Dane crashes the boards

Dane Bradshaw doesn't look like a power forward, but he plays like one.

Although he stands just 6-4, Bradshaw started Tennessee's two exhibition games at power forward and probably will fill the same role in Friday night's regular-season opener against East Tennessee State. The reason is two-fold:

1. The preseason dismissal of Jemere Hendrix leaves the Vols perilously thin at forward.

2. Bradshaw is surprisingly effective in the role.

Bradshaw proved Point 2 by spearing a game-high 12 rebounds in last Friday's 106-73 defeat of Carson-Newman.

"A few of those could've been Major Wingate's but I kinda' snagged ‘em out of his hands a little bit," Bradshaw said, grinning broadly. "I was underneath and I felt like somebody had to grab it, so I might as well."

Because head coach Bruce Pearl also utilizes him as the chief backup to point guard C.J. Watson, Bradshaw managed to dish out six assists last Friday. That pleased him even more than his eye-opening rebound total.

"I was excited about the six assists and one turnover more than anything," he said. "Coach is trying to get confidence in a backup point guard to where C.J. can play less minutes. Hopefully, I'm giving him that."

Bradshaw has the strength and toughness to play inside, plus the passing and ball-handling skills to play outside. Still, doing both in the same game is a challenge.

"It's not too bad, really," he said. "I've kind of gotten used to it the past two years. I have to adjust each possession, not knowing where I might be, but I'm ready for it. It's a challenge I'm willing to take on."

At 6-4, Bradshaw is dwarfed by most centers and power forwards. He's a scrappy guy but the physical pounding he absorbs at the hands of bigger foes is considerable.

"Sometimes it's tough," he said. "When you're trying to front the post, you get a few more elbows than you want. I just depend on my teammates for backside help. They're there for me most of the time."

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