Ask a long-time Kentucky fan and you'll get a consistent answer to the question of "who was the most hated rival team, coach and duo of players" back in the day? If you answered Tennessee, with Coach Ray Mears, and the "Ernie and Bernie" show--Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King--you're right there with current Vol head coach Bruce Pearl.
Kentucky fans used to live to beat Tennessee and coach Ray Mears in the days of the "Ernie and Bernie Show," Pearl explained. Bruce Pearl would like to see those days return to Knoxville. Kentucky fans wanted to beat Ernie Grunfeld, Bernard King and Ray Mears back in those days.
"I want Kentucky fans to want to beat Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism and Bruce Pearl and Tennessee," Pearl said. "I would like to have our program to that point (again)." Pearl acknowledged that the Vol team did not compete well with Kentucky last year. "I want Kentucky to be my rival," Pearl said. "But we didn't compete with them last year."
Pearl claims a "competitive" relationship with UK coach John Calipari. "I've always had great respect for John Calipari," Pearl said. "It makes it more interesting now (with Calipari at Kentucky."
One key to whether Tennessee may be successful maintaining that rivalry level this year may be super sophomore Scotty Hopson, a Hopkinsville (Ky) product with a lot of talent. Pearl said that last year he let Hopson play and did not push him much. "I am on him a lot more this year in practice than last year," Pearl stated. "But he won't have to do as much as a Lofton because we will have five guys in double figure scoring (this year)."
The Vols may be more balanced this year, but one thing Pearl won't give up is his team's reliance on the outside arc. "We're still committed to the three-ball," Pearl said. "The good news is, last year we were 3rd in three-point shots made. The bad news is we were last in three-point percentage."
That recipe probably won't recreate the days of Mears and the "Ernie and Bernie" Show. But Pearl believes UK fans will nonetheless respect the way his team will play. "They may not have liked the way Chris Lofton wore orange," Pearl said, adding, "But they respect him and the way he played."
Ray Mears, Ernie & Bernie Show, Part II?
AllWildcats Top Stories
Killeya-Jones To Attend British Training CampSophomore big man one of 24 selected for FIBA EuroBasket team tryout.
AllWildcatsYesterday at 5:40 PM
Doak Walker Watch List Includes UK's SnellUK running back coming off record-setting freshman season.
AllWildcatsThursday at 1:23 PM
Southeastern Risers in the New Scout 300Scout takes a look at several South rankings risers in the updated Scout Top 300 after summer evaluations all over the country.
Scout FootballWednesday at 6:49 AM
Cats Add Transfer from USCTop 100 offensive tackle from Class of 2016 finds new home in Lexington.
AllWildcatsMonday at 3:43 PM