2009-2010 Tennessee Predictions
2008-09 Record: (21-13, 10-6 SEC East)
Coach: Bruce Pear (5th year, 98-37 at Tennessee)
Assistants: Tony Jones, Jason Shay, Steve Forbes
Ret. Starters/Lost: 0/5
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Overview: The Vols are right there with Kentucky as favorites to win the SEC. Bruce Pearl returns all five starters including star senior wing Tyler Smith (6-7, 215), who averaged 17.4ppg and 5.8rpg last season. He’s not a sure-fire NBA first-round pick, so why not work on his skills? The backcourt is back intact led by sophomore shooting guard Scotty Hopson (6-7, 200), a long and lean guard, who averaged 9.2ppg and 1.4spg last year. He might be their best NBA prospect, who should make a big jump this year if he can improve his free throw shooting and limit the turnovers. At the point, senior Bobby Maze (6-3, 195) returns after averaging 8.2ppg and 3.2apg as a well-travelled transfer from Hutchinson C.C., who started out at Oklahoma. Maze doesn’t have to score a ton with all the talent the Vols have. He just has the defend and distribute. Senior J.P. Prince (6-7, 205) is another long, athletic wing, who averaged 9.9ppg and 4.2rpg last season. He’s just not the most durable guys and has had a career hampered by injuries. Up front, The Vols will go as far as their big guys take them. The guards can score and big men can shoot, but can they defend, rebound and keep other teams out of the paint? Wayne Chism (6-9, 246) is a big senior, who averaged 13.7ppg and 8rpg. He’s a well-rounded player, who can rebound, pass and shoot with anybody. Big junior Brian Williams (6-10, 278) has battled weight and consistency issues his entire career. He gives the team an inside presence, but limited because he can’t run the way the Vols play. Sophomore Cameron Tatum (6-6, 197) is another big wing, who will start next season when Prince graduates. He averaged 7.6ppg last year and shot 42% from the field.
Outlook: The future is now for the Vols, who lose Chism, Prince, Maze and Smith after this season. The Wildcats have the talent, but the Vols have the edge in experience. If they play better defense, who knows how far this team can go?
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