There's not a lot of new information out there today on the arrests of Tyler Smith, Cameron Tatum, Brian Williams and Melvin Goins from yesterday, as the four are held on weapons and drug possession charges. Late last night Bruce Pearl released a second statement, suspending all four players indefinitely until all the details are sorted out:
"I am deeply saddened and troubled by today’s news. I am indefinitely suspending Melvin (Goins), Tyler (Smith), Cameron (Tatum) and Brian (Williams) from all team activities until we have more information about today’s incident. I apologize for the embarrassment this has caused to our University."
This is the same strategy Lane Kiffin and Mike Hamilton took on the arrests of Nu'Keese Richardson, Mike Edwards, and Janzen Jackson (who was later cleared). And Pearl has shown he has no problem dismissing players from the team: now in the fifth year of his tenure, Pearl has said goodbye to Major Wingate, Ramar Smith, Duke Crews, while Josh Tabb withdrew from the university while on an indefinite suspension. Wingate, Smith and Crews were drug-related dismissals.
On the floor, this situation comes at a very unfortunate time: the Vols' win at Memphis on Thursday was huge, but there are no more gimmies for this team. The #14 Vols host a 10-2 Charlotte team on Wednesday night, then play #1 Kansas next Sunday in Knoxville. After that, SEC play begins.
Pearl spoke with Andy Katz at ESPN.com and had these additional comments:
"It's too early to say what this will mean for the rest of the season but this is very troubling," Pearl told ESPN.com. ""It's four of our top 8 players in minutes -- that's 45 percent of our rebounding and roughly scoring. We felt we had turned things around with a win at Memphis Thursday and for this to happen is very disappointing, for them to let everyone down. They made a very poor decision."
Here's a look at each player's numbers in 12 games so far this season...
- F Tyler Smith: 26.8 mins, 11.7 pts, 4.7 rebs, 3.7 assts
- G Cameron Tatum: 19.6 mins, 8.7 pts, 2.4 rebs, 1.7 assts
- C Brian Williams: 16.7 mins, 5.9 pts, 5.4 rebs
- G Melvin Goins: 16.3 mins, 6.1 pts, 2.2 rebs, 2.3 assts
Tyler Smith is a starter and a former All-SEC player, while Cameron Tatum has split starting and sixth man duties with J.P. Prince so far this season. Brian Williams is Tennessee's first post player off the bench, and Melvin Goins is UT's backup point guard. Even in what's been a 10 or 11 man rotation for the Vols so far this year, all four of these players do unique things and would be very difficult to replace.
We don't know the ultimate fate of these four players yet, but it's a safer bet every hour that you won't see at least some of them on Wednesday night against Charlotte. The Vols are deep and can still field a serviceable team even in the worst case scenario that all four players are dismissed. But whatever new rotation develops out of this situation will have to hit the ground running against Tennessee's schedule.
KPD said yesterday that they will not release new information until Monday, and so we may not get any further word about more definite suspensions and/or dismissals until at least then. Meanwhile, the rest of the team goes to practice today and the coaching staff must try to prepare for a difficult week, on and off the court.