Chism finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds in 19 quality minutes. Tennessee doesn't need him to score 17 points every time out but the vertically challenged Vols desperately need him to crash the boards. He understands as much.
"That's what I focus on every time I go out to play a game; I count on myself to rebound more than sometimes score," he said. "I know I need to score to help the team out but most times I'll be thinking, ‘I need to rebound. I need to rebound.'"
Because Tennessee has just three scholarship players taller than 6-5 – Chism, 6-9 Ryan Childress and 6-8 Duke Crews – rebounding against towering SEC opponents will be a challenge. Heck, rebounding against the undersized Magicians was a challenge Tuesday night. The Vols won the backboard battle by a mere 42-36 margin. Childress grabbed 4 rebounds in 14 minutes, Crews 3 in 17 minutes.
Although Chism led Tennessee rebounders, he thinks he should've done better. And he says he would've done better except that he spent much of the evening playing away from the basket.
"I think I need to come out and rebound more than I did tonight," he said. "But playing the person I was playing – he was out on the perimeter – I can't have a chance to go rebound. When I did rebound it was off the weak side."
Chism, Crews and Childress took turns guarding 6-6 Jihad Sharif, who hit 7 of 13 floor shots and led LeMoyne-Owen with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Chism feels he benefited from the experience.
"They had some good post players to make me play defense, help my defense out," he said.
Chism also had to play some perimeter defense. He thought he handled the assignment pretty well.
"I was pleased with my defense," he said. "A couple of times I had to guard guards but I think I played pretty good D."
Although Chism scored most of his points inside, he nailed a 15-footer from the baseline and drained his only 3-point try. Except for a 2-for-6 night from the foul line, he played exceptionally well on offense.
"It felt good," he said. "I was nervous for a minute but getting my first shot to fall gave me more confidence."
In addition to Chism's 17 points and Crews' 12, the Vols got 12 points from Ramar Smith and 7 from Marques Johnson. The fifth member of UT's heralded freshman Class, Josh Tabb, did not score but contributed 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in 21 sterling minutes. Clearly, these rookies bring a lot of athleticism and enthusiasm to the roster.
"We're pretty good," Chism said. "But we've got to come out and work hard every time – play the best at our positions and on defense, too."