Stanley steps up

No Tennessee basketball player was more excited about the hiring of Bruce Pearl last March than Stanley Asumnu. The senior wing figured he would fit well in Pearl's up-tempo style of play. The early returns suggest he was right.

After producing 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals in Exhibition No. 1 vs. Southern Indiana, he came back Friday night with a game-high 19 points, 5 rebounds and 3 more steals in Exhibition No. 2 vs. Carson-Newman.

Asumnu was an a little-used reserve last year, averaging just 8 minutes per game and registering almost as many turnovers (20) as baskets (27). This year he's the starting small forward and performing at a much higher level. After shooting just 39 percent from the field last season, Asumnu was 4 of 7 from the floor in his first outing this season, 9 of 15 in the second.

"He certainly was productive," Pearl said following Friday's game. "This is the second game he's shot a good percentage. He did not have a turnover, which was good. The thing that jumps out at me is that Stanley got the ball inside and made some really made strong moves that I think he'll make against anybody. I like that he took the ball to the basket so well. When we got it to him, he didn't fade."

Whereas Asumnu struggled mightily in Buzz Peterson's deliberate halfcourt game, he appears to be thriving in Pearl's run ‘n gun system.

"This style fits well for me," he said. "It's the style I played in high school, AAU and everything. It gives me the freedom to make things happen and not worry that if I make a mistake I'm coming out. I'm just playing."

Asumnu clearly plays better at high speed, relying on his instincts and his remarkable athleticism.

"It's better when you play off reaction," he said. "When you're out there thinking, that's when you make mistakes. When you just react, you make things happen and the game is fun."

Nothing is more fun than winning, of course. The Vols won just 14 of 31 games a year ago, leading to Peterson's dismissal. Based on Friday's 106-73 exhibition defeat of Carson-Newman, Asumnu thinks 2005-06 will be more enjoyable and more productive.

"We were just having fun out there," he said. "Everybody was making plays, getting deflections and steals, getting everyone involved in the game. Nobody was selfish. We shared the ball, played together, had fun, showed emotion and we got the W."

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