Change rooms ... change luck?

Some basketball coaches respond to a few setbacks by changing their lineup. Some change their pre-game rituals. Some change their sideline attire. Tennessee's Bruce Pearl is taking it one step further: He's changing his meeting room.

The Vols were riding a nine-game winning streak two weeks ago when Pearl held his first news conference of 2007 in one of the meeting rooms at Thompson-Boling Arena. The room was not the same one used last year, so the coach quipped that he would insist on returning to last season's meeting room "if we start losing some games."

Sure enough, Pearl's off-hand remark proved prophetic. When the Vols lost back-to-back games at Vanderbilt and at Ohio State, he tried to get his weekly conference moved to another room last week. He failed. The meeting room remained the same, and so did Tennessee's luck.

The Vols suffered a third consecutive loss last Wednesday at Auburn. They managed to nip a weak South Carolina team 64-61 on Saturday but, in the process, lost All-America guard Chris Lofton to an ankle injury.

Pearl had seen enough. This week's news conference was held in the same meeting room that was used last season, when the Vols won the SEC East title and went 22-8 overall. Craig Pinkerton, sports information director for basketball, said Pearl was "looking to change the karma."

Pearl, who admits being a bit superstitious, conceded that he hopes the change in meeting rooms will bring about a change in Tennessee's fortunes. After losing three of four games AND his best player, the coach figures it's time for a turn-around as the Vols prepare for Wednesday night's game at Ole Miss.

"We'll see if the change in venue has a positive effect on our ability to win on the road," he said.


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