2007 Tennessee Volunteers Basketball Preview
The Tennessee Volunteers (24- 11 overall, 10- 6 SEC) tied for second place in the SEC East and then went onto the NCAA regional semis where they were defeated by Ohio State 85- 84. This season coach Bruce Pearl’s (26- 19 in two years with Tennessee, 363- 103 overall in 15 years) team looks even better. Look for them to in our picks on college basketball games and be the top team in the Sec East and perhaps in the entire conference.
Last year, the Vols scored an average of 80.9 PPG, which meant they were first in the SEC and ninth in the nation. Tennessee’s scoring defense allowed 75.1 PPG, placing them 12th in the conference and 290th overall in that category. Play under the boards and ball control were also areas of weakness, with the Vols ranking 10th in rebounding margin (minus-1.2) and eighth in turnovers (14.2 TPG). Foul shooting was at a .653 mark, while opponents hit frees at a rate of .728.
Sophomore Wayne Chism (9.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 44.1 FG%) who’s 6’ 9”, has fine range, athleticism and defensive skills. He can steal, block and should be a factor when you bet on college basketball. Chism is an accurate three-point shooter too. Another tough guy under the rim is junior forward Ryan Childress (5.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 45.7 FG%). He can also play inside and out. Sophomore Duke Crews (8.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 51.8 FG%) is yet another warrior who can muscle when in the paint. The frontcourt is tough and deep.
The backcourt is also in excellent shape. Guard Chris Lofton (20.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 47.9 FG%) opted to return for his senior season rather than go pro. Lofton is perhaps the best shooter in the SEC and one of the finest in the nation. His career 3-point mark is 43.8%. At the point, sophomore Ramar Smith (10.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 43.7 FG%) proved to be a decisive playmaker in his freshman season. Look for him to give this team more of the same.
The Tennessee Volunteers look like the real thing. They have all of the ingredients that should take them deep into March Madness. Better “D” and improved free throw shooting will help get this team to the Elite Eight and maybe beyond.