UT men's basketball needs to push the pace to spur its offense

Tennessee guard Josh Richardson (1) tangles with Virginia center Mike Tobey left during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Charlottesville, Va. Tobey was called for a foul. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Photo by Steve Helber

Tennessee guard Josh Richardson (1) tangles with Virginia center Mike Tobey left during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Charlottesville, Va. Tobey was called for a foul. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Tennessee men's basketball team and coach Cuonzo Martin have had six days of practice to address a litany of offensive woes and a 4-3 start.

There's been plenty to work on in preparation for No. 23 Wichita State's (9-0) visit to Thompson-Boling arena Thursday (TV: MyVLT, 7 p.m.)

"Everything is magnified right now because Jeronne (Maymon) is out and we had two games under 40 points," junior point guard Trae Golden said Tuesday. "We're fine. It's still early in the season."

Seven games into the year, the Vols' 61.4 points per game ranks 288th in the country. Missed shots aren't solely responsible.

The troubles stem from too few shots and few easy buckets.

UT is averaging .98 points per possession. Not terrible, but not good either. The problem is Martin's team registers just 62.4 possessions per game, ranking 330th nationally.

Fifth-ranked Florida averages 62.9 possessions per 40 minutes. The difference? The Gators are tied for eighth nationally with 1.17 points per possession.

For UT, every possession is a grind and transition baskets are hard to come by.

"I'd love to get out and run," Martin said.

But UT's defense ranks 345th out of 347 teams with 3.6 steals per game. Two players, Santa Clara's Kevin Foster and Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams, average more than that.

While Martin's staunch defense has held opponents from scoring, it hasn't produced scoring opportunities for the Vols. Don't look for the defense to start cheating to produce turnovers, though.

"Our defense will never change, that is what it is," Martin said.

Thus, if transition scoring is to be had, it will have to come off defensive rebounding, an emphasis the past six days.

"When our bigs get the rebound they're so concentrated on getting the ball to Trae, instead of just getting it to the closest guard and going out running," Jordan McRae said. "We're getting all that adjusted."

Maymon Update: While Martin still has no timetable for any potential return for Jeronne Maymon (right knee), the injured senior forward is at least making some improvements physically. Maymon has recently been seen riding a stationary bike and walking on the treadmill.

Though minimal, it's progress from a few weeks ago when Maymon visibly struggled to walk on his own. That said, his recovery from knee surgery appears far from complete. There is no schedule for his return to practice, let alone game action.

As budding talk of a possible medical redshirt continues to stir, UT director of compliance Todd Dooley confirmed to the News Sentinel that, if necessary, Maymon is eligible for a redshirt. No special NCAA waiver would be necessary.

While many former transfers face difficulty redshirting a full season, Maymon's case is different. He left Marquette nine games into his freshman year in 2009-10 and played the second half of 2010-11 at UT. As a result, even if he sits out the entire 2012-13 season, Maymon can still play four years in a five-year window, thus complying with NCAA eligibility rules.

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

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Comments » 32

pcshowtime writes:

How much longer until we can hire coach pearl back.

CoverOrange writes:

Go get Tony Jones to be offensive coordinator.

John_10065 writes:

Unless the pansies that were mostly Pearl recruits start acting like they aren't scared of playing off the perimeter, this is going to be a long season.

No over the zone passing, no dribble or pass penetration, the so called scorers from Pearl's era tossing up bricks. Right now I thnk the best thing Martin can do is red shirt Maymon and let his first unfettered recruiting class come in with a good shooter in Hubbs, Maymon in the paint and develop what he can out of the rest.

Pearl can go join Petrino in WKU for all I care. To lie about a secondary violation and then try to get the parents of the recruits there to support that lie is unexcusable on any level.

FeelVol writes:

Lets get Maymon healthy and if not this year than next years front line looks very promising with Stokes and Makanjuola returning.I hope we all realize this is not as good a team with Maymon not playing.Looking forward to Hubbs being apart of this team as well. Go Vols!!!

1vavolfan writes:

in response to John_10065:

Unless the pansies that were mostly Pearl recruits start acting like they aren't scared of playing off the perimeter, this is going to be a long season.

No over the zone passing, no dribble or pass penetration, the so called scorers from Pearl's era tossing up bricks. Right now I thnk the best thing Martin can do is red shirt Maymon and let his first unfettered recruiting class come in with a good shooter in Hubbs, Maymon in the paint and develop what he can out of the rest.

Pearl can go join Petrino in WKU for all I care. To lie about a secondary violation and then try to get the parents of the recruits there to support that lie is unexcusable on any level.

Seriously? In 2 years Martin has brought in 2 players able to actually play. Moore, Edwards, and Chievous should be playing D2 ball somewhere. Next years class is Hubbs and thats it, 2 more 3 star recruits. There is no electricity in TBA anymore. I just sold my lower level aisle seats for the Wichita game for $9 apiece on Stubhub. In 2008 I paid $2500 for season tickets in the same place. If UT goes to the NIT again this year, KNS should do a poll asking if it should replace Martin with Pearl after his show cause is up, and I'll bet 90% willsay yes.

crmcm44#321757 writes:

The major problems are they can't shoot, don't take care of the ball and have no viable offenseive scheme. The first 2 are on the players. The lack of an offensive scheme is all on the coach.

TKO writes:

The curse of removing the free hot dog and coke from the ushers

budd#207344 writes:

The players need to realize this is a big deal and nothing is fine. They missed two opportunities to beat credible non conference opponents. The SEC is terrible this year and the RPI for the league will not get us into the NCAA. We need to win out on the non conference schedule or it is another year in the NIT. Skylar needs to stop looking for threes and penetrate. Every 15-20'jumper he takes he makes. And the free throws need to get fixed now

AHOUSE writes:

At this point Stokes and golden are the key.
Coach has been through the ranks and he knows the problems. Stokes is still in high school mentally . This will change or he will never make it with the big boys. Remember when you were in high school and boys picked on you and you did not respond. At some you have to stand up and fight! He probably never had that problem.
Now he is playing with the big boys--timid or not time is up. I believe a change is on the way. They started off slow last year and came on strong and lost some they should have won. Coach is getting a look at who can play and he will make the call!
Go vols!

golfman1975 writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Seriously? In 2 years Martin has brought in 2 players able to actually play. Moore, Edwards, and Chievous should be playing D2 ball somewhere. Next years class is Hubbs and thats it, 2 more 3 star recruits. There is no electricity in TBA anymore. I just sold my lower level aisle seats for the Wichita game for $9 apiece on Stubhub. In 2008 I paid $2500 for season tickets in the same place. If UT goes to the NIT again this year, KNS should do a poll asking if it should replace Martin with Pearl after his show cause is up, and I'll bet 90% willsay yes.

Coach Martin took a team picked last in the East and finished tied for 2nd...nearly beat KY. Played 7 games without Maymon and are 4-3...could have have beaten Georgetown who took #1 Indiana in overtime...even though they had a bad offensive night. Miller is out as well...2 bigs with Maymon being he heart of the team with both being impact players. Yeah, you talk already of getting rid of CM. Stokes will develop leaps and bounds this year...he is only supposed to be a freshman this year ya know.... Sell your gosh darn tickets and dont let the door hit you in the butt...I suppose the injuries were CM's fault. Go ahead and say it. Ask Georgetown if they want to play us in Ktown. Bet not. Hope Santa gives you a Christmas tree supository.

scvols writes:

in response to golfman1975:

Coach Martin took a team picked last in the East and finished tied for 2nd...nearly beat KY. Played 7 games without Maymon and are 4-3...could have have beaten Georgetown who took #1 Indiana in overtime...even though they had a bad offensive night. Miller is out as well...2 bigs with Maymon being he heart of the team with both being impact players. Yeah, you talk already of getting rid of CM. Stokes will develop leaps and bounds this year...he is only supposed to be a freshman this year ya know.... Sell your gosh darn tickets and dont let the door hit you in the butt...I suppose the injuries were CM's fault. Go ahead and say it. Ask Georgetown if they want to play us in Ktown. Bet not. Hope Santa gives you a Christmas tree supository.

"Hope Santa gives you a Christmas tree supository." LOL!!! I bet you waited all year to use that one.

wayne.kearney#1414428 writes:

Defense hasn't been that bad. Just need to start playing together better on the offensive end of the court. Hang in there the shots will start falling.

FeelVol writes:

in response to golfman1975:

Coach Martin took a team picked last in the East and finished tied for 2nd...nearly beat KY. Played 7 games without Maymon and are 4-3...could have have beaten Georgetown who took #1 Indiana in overtime...even though they had a bad offensive night. Miller is out as well...2 bigs with Maymon being he heart of the team with both being impact players. Yeah, you talk already of getting rid of CM. Stokes will develop leaps and bounds this year...he is only supposed to be a freshman this year ya know.... Sell your gosh darn tickets and dont let the door hit you in the butt...I suppose the injuries were CM's fault. Go ahead and say it. Ask Georgetown if they want to play us in Ktown. Bet not. Hope Santa gives you a Christmas tree supository.

Thanks golfman for saying what I should've said for some time,not to mention beating UCONN last year.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

IF...If we can take control of the game on defense and turn it into offense that would be great. I can see McRae leading some fast pace bball. I can see Golden getting some transition baskets. I can even see Hall and Makem' running some. I imagine some hard slams off of great passes. I can see McBee actually dribbling the ball to the basket. Since I'm dreaming and it's my dream I can also see McBee dunking a few per minute.

I really do see some of that. Maybe we can start moving a little more on offense. AND like another poster(johnlg) always says is to move Stokes out to the top of the foul lane?
Heck I predict we'll try some things on offense Thursday night?

But to me Martin's right on course with this team. We're NOT great offensively most nights. We NEED to work for most of our shots and not get too happy running all the time. Sure take it when you can. If Golden returns(hehe) next year then Hubbs will get the ball to everyone and we'll be fine then with Maymon back and healthy. The other players Martin recruited as "fill-ins" are doing what you'd expect at this time of the year. Let's face it without Maymon we're a little short on "got to"...or "go to"....or "give me the ball"!!

I say we're fine though seriously we are. Yeh it's scary to score under 40. But still we just barely lost those games. Plus these were very good teams to whom we lost.

With Maymon we'd be undefeated there is no doubt in my mind. W/o Maymon we're a little above avg. at best.

Stokes needs to move and demand the ball. He won't get it every time but at least give the guards no reasons to not pass it to him. Hall needs to get the ball first. Then pull it in and go up with the intention of slammin' it. well most the time.

Golden and all the guards need to lose their FEAR of the lane.

Golly So much to learn for a veteran squad...

They are still new to Martin and they still have to play defense to succeed in the SEC. Maybe just loosening up a little will do it.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Good teams get back on defense pretty quickly..Coaches always put tons of emphasis on that so it's hard to catch good teams napping..Not sure what Martin can do about defenses hanging all over Stokes..Stokes doesn't even have room to dribble the ball..Seems to me Hall should be open on the backside to take a quick bounce pass to the hoop..Best, most obvious answer is too hit these perimeter shots and the rest will take care of it's self but even Golden's starting to miss shots..McBee andMcRae have fans pulling their hair out with their hot and cold shooting..I expect both will benefit from a home stretch

brod writes:

just freaking shoot the ball well.

airship writes:

They can shoot the ball good, but they can't hit them.

underthehill writes:

After seeing what Martin and the team did last year..I was really looking forward to UT being up there with Fla, Ky, and Mizzu at the top of the SEC this year..then we opened with McBee and Richardson starting and I got sick..spot players at best..dog gone it..I run my mouth about how UK freshman would be over rated and vulnerable to physical play ..and they are..now the heart of our team is on the bench..I am too much of a basketball fan to quit as long as they're giving it their best..but dog gone it..I am stunned by college players who shoot bricks from the foul line..the same night UT lost by one and went 3 for 11..a local high school team hit 14 in a row to win..I really would like to see some pressure on the in bounds pass instead of token pressure...sorta like Smith and Bradshaw did..anyway..c'mon Vols..

ccantrell#227456 writes:

I'd rather go to see the DENTIST than watch this team play basketball. BIG 10 style bball has killed the energy for players and fans.

Even if they win, these low scoring games are not FUN TO WATCH.. Conzo is losing his fan base..

IT SUCKS TO BE A VOL FAN these days..

hikerdude writes:

in response to underthehill:

After seeing what Martin and the team did last year..I was really looking forward to UT being up there with Fla, Ky, and Mizzu at the top of the SEC this year..then we opened with McBee and Richardson starting and I got sick..spot players at best..dog gone it..I run my mouth about how UK freshman would be over rated and vulnerable to physical play ..and they are..now the heart of our team is on the bench..I am too much of a basketball fan to quit as long as they're giving it their best..but dog gone it..I am stunned by college players who shoot bricks from the foul line..the same night UT lost by one and went 3 for 11..a local high school team hit 14 in a row to win..I really would like to see some pressure on the in bounds pass instead of token pressure...sorta like Smith and Bradshaw did..anyway..c'mon Vols..

Under, why is it that you and I are the only ones that think McBee should not start? He is a defensive liability. Some on here confuse hustle with good defense. He does hustle but grandma can beat him. One of the posters in the preceding thread says he wants to see McBee drive to the basket more. He probably would if he could but he doesn't have the ability. I understand why the posters on here are confused about his ability. Their basketball knowledge is like mine, pretty limited. But Cuonzo starts him and he is a pretty smart guy and a good coach. My guess is that without McBee we would have no three point threat and defenses would smother Stokes even more than they do now.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to hikerdude:

Under, why is it that you and I are the only ones that think McBee should not start? He is a defensive liability. Some on here confuse hustle with good defense. He does hustle but grandma can beat him. One of the posters in the preceding thread says he wants to see McBee drive to the basket more. He probably would if he could but he doesn't have the ability. I understand why the posters on here are confused about his ability. Their basketball knowledge is like mine, pretty limited. But Cuonzo starts him and he is a pretty smart guy and a good coach. My guess is that without McBee we would have no three point threat and defenses would smother Stokes even more than they do now.

Maybe it's because you two are the only good bball minds on this site? Is that the answer you want?

BTW I've stated several times that McRae should start over McBee or Richardson. I think McBee is good enough to start now, but has little upside.
McRae has an upside offensively we haven't seen. I suspect he does. Richardson's offense is in spurts and not so far dependable.
Any way we go we lose something. Or gain...
depending on their on and off switch. Maybe Edwards or Moore will be the key as we get some experience?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

PS I don't know who hiker dude was referring to but it wasn't me. My statement about McBee driving to the basket was "tongue in cheek" and above the "dudes" head evidently.hehe But if McBee's going to start ALL the guards need to drive the lane. Also McBee has shown signs in the last gae of actually being capable of this. So there Mr. Hiker. "smoke your pipe".lol

1vavolfan writes:

in response to golfman1975:

Coach Martin took a team picked last in the East and finished tied for 2nd...nearly beat KY. Played 7 games without Maymon and are 4-3...could have have beaten Georgetown who took #1 Indiana in overtime...even though they had a bad offensive night. Miller is out as well...2 bigs with Maymon being he heart of the team with both being impact players. Yeah, you talk already of getting rid of CM. Stokes will develop leaps and bounds this year...he is only supposed to be a freshman this year ya know.... Sell your gosh darn tickets and dont let the door hit you in the butt...I suppose the injuries were CM's fault. Go ahead and say it. Ask Georgetown if they want to play us in Ktown. Bet not. Hope Santa gives you a Christmas tree supository.

First of all dude I'm selling my tickets because I have to work, I'll be at most of the games. In the past if I sold lower level tickets I could at least get face value out of them. I hope I am wrong about CCM but I'm very disappointed in the team, 3 BCS school played, an 0-3 record and we haven't broken 45 points yet. Question the status quo on here and out come the idiots with attacks.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to hikerdude:

Under, why is it that you and I are the only ones that think McBee should not start? He is a defensive liability. Some on here confuse hustle with good defense. He does hustle but grandma can beat him. One of the posters in the preceding thread says he wants to see McBee drive to the basket more. He probably would if he could but he doesn't have the ability. I understand why the posters on here are confused about his ability. Their basketball knowledge is like mine, pretty limited. But Cuonzo starts him and he is a pretty smart guy and a good coach. My guess is that without McBee we would have no three point threat and defenses would smother Stokes even more than they do now.

I'm sorry, but Skylar is NOT a defensive liability. It's not just a matter of hustle, though that does count, it is that he is hard-nosed and doesn't back down. He may not be able to completely cut off quick guys who are good off the dribble, but nobody else can stop guys like that one-on-one, either. He DOES have the ability to drive the ball more than he has and has shown it in previous games. You made your best point in your last two sentences, even though they contradict the bulk of your post. And two more things--no one else on the squad has proven himself any more productive on a consistent basis at his position, and a team is more than merely the sum of its parts; the most athletic guy or the higher-stats guy is not always the best one in the mix for playing with the others.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to underthehill:

After seeing what Martin and the team did last year..I was really looking forward to UT being up there with Fla, Ky, and Mizzu at the top of the SEC this year..then we opened with McBee and Richardson starting and I got sick..spot players at best..dog gone it..I run my mouth about how UK freshman would be over rated and vulnerable to physical play ..and they are..now the heart of our team is on the bench..I am too much of a basketball fan to quit as long as they're giving it their best..but dog gone it..I am stunned by college players who shoot bricks from the foul line..the same night UT lost by one and went 3 for 11..a local high school team hit 14 in a row to win..I really would like to see some pressure on the in bounds pass instead of token pressure...sorta like Smith and Bradshaw did..anyway..c'mon Vols..

As for this statement? Nothing wrong here that I can see. But our guards starting and not starting don't seem to have a large affect on the game . Maybe defense. Probably. McBee or McRae either one can shoot free throws. McRae probably will draw more fouls.

johnlg00 writes:

I sincerely hope McRae is correct that the Vols will look to advance the ball as quickly as they can. When I was in HS, the rebounders were taught to look up the court as soon as they secured the ball and the other guys were taught to find an open area where they could receive the outlet pass. Everybody else was supposed to sprint down the sides and cut to the rim. That is how the classic fast-break is supposed to be run. It takes a lot longer to develop a complete half-court offensive system than it does to improve on the fast-break, though it does require more of an attacking attitude than most of the Vols have shown so far. Think of the difference even a couple of relatively easy baskets would have made in the G'town and UVA games.

UTVolWarrior98 writes:

All I know is that I am starting to wonder if Coach Martin is the right guy for this guy as each game passes. Our offense has no identity and there is no strategy at all! Martin is slowly crawling into my ch ithouse and am wavering towards him being fired. If we do not make the NCAA tourney think that is exactly what needs to happen, Im sorry.

HONOR THY VOLS...CHERISH THEM...

underthehill writes:

in response to hikerdude:

Under, why is it that you and I are the only ones that think McBee should not start? He is a defensive liability. Some on here confuse hustle with good defense. He does hustle but grandma can beat him. One of the posters in the preceding thread says he wants to see McBee drive to the basket more. He probably would if he could but he doesn't have the ability. I understand why the posters on here are confused about his ability. Their basketball knowledge is like mine, pretty limited. But Cuonzo starts him and he is a pretty smart guy and a good coach. My guess is that without McBee we would have no three point threat and defenses would smother Stokes even more than they do now.

I like McBee but he can only help in certain situations..when he starts..you deny him the ball and it's over for him..he does not have the athletic ability to drive the lane or even cut thru the lane to beat his man..bring him in when he can get a good..good ..screen or open shot on the break..and he can be a weapon..bring Richardson in to shut down the hot shooter on the other team in spots..Richardson would be an excellent player if he could just hit a jump shot at the free throw line..he gets that shot anytime he wants it..but has not proved he can make it..I exected UT to open with Stokes, Hall, Maymon, McRae and Golden..with front line help from Mak and Miller..I will remain a supporter of Martin and believe he is going to put the best team on the floor he can..but I can't help being sick over Maymon not playing..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

I like McBee but he can only help in certain situations..when he starts..you deny him the ball and it's over for him..he does not have the athletic ability to drive the lane or even cut thru the lane to beat his man..bring him in when he can get a good..good ..screen or open shot on the break..and he can be a weapon..bring Richardson in to shut down the hot shooter on the other team in spots..Richardson would be an excellent player if he could just hit a jump shot at the free throw line..he gets that shot anytime he wants it..but has not proved he can make it..I exected UT to open with Stokes, Hall, Maymon, McRae and Golden..with front line help from Mak and Miller..I will remain a supporter of Martin and believe he is going to put the best team on the floor he can..but I can't help being sick over Maymon not playing..

You hit the nail on the head when you said "you deny him the ball and it's over for him." The point is, if a man is out on the perimeter denying him, that man is NOT available to drop down to double- or triple-team Stokes. McBee has shown this year that he can take the ball in closer--he dribbled into a 15-footer against G'town and took one all the way to the hoop against UVA--he just needs to do it more. Also, Richardson has been starting all year, and is always assigned to the other team's best shooting guard or small forward. I too wish he was more reliable on the offensive end. He needs to step up offensively, especially on the drive until he gets more comfortable shooting outside.

albert63 writes:

when is the Florida game. Do they look good or what?

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

You hit the nail on the head when you said "you deny him the ball and it's over for him." The point is, if a man is out on the perimeter denying him, that man is NOT available to drop down to double- or triple-team Stokes. McBee has shown this year that he can take the ball in closer--he dribbled into a 15-footer against G'town and took one all the way to the hoop against UVA--he just needs to do it more. Also, Richardson has been starting all year, and is always assigned to the other team's best shooting guard or small forward. I too wish he was more reliable on the offensive end. He needs to step up offensively, especially on the drive until he gets more comfortable shooting outside.

John..this team has proved they are going to play hard and as long as they do..I am hooked as a fan ..I just overdone it with my expectations when they had Maymon..he adds so much I wouldn't start a comment on that..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

John..this team has proved they are going to play hard and as long as they do..I am hooked as a fan ..I just overdone it with my expectations when they had Maymon..he adds so much I wouldn't start a comment on that..

I think they are giving it all they've got in terms of defensive effort, they just need to be more assertive on offense. As for McBee, one reason I would rather see him drive it more is that he may draw more fouls. He is the best free-throw shooter statistically on the team. I would rather see him drive into traffic than Richardson, for example, for that very reason.

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