Coach: Buzz Peterson 2003-04 Record: 15-14, 7-9 SEC
New Players (rankings from PrepStars)
|Andre Patterson||6-7||Junior||Transfer from UCLA|
|Jujuan Smith||6-2||Freshman||Top 400, Walk-on|
|Jordan Howell||6-3||Freshman||Redshirted (injury)|
C.J. Watson (6-2) is the best point guard in the SEC, and Dane Bradshaw (6-3) will be his backup. Scooter McFadgon and Andre Patterson (7.5 ppg and 5.5 rebounds as a sophomore at UCLA) should be on the wings, with Howell (6-3), Lofton, and Asumnu (6-5) providing interesting options. Jemere Hendrix (6-8) and Brandon Crump (6-10) will capably handle the post positions, with Wingate (6-10) helping out. The others won't play much, and Harris may not be eligible due to academics.
McFadgon and Watson are always real threats from the outside, and Howell and Lofton (Kentucky's Mr. Basketball in 2003-04) are both long-range bombers. Asumnu and Patterson are at their best in driving to the basket. Crump is a strong scorer from close range, and Hendrix is likely to be a more consistent scorer than he was as a freshman.
Rebounding and Defense
Tennessee should be one of the best rebounding teams in the SEC, thanks to the presence of Crump, Hendrix, Patterson, and Wingate. But they were quite weak defensively last season, yielding about 71 points per game. One thing they need is a defensive stopper, a role that Patterson has the equipment to fill.
Will increased experience bring Tennessee the improvement so badly needed in its defense? Will Patterson be a major factor? (He very well could be.) Depth looks much better this time. Getting enough shots to go around in order to keep people happy may be a consideration.
Overall Prospects for 2004-05
Tennessee has a lot of potential. Although the Vols are picked here for third in the SEC East because of their questionable defense, they have the potential to be much better. Indeed, they seem to have the players and experience to possibly even win the East if things come together as they could. This season will be a real test of Coach Peterson's ability to get the best out of his experienced players, but the team should return to the NCAA tournament.