Peterson starts job at Tennessee

Friday, April 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The last week has been like a whirlwind for Buzz Peterson. Tennessee's new basketball coach hasn't slowed down yet.

A week ago Peterson was coaching Tulsa in the NIT. This weekend he went to Minneapolis for the Final Four and was interviewed for the Tennessee job.

On Wednesday, he flew into town to be introduced as the new coach.

For his first day of work on Thursday, Peterson arrived in his new office at Thompson-Boling Arena at about 9:30 a.m. EDT. He spent most of the day with meetings, paperwork and a photo shoot for the university.

Recruiting, hiring a staff and getting to know the players are high on his to-do list.

He started meeting individually with the players in the afternoon and was booked solid until 9 p.m., his secretary Janice Harper said.

She's been just as busy, fielding phone calls.

``It's unreal. I have used up half a message pad today,'' she said.

Peterson said Wednesday he would talk about recruiting needs with assistant coach Chris Ferguson, whom he retained from Jerry Green's staff. A point guard is a likely target with the departure of senior Tony Harris.

He thought Ferguson probably would hit the recruiting trail this weekend while he focuses on some other priorities.

``I may spend some time here with these players, get to know them and get some time on the court with them,'' Peterson said.

Workouts with individual players, not the entire team at one time, are permitted in the off-season.

Time with the players will help ease the coaching transition.

``It won't happen overnight,'' Peterson said. ``That's why I want to get my feet in and go right now.''

Peterson met with the players for the first time on Wednesday.

``I thought it went well. I told them how I live my life and what I expect from them and the way things are going to happen the next several weeks,'' he said.

Vincent Yarbrough, Tennessee's leading scorer last season, said he believed the 37-year-old coach who played and roomed with Michael Jordan at North Carolina would relate well to the team.

``I think he really understands the place that we are in our lives and the things that we are going to be going through,'' he said.

Some of the players watched Peterson coach Tulsa to the NIT championship last week.

``I liked the up-tempo style. He has a lot of discipline with them, although he lets them get real loose,'' Ron Slay said.