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He started six of Tennessee's first seven basketball games of 2008-09 as a true freshman. Once he lost his first-team job, however, his playing time decreased to the point that some fans forgot he was on the team.

Well, Renaldo Woolridge is still on the team ... a point he made emphatically with his play in Friday night's 117-79 exhibition defeat of North Alabama. The 6-8, 208-pound sophomore hit 5 of 10 shots, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc, and scored 12 points in just 13 minutes.

The fact he hadn't played a significant role in a Vol victory in 11 months made Friday's performance that much sweeter.

"Yeah," he said, flashing a big smile. "It's been a long time."

Woolridge wasn't among the first three substitutes Friday night but when his turn to play arrived he made the most of it, providing a spark with his hustle.

"We have to pick up the energy coming off the bench, and that's what I did," he said. "I just came in and got in the flow of things."

Woolridge never quite got "in the flow" as a freshman guard last winter. Except for a 14-point outing vs. Siena, he struggled offensively - shooting just 31.1 percent from the field and 27.5 percent from 3.

The son of former Notre Dame All-American and 13-year NBA star Orlando Woolridge, Renaldo is switching from guard to his dad's position (power forward) this year. The move was dictated by UT head coach Bruce Pearl.

"He said it's going to be better for me because the position is more on top of the key, and I have the whole court so I can drive either way or I can shoot," Woolridge explained. "I think it's a great position for me. I'm learning to be more of a post player but I think it's going to be a great fit for me."

One reason Pearl wants Woolridge spending less time on the perimeter is to make better use of his skills as a rebounder.

"Growing up I've always been able to rebound," Woolridge said. "I only had three (vs. North Alabama) but I was third on the team in rebounding (during preseason scrimmages). Being closer to the basket allows me to get more offensive and defensive rebounds."

It also allows Woolridge to branch out offensively. Mostly a 3-point bomber last year, he's now more of a threat to put up points inside the arc.

"In open space, with Renaldo having freedom, he can really score," Pearl said. "He's comfortable taking his jump shot and looking at the basket. Renaldo can really score the ball. That's one of the things he does very, very well."

Woolridge reminded a few thousand fans of that Friday night.


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