Coach Pearl talks ahead of the Vols appearance in the Men's SEC Tourney

1. What was the most difficult barrier for the Vols to overcome to win the undisputed SEC title?

A - "I like 'undisputed,' like a heavyweight champion. It's like a heavyweight fight, 15 rounds or whatever it is, all the games you've got to play. It's a grueling schedule, and I think winning the conference championship is more difficult than any of the championships you play in. The SEC tournament is three or four games. The NCAA tournament is six games. So winning the SEC championship is something we can all be proud of."

2. How have the Vols managed to overcome an earlier disadvantage they had in rebounding?

A - "Moving Wayne Chism to power forward and getting Duke Crews back gave us a better inside presence. The development of J.P. Prince also helped, as did our senior guards being physical, knowing we like to run, but that you can't run without rebounding."

3. At this stage, comment on advantages in playing a schedule whose toughness was second to none.

A - "It was a huge advantage -- going to Chattanooga, playing at Xavier and then out to Seattle. Just putting this team in harm's way and then moving into the SEC race allowed us to go on the road and not be overwhelmed. The senior guards had a lot to do with our success on account of their play. They had been down that road before."

4. What teams do you feel are in the best position to spring a surprise or two in the SEC Tournament?

A - "I like Mississippi State's club, the inside-outside game and then the great defense the Bulldogs play. With them, it's sort of like the Lady Vols, who barely missed winning the regular-season championship, then won the SEC Tournament. I am so proud of the Lady Vols, who just keep on doing it year after year after year. It's amazing. Mississippi State is dangerous. Kentucky is playng well. Teams like Vanderbilt and Arkansas are capable. Florida and Ole Miss hope to get off the bubble."

5. How important is it for the Vols to play well in the SEC Tournament when they open Friday (1:00E)?

A - "It's very important to try to get the No. 1 seed. It may be ours to lose. We haven't played on Saturday in a long time. I can just imagine what I-75 is going to look like Saturday when fans come down to gobble up those tickets and see us play in the semifinal game."

Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information


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