Hoop Vols a pleasant surprise

After talking with several UT basketball players since last season, I got the distinct impression some of them don't miss Ron Slay and his colorful, but sometimes distracting, antics. Several players hinted Slay was a ball hog who intimidated his own teammates. Even the most diplomatic Vols suggested that the team relied so heavily on Slay that his teammates never reached their potential.

Well, Slay's gone and the Vols appear to be reaching their potential this preseason. Tennessee scored its second lopsided exhibition win of the preseason Friday night, hammering the Southeastern Stars 114-71 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Big Orange also soared past the century mark in its exhibition opener against EA Sports a week earlier.

The highlights of Game 2 were numerous:

• Brandon Crump produced 19 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals in 25 minutes. Half of his rebounds came off the offensive boards.
• Scooter McFadgon hit half of his field-goal tries (6 of 12) and chipped in 17 points and 4 assists in 19 minutes.
• Stanley Asumnu turned in a second consecutive big game, hitting 5 of 6 from the floor en route to scoring 14 points in 15 minutes. He says he likes the Vols' faster pace, and he's certainly proving it so far.
• Jemere Hendrix added 12 points and 7 rebounds, with four of the caroms coming off the offensive glass.
• Freshman Major Wingate hit 4 of 5 shots and contributed 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots in 20 minutes.
• Freshman Dane Bradshaw was 3 of 3 from the floor, with a pair of 3-pointers, en route to an 8-point, 3-assist, 2-steal performance in 16 minutes as the backup point guard.
• Justin Albrecht, who missed all but two games last season, hit 3 of 5 from 3-point range, adding 9 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in 19 minutes.
• Boomer Herndon used his 7-foot frame to produce 4 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in just 11 minutes.

Just about the only players who struggled were starting guards John Winchester and C.J. Watson. Winchester sank just 1 of 7 from the floor, while Watson committed an uncharacteristic 4 turnovers in 21 minutes at the point. Watson did, however, contribute 8 points and 6 assists to the cause.

The Vols open for real this Friday against Wofford (7:30 tipoff) at Thompson-Boling Arena. This doesn't project to be a great team but, based on the early returns, it looks to be a very entertaining team ... even without Ron Slay.


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