Crump must 'blend'

He's Tennessee's tallest player and leading shot-blocker. Still, Brandon Crump will have to make an adjustment when he returns to action Wednesday night against Alabama and Saturday afternoon against Florida.

Since Crump injured an ankle against Louisville on Jan. 22, the Vol lineup gradually has gotten shorter and quicker. ''Small ball'' worked so well in last Saturday's 77-55 defeat of LSU that head coach Buzz Peterson is reluctant to change the formula.

''I like this smaller group; they've done everything we've asked of them on the defensive end,'' Peterson said. ''If Brandon Crump does come back for this game, he'll have to blend in with these guys. This group -- Dane (Bradshaw), Stanley (Asumnu), JaJuan (Smith) and Jordan (Howell) -- has been a big boost for us.''

Although Crump should be close to 100 percent healthy, he may not get as many minutes as he was getting prior to his injury.

''That's something we'll have to look at in today's (Monday's) practice and tomorrow's,'' Peterson said, ''and see how we'll go Wednesday night.''

In a best-case scenario, Crump will return to form without fouling up the team chemistry the Vols have developed since going with their smaller, more active lineup. Or, as Peterson put it:

''This is a big week for us. Hopefully, we'll add Brandon back to the mix and continue what we've been doing here of late. We had a big win against LSU. Hopefully, we'll continue to improve as the week goes on and come out with two more wins.''


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