Fans are understandably excited about the up-tempo offense Bruce Pearl is bringing to Tennessee basketball this year. Once they see it, they may be just as excited about the full-court defensive pressure he's bringing.
Defense – particularly perimeter defense – was a lost art on occasion at UT last winter. Vanderbilt
set a school record by draining 18 3-pointers on Tennessee
's home court. The Commodores hit 54.8 percent from the floor that day, including a mind-boggling 56.3 mark beyond the arc. Louisville
shot 56.9 percent from the floor in an 85-62 romp, Vanderbilt hit 52.2 percent in the rematch at Nashville, Alabama
hit 55.1 percent in a 72-54 blowout at Knoxville and Kentucky
hit 55.3 in a 73-61 triumph at Lexington.
Tennessee's defense should be significantly better in 2005-06.
"This is going to be a good pressing group at times," Pearl said earlier this year. "Stanley Asumnu and C.J. Watson in particular are very, very good at full-court pressure, very good at anticipating plays, making things happen and playing fast."
After the deliberate pace they played last year under Buzz Peterson, Tennessee's players are embracing Pearl's high-octane offensive system. But they also seem to be enjoying the new head man's high-energy defensive system.
Said Pearl: "I think they like the fact we are going to be aggressive defensively and not sit back on our heels."