'Major' disappointment

At 6-10 and 250 pounds, Major Wingate has a hard body ... but a soft mindset. That's why the talented Tennessee sophomore has been a ''major'' disappointment during his first 1 1/2 seasons in the Vol basketball program.

That may be about to change, however.

Lately, Vol head man Buzz Peterson has been on Wingate's back ... and Wingate has been on the ball. He scored eight points in 13 minutes against Mississippi State on Jan. 12, then came back with a season-high 9 points in 22 minutes at South Carolina on Jan. 15. He also grabbed four rebounds vs. the Gamecocks, three of them coming off the offensive glass.

Because he's looking to score more, Wingate picked up four fouls in each of the past two games. Clearly, the big guy has become more aggressive lately. The question is: Why?

''I've been telling him, 'You're soft,' '' Peterson says. ''He's probably so mad at me. I've told him he's soft and that I want to see a change in him right now.''

Based on the Mississippi State and South Carolina games, Wingate is trying to make that change.

''He's attacked the basket,'' Peterson said. ''He's gotten some (charging) calls on him but I like the fact he's been aggressive.''

Now that Wingate is taking more shots, the next step is to get him MAKING more shots. He sank just two of six attempts at Carolina, despite firing mostly from point-blank range.

''He missed so many easy ones Saturday,'' Peterson said. ''I told him, 'As big as you are and as strong as you are, you need to finish everything at the rim.''

In other words, Wingate needs to take the ball to the hoop for dunks and layups, instead of shooting six-foot fallaway jumpers. If he'll heed the advice, he has the skills to be an outstanding player.

''He's always been pretty solid defensively and always given good effort,'' Peterson said. ''I want him to continue to be aggressive on offense. If he'll do that, that's going to help us a lot ... with all that size in there.''


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