Keeping tabs on Tabb

When an HT Group player went up for short jumper Monday night at Bearden High Gym, one Richardson Construction defender leaped high to block the shot. Later in the same possession the same defender flicked the ball away from another opponent and came up with a steal.

Apparently, Josh Tabb never got the memo explaining that playing defense is not considered proper etiquette in summer league basketball. Or maybe Tennessee's 6-4 senior guard simply couldn't help himself; he has been playing defense so hard for so long that it has become second nature.

"There's not a lot of defense played in summer league basketball," Tabb conceded after helping Richardson post a 114-108 victory in opening-night Rocky Top League play. "But Coach (Bruce) Pearl told us before we came out here that he wants everybody to challenge each other to play D, so that will carry on into the season."

As bizarre as it was to see someone actually playing defense in a summer-league game, Tabb did something even more shocking in the same outing: He drained three 3-point baskets in a row. That was pretty amazing for a guy who averaged just 3.4 points last winter and attempted a mere 33 treys in 33 UT games.

"I'm using this league to work on my 3-point shot but I've been working on it ever since I've been here," said Tabb, whose defensive prowess has always overshadowed his offensive abilities. "I just need to have confidence in my shot."

He should have that by now. Tabb ranked among the Rocky Top League leaders by hitting 40.6 percent of his 3-point attempts last summer, then led Tennessee by hitting 42.9 percent (14 of his 33) last winter. If the proof is in the pudding, his pudding should be just about finished.

"Now that I'm a senior," he conceded, "I've got a lot of confidence in myself."

Perhaps that confidence will result in a more offensive-minded approach in the 2009-10 college season. Tabb attempted just 85 field goals last winter, rarely pulling the trigger unless (A) he was wide open, (B) the shot clock was about to expire or (C) both.

Certainly, the Rocky Top League is the ideal entity for polishing the rough spots in one's game.

"It is," Tabb noted. "But, at the same time, you want to come out here, have fun and put on a good show for the crowd."

Josh Tabb put on a good show Monday night, scoring 23 points in his team's victory. In the process, he did the unexpected – nailing the 3 and playing the D. In summer-league basketball, that's almost unheard-of.


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