Rocky Top revenge

It used to be that getting Tennessee basketball player Wayne Chism frustrated was the best thing an opponent could do. Monday night it was the worst thing.

The unofficial motto of the Pilot Rocky Top summer league is "No blood, no foul," So, when former Vol C.J. Black (6-8, 250) of Choice Spine started throwing his weight around inside, HT Group's Chism (6-9, 240) grew visibly upset when no whistles were blown.

Wayne Chism's emotions sometimes knocked him off his game in the past but he managed to channel them on this occasion. Realizing he was not going to get foul calls on the inside, he stepped outside and began draining 3-pointers. Then, when Black ventured away from the basket, Chism drove past him for rim-rattling dunks.

On one of his driving dunks, Chism put a knee in Black's chest on his way to the basket. Interestingly enough, Black was called for a blocking foul. On Choice Spine's ensuing possession, Black elbowed Chism in the jaw while spinning toward the basket. Instead of answering with an elbow of his own, Chism answered with a few more baskets. He finished with 36 points, while limiting Black to three, as HT Group won 121-120.

Afterward, Chism conceded that the inside play was especially rugged.

"It was," he said, "but sometimes you've got to stop what you're doing and think about what you're playing in. You can't get mad. I've learned how to play through it."

Chism, who angrily left the Vol bench during a rugged game at Vanderbilt two years ago, did more than simply "play through" Monday night's adversity. The rougher play became, the more assertive he became.

"That's what I'm learning to get better at," he said. "I used to get mad and keep being mad. But I stayed in my position and kept playing, and I got tough (a game-winning tip-in with 3.1 seconds left) at the end."

Given his incredible physical gifts, Chism could be one of college basketball's premier big men in 2009-10 if he continues controlling his emotions as he did Monday night.

"I had frustration," he conceded, "but I played through it and bounced back better than I did two years ago."

Bouncing back is a recurring theme for Chism lately. After scoring just 11 points in his 2009 Rocky Top League debut, he has bounced back with consecutive 36-point efforts. The obvious question: What has gotten into him?

"I'm just coming out and playing my game," he said. "What I've been working on in practice is what I'm doing out here. I get a lot of shots, and every time I shoot I've got confidence it's going in."

Because most summer-league baskets come on guards launching 3s or driving to the basket, post players don't get a whole lot of inside touches. That makes Chism's back-to-back 36-point outings especially noteworthy.

"I've been working on ball-handling," he explained. "Coach has me doing that, too. I've got to learn to take the ball off the dribble."

Although the RTL competition is a notch below the SEC level, Chism displayed his improved ball-handling several times Monday night by going "coast to coast" for dunks. All in all, he was pleased with the performance.

"It was good," he said, "but I'm going to continue to work hard."


Inside Tennessee Top Stories