Post man delivers

Tennessee's first-team post man sometimes disappears on the basketball floor, which is difficult to do when you stand 6-feet-9 and weigh 242 pounds.

Still, Wayne Chism can be virtually invisible at times. Check out these numbers:

- 5 points, 5 rebounds vs. Middle Tennessee on Nov. 20

- 4 points, 4 rebounds vs. North Carolina A&T on Nov. 27

- 4 points, 2 rebounds vs. UT-Chattanooga on Dec. 4

- 3 points, 4 rebounds vs. Western Kentucky on Dec. 15

- 3 points, 3 rebounds vs. UNC-Asheville on Dec. 19

- 5 points, 5 rebounds vs. Ohio State on Jan. 19

- 5 points, 3 rebounds vs. Florida on Feb. 5

Fortunately for Tennessee, there has been no overlooking Chism since the Florida game. He hit 4 of 6 floor shots en route to an 8-point, 8-rebound, 3-steal outing at LSU. He followed with a 4-of-7 shooting day en route to a 15-point, 5-rebound, 2-block, 2-assist performance against Arkansas. He capped his recent rally with a 16-point, 9-rebound, 3-block effort at Georgia.

Over the last three games Chism has hit 14 of 26 field-goal tries, grabbed 22 rebounds and averaged 13 points per game.

Head coach Bruce Pearl described Chism's performance vs. Georgia as "tremendous," but suggested the big man's play hasn't been as erratic as the stat sheet might suggest.

"I think Wayne's been consistent," the coach said. "His SEC numbers are up. He's one of the best defensive big men in the country. There aren't many his size that move their feet as well as Wayne Chism. He understands defense."

Apparently, Chism is beginning to understand offense, too. He's coming to grips with the idea that 6-foot-9, 242-pounders can be just as effective from three feet as from the 3-point line.

"Offensively, he has the ability to score around the basket now, and he's a threat from 3," Pearl said. "I'm really pleased with his progress and development."

Because he is a highly emotional player, Chism tends to be streaky. A good play usually leads to more good plays. Likewise, a poor play tends to have negative repercussions.

"The only thing that occasionally gets to Wayne is when Wayne makes a mistake – and this is true with young people – that it sometimes gets in the way of the next play," Pearl said. "Wayne gets down on himself too much. If he misses a free throw or turns the ball over, then he'll make a foul or something that contributes to a run (by the opponent)."

Chism matched his season's high with 13 field-goal attempts at Georgia. It appears that Tennessee is routing the offense through him more than before.

"We're definitely looking to get the ball in there to him," Pearl said. "You can see out of starts of halves and out of timeouts that there's a lot of emphasis on trying to get Wayne the ball."

That emphasis will continue, so long as he doesn't disappear again.

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