Trae Golden needs 'to play with confidence'

Slump won't allow guard to be down in dumps

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) dunks the ball over ETSU guard Adam Sollazzo (43) at Thompson-Boling Arena Friday, Dec. 23, 2011.  Golden scored 11 points with 4 rebounds during Tennessee's 66-63 win over ETSU.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) dunks the ball over ETSU guard Adam Sollazzo (43) at Thompson-Boling Arena Friday, Dec. 23, 2011. Golden scored 11 points with 4 rebounds during Tennessee's 66-63 win over ETSU. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

UT coach Cuonzo Martin discusses the Vols' 66-63 win over ETSU

Trae Golden's slump was nearing rock bottom as Tennessee's chances of beating East Tennessee State on Friday night were slipping away.

Adam Sollazzo, the 6-foot-6 nightmare matchup at point guard, had just hit a shot to put ETSU up by eight points with 5:36 remaining.

That's when UT's sophomore point guard, who was 6-of-25 shooting over his past four games, finally found the Golden touch again.

Golden scored nine of his 11 points over the final 5 ½ minutes, sparking an 11-0 run that led to Tennessee (5-6) holding off ETSU 66-63 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"Coach (Cuonzo) Martin had pulled me aside during a timeout and told me to step it up,'' said Golden, who was 1-of-5 shooting from the floor prior to the furious rally. "He told me he needed it out of me. I just tried to do what I could do to make plays.''

Martin said he realized his young point guard was battling through a tough time, and he's looking for him to stay hot when UT returns to action at 7 p.m. Thursday when The Citadel (2-9) travels to Knoxville.

"Trae stepped up big, and that will be big for him; I think he was pressing,'' Martin said. "His shot wasn't falling, and he stepped up and made some big free throws and made some big plays.

"I think any guy needs that, any time you are shooting the ball, you need to play with confidence.''

Golden, who hit both ends of a one-and-one free-throw situation with 7.9 seconds left to help preserve the win, said he was trying not to let the slump affect him.

"I tried not to lose my confidence, I couldn't lose my confidence,'' said Golden, who broke his nose in practice on Dec. 16. "If I'm not believing in myself, who will?''

Golden still leads the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game. However, he's shooting 40 percent from the floor (46 of 113) and 33 percent from 3-point range (17 of 51).

UT senior Cameron Tatum said he never lost trust.

"I never get worried about Trae in those situations,'' said Tatum, who led the Vols with 13 points. "He's a competitor, and he knows what to do to win.''

Golden said it's a matter of continuing to battle through adversity while learning how better to lead the team.

"It's a long season, and there's going to be ups and downs in every season,'' Golden said. "It was good just to get the flow going again.''

Hall Steps Up: The first person Martin singled out for praise was UT starting center Kenny Hall, who, like Golden, has had his share of ups and downs this season.

Hall came through for the Vols in the second half against ETSU with eight points and five rebounds in the second half of the come-from-behind victory.

"It was very important to get this win, and I wish we could have won a lot more of these close games earlier,'' said Hall, referring to the Vols' 2-6 record in games decided by 10 points or less. "It wasn't a cakewalk — that was tough.

"But we just buckled down and played hard. We're just getting used to playing with each other, and our chemistry is a lot better.''

McBee On Stokes: Perhaps no UT player can understand the significance of the Vols signing the state's No. 1 prospect better than junior Skylar McBee, who grew up following the UT basketball program closely.

"Oh yeah, this is real big,'' McBee said, asked about the importance of the Vols getting their first signee out of Memphis since Dane Bradshaw in November of 2002. "He's going to come in here and bring a big, strong presence down low. He's a good guy who just wants to come in and be a part of our team, and that's the kind of guy we need.

"I think the key is he sees coach Martin wants the best for him, and he'll develop him into the kind of player he wants to be.''

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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Comments » 17

volfan2002 writes:

Hopefully we will see Stokes about the UConn game at home anything earlier would be great also.

GerryOP writes:

After his broken nose heals he'll get his swagger back.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Bubba_Knows writes:

Show me a player without confidence and I'll show you a marginal player. So many people say they don't like the cocky players, but most of the good ones are cocky.

RockVegas writes:

I don't think it's his confidence,he is just playing out of position.He just doesn't make good decisions,and believe me at the point your decision making have to be quick and right.Do you guys remember when B.Pearl played Prince at point in Birmingham at the tournament it was horrible,I hollered so much my voice was gone the next day,he was a very good player but he was a terrible point guard remember that?.....GBO.

wigmeister writes:

Need a true point guard! Got our good big man in Stokes. Need a great ball handler, passer at the point. Need 5 starters that want and love to play D.

underthehill writes:

I feel like Coach Martin knows Golden simply does not have point guard skills and I have to believe Coach is just going with what his best option is at this time.

JayTee writes:

Golden's problem is poor shot selection and he wants to be the shooter not a point guard.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Uhhhh back to basketball volman.lol

I really have liked Golden as a person and player since he arrived. However he's not quite ready to dominate as a point...i.e. defense mainly. He's shown signs of brilliance, at least in the first few games. He DOES have the potential to play point I think IF his D steps up! He's better (like others on the team) in transition. Half court 's a burden for him. Will he make it at point? I think so. I think if he keeps his confidence and realizes he's gotta step it up and control the offense then he'll make it. To me though control does not mean jackin' up 3s...sure when he's hot fine. Same for Jordan. He needs to shoot only when the offense gives it to him and quit forcing it up!!! IT'S OKAY TO PASS IT INSIDE TO THE OPEN MAN!! It won't get stolen if you make a good pass that the bigs can actually catch.lol
Lot's to work on between now and SEC. Blocking out is still an issue on both ends of the court.
Golly I wasn't gonna get on here till tomorrow but have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and all those good times to ALL. ..even the TROLLS!!hehe

veinsoforange writes:

in response to underthehill:

I feel like Coach Martin knows Golden simply does not have point guard skills and I have to believe Coach is just going with what his best option is at this time.

Exactly! Where is Chris Jones when we neeeeeeed him?

Golden definitely needs to play off the ball.

veinsoforange writes:

Ah ha, I forgot where Jones had attended college. It's with our fellow Pearl coaching friends at Northwest FL State College.

Where he is lighting it up by the way. He is the leading scorer averaging 16.833 pts per game, with the most 3's included.

eb502us#225637 writes:

in response to JayTee:

Golden's problem is poor shot selection and he wants to be the shooter not a point guard.

Bingo!!

Ironcity writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Uhhhh back to basketball volman.lol

I really have liked Golden as a person and player since he arrived. However he's not quite ready to dominate as a point...i.e. defense mainly. He's shown signs of brilliance, at least in the first few games. He DOES have the potential to play point I think IF his D steps up! He's better (like others on the team) in transition. Half court 's a burden for him. Will he make it at point? I think so. I think if he keeps his confidence and realizes he's gotta step it up and control the offense then he'll make it. To me though control does not mean jackin' up 3s...sure when he's hot fine. Same for Jordan. He needs to shoot only when the offense gives it to him and quit forcing it up!!! IT'S OKAY TO PASS IT INSIDE TO THE OPEN MAN!! It won't get stolen if you make a good pass that the bigs can actually catch.lol
Lot's to work on between now and SEC. Blocking out is still an issue on both ends of the court.
Golly I wasn't gonna get on here till tomorrow but have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and all those good times to ALL. ..even the TROLLS!!hehe

I agree with what you say. I do believe he could be a good PG however he isn't right now. Though he has changed his body and has improved defensively, he still has a ways to go. Its tough for UT we have lost out at the wire on three true PG's the last two years (Craft, Jones and guy that went to Kansas).

Unless we find some JC whiz I doubt we will see that much improvement at the position next year.

VOL1972 writes:

Trae simply isn't a point guard. We obviously don't have one now or he'd be playing. I think CCM recruited at least one for next year. The remainder of this year should be interesting as Stokes comes into his game. Next year, with Stokes and a point guard, should be a lot more fun than this year.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to RockVegas:

I don't think it's his confidence,he is just playing out of position.He just doesn't make good decisions,and believe me at the point your decision making have to be quick and right.Do you guys remember when B.Pearl played Prince at point in Birmingham at the tournament it was horrible,I hollered so much my voice was gone the next day,he was a very good player but he was a terrible point guard remember that?.....GBO.

We would have had to be under a rock (no pun intended) to have forgotten that. Prince was even more out of position. Great points are hard to find. Most are just converted shooting guards at best.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to VOL1972:

Trae simply isn't a point guard. We obviously don't have one now or he'd be playing. I think CCM recruited at least one for next year. The remainder of this year should be interesting as Stokes comes into his game. Next year, with Stokes and a point guard, should be a lot more fun than this year.

The kid playing for Ohio State (Aaron Craft) was the point we needed. Ironically, it was Craft who went to the barbecue at Cheater Pearl's house and started the decline with Pearl, and Harris and Hopson leaving early.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

OK Iron You may be correct.? But that would mean that 2 players with natural abilities and some development already aren't going to be able to improve? Maybe. I hope you're wrong on this. BUT I also hope we can recruit a top-notch point sometime before next year.lol

brod writes:

what happened to chris jones, the point guard that signed from memphis and didn't have the grades to get in?

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