The Chism challenge

For one Tennessee Vol, the key to staying on the backboards is staying on the floor.

The player in question, Wayne Chism, struggled with foul trouble in Tennessee's exhibition games and grabbed just 14 rebounds in the two of them combined. In the regular-season opener vs. Chattanooga, however, he kept out of foul trouble and on the glass. The result was a 14-point, 13-rebound effort that helped spark a 114-75 Vol romp.

"I was pretty glad I wasn't in foul trouble," the 6-9, 245-pound junior said, smiling sheepishly. "It's the first game that I was not even sitting on the bench for a while."

The Moccasins outrebounded Tennessee by 15 (46-31) in last year's game at Chattanooga. The Vols turned that around in the rematch, winning the boards 42-30. An aggressive Wayne Chism helped considerably.

"Tonight I went physical at them because they started off the game physical, so I said, 'I'm going to be physical with you, too,'" he said. "They outrebounded us by 15 last year, so I took it upon myself. Everybody was boxing out and they had opportunities to get a lot of rebounds but I came up with the most rebounds out of all of 'em."

Chism, Emmanuel Negedu and J.P. Prince grabbed two offensive rebounds each as the Vols piled up 13 en route to a 62-16 bulge on points in the paint. One game proves nothing, of course, but the 2008-09 Vols appear to be a stronger rebounding team than their recent predecessors.

"We're getting better," Chism noted. "That's one of the places we're getting better – rebounding and boxing out."

Head coach Bruce Pearl was pleased with Chism's board work but thought his position was just as important as his positioning.

"Wayne's very conscientious," the coach said. "Knowing it's an area he needs to improve on and focus on, he's been focusing on that.

"Part of the thing (impressive rebound total) is that when Wayne plays the 5 he's closer to the basket and it's easier for him to rebound. With Brian Williams and Emmanuel (Negedu) in foul trouble, Wayne played a lot of 5. That put him close to the basket, which allowed him to rebound."

Of course, as Chism has learned, you have to stay out of foul trouble and stay on the floor in order to stay close to the basket.

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