Bruce Pearl's edict: Regain identity

Tony Jones may bench players who lack effort

LSU coach Trent Johnson on game with UT

The Tennessee men's basketball team is going through an identity crisis of sorts, and coach Bruce Pearl has demanded his team do something about it.

"Tennessee is going to regain its identity for its toughness and physicality,'' Pearl said after Tuesday's practice. "When we recapture that, we can build and improve.''

The Vols (12-7, 2-2 SEC) will get their first chance to respond to Pearl's edict Wednesday night against LSU (10-9, 2-2) at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: WVLT, 8 p.m.).

If not, associate head coach Tony Jones has the green light to pull any player who lacks the proper focus and/or effort.

"I know what Coach (Pearl) wants, and I will adjust accordingly to the team needs, offensively and defensively,'' said Jones, who will handle the head coaching duties with Pearl serving the fifth game of his eight-game SEC suspension.

"The message for this game is 'what's our identity.' "

Pearl made a vow to UT fans when he was hired 6 1/2 years ago that the Vols would not be out-worked or out-hustled.

"That hasn't been happening consistently,'' Pearl said. "That means things are going to change.

"It's the way it has to be; we're going to fight to get our identity back.''

Freshman Tobias Harris said the players took Pearl's talk to heart.

"He said we're a team with so much potential, but we're only 12-7,'' Harris said. "It's about playing with heart, playing with passion and playing like it's the last game of your life.''

Bruce Pearl on freshman forward Tobias Harris

Pearl made it clear to his players that LSU is capable of dealing UT a defeat, despite the Vols being installed as 16-point favorites by oddsmakers.

"I asked them if they are ready to play Duke,'' Pearl said. "This (LSU) is a team that was beating Auburn 32-6 at the half, and Auburn beat the same Florida State team that beat Duke.

"This (LSU) team beat Arkansas . . . we have had close games with them the last three times with (coach) Trent Johnson.''

Pearl was testy with reporters Tuesday, irritated by a recent swarm of off-court distractions.

"You want to write about the NCAA, or a player being suspended or a kid working toward his college major?'' Pearl said, referring to Jordan McRae being suspended for using inappropriate language and a school investigation into Renaldo Woolridge reportedly using an upstairs section of a bar for a video project last Saturday night.

"That's fine, we've given you that stuff to write about,'' Pearl said. "But we're going to get the focus back on the floor, and get back to our identity, and that's playing hard and hustling.''

It's not the first time Pearl has attempted to deliver the message, but Harris explained that this time it was different.

"Coach Pearl got the message across that if you're not going to play tough, you're not going to be playing,'' Harris said. "That's anybody - and it can't be playing hard in spurts - it has to be all the time.

"As a team, we can play with more of an edge, and I think we will.''

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Comments » 46

jsmithnga#207674 writes:

A little off subject, but been watching the GA/FL game and the announcers brought up the fact that many thought BW fouled at the end of GA game and wasn't called. ESPN always trying to get a dig in on us.

jsmithnga#207674 writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And obviously the refs whose opinions are the only ones that count.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

The BasketVols certainly do have an identity crisis and they'd better get it resolved soon, otherwise they'll be easy to spot--sitting at home during the second week of March watching the NCAA Tourney.

It's very clear that our team hasn't played hard for all 40 minutes in a long, long time. At this point, it just comes down to being hungry and seeing how much the TEAM really wants to win.

Here's to hoping that the BasketVols give their all for Tennessee hoops the rest of the year.

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

A few day ago I made this comment below with respect to Hopson's lack of effort. I will be gald to see the Coaching staff take action. They have to set the standard....why because their leadership from the players is not there at this time.

In Hopson's case...I think it is all on the player. He is not tough enough(in the head) to get over bad plays. He can hit shots and make big plays at times but can't seem do the little things (like work on ball handling & defense) that would make him great and or help him be a leader of this team. His lack of effort when he get off to a bad start is very telling. He needs a big kick in the butt or needs to be benched when his head is not in the game!!! We will see if the coaching staff has the ba!!s to put his butt on the bench! This team needs to come together and refuse to back down!!! GBO!!!
...

Ironcity writes:

in response to bspurlingcac#225603:

A few day ago I made this comment below with respect to Hopson's lack of effort. I will be gald to see the Coaching staff take action. They have to set the standard....why because their leadership from the players is not there at this time.

In Hopson's case...I think it is all on the player. He is not tough enough(in the head) to get over bad plays. He can hit shots and make big plays at times but can't seem do the little things (like work on ball handling & defense) that would make him great and or help him be a leader of this team. His lack of effort when he get off to a bad start is very telling. He needs a big kick in the butt or needs to be benched when his head is not in the game!!! We will see if the coaching staff has the ba!!s to put his butt on the bench! This team needs to come together and refuse to back down!!! GBO!!!
...

I would say Scotty has more of a lack of focus then effort. he looks lost and it reflects in his play. he along with a number of guys better get it or we may see some new faces! maybe a little more all out press will get there blood flowing again.

tnvol4ever writes:

If we are going to lose it might as well be with the kids that hustle. Let um ride the pine. Tired of watching Tatum and Hopson and some of the other slackers pout after every mistake. CBP is sending the right message--we'll see.

Madkels writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hi Troll! If you watch the replay in slow motion, which I have over and over, you will see that the UGA player was falling back into BW. It was good no call.

To the idiots saying FLA didn't need refs, the call when Ware fouled out was poor. The FL player moved into Ware while Ware was straight up. Bad call by refs and good play by the FL player.

Madkels writes:

Sounds like CBP has seen something we have from watching on TV. Let's hope this gets this team back on track and has them playing like they did the first 7 games.

jopad writes:

The last shot BW made at Ga. probably was not a foul if you watch the entire sequence. BW had position (though behind the GA player) and was backed into by the opponent. This does not show if you watch only BW coming down with the ball and shooting. I have never complained about ESPN but they really seem to have some sort of vendetta against Tennessee over the CBP trouble and now the GA game. They just don't seem to want to let it drop. This isn't the 1st game a team has lost in a contraversial way and won't be the last. Wonder what woul be their "play" on it if it were ESPN's beloved Duke, or Syracuse, or Texas, etc?

Biggie writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry Dude, two hands on the ball, no foul. Learn the rules and you won't be so frustrated.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I would love to see us play hard an entire game!? Is it possible? They'll need find players to do it.
Harris needs 35 min.
Hopson 35
Bones 25 or more if Tatum doesn't come to play
Williams needs to go after rebounds hard two-hands both ends...forget about shooting unless it's a lay-up or dunk!
McBee might should start at guard if you want hard players?
SPearl gives his all...
Fields needs to relax a little and use two hands
Goins needs to strongly look for other players on offense and use most his energy on Defense...tho he may be our best overall player(sides Harris) his job is to get the team going not necessarily score but help others to score! Or...Why not try him at the 2 spot when McBee's in? Or when Golden's in(either one).

GBO

JohnnyD writes:

in response to bspurlingcac#225603:

A few day ago I made this comment below with respect to Hopson's lack of effort. I will be gald to see the Coaching staff take action. They have to set the standard....why because their leadership from the players is not there at this time.

In Hopson's case...I think it is all on the player. He is not tough enough(in the head) to get over bad plays. He can hit shots and make big plays at times but can't seem do the little things (like work on ball handling & defense) that would make him great and or help him be a leader of this team. His lack of effort when he get off to a bad start is very telling. He needs a big kick in the butt or needs to be benched when his head is not in the game!!! We will see if the coaching staff has the ba!!s to put his butt on the bench! This team needs to come together and refuse to back down!!! GBO!!!
...

Agree!

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to jsmithnga#207674:

And obviously the refs whose opinions are the only ones that count.

but OH how you and the other constant ref blamers never seem to think that way when a call goes against us-------and stop it aready you morons with the constant ESPN conspiracy phooey which there is none

VolunteerLifer writes:

Lack of identity and personality, of toughness and physicality, is the right diagnosis. But that has been obvious for a while. What has also been obvious is a lack of leadership to enforce the cure. Hopefully, Coach Pearl is going to start providing that for a change. I'm looking forward to seeing the result.

tmartin writes:

Math Lesson:

50% of McRae > 100% of S Pearl

Vol1980 writes:

Does anyone know if the game can be seen in the Tri-Cities? I haven't seen it listed anywhere.

Futurecoach16 writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'll say it again: "over the back" is announcer lingo, but it is not a foul. Williams went straight up, reached over a smaller player, and took the ball. The smaller player was backing in to Williams, and grabbed Williams' arms. No foul. Everyone thinks that it is a foul when a bigger guy reaches over a smaller guy, but it isn't. Had Williams bumped into the guy, then yes, it would've been a foul, but he didn't.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It wasn't called faux gator therefore it was not a foul.

vols1990 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i bet its nice to be a vandy fan considering we beat yall not but a few days ago. you clearly have nothing better to do with your time than to write in on a tennessee athletics message board. typical vanderbilt.

TDTennesseeisfree writes:

Here is an interesting fact. There are two undefeated teams left....ohio state and san diego state. The last team to beat both was TENNESSEE>

kingofthevols writes:

The Vols lost their identity when the coaching staff admitted to cheating. The progam's reputation is tarnished, too.

acknowledgment writes:

This article is directed at one player and one player only: Hopson. We'll see if the coaching staff has the guts to bench Hops after he shrugs his shoulders on a miss then gives up a wide-open 3-ball on the other end.

cargen#1339565 writes:

I will take attitude over ability every time.If the attitude is right the ability will flow and get the job done. A player who gets his dobber down affects his teammates to a high degree. Yes Hopi I think your attitude shows and drags the chemistry down.Tatum when you are good,ok,but when you are bad look out. Always go at full speed and see what might happen.

CCLC writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sometimes the refs "just go brain dead"

Colliervol writes:

in response to jsmithnga#207674:

A little off subject, but been watching the GA/FL game and the announcers brought up the fact that many thought BW fouled at the end of GA game and wasn't called. ESPN always trying to get a dig in on us.

If they don't call it, it ain't a foul.

CCLC writes:

in response to kingofthevols:

The Vols lost their identity when the coaching staff admitted to cheating. The progam's reputation is tarnished, too.

It happens....hopefully the Vols can move past it.

Colliervol writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If anything is certain, you whine like a Claudette. No blood, no foul. Looked to me like Williams went straight up and the Georgia guy backed into him. That's the way the ref saw it too and that is all that counts.

And you do know that there is no such call as "over the back" anymore, don't you? The question is whether the guy in back goes straight up or not. Try to stay up to date before commenting.

Colliervol writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Too early to make that judgement. Could be the NIT if they don't get more consistent. Could be Elite 8 if they play to their potential. And make no mistake, this team has Elite 8 talent and depth IF they get their heads on straight. Their main problem is much like yours--between the ears.

Biggest issue is that they've been playing up and down to their competition. Up to Pitt and Villanova. Down to Oakland, Charlotte, and Vanderbilt.

CCLC writes:

in response to Colliervol:

Too early to make that judgement. Could be the NIT if they don't get more consistent. Could be Elite 8 if they play to their potential. And make no mistake, this team has Elite 8 talent and depth IF they get their heads on straight. Their main problem is much like yours--between the ears.

Biggest issue is that they've been playing up and down to their competition. Up to Pitt and Villanova. Down to Oakland, Charlotte, and Vanderbilt.

There are 4 SEC East on the RPI top 20. Vols over .63. Going 500 in the SEC(2-2) Bubble?

jsmithnga#207674 writes:

in response to yabadabadoo1026:

but OH how you and the other constant ref blamers never seem to think that way when a call goes against us-------and stop it aready you morons with the constant ESPN conspiracy phooey which there is none

Could you clarify who the {us} is for you.

CCLC writes:

in response to volman2010:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ONLY Ga folks? No matter it's in the books, marked down as a Vol victory. Nuff said.

martinvol34 writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So f'n what? They let the players decide the game. All that had to happen was for Price to get the rebound. Period. Get off our site, trick!

SunshineVol writes:

Please play all freshmen and sophomores and let's move on.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Gators "take down" Ga? Funny, I don't recall the Vols needing 2 OTs to win their game... geezz, crack the top-25 and suddenly you think you rule the world.

Congrats on your monumental accomplishment.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And yet, we came from 17-down and still beat your Candy team!

brokendownoldvol writes:

I hope that doesn't mean everyone will wear a silly headband again.

dlobh writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I guess that's why Eddie Fogler, who doesn't have a dog in this hunt and definitely wouldn't be considered a Vol fan, said that he watched the play several times and didn't think it was a foul. Made old George Plaster from Nashville's 104.5, the Vandy fan that he is, sort of back up a little. And Eddie Fogler doubtless knows more about basketball than you.

everydayisorange writes:

in response to Vol1980:

Does anyone know if the game can be seen in the Tri-Cities? I haven't seen it listed anywhere.

It can be seen on-line on ESPN3. Don't know of any network in the tricities. I'm going to look around at game-time. Also justin.tv.com, kind of risky, may have viruses.

dlobh writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

CSS, since you're talking about Belmont/Lipscomb, you must be in Nashville. Wanna back up that statement about UT in the NCAA with a little wag3r?

carbonzip writes:

Let's regain our dignity.

dlobh writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Let's regain our dignity.

Sorry, I stooped to another's level. I will try to refrain from here out.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

It was nice to see Goins have a big game at UCONN but like it or not a lot of the offense depends on Hopson creating shots and Tatum knocking down his shots when he has the open look..I give Hopson credit for creating better looks when the defense is in his face but as we all the turnovers are killing us and Tatum runs hot and cold..The alternative is McBee and Bone;They aren't the answer we need..They did bench Maymon and his 20% shooting..Personally I'd like to see more Kenny Hall than Fields..Hall appears to have improved his ball handling and has developed a soft shot..Not sure what the staff is seeing so bad in Hall at practices.Fields and Maymon are average at best.We all complain about the player rotation but when Hopson and Tatum are on the bench;outside of Harris;Who on the floor is a competent scoring threat??

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

It was nice to see Goins have a big game at UCONN but like it or not a lot of the offense depends on Hopson creating shots and Tatum knocking down his shots when he has the open look..I give Hopson credit for creating better looks when the defense is in his face but as we all the turnovers are killing us and Tatum runs hot and cold..The alternative is McBee and Bone;They aren't the answer we need..They did bench Maymon and his 20% shooting..Personally I'd like to see more Kenny Hall than Fields..Hall appears to have improved his ball handling and has developed a soft shot..Not sure what the staff is seeing so bad in Hall at practices.Fields and Maymon are average at best.We all complain about the player rotation but when Hopson and Tatum are on the bench;outside of Harris;Who on the floor is a competent scoring threat??

I don't want to see either one on the bench!! I do want to see them play smart and all out...if possible.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Let's not get into small talk with the jealous one...
Cantstand"anyone".

The Vols have to decide if they want to pay the price........in practice and then on game night/day.

Put simply, if some of our guys could bring the comparative effort to the game that Nick Reveiz did on the football field........we wouldn't be struggling in some of these games we lost. Hopson?
I don't know..........probably anything I say about him is not correct. Just watching the game it only seems Scotty is basically a bit on the lazy side. Then, he'll turn around and be phenominal. In other words, it seems he picks and chooses when to show up.
Looks are very deceiving admittedly. Sometimes it appears Scotty is in a daze out there.

Just wishing and wanting great effort and hustle.

Go Vols

mocsandvolsfan writes:

So far so good!! Hopson decided to play. LSU is porous! we need a confidence builder though! I hope we show up 2nd half too!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Claudettevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, it certainly didn't hurt that UGA's starting back-court was fouled out by the second overtime and SOMEBODY blew those whistles.

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