandling skills are suspect and he is way too passive. If he becomes aggressive in taking a real role in scoring and gains enough strength to rebound,finish his drives to the basket and get in the paint and bang with the others then he might make it. I'm pulling for the kid but he's got to show me the money.

Fields should be a great addition. He and Williams could dominate the paint.

Wait until Hopson's senior year. If you will recall none of us thought that C.J. Watson would go to the NBA but after his senior season we thought differently.

volsfan74 writes:

in response to ATH:

No way in hell that Scotty Hopson is a "future NBA player."

I totally DISAGREE! Hopson has all the potential to be a late first round early second round pick. I think you will see him take leadership this season and it will show on game day.

murrayvol writes:

As unnerving as the NCAA shakedown has been it will pass and the Vols will play basketball.

If all the players do what they're capable of, this could be an exciting year in Tennessee roundball. If not....

murrayvol writes:

in response to ATH:

No way in hell that Scotty Hopson is a "future NBA player."

No way in hell that can be predicted at this point. This year will tell the tale.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Tennfan4075:

GO VOLS AND GO PEARL. The he!! with the NCAA.

We'd best hope the NCAA doesn't have that attitude toward the Vols.....cause they can make it happen.

murrayvol writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dictionary.com - lier: "a person or thing that lies, as in wait or in ambush"

Volencheaters writes:

As far as recruting stands, Scotty, was Bruce's first big time recruit. Scotty is the only player out of his class ranked in the top 10 not currently in the NBA. I will agree that most is not Bruce's fault. Now comes Tobias Harris. If he flames out like Hopson (quickly) then everyone will catch on.....

switcher76 writes:

in response to shen24:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you don't care about Pearl or UT then why the hell are you on here talking smack! Take your comments somewhere else!!!

GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!!!!!!

Ralph_Crampton writes:

Hey, some you guys out there that are perfect look in the mirror each morning. If we folks on the internet stop judging other people...especially Vol coaches and players, we are delivering a smashing body blow to the whole Vol program...football, basketball and other sports... this could be true...but its something to think about...ever since the Internet has come into "A know it all", Vol sports has been going down...this started ab out 10-years ago...ever think about that?

Ralph_Crampton writes:

A prospect reading our Internet with regularity would say to himself. "Hey TN., fans are never happy...I don't think I want to go to School there". So come on guys this Internet is read all over...our sour disposition turns many off.

VolsNurMOUTH writes:

Maybe with this deep of a squad we will win the SEC tournament for once...

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