Nov. 3, 2010
BY DREW EDWARDS
KNOXVILLE -- Plenty of new faces hit the court in Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night in Tennessee's exhibition opener. One in particular stood out.
Freshman Tobias Harris, one of three newcomers who started, scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds as the Vols ran past Division II Brevard College 91-42 before 17,878 in Thompson-Boling Arena.
"Tobias was Tobias," UT coach Bruce Pearl said. "He's just solid. Finishes around the basket. Moves well for a big guy. Had a couple unforced turnovers. I thought Tobias was fairly representative of what we've been seeing. Probably can play a little better."
Junior Scotty Hopson scored a team-high 17 points and connected on three of his four attempts from 3-point range.
"Whenever I shoot that way, that's a great percentage," Hopson said. "I just want to stay positive and do as many great things on the basketball floor as I can."
Hopson did plenty of good things in his 21 minutes, and there were contributions from all over the roster on Wednesday.
Senior Melvin Goins and freshman Trae Golden combined for seven assists and no turnovers at the point, and Tennessee had 21 assists on the night. Another newcomer, transfer John Fields grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots in just 18 minutes.
Renaldo Woolridge had a strong performance off the bench, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds, six of which came on the offensive end.
Senior Brian Williams recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds coming off the bench. Williams would have started Wednesday's game, but he missed some practice time during the week due to injury.
Injuries kept forward Kenny Hall (foot) and Cameron Tatum (knee) on the bench. Pearl is hopeful that Hall will return to practice sometime this weekend, while Tatum would have played had Wednesday been a regular-season game, Pearl said.
Freshman Jordan McRae, who started alongside Hopson, Harris, Fields and Goins, scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds in his first action with the Vols.
But the biggest performance from a newcomer was Harris. Not that you would have noticed given his demeanor.
"You don't know if he's mad or if he's happy," Hopson said of Harris. "You might see a little crack of a smile.
"Tobias is so smart for his age, he does a lot of great things on the basketball floor," "His offensive awareness is so high that he does a lot of great things for us."
That included being efficient near the basket. Harris hit six of his eight field goal attempts, and one of those misses was a 3-pointer.
Harris, a 6-foot-8 post who was a consensus top 10 recruit coming out of high school in 2010, was just glad to hit the court in Thompson-Boling Arena for the first time in a game.
"The fan support was really great today," Harris said. "Once the real games start, it will be more, and they'll be excited to see what we have to show."
There's plenty left to show, starting with another exhibition game on Monday night against Indianapolis at 7:30 p.m. and continuing into the regular season, which begins against Chattanooga on Nov. 12.
Carving out minutes in a rotation that is perhaps the deepest Pearl has had at Tennessee will depend largely on defense and rebounding. And that's an area where veterans might have an advantage, Pearl said.
"You recruit offense and you coach and teach defense," Pearl said. "They all want to be out there. I think it's the fairest way I can do it. We've got enough guys that can score. It's the area (the freshmen have) the greatest growth and the greatest amount of learning. They're all unselfish kids."