Buzz's blueprint for success

Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson believes there is a simple blueprint for success heading into this week's SEC Basketball Tournament in Atlanta.

''You'd better have a zone defense,'' he said. ''You'd better be able to attack a zone, and you'd better hit your free throws.''

Elaborating, the UT coach added: ''You're going to see some zone. Coaches will play a lot of zone in tournament play. And you'd better knock those free throws down because you're going to need every little point you can get.''

These things don't bode particularly well for the Vols. The Big Orange tends to become passive when playing a zone defense and also when attacking an opponent's zone defense. On a positive note, though, UT is the SEC's best free throw-shooting team.

Another key factor at tourney time is depth. Alas, UT has none. The Vols used just three subs in last Saturday's regular-season finale against South Carolina and got but one point from their bench (by Jemere Hendrix). Stanley Asumnu and John Winchester did not score, while Justin Albrecht and Boomer Herndon did not play.

Peterson hinted that Albrecht and Herndon may see action when the Vols open SEC Tournament play Thursday night against Alabama.

''You've got to play some guys here and there towards the end of the bench a minute or two just to relieve some other guys,'' the Vol skipper said.

One more key factor at tourney time is having all of your players available ... and three league teams will not. LSU will be without Jaime Lloreda, South Carolina will be without Rolando Howell and Florida will be minus Christian Drejer. Lloreda and Howell are injured, while Drejer recently left the Gators to play pro ball overseas.

Tennessee, which lost Jon Higgins to academic problems for the 2003 SEC Tourney, will have its full complement of players this time -- assuming everyone stays healthy.

''I tell our guys: 'What's sore or hurting you a little bit, you'd better get it healed up and ready to go,' '' Peterson said. ''Going into the game on Thursday, we want to make sure we feel good about ourselves and what we're doing on both ends of the floor.''

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