Renaldo Woolridge providing consistent spark

Tennessee's Renaldo Woolridge shoots over Citadel's Lawrence Miller on Thursday, December 29, 2011 at Thompson-Boling Arena. 

(SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Saul Young, Saul Young

Tennessee's Renaldo Woolridge shoots over Citadel's Lawrence Miller on Thursday, December 29, 2011 at Thompson-Boling Arena. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Usually when you hear Renaldo Woolridge's name in the same sentence as the word "mix," a reference to his Swiperboy record label and Tennessee-inspired rap music follows.

But that hasn't been the case the past three games, as the senior forward is settling into the mix of players in UT's soon-to-shrink playing rotation on the basketball court.

Woolridge scored in double figures for the second time during his past three games in the 86-55 victory over The Citadel (2-10) on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"It's just been about keeping my focus, working hard in practice, getting in the gym on my own and doing whatever I can to help the team,'' said Woolridge, who has averaged more than 20 minutes per game the past three contests coming off the bench at power forward and at the post.

"I'm making sure I'm in there to be a spark plug,'' said Woolridge, who had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting against the Bulldogs. "A lot of guys are doing the same, and that's why we've reeled off three straight (wins).''

Interestingly enough, Woolridge's resurgence began with an 0-for-5 performance in the nine minutes he played in the 71-65 loss at the College of Charleston on Dec. 14 after he hadn't played in the previous two games.

UT coach Cuonzo Martin praised Woolridge for the energy he brought to the floor and the aggressive manner he defended, staying true to his pledge that his evaluation would be based on effort, and not scoring totals.

Woolridge responded with a career-high 17-point performance in the next game, a 72-68 win over UNC Asheville.

"I think everything is starting to click,'' said the 6-foot-9, 215-pound Woolridge. "I've figured out where I can get my offense

and my role on defense. I'm feeling confidence from my teammates and coaches.''

Martin validated that what Woolridge is feeling is real.

"Renaldo has really stepped up,'' Martin said following Thursday's win. "What Renaldo brings is a lot of energy, up and down the floor. Even if he misses an assignment on either end, he's so active in what he does. He also disrupts the defense because he can make shots from the perimeter.''

Woolridge said it's a case of him adjusting to Martin's coaching style and meeting his coach's expectations.

"Coach Martin told me as soon as he came here that with my athleticism, all I have to do is play as hard as I can,'' Woolridge said. "If I'm not getting a rebound, tip it to my teammate and just stay active at all times.

"It's a matter of finding my niche.''

Hot Shots: Led by Yemi Makanjuola's 7-for-9 shooting performance, the Vols (6-6) made 55.9 percent of their shots from the floor, their third-highest mark of the season behind a 64.6-percent outing against UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 11, and 57.1 percent against Division II Chaminade on Nov. 23 in the Maui Invitational.

Box Score Additions: Three UT players scored their first points as Vols in the final minutes against The Citadel.

Former Fulton standout Galen Campbell scored on a drive to the basket in transition, Ryan Kilmartin hit a 3-point shot and Rob Murphy sank a free throw in addition to pulling down a rebound.

UT scored a season-high 50 points off its bench.

Golden Nose: Tennessee starting point guard Trae Golden underwent surgery at University of Tennessee Medical Center on Friday to correct a minor nasal fracture, according to a UT release.

Golden, a sophomore, suffered the injury in a Dec. 16 practice when he was struck by teammate's elbow.

The surgery was planned by UT in advance to not conflict with games or practices.

Golden is expected to play against Chattanooga (6-8) on Monday (TV: SportSouth, 7 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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

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Comments » 26

born2ride writes:

Woolridge's scoring average:

Freshman - 2.6
Sophomore - 3.4
Junior - 1.6
Senior - 6.1

He has been a huge disappointment along with Kenny Hall.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Harry Hiestand. Not Dooley's job to do Hiestand's job.

CoverOrange writes:

I'm hoping this is an indication that some players are starting to "get" it. Easy to "get" it against lower competition though. The SEC season will start tough for these Vols.

HtownVol writes:

Too bad he thought his scholarship was for "rapping".
It would be nice if he knew how to use his frame instead of jacking the 3's.
The past few games he has shown a little inside but he needs to start inside.

Also, can we get Yemi in the rotation?

Maybe get McRae out, he may be getting worse.

GO VOLS

ReVolver writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

what an idiot

Vols17 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get lost, troll

MothershipChip writes:

Almost every single comment has been negative thus far so I will try to be positive; good work Renaldo keep it up!!!!

Seriously, we are talking about kids, lighten up yall.

By the way, going to the game in person is an extremely good time, I would suggest checking it out if you can manage it.

Go Big Orange!!!

Sir_Spanky writes:

Romper Room goin on again.

forkball writes:

If KNS would go to the system so many newspapers are using now where you have to post through facebook, the quality of the comment section would drastically change for the better. All the chicken$*%t stuff vanishes.

Ironcity writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Come on. As much as I like that Woolridge is starting to perform its not because Martin and his staff taught him how to shoot and Pearls chose or were incapable of teaching him. Using your logic Pearls staff taught Jajaun Smith and Lofton how to shoot.It comes down to comfort in ones role and Woolridge finally understands what his role needs to be.

Glad to see Woolridge playing well and would like to see him play more. He is active and disruptive and I think the team needs that on the court.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Come on. As much as I like that Woolridge is starting to perform its not because Martin and his staff taught him how to shoot and Pearls chose or were incapable of teaching him. Using your logic Pearls staff taught Jajaun Smith and Lofton how to shoot.It comes down to comfort in ones role and Woolridge finally understands what his role needs to be.

Glad to see Woolridge playing well and would like to see him play more. He is active and disruptive and I think the team needs that on the court.

Good points IC. I doubt Martin is spending anytime teaching shooters how to shoot.lol However he does seem to be helping them to feel comfortable as you say. He is I think working hard at teaching the defense because that is our hope this year to do anything special.
Now as far as Martin teaching how to shoot I think the guy meant more about when to shoot maybe. Martin doesn't seem to be concerned about how much they shoot if they play good defense. That makes me nervous but I understand it and he may be correct. Woolridge is NOT a guard nor even a small forward. He's a 4 or 5 depending on the scheme being used. I hate when Woolridge used to shoot 3s whether he was hot or not. He seems to have accepted his inside role. He has shown that he can hit the three but it's not his goal anymore.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Oh and toddyboy? Why are you saying Dooley can't coach? Is it our lines? He doesn't coach them. He's head coach. Now it's true he'll have to be responsible to improve several areas of concern. It's wait and see.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Woolridge's scoring average:

Freshman - 2.6
Sophomore - 3.4
Junior - 1.6
Senior - 6.1

He has been a huge disappointment along with Kenny Hall.

He is on track to graduate, has a fledgling business, and is contributing this year with more than scoring. You have still not mastered "Doya want fries with this?" Who's the disappointment?

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

MArtin cant coach his way out of a paper sack,Coach Pearl knew this guy didnt have no talent,listen to his rap music and know that he aint nothing but a thug!

FearMyMohawk writes:

in response to orangeblooded83:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dooley will win 9 games? What are you smoking? We wont win five games with our pathetic coaching.

notorange writes:

in response to FearMyMohawk:

Dooley will win 9 games? What are you smoking? We wont win five games with our pathetic coaching.

Mohawk??? really?? sure it's not mullet??

FearMyMohawk writes:

in response to notorange:

Mohawk??? really?? sure it's not mullet??

Have you ever seen a black guy with a mullet? That would be kind of funny.

notorange writes:

in response to FearMyMohawk:

Have you ever seen a black guy with a mullet? That would be kind of funny.

No, i haven't..+1..........LOL

VolunteerLifer writes:

Woolridge is the classic 'tweener'. at 215 lbs he does not have the frame to bang under the basket with the posts and power forwards. But he isn't quick enough to be a good wing player, either, as we have seen. He has found his role on this year's team, however, and any production - offense or defense - he can give is is more than welcome. I'm glad for his new success and congratulate him on his hard work and effort.

coach75 writes:

Know you cant change what is already done. Can you imagine the starting lineup we could have had.
P-golden
sg-hopson
sf-harris
pf-maymon
c-hall or yemi.
I know its not NBA at the college level (kentucky)but still a good linep. Anyways, we dont have the money for those players.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Come on. As much as I like that Woolridge is starting to perform its not because Martin and his staff taught him how to shoot and Pearls chose or were incapable of teaching him. Using your logic Pearls staff taught Jajaun Smith and Lofton how to shoot.It comes down to comfort in ones role and Woolridge finally understands what his role needs to be.

Glad to see Woolridge playing well and would like to see him play more. He is active and disruptive and I think the team needs that on the court.

We could all surely stand to see a lot more of what Woolridge has been bringing the last few games. As for his improved shooting lately, that alone shows that he has been putting in a lot more individual work on it. College coaches have surprisingly little time to work with players on individual skills, and almost none once the season gets under way. There is just no substitute for the player himself deciding that this is something he needs to do and then DOING it on a regular and frequent basis.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If there is another 6-6 or worse season, we won't be able to find Dooley. Next year will tell the story for better or worse. If you are a Vol fan, you had better hope he succeeds, since there is no clear alternative in sight. Although ReVolver could have been more articulate, he at least seemed to recognize that Dooley wasn't the O-line coach. It WILL be Dooley's fault if the O-line play doesn't improve next year because he will have failed to either inspire better effort from the players and the O-line coach or get someone who can.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BigOrangeSmoker:

MArtin cant coach his way out of a paper sack,Coach Pearl knew this guy didnt have no talent,listen to his rap music and know that he aint nothing but a thug!

I don't claim to be a connoisseur of rap music, but from what I have heard of Woolridge's stuff, there is nothing thuggish about it. He is on track to graduate this year and hasn't been involved in anything like thuggish behavior in his four years here. He is WAY better at school, music, AND basketball than you are at posting, and arguably a better person, too, since he can't possibly be as negative as you are all the time about everything. Besides, Pearl must have thought he had some basketball talent at some point, since he DID recruit him.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't know how much you have coached, but it is NOT easy for a college coach to change a shooter's technique from one year to the next. By the time the average player gets to college, he has probably been playing for 10 or more years and whatever technique he developed in that time is "grooved" too deeply for a coach to impose fundamental changes. McRae still has a very awkward, unreliable stroke, probably from starting to shoot before he was strong enough to employ proper form. It is up to the player to diagnose his own flaws and work DILIGENTLY on his own to correct them. Actual on-court coaching in basic fundamentals is most effective before a player has the chance to learn bad habits. The trouble is that these days even biddy-league coaches are more interested in winning than they are in teaching and enforcing good techniques.

And "making players feel good about themselves" is not the touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo you seem to think it is. There was certainly a feeling among many observers that Pearl had a quick hook for certain guys if they missed shots. That alone increases the anxiety of guys who aren't that confident in their shooting. Martin has said that he isn't going to pull guys for missing shots if they are taken in the context of the offense. In addition to helping the players understand what is and is not a good shot for each of them, his relaxed attitude toward making or missing shots makes the the players more comfortable taking them and hence more likely to make them.

samvol writes:

in response to born2ride:

Woolridge's scoring average:

Freshman - 2.6
Sophomore - 3.4
Junior - 1.6
Senior - 6.1

He has been a huge disappointment along with Kenny Hall.

i bet you were beat up as a kid a lot...lol

johnlg00 writes:

in response to 10seVol85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Excellent post. In my own case, I determined after my sophomore year in HS that I needed to improve my shooting. I didn't have access to a dedicated shooting coach or instructional videos, but I did watch a lot of ball and consciously copied the great shooters of the day, Jerry West in particular. I then spent uncounted hours shooting on my driveway goal. Your points about proper body position and shot selection were very well made, as is the emphasis on repetition. Bottom line, I doubled my field-goal percentage from one year to the next, and even at age 65 I can still shoot the lights out. Now, if only Wes Washpun would do the same this off-season....

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