Commentary

CBB Summer Buzz: Tennessee

After losing some key players, the Vols will have to adapt to compete in the SEC East

Updated: August 5, 2010, 12:18 PM ET
By LaRue Cook | ESPN The Magazine

Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we're bringing you a closer look at a few of the big-profile schools before most freshmen have even moved into their dorms. We continue today with Tennessee.

Tennessee Volunteers

28-9 (NCAA Tournament -- Elite Eight)

Expectations will undoubtedly be high on Rocky Top this season after Bruce Pearl led Tennessee to its first Elite Eight in school history. But the man in the Creamsicle orange blazer doesn't want the college basketball world to ignore the fact that he will be without three starters from the squad that came within two points of the Final Four. "People forget we lost almost as much as Kentucky did," Pearl says of departed seniors Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince, Bobby Maze and Tyler Smith, the last of whom was dismissed mid-season after a New Year's Day run-in with police.

Pearl certainly has a point: Gone are his leading scorer and rebounder (Chism; 12.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg), his top two in assists (Maze and Prince) and his two best defenders in Chism (team leader in blocks) and Prince (tops in steals). Unfortunately, Pearl won't be receiving any sympathy cards from teams in the SEC East, a division that will provide Tennessee with one of the toughest conference schedules in the country.