Tennessee 2010 NCAA Tournament Preview

    
March 14th, 2010

Tennessee Volunteers

Southeastern Conference (25-8, 11-5)

 

 

Big Wins: 1/10 Kansas (76-68), 2/27 Kentucky (74-65), 3/6 at Mississippi State (75-59)

Bad Losses: 12/19 at USC (55-77), 1/23 at Georgia (63-78), 2/23 at Florida (62-75)

Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, First Round loss to Oklahoma State

Coach: Bruce Pearl (7-6 in 6 NCAA appearances)

 

Why They Can Surprise:

Tennessee has gone through some tough times this year, but Coach Bruce Pearl has done a great job holding his team together. And the senior leadership of Wayne Chism has done a lot to keep this team moving in the right direction. This is not a great rebounding team by any means right now, but they would be awful without Chism. The 6-9 senior is easily leading the team with 7.1 rebounds per contest. Chism is also an effective scorer around the basket or beyond the arc. That versatility would make him a great power forward, but he has to play the five spot on this team, which is perfectly fine for a team that likes to run up and down the floor.

 

The senior leadership of Bobby Maze has helped as well. The point guard was good last year and he is quickly becoming great this time around. He can score, but his superb assist-to-turnover ratio is much more important to the Volunteers. Another senior, J.P. Prince, is trying to pick up some of the scoring slack. His versatility is impressive as Prince can score, hit the glass, play great defense and even pass very effectively. Scott Hopson is not a senior, but he too has been a staple of the Tennessee backcourt for two years. He is the team’s most consistent outside shooter and, at 6-7, he can often simply shoot over the opposing defender.

 

Why They Can Disappoint:

The development of Hopson and Prince is so important because of the dismissal of wing Tyler Smith. Smith was the heart and soul of this team and was one of those rare players who could do a little bit of everything. Heading into Smith’s senior year, there was even Player of the Year mumblings around the country. But Smith only lasted 12 games and suddenly he was gone. Three other players were suspended and missed some time, but they all came back. A player who never made it back was Josh Tabb who left the team in November. There has been many times this season where the Volunteers were forced to play with a lot of inexperienced players. But as long as they can survive without Smith, it will make them deeper and better in the long run as players like Melvin Goins and Skylar McBee gain valuable experience and Cameron Tatum attempts to turn into a quality sixth man who can help replace Smith’s scoring versatility.

 

Who To Watch:

Renaldo Woolridge has started some games beside Chism. While the 6-8 wing is not perfectly suited for the power forward position, he will at least alter some shots and grab some rebounds. The other option, and a player who has been forced into more playing time than most expected, is Kenny Hall. The 6-8 freshman needs to get stronger, but he will have to play some quality minutes along with Brian Williams or Tennessee will get beat against teams with a strong interior presence.

 

Probable Starters:

Bobby Maze, Senior, Guard, 9.6 ppg, 3.0 apg

J.P. Prince, Senior, Guard, 9.3 ppg, 2.9 apg, 1.6 spg

Scotty Hopson, Sophomore, Guard, 12.5 ppg, 1.2 apg

Wayne Chism, Senior, Center, 12.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg

Brian Williams, Junior, Center, 5.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg

 

Key Roleplayers:

Melvin Goins, Junior, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 1.9 apg

Kenny Hall, Freshman, Forward, 4.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg

Skylar McBee, Freshman, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg

Cameron Tatum, Sophomore, Guard, 7.5 ppg, 1.1 apg

Renaldo Woolridge, Sophomore, Forward, 3.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg

 

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 75.0 (54th in nation, 6th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 65.2 (90, 4)

Field-Goal Percentage: 46.1 (52, 3)

Field-Goal Defense: 39.2 (19, 3)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.0 (185, 8)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.3 (230, 8)

Free-Throw Percentage: 66.7 (239, 10)

Rebound Margin: 1.1 (155, 7)

Assists Per Game: 14.8 (52, 2)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (128, 7)

 

 

Follow Joel Welser's Postseason Capsules & College Basketball Previews on Twitter @Joel_Welser and on his Facebook page. Joel will be back in June for his annual Top 144 Teams in 144 Days preview on CollegeHoops.net

 

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