UT wing Cameron Tatum on the Vols' mindset
Cuonzo Martin wasn't looking for any Christmas miracles when the Tennessee basketball team returned to practice on Monday night.
Just more hard work.
"The break was good and much needed for our players and the staff," UT's first-year coach said Tuesday during a break in practice. "It's time to get back to business. Nothing changes.
"Our goals haven't changed; the key is playing hard."
Asked about the difficulty of Monday's practice, UT sophomore Jordan McRae replied: "It sure wasn't a walkthrough."
The Vols (5-6) will be looking for their first three-game winning streak of the season against The Citadel (2-9) on Thursday (TV: SportSouth, 7 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"You've got a team here that's trying to find it's way; you can't overlook anyone," Martin said. "I don't think we've hit our stride as a unit."
Martin said all of the players reported to practice on time on Monday, and the energy has been positive.
"I said even in our losses, you could see guys getting better," Martin said. "Kenny Hall, Cameron Tatum, I think both have done a good job."
Martin said after reviewing the first 11 games from a big-picture standpoint that, while he hasn't changed the starting lineup, the rotation remains unsettled.
"I don't think there are five guys that have solidified themselves," he said. "We haven't had the same five on the floor at the end of games."
Stokes Update: UT mid-term signee Jarnell Stokes is expected to be in Knoxville on Thursday, though his enrollment isn't complete and his high school transcript has yet to be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Martin said it appears it will only be a matter of time after Stokes is academically cleared and enrolled that he will play in games.
"It's coming in here, and making sure his conditioning is where it needs to be," Martin said. "As a coach it's my responsibility to put him in situations where he can be successful. So you see where he does well and what his strengths are. He's hungry to play."
Stokes can't practice with the team until his transcript is approved, and he can't play in any games until after classes start on Jan. 11.
The Vols play at Mississippi State on Jan. 12, at home against Kentucky on Jan. 14 and at Georgia on Jan. 18. Defending national champion Connecticut plays in Knoxville on Jan. 21 in a nationally televised CBS game.
Bradshaw on Stokes: Former UT player Dane Bradshaw said he has an appreciation for Stokes' decision to go against the local flow in Memphis and sign with the Vols.
"It would be like if Knoxville had some Parade All-American quarterback Tennessee was recruiting hard, and he signed with Alabama." said Bradshaw, who is from Memphis and signed with UT in 2002. "Like Harrison Smith at Catholic going to Notre Dame (to play football); you find out who your friends are real quick.
"I don't know if people realize how big of a deal this was in Memphis. It says a lot for Jarnell that he's willing to take a chance and be different and go where he's comfortable, and it says a lot for Coach Martin that he was able to get this kind of unique player."
The 6-foot-7, 255-pounds Stokes is the first No. 1 prospect out of the state of Tennessee to sign with the Vols in at least 13 years. He was ranked No. 11 by Rivals.com in the Class of 2012 before graduating from Southwind High School early.
Orange Slices: Jeronne Maymon leads the SEC in field-goal percentage (60.9), and is third in offensive rebounding (3.4 per game) and fifth in total rebounding (7.9 per game).
Through Monday, UT lead the SEC in free-throw shooting (71.6 percent) and were second in 3-point shooting percentage (38.6), rebounding defense (33 per game) and assists (14.8 per game).
Trae Golden leads SEC players with 5.7 assists per game and ranks 15th in scoring (13.3 points per game).
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32