November 13, 2007

Previewing the East: Tennessee

Quick facts

Coach: Bruce Pearl, 15 seasons, 363-103 overall (.779), 46-19 (.708) in his third year at Tennessee

2006-07 record: 24-11, 10-6 Southeastern Conference Eastern Division (T-2nd)

2007 postseason: Lost to Ohio State, 85-84, in the Sweet 16

2007 final rankings: 25 in the AP poll, 18th in the ESPN/Coaches' Poll

Key losses: PF Dane Bradshaw (5.5 ppg, 4 rpg, 4.7 apg)

2007-08 SEC media prediction: 1st in the East, 1st overall in the SEC

Projected starters:
PG: Ramar Smith, 6-2, 200, So. (10.7 ppg, 3.3 apg, 43.7 FG%, 40 stl.)
SG: Chris Lofton, 6-2, 200, Sr. (20.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 47.9 FG%, 81.1 FT%)
SF: Tyler Smith, 6-7, 215, So. (14.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 44.2 FG%, 111 ast., 45 stl.)
PF: Duke Crews, 6-7, 233, (8.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 51.8 FG%, 32 blk.)
C: Wayne Chism, 6-9, 242, Jr. (9.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 44.1 FG%, 21 blk.)

Plays Vanderbilt on: Jan. 17 (Knoxville), Feb. 26 (Nashville)



Previewing the Volunteers
Depending on your allegiance, you either love or hate flamboyant Vol Coach Bruce Pearl.

But on one topic, there's unanimous agreement: Pearl has brought a success and excitement around Tennessee basketball unseen in Knoxville since the days of legendary Coach Ray Mears, who manned the sidelines for UT in the 60s and 70s.

Consider this: Not long ago, one could throw a hand grenade at entire section of Thompson-Boling Arena and not alarm a soul, save a few dust mites. Last year, the Vols averaged 19,661 fans per game-fourth in NCAA Division I.

And immediately after the season was over, UT begun construction on $35 million of privately-funded renovations to Thompson-Boling-strong support for a program whose fans were openly apathetic towards basketball just before Pearl's arrival.

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