No timetable for Crews' return

Tennessee has begun preseason basketball drills without one of its top players.

Duke Crews remains under disciplinary suspension for an assortment of off-court matters. The latest was the confiscation by police of a small amount of marijuana from the dormitory room he shares with teammate Josh Tabb. Neither athlete was present at the time of the police search.

Head coach Bruce Pearl, who imposed Crews' suspension late last month, said the 6-7, 230-pound sophomore from Hampton, Va., has "made a lot of progress" toward getting back in the coach's good graces.

"He's done the right things," Pearl added. "If he keeps doing them, he'll get back on this basketball team."

The head man said he does not have a timetable for reinstating Crews, who led the 2006-07 Vols in field-goal percentage (51.8), offensive rebounds (89) and blocked shots (32). The offensive rebound total was 22 ahead of runnerup Wayne Chism and the blocked shot total was 11 ahead of second-place Chism.

With Crews currently out of the picture, Pearl said the Vols' position-by-position breakdown looks like this:

Point guard: Ramar Smith, Jordan Howell and J.P. Prince

Shooting guard: Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith, Josh Tabb and Cameron Tatum

Small forward: JaJuan Smith, Josh Tabb, Cameron Tatum, Steven Pearl, J.P. Prince

Power forward: Tyler Smith, Ryan Childress, Wayne Chism, Steven Pearl, J.P. Prince

Post: Wayne Chism, Brian Williams and Ryan Childress

Pearl said the start of preseason practice "never gets old," calling it "as special a time of the year as there is."

Much of the enjoyment, the Vol coach said, is watching a group of parts mesh into a working unit. In that way, assembling a team is a lot like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.

"This is the time of the year when you try to take all those different pieces that you planned on and worked with individually, and you try to put them together," he said. "So, for me, the start of basketball season and the start of basketball practice is always the most exciting time ... that, and probably whatever takes place in March."

Tabb will be sidelined at least 10 days due to a broken bone near his eye. He suffered the injury when his face collided with Prince's elbow during some Tuesday scrimmaging.

With the exception of Crews and Tabb, all of the Vols are present and going full bore as the Vols prepare for the 2007-08 season.

"The energy level has been very good, as you would expect," Pearl said. "It's that way every place else around the country because they're fresh and they're furious."

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