LSU not ‘suspending’ respect for Vols even with Pearl out
Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 2:30 pm
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Bruce Pearl returned to the bench for Saturday’s game at Connecticut, but the Tennessee coach will have to miss tonight’s matchup with LSU at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Pearl, serving an eight-game, Southeastern Conference-imposed suspension, was able to coach Saturday only because the Volunteers played outside the league.
He still has four more games he must sit during the SEC season, and the suspension resumes when LSU comes to town.
In the absence of Pearl, Tennessee assistant Tony Jones has split four games.
“Not having your head coach affects the way you play, but they have a pretty good assistant that’s coaching them right now. They’re not doing too poorly,” LSU wing Matt Derenbecker said.
“The players know what’s expected, and it’s not like Bruce Pearl’s not watching the games. They know if they do something they’re not supposed to, they’re going to hear about it in practice.”
Pearl received the suspension after an NCAA investigation last year found him guilty of recruiting violations.
He can make a permanent return to the bench on Feb. 8, when the Vols face Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
Tennessee (12-7, 2-2) lost its first two games with Jones at the helm, but victories over Vanderbilt and Georgia got the team back to the .500 mark in league play.
Pearl’s cameo at UConn ended in a 72-61 loss.
“I’m a firm believer that good players make good coaches, great players make great coaches,” LSU coach Trent Johnson said. “Tony’s been with Bruce a long time.
“They have some quality wins, and they have a lot of guys who’ve been through the wars.”
INJURY REPORT: The good news for LSU is that leading scorer Ralston Turner, who suffered a stress fracture in his right foot Jan. 2 and has missed all four of the team’s SEC games, is out of the walking boot he wore earlier this month.
But it’s not all good news.
“He’s out the boot, and Storm’s back in,” Johnson reported. “We’ve got a lot of boots.”
Johnson said Monday that Storm Warren, who has nursed an Achilles injury throughout the SEC season, “has taken a step back.”
He wasn’t sure of the junior forward’s status for Wednesday, but Warren is officially listed as questionable.
Warren played 12 minutes in LSU’s 78-51 home loss to Ole Miss after playing only 31 in the team’s first three conference games. He scored six points.
As for Turner, he’s aching to get back.
But that probably won’t happen, Johnson said, until LSU (10-9, 2-2) plays at Alabama this weekend at the earliest.
“Us not playing well is very bothersome for him,” Johnson said.
LSU LESSON: LSU lost 82-44 at Kentucky on Jan. 15 before returning home to face Ole Miss and suffering a similarly embarrassing defeat.
Instead of asking the Tigers to wash it from their memory, Johnson planned to begin practice Monday by showing film of those two games.
“Right now the main focus for us is getting our competitive edge where you can sustain something something against somebody that’s good for a consistent period of time,” Johnson said.
Before the back-to-back blowouts, LSU was 2-0 in the SEC after beating Auburn and Arkansas its first two games.