Four Hoop Vols stranded

Lately, Tennessee has been unable to put together a complete basketball game. Today, it isn't even able to put together a complete basketball team.

With four key Vols snowed in at various locations following the Christmas break, head coach Bruce Pearl will have just nine scholarship players available for this afternoon's practice.

As of this morning two players were stranded in California, one in Wisconsin and one in New York. Pearl is hoping all four will be flying in to Knoxville by this evening, although there are no guarantees.

Freshman forward Tobias Harris was waiting for clearance to fly out of New York City and sophomore forward Jeronne Maymon was trying to get a flight out of Madison, Wisc. Inclement weather had junior forward Renaldo Woolridge stuck in his hometown of Los Angeles. Sophomore center Kenny Hall also was snowed in while visiting relatives in California, although he attended high school in Stone Mountain, Ga.

Another California native, senior point guard Melvin Goins, made his way to Knoxville by taking a "red-eye" flight out of San Diego early Monday morning.

With the Vols 1-3 in their last four games and preparing to host UT Martin Wednesday night, canceling today's practice was not an option.

"We'll go at 3 o'clock today without those four guys who are experiencing travel delays," Pearl said.

Obviously, practice won't be the same without the four stranded Vols. Pearl says the first workout following a break generally is a light one, however.

"The day back from break would be about getting them ready to practice tomorrow (Tuesday) anyway," the coach said. "What we'll probably do is take the (available) group at 3 o'clock and go."

Pearl said the four stranded Vols were not to blame for missing today's workout, noting that "All are in travel situations where it's not their fault. It's all weather related in flights."

The four missing Vols are tentatively scheduled to make up for missing today's workout by practicing twice on Tuesday. They'll participate in an early-morning workout "just to get the trip out of them," Pearl said, then join their teammates for the regularly scheduled Tuesday afternoon workout.

That's assuming, of course, that all four make their way to Knoxville by this evening. That isn't guaranteed.

"We know they all have flights," Pearl deadpanned. "But we don't know that they're all going to be back."

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