Strange: Maze makes a point with assists

The box score said Bobby Maze launched his Tennessee career with 10 assists Saturday night. That's not the whole story.

After the horn sounded and the opening-night crowd of 21,864 emptied out of Thompson-Boling Arena, he added a few more.

Assist No. 11 - "I have to give credit to my guys on my team that finished for me, or none of this would have been possible,'' said Maze.

There was, in fact, a lot of finishing going on in a 114-75 rout of Chattanooga. Six Vols scored in double figures: Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism, Scotty Hopson, Cameron Tatum, J.P. Price and Maze himself.

Assist No. 12 - "Wayne really rebounded and made some outstanding outlets to me to start the break.''

Of Chism's 13 rebounds, 11 came off the defensive glass to help Maze and assorted Vols trigger a blistering go-go tempo.

Assist No. 13 - "That crowd was so unbelievable. This is big-time basketball. This is the SEC. I'm just so happy to say I play for Tennessee.''

The feeling was mutual as far as coach Bruce Pearl, Maze's teammates and a somewhat apprehensive fan base are concerned.

I say somewhat apprehensive because opening night can be a delicate affair - especially when you're blending in so many new faces. Don't take my word for it, ask Kentucky.

Tennessee needed only about five minutes to warp into March Madness speed. There was plenty of praise to be shared among veterans and newcomers alike. But in basketball, things so often start with point-guard play.

The Vols last season managed to win a school-record 31 games and an SEC championship despite not having consistent play at the point.

Ramar Smith and Jordan Howell did a tag-team dance most of the way, though the point was neither one's true position. As a last resort, J.P. Prince was asked to take over in the NCAA tournament.

With Smith and Howell moving on - and even if they hadn't - Tennessee had an urgent need to land a true point guard.

"Nobody in the country,'' Pearl said Saturday,'' had a bigger need at point guard than we did.''

So assistant coach Steve Forbes was charged with finding the best junior-college guard in the land. He found Maze at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.

Maze wasn't your average juco guard. He had started games at Oklahoma as a freshman. He knew, given UT's dire need, he'd be starting games in Knoxville.

Sure enough, he started opening night and dished out 10 assists. Nobody on the team last year had 10 assists in any game.

Maze also made only one turnover in 28 minutes, and scored 12 points to boot.

But this night was about assists. The Vols had a school-record 32 of them, surpassing the 31, also recorded on a previous opening night, a 118-86 victory over Tennessee Tech in 1988-89.

What a difference a top-shelf point guard makes. Chattanooga coach John Shulman, who also played the Vols last season, is already in the Bobby Maze Fan Club.

And it wasn't even Maze's play-making that most impressed Shulman. It was his harassing defense at the point of attack.

"I'm just going to tell you,'' said Shulman, "I was a Jordan Howell fan, a JaJuan Smith fan and a (Chris) Lofton fan, but it ain't even close.

"Maze did a great job pressuring the ball. (Chattanooga's point guard) was backing his way in, trying to run our offense and that's a bad sign when your point guard is with his back to the basket 43 feet away.

"I thought Maze dominated the game.''

None of his teammates were arguing that point.

They like to run and he helped them run. They like to score and he helped them score. Most of all they like to win and he helped them win.

"It starts with great point-guard play,'' said Tatum, "and Bobby Maze played a great game tonight.''

Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276 or strangem@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 22

Govols2012 writes:

Amen to that !!!!!!!!!! Good Job Maze
Your simply amazing

VOLorado writes:

114-75

Wait, was that the LadyVols score?

Irwin_Linker writes:

Its going to be an exciting season. We can not afford to lose Maze for any length of time. I know its early, 1 game, but I think this team might be better than last years. Go Vols and beat Memphis.

smashmouth98 writes:

It's gonna be a fun year. At least we got B-Ball!!!!!!

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to Irwin_Linker:

Its going to be an exciting season. We can not afford to lose Maze for any length of time. I know its early, 1 game, but I think this team might be better than last years. Go Vols and beat Memphis.

yes, Irwin/linker you can predict the future, you go girl! Maybe we also ought to thank the wonderful writers at knews senile which also helped make this experience a positive one for us! And to our buddy John Adams a big one also for always being there for us(weather we want him to be or not). And to Coach Phil Fulmer, don't worrry coach, good things happen to those who wait on their destiny. I commiserate with you in your misery, please don't take it out on us, even though we deserve our share of the blame.

volmattna writes:

Its Basketball time in tennessee!!! GO VOLS!!!!

King53 writes:

Maze said - "I'm just so happy to say I play for Tennessee." And we love seeing you suit up in orange Bobby! It is great to see someone who really knows how to play the point position. What a difference it makes! (see last year for comparison) GO VOLS!!!

VOLFORLIFE writes:

Hey Catscratch, where you at? Figured you'd be on here dishing out your usual drivel. Oh yeah, I forgot, y'all got 110 hung on you the other night (who was it that did that to you again?), so I guess maybe you'll be quiet for awhile, huh?

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

graphpro#231211 writes:

The intensity. The aggressiveness. The unrelenting pursuit of excellence. No matter what the score it.... WOW! WOW!

What a great coach and leader!!

Pearl for President!! :)

txvolsfan writes:

in response to VOLFORLIFE:

Hey Catscratch, where you at? Figured you'd be on here dishing out your usual drivel. Oh yeah, I forgot, y'all got 110 hung on you the other night (who was it that did that to you again?), so I guess maybe you'll be quiet for awhile, huh?

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

Amen!!!

No smack about we would be regretting Maze on here from kittyscratch now or Airforce.

Only regret in SEC may be from UK for bringing in
Gillespie!!
LOL

Great game Vols, let's build on it
GO VOLS!!!

eduardo writes:

Yeah ask kenlucky! Right catscratch? hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

Awesome!!!

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

in response to VOLFORLIFE:

Hey Catscratch, where you at? Figured you'd be on here dishing out your usual drivel. Oh yeah, I forgot, y'all got 110 hung on you the other night (who was it that did that to you again?), so I guess maybe you'll be quiet for awhile, huh?

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

111

murrayvol writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

yes, Irwin/linker you can predict the future, you go girl! Maybe we also ought to thank the wonderful writers at knews senile which also helped make this experience a positive one for us! And to our buddy John Adams a big one also for always being there for us(weather we want him to be or not). And to Coach Phil Fulmer, don't worrry coach, good things happen to those who wait on their destiny. I commiserate with you in your misery, please don't take it out on us, even though we deserve our share of the blame.

Do us all a favor and concentrate on commiserating while we enjoy the basketball season.

murrayvol writes:

The early season chemistry against a pretty fair Moc team coupled with an obvious upgrade at the point will give Pearl's SEC coaching brethen plenty to ponder in the weeks ahead.

utvolz#637682 writes:

Fellow Vols,

Also keep this in mind; CBP is just now getting the roster set with the type of players he needs to run his system. Hang on gang, we're in for a heck of a ride!

Did I mention Pat's crew (although practically all freshmen) looked pretty darn good yesterday as well? :-)

Frank (broadcasting live from Manchester, TN!)

GO VOLS! GO BIG ORANGE!!

tennesseetitan_vol86 writes:

point guard has been the only position we have really been weak at in the bruce pearl era; that need has obviously been adressed with this addition. I must say that i was very impressed with the DEFENSIVE perfomance of this team last night, the younger players seem to have bought into the defensive system very well and played solid D against an experienced team last night. Team also appears to be so much more athletic at every position as opposed to years past; we have also seemed to retain the 3 point shooting that we have been known for in the past years under Pearl. overall a good performance to build on, BRING ON MEMPHIS, KENTUCKY, FLORIDA, ETC.......

Colliervol writes:

Looks like we've found us a legitimate point guard folks. No matter how talented you might be, a good one makes all the difference in the world. Especially when you get to the tournament. Here's hoping he stays healthy and eligible.

Colliervol writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

yes, Irwin/linker you can predict the future, you go girl! Maybe we also ought to thank the wonderful writers at knews senile which also helped make this experience a positive one for us! And to our buddy John Adams a big one also for always being there for us(weather we want him to be or not). And to Coach Phil Fulmer, don't worrry coach, good things happen to those who wait on their destiny. I commiserate with you in your misery, please don't take it out on us, even though we deserve our share of the blame.

WLTV, I'll say one thing. You're consistent, if nothing else.

Consistently trying to embarrass yourself that is. No need to try anymore. You've succeeded numerous times.

miatatom writes:

Thank you for coming to Tennessee, Bobby. You've shown us how good we can be with a great PG.

Volgrad777 writes:

Only B-Money can lock B-money!!!! I just bought a couple of Bobby Maze T-shirts , the "I put on for Tennessee" and one with him making that statement " Only B-money can lock B-money". Awesome to have the solution on board this year. I think those shirts are for sale on some site called , loserswithsocks.com.....Just in case anyone might want one or didnt know. Theyre pretty cool.

THE_VOL writes:

A nice game by Maze and others but gotta remember it was UTC folks. These young guys haven't been tested yet by a good team with some grit. The tourney in Florida will give us a much better look at how tough they are collectively and individually and how they respond when everything is going against them. BUT this will be a nice win come Selection time as UTC is favored to be one of the top 2 in the SoCon.

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