After upsetting previously unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Kansas in Thompson Boling Arena on Sunday, head coach Bruce Pearl’s undermanned Volunteer squad begins SEC conference play Thursday night at home against Auburn.
The No. 9-ranked Vols played the Jayhawks with only nine players, including three walk-ons, and must do the same against the Tigers. After practice on Tuesday, Pearl addressed the situations of center Brian Williams and guards Cameron Tatum and Melvin Goins.
“They are (all three) suspended indefinitely and when we get more information, we will make the adjustments (to our roster),” Pearl said. “Brian, Cameron and Melvin will all be starting classes with everyone (Wednesday).”
The contest against Kansas saw point guard Bobby Maze have the best day of his Tennessee career. The senior scored 16 points with eight assists and seven rebounds to go along with defending the Jayhawks’ All-American point guard Sherron Collins.
“(With) the team we have now, Coach (Pearl) looks for me to score more, and I’m one of those players that can get to the basket and make things happen,” Maze said after practice Tuesday.
Even with the success on Sunday, Maze said the team was ready to get back to work, even staying to shoot around the gym for an extra hour and a half on Monday following a team weightlifting session.
“(My teammates) are not satisfied (with the Kansas win),” he said. “We’ve moved on, and that win doesn’t mean (anything) if we lose at home against Auburn.”
Senior Wayne Chism has emerged as one of the team’s leaders both in games and in practice and added that the team’s chemistry is vital to the success of the program.
“(Our) team chemistry is good,” Chism said. “We are staying together, and if we don’t, we are going to have rough games.”
After being in foul trouble for much of the Kansas game, Chism said his plan was to play with the same intensity under the basket that he has always played with.
“Sometimes I get that (foul called), and it’s going to happen, so I can’t get mad,” Chism said. “... I’ve got that speech (about getting in foul trouble from the coaches) a hundred times, and there’s nothing new they’re going to tell me, so they don’t give it to me anymore.”
With the depleted roster, the Vols will rely on a balanced scoring attack and try to find a way to match the intensity it had for the Kansas game. Younger players like sophomore Renaldo Woolridge and freshman Kenny Hall will be asked to play more minutes than earlier in the season.
Maze was optimistic about the 12-2 Vols, heading into the SEC schedule.
“Each game that we play together, we’ll continue to get better and better, and just not being satisfied with what happened last game (will be) the key to success this season,” Maze said.