With Brian Williams (back) out, Jeronne Maymon, Kenny Hall ready to 'step up'

Bruce Pearl on the importance of the South Carolin

Tennessee's Kenny Hall goes up for a basket against Belmont.

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee's Kenny Hall goes up for a basket against Belmont.

Tennessee's Jeronne Maymon maneuvers to the basket around USC's  Alex Stepheson.

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee's Jeronne Maymon maneuvers to the basket around USC's Alex Stepheson.

Vols to sport new Adidas shoes

At 6-foot-10 and 272 pounds, Tennessee senior center Brian Williams casts a mighty big shadow.

It's a shadow that sophomores Kenny Hall and Jeronne Maymon said they're ready to step out of with Williams ruled out for tonight's men's basketball game at South Carolina (TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.). Williams did not make the trip due a back injury he suffered in last Saturday's 70-69 loss to Mississippi State.

"Hopefully I can do something that electrifies us in the game and brings a spark,'' said the 6-8 Hall, who has averaged 5.9 minutes per game this season. "It's a little bit like last year, when we had four guys suspended and we had to have guys step up.

"And we did, we stepped up last year, and we'll do the same thing this year.''

The Vols (17-12, 7-7 SEC) play the Gamecocks (14-13, 5-9) with much at stake, still in contention for the SEC Eastern Division's No. 2 seed but more importantly looking to solidify their position for an NCAA tournament at-large bid.

UT enters the game No. 34 in the RPI rankings and is projected to make the NCAA field by most all prognosticators.

But a loss to South Carolina, which is No. 115 in RPI, would surely place the Vols on the proverbial bubble with Sunday's home game against No. 20 Kentucky (21-8, 9-6) looming.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said he's hopeful that Williams, who has averaged seven points and 7.5 rebounds in 23.2 minutes per game, can return against the Wildcats.

"But,'' Pearl added after Williams missed his third consecutive practice on Wednesday, "backs are funny things.''

There's nothing tricky about the Gamecocks' style of play. South Carolina plays uptempo, pressing opponents when on defense while launching numerous 3-point shots and crashing the boards on offense.

The Gamecocks also feature the SEC's premier shot blocker in 6-9 Sam Muldrow, a senior who will be intent on winning his final regular-season game in Colonial Life Arena.

Muldrow blocked six shots in the teams' first meeting, a 73-67 UT win on Feb. 16 in Knoxville.

With Williams out, the Muldrow matchup falls on Hall, Maymon, starting center John Fields and freshman Tobias Harris.

Pearl said Harris will get some minutes at center when Maymon enters the game, as the 6-7 Maymon plays power forward on offense while assuming some post duties on defense.

"Jeronne is one of those guys, you notice every rebound and every basket he makes, because he doesn't do anything quietly,'' Pearl said. "He does things vigorously.''

Maymon, like Hall, has spent the majority of this season playing on UT's scout team, averaging 9.2 minutes per game and playing in just three SEC contests.

"There's a lot more to my game than people have seen,'' said Maymon, twice named Wisconsin's high school player of the year before starting his career at Marquette and transferring to Tennessee last season. "I'll play the best I can on offense and defense, but I'm going to be careful to do it within the team's chemistry.''

The importance of team depth has been a reccurring storyline throughout Pearl's five-plus seasons leading the Vols' program.

"Our depth is already playing a factor this year,'' Pearl said. "And without Brian Williams, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate and the center that logs the most minutes for us, this will be difficult.

"But because of our depth, it's still doable.''

Pearl said the Vols will obviously miss Williams on the offensive glass, as he's second in SEC contests with 3.3 offensive rebounds per game.

But Williams also possesses strong passing ability, particularly against the type of zone defense that South Carolina plays when it settles into a half-court set.

"Brian is a great passer in the zone, but we have a lot of confidence that Kenny and Jeronne will be able to come in and do some things,'' said Steven Pearl, whose minutes at power forward might also be slightly elevated as a result of Williams' absence. "The thing we've got to be mindful of is (South Carolina) is also a great offensive rebounding team.''

Bruce Pearl said he expects a fast-paced game, but he doesn't want it to get too fast.

"I don't mind going fast, but we don't want a track meet,'' Bruce Pearl said. "If the tempo is like a tennis match, it's not good for us.''

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Comments » 25

dlobh writes:

Really bad news

VolNationPride writes:

Hope Brian recovers soon, back pains are rough. I think Hall will do good once he gets his legs under him. Maymon does a lot of things well, he just needs to slow down and not rush. If you watch him, he hurries to much, which can throw you off. Speed is one thing, hurrying is another.

james#216392 writes:

Doesn't look good. Maymon plays like he is 5 foot. No jumping ability and little movement. Hall has potential and could have been a head of Fields by now if he had been given playing time. His early knee problem got him behind and he has not been given much of a chance to catch up Good luck but a loss would not surprise me. Of course, with this team, nothing would surprise me.

VolNationPride writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Considering Woolridge has been hurt, that is why he doesn't get playing time. Steven Pearl plays basketball, plain and simple, scoring is not everything, believe it or not what he does makes a difference. Most of our "4 star" players are freshman who haven't matured enough for SEC basketball yet, give them time, I don't think anyone was expecting them to be All-Americans right out of the gate.

The_Mayor writes:

in response to VolNationPride:

Considering Woolridge has been hurt, that is why he doesn't get playing time. Steven Pearl plays basketball, plain and simple, scoring is not everything, believe it or not what he does makes a difference. Most of our "4 star" players are freshman who haven't matured enough for SEC basketball yet, give them time, I don't think anyone was expecting them to be All-Americans right out of the gate.

I'm not being argumentative or attacking, so please don't take my comment that way, when I say Kentucky expects their Freshmen to be All-Americans right out of the gate. It's an expectation level. Remember Michigan's famous "Fab 5"? They aren't Freshmen at this point in the season. It's time for Tobias to take control of this team. He has not proven he's ready for a one-and-done jump to the NBA, regardless of what sort of verdict the NCAA imposes on us. We have no leader. Tobias is the only player (other than Steven Pearl, although he lacks the physical tools to be nothing more than a coach on the floor) who shows hints of that leadership quality. He has that quiet confidence and is very precocious. It's time to man up...he's not a boy anymore. To end the regular season with two very winnable opportunities and then make a deep run in the SEC tourney would shake this team of their funk they've been in since they whipped Memphis and Nova. They need a spark, which will foster momentum. Everybody knows that the magic trick to tournament success is getting hot at the right time.

TennVol01 writes:

NO ... they are not ready. Showed us all season.

vols1990 writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

considering woolridge isn't traveling to this game he won't be provided an on court spark.

VolNationPride writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

I'm not being argumentative or attacking, so please don't take my comment that way, when I say Kentucky expects their Freshmen to be All-Americans right out of the gate. It's an expectation level. Remember Michigan's famous "Fab 5"? They aren't Freshmen at this point in the season. It's time for Tobias to take control of this team. He has not proven he's ready for a one-and-done jump to the NBA, regardless of what sort of verdict the NCAA imposes on us. We have no leader. Tobias is the only player (other than Steven Pearl, although he lacks the physical tools to be nothing more than a coach on the floor) who shows hints of that leadership quality. He has that quiet confidence and is very precocious. It's time to man up...he's not a boy anymore. To end the regular season with two very winnable opportunities and then make a deep run in the SEC tourney would shake this team of their funk they've been in since they whipped Memphis and Nova. They need a spark, which will foster momentum. Everybody knows that the magic trick to tournament success is getting hot at the right time.

I welcome a good conversation, so you are good. I think Tobias has done very well for a freshman, averaging 14.3 ppg and 7.6 rpg, which is second in scoring and tops in rebounding for the team.

The other freshman though, not mature enough yet. They are also not the caliber recruits that Kentucky has. So until we bring in that caliber, no reason to think they will be All-Americans right off, not anyone with reasonable thinking that is.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

I'm glad to see both of these guys get their shot. I just hope if it doesn't go well they don't get trashed on here. It's hard to go from 5.9 mpg (Hall) and 9.2mpg (Maymon) to starting or getting major time. You can run all day long in practice, but it takes game time reps to be in game time shape. They both have PLENTY of ability, lets just hope they have their legs and can build comradery, being that they haven't played much.

Who knows, this might be the spark they need. Maymons D is good. He can guard up top and down low. BUT as someone posted earlier, he just needs to SLOW DOWN and calm his nerves. We all know what Hall can do.

The_Mayor writes:

in response to VolNationPride:

I welcome a good conversation, so you are good. I think Tobias has done very well for a freshman, averaging 14.3 ppg and 7.6 rpg, which is second in scoring and tops in rebounding for the team.

The other freshman though, not mature enough yet. They are also not the caliber recruits that Kentucky has. So until we bring in that caliber, no reason to think they will be All-Americans right off, not anyone with reasonable thinking that is.

Good words, and I agree with the maturation process. Tobias needs to embrace the fact that he can take the reigns. I think he is as physically gifted as John Wall, but Wall was a beast when it came to confidence. What freshman creates their own dance? That was crazy, but he was crazy good. Tobias doesn't have that sort of loud, attention demanding personality. He can still be a very effective leader though. He needs to step up. Hopson simply doesn't have the gene required. Tobias does...I think so anyway.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to james#216392:

Doesn't look good. Maymon plays like he is 5 foot. No jumping ability and little movement. Hall has potential and could have been a head of Fields by now if he had been given playing time. His early knee problem got him behind and he has not been given much of a chance to catch up Good luck but a loss would not surprise me. Of course, with this team, nothing would surprise me.

I'm not sure I agree about Maymon...at least from what little we've seen. He actually gives a lot of fakes and twists and either gets fouled and misses freethrows or he doesn't get fouled and misses layups. The "can't jump" thing may be correct as I don't remember any dunks.
Hall has great ability! He has the ability to foul more than anyone on the team!(except SPearl)
Seriously I like all these guys and do see potential...but right now it's just that. Potential. Maymon will have to find the right part of the glass and get off his feet.

Smokey_Chow writes:

Either way you look at it missing Brian Williams isn't good. Although he hasn't been hot every single game this year he has been a key player in a majority of the games. Although he can embarrass you (as a fan) when he is shooting free throws LOL!
This team has stepped up and filled in holes before though so we will see what they bring to the floor tonight.

By the way, (unrelated) Scotty Hopson is a contestant for DUNK OF THE YEAR. There isn't a lot of time left to vote for our star so get out there and vote... I've got a link and more info on how to help him win at http://www.smokeychow.com/2011/03/hel...
Maybe we can at least help Hopson out by winning this contest even if the team isn't as hot as they need to be right now.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to PersistentlyDC:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

just think you came up with that all by yourself

wow

little fat kid that could, you dazzle us with your wit

carbonzip writes:

Hit the shots around the basket. There are no "style points" added for slam dunks.

freevol writes:

i thought before the season started hall would be playing much more.he can make the point blank shot better than brian williams.i would like to know how many under the basket shots williams has missed this season and how many times they came at critical game changing moments.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to PearlMustGo:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

IMO. It's not the cursing! I, for one, if I see a curse word in with a hateful post? "just sayin'"!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

LOL! Now that I thought about it...I wasn't even offended...but I don't think it was me. I have pushed VOLDULL's buttons a few times however! I would recommend you leave the cussing out and not give us the option that KNS so graciously provides...hmmmwhile you're at it just leave your whole posts out. There's a good boy.

brokendownoldvol writes:

in response to vols1990:

considering woolridge isn't traveling to this game he won't be provided an on court spark.

How would we know. We read the KNS.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to PrideOfTheSouthlandBanned:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you are a band member then I for one am embarrassed for all the band students everywhere that you are one of us!!! 'Course now that I thought about it our band was always so drunk...uh oh mocs is in my name and there were many fine and wonderful non-drunks in it that represented much better than "Pride" and I.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to PearlMustGo:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are sooooo sorry for sure.

VOLDoll writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

LOL! Now that I thought about it...I wasn't even offended...but I don't think it was me. I have pushed VOLDULL's buttons a few times however! I would recommend you leave the cussing out and not give us the option that KNS so graciously provides...hmmmwhile you're at it just leave your whole posts out. There's a good boy.

lol! Newsflash 4 u, U have not pushed my buttons and for that matter, I doubt U have pushed any female buttons in your lifetime. I am going to guess that as much as U are on this site that computer keys are the only thing U play with.LOL!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to VOLDoll:

lol! Newsflash 4 u, U have not pushed my buttons and for that matter, I doubt U have pushed any female buttons in your lifetime. I am going to guess that as much as U are on this site that computer keys are the only thing U play with.LOL!

Hah! I'm not sure we're talking about the same buttons sweetheart! As for as how much I'm on this site? well ok I'm on here too much.
Ya reckon I could git me a gal if I quit govols.com? Huh? Do ya? If I hated Pearl ya reckon my stock would go up?
Naaa not worth it! You mamm...sir whatever you are seem very well versed in Psychoism! Which reminds me you aren't supposed to talk to psychos my mom said.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Off topic, but this is for all the trolls. Seen the latest SI special edition? Florida is rated 11 in the nation in number of football players on the current roster with police records. They have 7 players with records. Alabama is rated 15th with 5 players on the the roster. Just a little trivia for you trollsters.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to PearlMustGo:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just curious...What are your stats? I'm not making a point here just making chatter! Sorta like you just did?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Really Pearlmustgo guy...the posts I appreciate are the ones that tell a player how they might improve or that see something positive about a player...I'm trying to be a positive poster on here..."re-born" sorta. So therefore I apologize for the previous post.

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