Fast turnaround

Tennessee's basketball team is constantly forcing opponents to operate at a faster pace than they prefer. Now head coach Bruce Pearl is getting a taste of his own medicine.

Fresh from an 80-60 defeat of No. 16 Vanderbilt Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena, Pearl must race the clock in order to get his troops ready to face reigning Final Four runnerup Ohio State Saturday at 3:30.

Tennessee normally plays on Wednesday nights and Saturday nights, giving the team roughly 72 hours between games. Because ESPN wanted UT and Vandy to play on Thursday night and because the Vol-Buckeye game is set for an afternoon tipoff, UT finds itself with just 39 hours between the end of the Vandy game and the start of the OSU game.

Making matters worse: Whereas the Vols have one day less than usual to prepare for Ohio State, the Buckeyes have one day more than usual to prepare for Tennessee.

"The fact Ohio State played on Tuesday and we played on Thursday – for ESPN – really put us at a competitive disadvantage," Pearl said. "We're up against it. Trust me, there is a huge difference (between one day of preparation and three days)."

Instead of their usual late-week practice schedule – a light workout on Thursday and a vigorous workout on Friday – the Vols will have a light workout today and hope they're ready for Saturday.

"Physically," Pearl said, "we'll be able to do absolutely nothing (today) except stretch and do a walk-through and try to learn something from film."

Pearl and his staff camped out in the basketball office until the wee hours of this morning, diligently breaking down Ohio State game film and devising a game plan.

As Pearl put it Thursday night: "The guys (players) are going home tonight and the coaches are staying in until we get tired."

The head man spent some time last Sunday watching Ohio State. He assigned an aide to scout the Buckeyes this week, even as the Vols prepared for their SEC East showdown with Vanderbilt. Basically, the coach had little choice.

"We plan in advance," Pearl said. "I've got assistant coaches who have been on the Ohio State scout and assistant coaches who are on the Kentucky (Tuesday's foe) scout. I've got to get ready."

An enthusiastic crowd of 20,799 showed up Thursday to cheer the Vols past the Commodores. Pearl appreciates the fans and hopes they'll show up similarly vocal for the Buckeyes' visit.

"This building is spectacular … this whole environment for college basketball," the coach said. "CBS is going to be here Saturday, and we've got to find a way to get this thing (fan support) churned up pretty quickly."


Inside Tennessee Top Stories