The Tennessee men's basketball team lost their 2nd SEC game in a row last night. They lost 81-75 to Florida in Knoxville. With these two loses one thing is evident: Bruce Pearl isn't the only thing wrong with this team.
Tennessee has many issues. True, they are a very talented team, but talent cannot cover up all their holes. The biggest hole that Tennessee has is their inside play. PF Tobias Harris has played great this year on the offensive end. But when it comes to the defensive end, he is giving up as many points as he is producing at times. Another inside player that isn't producing is C Brian Williams. This year was supposed to be the year that he stepped in and averaged a double-double. Instead, he has been very inconsistent. He is averaging 8 points and 8 rebounds, but looking at the games, he should be averaging at least 14 points and 10 rebounds. He misses a lot of easy layups and fumbles away some good passes.
Another issue is consistency. There has been no bigger posterchild for that than G Scotty Hopson. Hopson is talented, but at times he disappears and doesn't produce. For Tennessee to play to the level that they are capable of, Hopson has to play to the level of his talent. They will also need to get more consistent production from their bench as well.
By far the biggest issue is they play with the ball way too much. Too many times, there are possessions where PG Melvin Goins is just dribbling the whole clock away. Goins is the PG. His job is to get everyone in the offense and make it happen. Too many times he doesn't.
I would be lying to say that these issues wouldn't happen if Pearl was there because he doesn't dribble the ball or play the games. But what I can say is that with him on the bench, the team seemed to be more prepared and he was worth 3 or 4 points and could keep the other team from scoring an additional 3 or 4 points because of his coaching intelligence. Until he returns, Tony Jones will need to channel his inner Bruce Pearl and guide these players through these struggles.