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The Vols certainly didn't do themselves any favors last night. I don't know whether it is because some of the guys are slightly dinged up or most of the newcomers are not fully integrated yet, but the team has had a hard time getting in synch so far this season. McRae and Richardson are the only ones who have scored consistently and the defense recently has seemed, as Strange said, a step slow. Despite too many quick three-pointers and missed shots inside, the offense has actually improved lately when they are penetrating, as they did in the second halves of the last two games.
Oddly, though, the defense has regressed lately. I noticed several occasions last night where perimeter defenders seemed to raise up out of their stances to try to move in front of drivers instead of sliding over while staying low. This made them vulnerable to the driver's second move, causing the defender to reach with his arms to stop the drive, resulting in too many fouls even when the guy didn't penetrate all the way to the middle.
Post defenders especially fall too easily for shot fakes. There are NO natural shot-blockers on this team except maybe McRae, so there is just no reason why any of the rest of them should twitch whenever an opponent makes a shot fake. It is harder at any range to make a shot over a defender who is in decent balanced position with his arms up than it is to shoot over an off-balance defender or one who takes himself out of a play by falling for a shot fake.
The guys are going to have to have a heart-to-heart talk with each other and decide what kind of team they are going to be going forward. They need to hold themselves and their teammates accountable, but hopefully in an encouraging way. This may be biggest effect of Maymon's absence on the floor. There is still a long way to go in this season, and still a lot of potential on this squad, but they are just going to have to get their minds right if they are to salvage it.
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