March 24, 2008
INTERVIEW OF COACH BRUCE PEARL BEFORE NCAA SWEET 16
GAME WITH LOUISVILLE THURSDAY NIGHT AT CHARLOTTE
1. How pleased were you that UT achieved tough wins at Birmingham over American and Butler?
A - "How pleased? Very pleased. That puts us in the Sweet 16 back-to-back for the first time ever at Tennessee. This team has been about trying to make history, and we have embraced that. Now we are trying to do something that hasn't been done before -- get to the Elite Eight."
2. How does the point guard position shape up for the game with Louisville Thursday (9:57E)?
A - "We've given a lot of attention to that. It isn't normal at this stage of the season to juggle the lineup, but I felt it gave us the best chance of winning. Having J.P. Prince on the floor more means he has to be a one, two or three. We have Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith at two and three, so that means Prince has to play the one position. He practiced there in preseason and through the course of the season. Prince did a terrific job and does a lot of things productively. He'll be challenged at that position this weekend. If I'm going to lose, I at least want my best players on the floor."
3. Based on his great coaching career, summarize the qualities that Rick Pitino brings to his team.
A - "It starts with great players. He has a great system of basketball. He plays to his players' strengths and stays away from their weaknesses. He's able to take tough kids and get them to play the way he wants them to play. He's in charge. He's the captain of that ship."
4. How do the Vols and Louisville match up as they prepare for their game in the NCAA Sweet 16 round?
A - "Louisville will be, like Memphis, the most talented team we play. Frontline depth. Backcouert depth. They will press us, which doesn't happen often. They will mix in some zone. Louisville has been thought to be a Final Four caliber team. This region looks like a Final Four field. All the top seeds have advanced."
5. How much credit is due Wayne Chism and Tyler Smith for providing UT a strong inside presence?
A - "They're our two leading scorers in tournament play. Wayne has had two very consistent games. He'd get in foul trouble early, and it takes a while for people to realize he can move his feet and that he can defend. To his credit, he's handled it. Tyler has the 'It' factor in making big plays. He is 'It.' He is special."