Working the officials is an art but it was a lost art in UT men's basketball during the Jerry Green/Buzz Peterson years. Clearly, it's back under Bruce Pearl. The fiery first-year Vol coach didn't wait long to showcase his intensity, picking up a technical foul in the opening exhibition against Southern Indiana. When asked about it afterward, he joked, "They (officials) didn't want my opinion."
Pearl incurred another technical in the first half of Game 5 against Appalachian State. Appy's Doug McLaughlin-Williams clearly traveled a split-second before launching a 3-point basket. There was no whistle, however, and the shot went in. Pearl erupted along the Vol sidelines, sustaining a technical foul that the Mountaineers parlayed into two free throws, a five-point possession and a 28-19 lead.
Pearl was not in a joking mood when asked about his second technical foul of the season.
"I guess I'm a little too animated," he said. "I coach with enthusiasm. I guess that's something they're just not used to."
To Pearl's credit, the technical did not crimp his style. Moments after being "teed up," he was snapping at the officials again. UT's Major Wingate appeared to be fouled on a short field-goal try that sailed way off the mark. When the inside official never blew his whistle, Pearl blew his top. The coach peppered the official with angry words as he raced past. The official responded by turning several times on his way downcourt to bark back at the Vol coach.
Not surprisingly, no more questionable calls went against Tennessee. Good coaches know how to work the officials.