Brendan Quinn: While Vols' defense smothers opponents, offense staggers

Tennessee guard Skylar McBee (13) passes off the ball against Georgetown forward Greg Whittington (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Photo by Nick Wass/Associated Press

Tennessee guard Skylar McBee (13) passes off the ball against Georgetown forward Greg Whittington (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON — One after another Friday, Tennessee men's basketball players and coaches repeated the same refrain.

Georgetown is very long. Georgetown's zone defense is very frustrating. No other team on the schedule will be like Georgetown.

That last snippet is the good news. After spending 40 minutes in offensive purgatory at the Verizon Center, the Vols had little interest in a rematch with the Hoyas or anyone like them.

A Naismith-offending 37-36 loss was the result of those 40 minutes.

Question marks are a result of that loss.

The Tennessee defense gave the best performance coach Cuonzo Martin could hope for. The offense, meanwhile, was about as inept as he could fathom.

"It's one of those deals where I don't know if it's frustrating because the reality of it is, we're missing (Jeronne Maymon)," Martin said by phone Saturday.

As they will be for the foreseeable future. Maymon's injured knee is nowhere close to allowing him to return to the floor.

So with a defense that's smothering and an offense that's staggering, Martin and the Vols will try to find a solution.

What they will most certainly see, is more zone defenses. While few teams can replicate the size, length and athleticism presented by Georgetown, any team can play zone and at least force Tennessee (4-2) to play its zone offense.

That, as of now, is an issue.

Don't think for a minute Virginia (5-2), Wednesday night's opponent, hasn't taken notice.

Time and again Friday, the Vols found themselves with 10 or 15 seconds left on the shot clock and nothing developing offensively. Desperation jumpers flew. Turnovers were made. Forced shots were the norm.

To complicate matters, when UT did get open jump shots, they didn't fall.

"The zone shifts with you as you move the ball so if you flash and cut and move, it's hard to guard," Martin said. "But at the end of the day, if you aren't making shots against the zone, it doesn't matter. They'll stay in the zone from start to finish."

Martin loves to say that defending at a high level can keep any team in a game. It's a moot point, though, if the team's offense can't capitalize on even the greatest of defensive efforts.

Friday night was Tennessee's best defensive performance since holding Penn State to 33 points in regulation back in the 1996-97 season. That Penn State team finished the year 10-17. Suffice to say holding the 2012-13 Georgetown team to 37 points carries some more weight.

The Vols still lost.

Since being undone in a 62-45 loss to Oklahoma State, UT has held three straight opponents under 37 percent shooting.

Georgetown, which entered Friday shooting 50.4 percent through five games, finished 16-for-44 (36.4 percent) from the field. Through six games, the Vols are holding opponents to a meager 58.8 points per game. It's impressive, but the flipside says the team's offense ranks 229th out of 347 Division I teams with 65.3 points per game.

Asked if more practice time would be spent addressing offensive shortcomings, Martin said UT will stay the course.

"On the surface we're a defensive-minded team, but we spend just as much time on offense, offensive breakdowns and offensive skills," he responded.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 45

VolQB writes:

What a grand lie. Did Quinn forget about the shot clock? NC held the ball and still scored more. How about pathetic play led to boring game?

VolGrad writes:

The most concerning thing in this story is the comment about the unknown return of Maymon. We need him come January.

Heal up, Maymon!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you get dizzy watching the universe revolve about you?

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Do you get dizzy watching the universe revolve about you?

I just don't understand how he can watch the world revolve around him with his up his arse.

samvol writes:

I hope the course is free throws. Maymon is good but he will not take us to an sec or national championship. Martin need to focus on what he has to work with right now and stop with the mind set of if we had maymon bs...non of that is making any diffrence right now...focus on getting your players to make free throw and stop turmnng the ball over. geeze

1vavolfan writes:

in response to VolGrad:

The most concerning thing in this story is the comment about the unknown return of Maymon. We need him come January.

Heal up, Maymon!

Time to consider redshirting Maymon. Why bring him back to only play a couple of months, and probably playing at around 75% at that.Martin is clearly clueless about the injury, Maymon has had knee problems since last January. We are losing no one except McBee and Hall next year, bring him back at 100% next season.

alleyjerryv#665031 writes:

Vols can’t shoot. It’s that simple. Defense is important in basketball, but the name of the game is still putting the ball in the basket. Stokes can’t shoot from around the basket, but they insist on forcing him to try. Nobody else can shoot from 15 feet on out. Tennessee will be very lucky to have a .500 record this season. Clouds are very dark over all of Vol Nation.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Because everyone knows that at the center of the universe is a black hole. thanks for playing.

clvolfan writes:

Talk about the Vols smothering defense,looks to me like their offense got smothered also.

wigmeister writes:

UT hasn't had a true scorer since Lofton left. Athletes are great, but scorer's are crucial.

pcshowtime writes:

loving that conzo ball it is so much better than that fast paced stuff we used to play with BP.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

STFU We beat florida like a drum regularly. You are not even in the conversation when it comes to BB. Get lost

budd#207344 writes:

in response to samvol:

I hope the course is free throws. Maymon is good but he will not take us to an sec or national championship. Martin need to focus on what he has to work with right now and stop with the mind set of if we had maymon bs...non of that is making any diffrence right now...focus on getting your players to make free throw and stop turmnng the ball over. geeze

100 % correct. CCM needs to work on free throws. If they had shot 50% we would have won.If or until Maymon gets back work on winning however you can. Make them run every time they miss free throws in practice and twice as much in a game. They will start making them

budd#207344 writes:

in response to alleyjerryv#665031:

Vols can’t shoot. It’s that simple. Defense is important in basketball, but the name of the game is still putting the ball in the basket. Stokes can’t shoot from around the basket, but they insist on forcing him to try. Nobody else can shoot from 15 feet on out. Tennessee will be very lucky to have a .500 record this season. Clouds are very dark over all of Vol Nation.

Stokes had two shots the entire game. Georgetown double teamed him every time he had the ball. Please keep your idiot thoughts to yourself.

signalcorps writes:

this is a young team you can see it,,,I seen no floor general no leadership on the court no guard play none everyone looking for the ball no one setting up for rebounds,,,you must rebound in D-1,,,I think with a good point guard and the coach getting on his bigs their jobs is under the basket this is a top five team ......His team is very close with a little more fundamentals coaching and a good four or five star guard this team will beat all.........GO VOLS

crmcm44#321757 writes:

This is not a new phenomenon, these guys just can't shoot and they are not getting help from a coaching staff that appears unable to provide a viable offensive scheme against a zone. Passing the ball back and forth until the shot clock runs out is not working.

signalcorps writes:

in response to crmcm44#321757:

This is not a new phenomenon, these guys just can't shoot and they are not getting help from a coaching staff that appears unable to provide a viable offensive scheme against a zone. Passing the ball back and forth until the shot clock runs out is not working.

remember this team is young,,,I agree fundamentals has to get better ,,,,I think they can get it done with a good point guard and rebounding,,,their shoots are not falling because no ones rebounding both go's hand in hand,,enough coaching

signalcorps writes:

ease up a little coach,,,,remember these are kids coach fundamentals......

johnlg00 writes:

in response to samvol:

I hope the course is free throws. Maymon is good but he will not take us to an sec or national championship. Martin need to focus on what he has to work with right now and stop with the mind set of if we had maymon bs...non of that is making any diffrence right now...focus on getting your players to make free throw and stop turmnng the ball over. geeze

I agree. As someone said some time ago on the subject of Maymon's availability, they have gone since last March without him. They worked out all spring and summer, practiced all fall, went to Italy, and played the early schedule without him. A fully healthy Maymon is a force to be reckoned with. So was Tobias Harris. But if they aren't there, they are no help at all. Having Maymon on the floor wouldn't have made Stokes and the others better free-throw shooters. Sure, having him would have given them other options, but all these guys are college players. Even the ones who weren't highly-ranked coming out of HS now have considerable college playing experience. In any case, they ought to be better fundamentally than they have shown lately. I don't how much the guys are leaning on the "if only we had Maymon" excuse, but if they are doing that at all, they need to stop it and concentrate on getting better in their own weak areas.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It might be an interesting psychological study to find out why it is that you seem to think that calling another poster by a fake female name is such a devastating put-down. Do you know any women? Many of them are way smarter than you show yourself to be on here, even about sports. Go nurse your neuroses elsewhere.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to budd#207344:

Stokes had two shots the entire game. Georgetown double teamed him every time he had the ball. Please keep your idiot thoughts to yourself.

You're right. That is why I have said on many occasions that they need to bring Stokes out to the foul line against zones. It would be much harder to double-team him there and he would have more options. Let Hall lurk around the rim for offensive rebounds and to be available for high-low passes from Stokes. I don't necessarily agree that all of the Vols are inherently bad shooters, I just think that some of the guys take what are bad shots for them. This team may never be an offensive juggernaut, but they can be better than they are with better judgment, and it is undeniable that great defense gives you a chance to win even when the shots aren't falling as we saw last Friday.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to signalcorps:

remember this team is young,,,I agree fundamentals has to get better ,,,,I think they can get it done with a good point guard and rebounding,,,their shoots are not falling because no ones rebounding both go's hand in hand,,enough coaching

No question rebounding is important, and a team can never get too many of the available rebounds in a game, but I don't recall that the Vols have been getting killed on the boards. They had numerous three-shot possessions against G'town and the defensive rebounding was also strong. As for the team being young, the starters are about as experienced as you find in the college game these days. Many of the main subs are young, but even the first team struggles on offense at times.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to signalcorps:

this is a young team you can see it,,,I seen no floor general no leadership on the court no guard play none everyone looking for the ball no one setting up for rebounds,,,you must rebound in D-1,,,I think with a good point guard and the coach getting on his bigs their jobs is under the basket this is a top five team ......His team is very close with a little more fundamentals coaching and a good four or five star guard this team will beat all.........GO VOLS

You obviously don't know SQUAT about this team!! Young team??There are a lot of Jr and SR on this team and we are going into our 3rd year with mostly the same players..No PG or leadership?? Golden was the leading scorer last year and if he keeps shooting 40% he will do the same this year! CCM has had to get pretty creative when substituting for Golden..It's obvious the offense struggles when he's not in the game and CCM knows it.I would say that qualifies him as a pretty good leader!! Rebounding?? Except for one game we have out rebounded everybody by at least 8 rebounds or more! Coach getting on the bigs?? Any idiot can see Stokes has had major improvements in his scoring off the dribble and by the way the offense is set up for Stokes or Hall to set high screens.Been doing it since game one!! Get your eyes checked Eyeboy and leave the commentary to people who watch the games especially what goes on away from the ball!

orangecountyvols writes:

Strange nothing has been reported about Kentucky losing a bunch of games. Apparently, that's not news anymore. The one and dones
are getting used to it by now.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

You're right. That is why I have said on many occasions that they need to bring Stokes out to the foul line against zones. It would be much harder to double-team him there and he would have more options. Let Hall lurk around the rim for offensive rebounds and to be available for high-low passes from Stokes. I don't necessarily agree that all of the Vols are inherently bad shooters, I just think that some of the guys take what are bad shots for them. This team may never be an offensive juggernaut, but they can be better than they are with better judgment, and it is undeniable that great defense gives you a chance to win even when the shots aren't falling as we saw last Friday.

Nice observation John..These zone defenses make it way too easy for 2 players to collapse on Stokes..We would get better shots if we had more high low passes but against these zones it causes a lot of turnovers.Problem with our guard shooting is the only thing consistent about it is if one guy is having an off night they all are..Some might be surprised that McBee and Golden are shooting a respectable 40%.Ive said it many times that McRae is an important piece to the puzzle..When McRae is shooting good we always win!!He has had 3 really good games and 3 awful games.I really believe if he can just fix his consistency this team will be hard to beat.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Time to consider redshirting Maymon. Why bring him back to only play a couple of months, and probably playing at around 75% at that.Martin is clearly clueless about the injury, Maymon has had knee problems since last January. We are losing no one except McBee and Hall next year, bring him back at 100% next season.

Your right and I think Maymon is lost for the season..If he's on crutches now then he may need more surgery but it's been put off in hopes that more rehab will help but even if Maymon got healthy this week he's still totally out of shape. Question is whats happening with Millers rehab..Nothing being said about Miller and have you noticed if he is even dressed out or on the bench??

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Strange nothing has been reported about Kentucky losing a bunch of games. Apparently, that's not news anymore. The one and dones
are getting used to it by now.

That's why EightLetters has not posted on the Vol site. Nothing to crow about having Baylor end your Rupp winning streak. Or a beatdown by the Irish.

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

This was an ugly game because each defense made it that way. Look, the Vols have some issues on the offensive end. Nobody should argue that. 1-2 guys are going to have to make some outside shots against a zone. But right now, free throws are the most essential thing. If UT can make 2/3 of their free throws, they'll be hard to handle. Defensively, they smothered Georgetown, period. Nobody holds Georgetown to 37 points. Nobody, except Tennessee. It was the best defensive performance I believe I have ever seen against a quality team. Tennessee lost this particular game because of poor free throw shooting and some forced shots. But you also have to give Georgetown credit for a lot of this. They brought a whole lot of defense as well.

Bottom line, I think the Big Orange can learn from this, knowing that they suffocated a quality team in their own back yard, with a chance to win at the end. Both the players and fans hate that it didn't happen, but I really think that this loss will lead to a number of other wins this year. Just gotta stay hungry.

VOL1972 writes:

The mark of a CM team -- good defense, no offense. Looks like we have an exciting season in front of us.

signalcorps writes:

in response to johnlg00:

No question rebounding is important, and a team can never get too many of the available rebounds in a game, but I don't recall that the Vols have been getting killed on the boards. They had numerous three-shot possessions against G'town and the defensive rebounding was also strong. As for the team being young, the starters are about as experienced as you find in the college game these days. Many of the main subs are young, but even the first team struggles on offense at times.

Im I the only one seeing we are not shooting the ball well(same go's for georgetown)we have to rebound better to make up for the short fall,,it's nothing new michael jordan learn when your not shooting good play better defence out rebound the other team,,the difference has to be made up(the other team is not going to give it to you)make your own luck...I said it before Im saying it again we have a good team that plays young(that's better smile)and have a lot of talent and will get to balling before it's over ,,what makes four five stars fundamentials they have good fundamentials....we have a good coach...GO VOLS

signalcorps writes:

your not playing good defence or anything else if your not matching up setting up blocking out traping(fundamentals)

Ironcity writes:

in response to signalcorps:

this is a young team you can see it,,,I seen no floor general no leadership on the court no guard play none everyone looking for the ball no one setting up for rebounds,,,you must rebound in D-1,,,I think with a good point guard and the coach getting on his bigs their jobs is under the basket this is a top five team ......His team is very close with a little more fundamentals coaching and a good four or five star guard this team will beat all.........GO VOLS

This is not a young team. We have two seniors two Juniors and a Soph starting. Freshman play about 8 minutes total a game. This team has only one player that can dribble , drive and dish (Golden). Its pretty easy for teams to defend when they know most of guys can either only spot up and shot or dribble all the way to the basket and shoot.

Mayman would help since he can drive and dish but its going to take a little more from our guys. Additionally someone has to look to shot every now and then. This pass it around the horn until 5 seconds are on the clock and who ever has it take a step back three will never work.

One other thing it seems teams that play no zone have no ability to attack a zone (case and pt Matins teams as well as Pearls teams).

signalcorps writes:

in response to VOL1972:

The mark of a CM team -- good defense, no offense. Looks like we have an exciting season in front of us.

we have to make five footers missed shoots no one under to rebound this happen more than once....play the ones that wants to be ballers....GO VOLS

signalcorps writes:

in response to Ironcity:

This is not a young team. We have two seniors two Juniors and a Soph starting. Freshman play about 8 minutes total a game. This team has only one player that can dribble , drive and dish (Golden). Its pretty easy for teams to defend when they know most of guys can either only spot up and shot or dribble all the way to the basket and shoot.

Mayman would help since he can drive and dish but its going to take a little more from our guys. Additionally someone has to look to shot every now and then. This pass it around the horn until 5 seconds are on the clock and who ever has it take a step back three will never work.

One other thing it seems teams that play no zone have no ability to attack a zone (case and pt Matins teams as well as Pearls teams).

my bad ,,they play young with no guard play,,pearl had the same problem talent with no fundamentials,,he had two of the best bigs in the nation,, looking to shoot the ball not rebounding,,,,basketball is a game of shooting and rebounding it's always been that way,,,the better D-1 coachs understand these are not pros they have to be taught(it all comes down to kids growing into men on a basketball court,,,just a matter of time coach will get them balling GO VOLS

signalcorps writes:

my bad coach I new we had a good coach and Im not wrong.......you don't have all your players into place yet it's only been two years,,,sorry my bad it's just i know your teams will be balling and strong minded....GO VOLS

brod writes:

what would all of you be saying if they had scored on the last possession? oh, martin is great, oh what a tough win. you need offense, you need defense. this team has defense, put the ball in the hole and they will be a pretty good team. not going to win more than 20 games or so, but decent.

rbwtn writes:

Georgetown was so beatable however once again we have to go through young athlete's learning how to play college basketball. Hopefully this will end soon as we get more experience. We defiantly have the Coach to put us on top ultimately.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Nice observation John..These zone defenses make it way too easy for 2 players to collapse on Stokes..We would get better shots if we had more high low passes but against these zones it causes a lot of turnovers.Problem with our guard shooting is the only thing consistent about it is if one guy is having an off night they all are..Some might be surprised that McBee and Golden are shooting a respectable 40%.Ive said it many times that McRae is an important piece to the puzzle..When McRae is shooting good we always win!!He has had 3 really good games and 3 awful games.I really believe if he can just fix his consistency this team will be hard to beat.

It seems to me that most of our turnovers against the zone have come on passes from the wing to the post. For one thing, that is often a longer pass than the high-low pass. For another, against G'town the guard was trying to pass over or around a long-armed 6'8" guy to a post man with a couple more 6'8"+ guys on either side. When you pass low from the high post, a taller player is making the pass, the wing players are out of it, and the other post man is usually only covered by one guy. The ball in the middle is poison to zones; passing around the horn and then trying to dump it inside from out there is candy to them. I'd like to see more poison and less candy.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Your right and I think Maymon is lost for the season..If he's on crutches now then he may need more surgery but it's been put off in hopes that more rehab will help but even if Maymon got healthy this week he's still totally out of shape. Question is whats happening with Millers rehab..Nothing being said about Miller and have you noticed if he is even dressed out or on the bench??

Miller made a cameo appearance in the G'town game, IIRC. He may be about ready to play more minutes, and more significant ones. He could at least be a spot alternative to Yemi, who is still awkward and lacking in confidence on the offensive end. I suggest we all just try to forget about Maymon and IF he gets all the way back, it will be a pleasant surprise.

Basketvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Miller made a cameo appearance in the G'town game, IIRC. He may be about ready to play more minutes, and more significant ones. He could at least be a spot alternative to Yemi, who is still awkward and lacking in confidence on the offensive end. I suggest we all just try to forget about Maymon and IF he gets all the way back, it will be a pleasant surprise.

This is my thinking on Maymon too. It's time to embrace TN Bball without Maymon until we hear otherwise. I definitely understand the "If we had Maymon . . ." mentality because it's more pleasant to think about than reality, but that sort of thinking isn't going to accomplish anything for the fans, coaches, or team. The team we do have right now, without Maymon, is still pretty good and can accomplish a lot this year-- including an NCAA appearance. Georgetown was just one game. While it was the ugliest game I've ever watched, they did hold them to 37 points. Three days later, I can see that "silver lining"--not after the game though. Man, that was frustrating!

Basketvol writes:

Hey, where are all the UK trolls?

brod writes:

in response to Basketvol:

Hey, where are all the UK trolls?

still recovering from the home court drubbing that baylor gave them. give them time, they don't like their own chat board so like bama and florida fans they hang out on ours. they are probably in the closet UT fans.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Basketvol:

This is my thinking on Maymon too. It's time to embrace TN Bball without Maymon until we hear otherwise. I definitely understand the "If we had Maymon . . ." mentality because it's more pleasant to think about than reality, but that sort of thinking isn't going to accomplish anything for the fans, coaches, or team. The team we do have right now, without Maymon, is still pretty good and can accomplish a lot this year-- including an NCAA appearance. Georgetown was just one game. While it was the ugliest game I've ever watched, they did hold them to 37 points. Three days later, I can see that "silver lining"--not after the game though. Man, that was frustrating!

Well said; agree with all.

Basketvol writes:

Looks like UT isn't the only team that can't score on Georgetown, who just held Texas to 41 points. Yeah I know, it's just Texas (the wannabe UT). They still had five guys on the court though.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Basketvol:

Looks like UT isn't the only team that can't score on Georgetown, who just held Texas to 41 points. Yeah I know, it's just Texas (the wannabe UT). They still had five guys on the court though.

And that was on a neutral court, with the UT-G'town game tape available for Texas to study. As bad as the Vols looked on offense in that game, the lessons learned--if they ARE learned--will stand them in good stead the rest of the way. IMHO, now that CCM has the Vols playing defense the way he wants them to, the emphasis in practice just MUST be on offense for at least the rest of the preseason. More emphasis on the players practicing free-throws on their own might also be advisable. With the NCAA regulations on team practice time, it is not really possible to spend team time on that most individual of skills.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features