Cuonzo Martin wants lineup to have 'consistent flow'

Skylar McBee shares his thoughts on the postseason

Tennessee's starting lineup will remain the same for tonight's game against Ole Miss.

In case you haven't been paying close attention to UT's men's basketball team this season, having the same starting lineup for consecutive home games in 2012 qualifies as news.

The Vols have had a different starting lineup for each of the past three home games, and they're 5-0 since the start of the SEC season in games they've changed the starting lineup.

This time, UT coach Cuonzo Martin said he doesn't feel the need to make any last-minute changes before a pivotal battle between the Vols (14-13, 6-6 SEC) and the Rebels (15-11, 5-7) today (TV: CSS, 7 p.m.) in Thompson-Boling Arena.

"I don't think you can have a consistent flow as a team if you change your lineup all the time,'' Martin said. "I've made changes in the past because it was necessary or time for someone else to have an opportunity.''

But there's no denying each time Martin has pushed lineup buttons, the Vols have responded.

The first lineup change sparked a 67-56 upset over Florida in both teams' SEC opener on Jan. 7. Freshman Josh Richardson and senior Renaldo Woolridge were in, and sophomore Jordan McRae and junior Kenny Hall went out.

Three losses with that lineup followed, however, and Martin shifted gears before the Vols faced defending national champion Connecticut. This time, it was freshman Jarnell Stokes entering the lineup and Woolridge exiting. Again, UT responded, scoring a 60-57 home win.

That lineup went 2-2 before Martin decided it was time for junior Skylar McBee to get his first career start against Georgia while Trae Golden got a different vantage point from the bench.

The Vols beat the Bulldogs in Thompson-Boling Arena, 73-62.

Golden picked up his intensity in workouts, earning a start in the next game against South Carolina while Richardson took a seat back on the bench at the start of a 69-57 home win. Hall also returned to the starting lineup against the Gamecocks, as Stokes injured his right wrist two days prior to the tipoff.

The most recent lineup change came before the Vols' home game against Arkansas last Wednesday when Hall was suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. It's likely Stokes was going to start the game, anyway.

So how does Martin explain the way his team has been able to respond to the changing lineups?

"More than anything, it was guys being ready to play and accept whatever role it takes for the team to win,'' Martin said.

The way Martin rotates the scrimmage lineups in practice also has contributed to the Vols' ability to roll with the punches.

While most coaches choose to keep the starters or top seven in the rotation together during scrimmages, Martin plays roulette, changing it up every practice, mixing walk-ons in with starters.

"Sometimes we'll have Jeronne (Maymon) guarding Jordan, or Cam Tatum going up against Trae,'' Martin said. "You want everybody to be able to play together, and you want them able to guard different types of players.''

Defenses playing man-to-man often "switch" on assignments as opposed to having the defender try to run around picks and screens.

Ole Miss, with its size and athleticism, is a team that can switch at every position, as the Rebels' bigs have the quickness to guard smaller players.

Ole Miss also plays an effective zone, and Martin said Rebels coach Andy Kennedy has shown he's willing to use whatever defense is working.

As for what works for Tennessee, it seems that will be up to the current starters to execute.

Martin's not changing the lineup — at the moment.

Streaks: Maymon and Tatum are the only two players to start all 27 games this season.

The Vols have won 10 of their past 11 at home and own a 10-game home win streak over Ole Miss dating back to Feb. 27, 1991. That also was the last season that UT lost to both Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the same season.

Attendance Race: Martin and his coaching staff were out on campus on Tuesday trying to rally the students to attend, as the Vols are competing with Wisconsin for the No. 5 spot in national home attendance.

UT, which is averaging 17,116 per home game, has finished in the top five in the nation in attendance the past six seasons. The Badgers are averaging 17,175 per home game.

Lower-level tickets are available for $25 apiece. A regular 300-level ticket is available for $15.

Soles4Souls: Fans can donate a pair of gently-worn shoes and receive two 300-level tickets for tonight's game or a pair of general admission tickes to the Lady Vols game against Arkansas on Thursday.

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

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Comments » 41

CoverOrange writes:

We're No. 5! We're No. 5! We're No. 5!

tnvol4ever writes:

CCM will instantly become a better coach once Tatum graduates.
Just saying!

BolivrBob writes:

Going to be a tough game. Their zone will give us fits as they are big and quick and play inspired ball at times.

Noogaorange writes:

Picked for 11th in 5th.....could be worse. I think that we're on the right track. We get a true point guard and someone who can consistantly shoot the ball and score we're going to be hard to handle. NIT this year. Big dance next year! GBO

underthehill writes:

I heard Don Devoe was on talk radio yesterday @4..didn't get to listen but I did hear he is on the NIT committee..I think this helps UT if they get enough wins to be considered...Don seems to really like Martin..

BigHornBuckShot writes:

Devoe stated that due to Tennessee's big wins over Uconn and Florida, they should be a lock for the NIT. He did mention Charminade, and that it didn't count, so they have some work to do to get in. They have five games left, and Must win 3 or them to get in. They only have two more games at TBA and one of them is against Vandy who killed them in Nashville. It might come down to winning at least one game in the SEC tournament to get into the NIT.

JayTee writes:

The less "Brick Tatum" plays the greater the chances of winning increases. By the time he shoots himself out of this slump the season will be over.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I personally don't care today what tournament we get in or don't. I just want to win tonight. One at a time. Our players are so bad on the road most the time. I think we can win tonight. Our bigs really need the ball and to rebound. They actually score more off rebounds than passing by the guards. Our guards are still learning to pass and our bigs are still learning to prepare for it. If our threes don't fall we don't win. That's just the way it's been. I'd rather say that if our inside game doesn't work we don't win. Oh well. we'll pull it together tonight I think. Golden needs to play his very best and get everyone involved.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Maybe WestKnoxRepo can explain why "Pearl the great" let Jalen Steele get out of Knoxville. Dudes doing quite well for Mississippi St.

PHAT_VOL writes:

One at a time Baby! One at a time!

lomas98 writes:

Important game for conference tournament positioning. Cannot afford to lose to Bama, Miss. St. and Ole Miss when all of them have the same record. A loss tonight could potentially make TN fall to 8 or 9 at the end of season due to tiebreakers, which is the worst possible position to be in. A win tonight and still have shot at the 4 to get a bye. A win here combined with the victory over Arkansas and hopefully a future win against LSU could put them as a 6 seed in tournament, which really wouldn't be a bad spot if we can't get up the 4 and get the bye. Ole Miss is a very athletic team, but hopefully we will continue to shoot well at home like we have done the last few games there.

GONAVY writes:

UT by 10. Is it me, or does the attached article photo of McBee resemble the late Sonny Bono?

underthehill writes:

in response to BigHornBuckShot:

Devoe stated that due to Tennessee's big wins over Uconn and Florida, they should be a lock for the NIT. He did mention Charminade, and that it didn't count, so they have some work to do to get in. They have five games left, and Must win 3 or them to get in. They only have two more games at TBA and one of them is against Vandy who killed them in Nashville. It might come down to winning at least one game in the SEC tournament to get into the NIT.

Sounds like Ole Miss is a must win...

GONAVY writes:

Interesting sidenote on the attendance race for 5th. UW's arena max's out at 17,230 and is averaging 17,175. TBA max's out at 21,678 and is averaging 17,116. I'm wondering if these "averages" are based on ticket sales or counted, actual attendance?

lomas98 writes:

in response to GONAVY:

Interesting sidenote on the attendance race for 5th. UW's arena max's out at 17,230 and is averaging 17,175. TBA max's out at 21,678 and is averaging 17,116. I'm wondering if these "averages" are based on ticket sales or counted, actual attendance?

Not sure what the averages are based on, but all of the schools are counted on the same criteria. The Vandy game at home to close out the season should put them over the mark needed as long as there is a decent crowd of over 16K there tonight.

Bigger_Al writes:

Glad to hear that the coaches are out on campus stirring up excitement. I thought it was cool that Bruce would go to the cafeterias and stand on a chair. This is a big game for us. We can still get a 1st round bye in New Orleans.

dcap8424 writes:

in response to GONAVY:

Interesting sidenote on the attendance race for 5th. UW's arena max's out at 17,230 and is averaging 17,175. TBA max's out at 21,678 and is averaging 17,116. I'm wondering if these "averages" are based on ticket sales or counted, actual attendance?

Attendance is based on ticket sales not actual attendance.

GONAVY writes:

in response to dcap8424:

Attendance is based on ticket sales not actual attendance.

thank you.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to lomas98:

Not sure what the averages are based on, but all of the schools are counted on the same criteria. The Vandy game at home to close out the season should put them over the mark needed as long as there is a decent crowd of over 16K there tonight.

We would need to average 17,588 (472 more than we have been) just to equal Wisconsin's current average. Call 500 of your closest friends.

CoverOrange writes:

Average 17,588 over the last two home games, I meant to say.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Maybe WestKnoxRepo can explain why "Pearl the great" let Jalen Steele get out of Knoxville. Dudes doing quite well for Mississippi St.

Since I wasn't living in K'ville when Jalen was in HS, I never saw him play, but according to the announcers he is mostly playing as a 3-point specialist. The Vols already had one of those in Skylar McBee. Personally, I would like UT to sign the top player in the K'ville area every year. Not many of those guys are going to be bona-fide stars, but they will likely be steady, reliable players who will give it their all.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to GONAVY:

UT by 10. Is it me, or does the attached article photo of McBee resemble the late Sonny Bono?

Ball...I've got you ball...

Just doesn't ring does it.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to lomas98:

Important game for conference tournament positioning. Cannot afford to lose to Bama, Miss. St. and Ole Miss when all of them have the same record. A loss tonight could potentially make TN fall to 8 or 9 at the end of season due to tiebreakers, which is the worst possible position to be in. A win tonight and still have shot at the 4 to get a bye. A win here combined with the victory over Arkansas and hopefully a future win against LSU could put them as a 6 seed in tournament, which really wouldn't be a bad spot if we can't get up the 4 and get the bye. Ole Miss is a very athletic team, but hopefully we will continue to shoot well at home like we have done the last few games there.

Agree completely. For this team, the next game is always the most important one. Ole Miss is no pushover; the Vols will have to play really well to win. A loss would be a killer at this point.

huntined#565710 writes:

THE THREE TEAMS THAT ARE 6-6
bama--play at hogs- m.s. at home- aub. at home and at miss.

lsu--ga at home- at miss- TENN at home and at aub.

tenn-- miss at home- at s.c.- at lsu and home with vandy

can't count out miss st. as they are 5-7 but play at bama at s.c. and hogs at home

I f we can pull off three of these last 4 we will be in good shape.but need to take them one at a time.

FanNotSheep writes:

Go Vols! We can beat Ole Miss. We just need to show up with the hard hats and shovels and keep buying what Martin is teaching. 10 SEC wins at least gets us an NIT bid.

FeelVol writes:

I'll be there eight rows back cheering like heck for the Vols,this game feels like a must win to me but I really like the direction this team is going.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Maybe WestKnoxRepo can explain why "Pearl the great" let Jalen Steele get out of Knoxville. Dudes doing quite well for Mississippi St.

WestknoxRepub just stepped to the mic. Let's listen in on what he has to say...

1vavolfan writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Maybe WestKnoxRepo can explain why "Pearl the great" let Jalen Steele get out of Knoxville. Dudes doing quite well for Mississippi St.

Agreed, what UT has lacked since Lofton graduated is an outside shooter. Steele played in the PRTL and high school locally in Knoxville and everyone knew he could play. At the time Pearl didn't think he was worthy of a scholarship because Rivals didn't have him as a top 50 player. It makes about as much sense as letting Randall Cobb go to Kentucky, I hear he is doing pretty good as well.

GONAVY writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Ball...I've got you ball...

Just doesn't ring does it.

:)

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Since I wasn't living in K'ville when Jalen was in HS, I never saw him play, but according to the announcers he is mostly playing as a 3-point specialist. The Vols already had one of those in Skylar McBee. Personally, I would like UT to sign the top player in the K'ville area every year. Not many of those guys are going to be bona-fide stars, but they will likely be steady, reliable players who will give it their all.

He was quite a bit better than McBee in HS. He's got better size too. He's averaging 8ppg off the bench for MSU. That's light years better than McBee during his soph season.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Agreed, what UT has lacked since Lofton graduated is an outside shooter. Steele played in the PRTL and high school locally in Knoxville and everyone knew he could play. At the time Pearl didn't think he was worthy of a scholarship because Rivals didn't have him as a top 50 player. It makes about as much sense as letting Randall Cobb go to Kentucky, I hear he is doing pretty good as well.

Steele would have looked good in orange. Lester Wilson would pimp slap McBee or Steele. Lester is one of the BEST HS players I've ever seen in person, that includes Randy Moss. The problem with Wilson was that he didn't camp alot or play much AAU. Even more so, his HS coach played him in the post when he would have been a lethal 2 in college. So there was this "myth" that he was too small to play the 3 or 4 in college, yet too big for the 2. He's 6'4" 205, can shoot, dribble, jump like no other, and a rebounding machine. But schools didn't know whether to recruit him as a forward or guard. Had he went to camps, they would have seen he could dribble, had good feet, could have played the 2. I would have taken Wilson over both of them, but that's just me.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

Elston Turner from Austin-East who went on to play at Ole Miss and the NBA was another one UT let get away. During the 80's he was often mentioned. It did however open the door for several players from A-E to be recruited by UT such as Rob Jones and Jerald Hyatt.

lomas98 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

He was quite a bit better than McBee in HS. He's got better size too. He's averaging 8ppg off the bench for MSU. That's light years better than McBee during his soph season.

Steele may have been asked to walk on and that is why he looked elsewhere. I'm not sure if anyone knows that. I do remember there being a pretty big log jam at his position and there simply wasn't room. We had Jordan Mcrae committed, still had Hopson and Tatum, in addition to McBee and Josh Bone.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to sly_stone99#434111:

Elston Turner from Austin-East who went on to play at Ole Miss and the NBA was another one UT let get away. During the 80's he was often mentioned. It did however open the door for several players from A-E to be recruited by UT such as Rob Jones and Jerald Hyatt.

Remember the name, but did not live here then to see him play. I was just shocked to see Lester Wilson get out of here. Again, he played in the post in HS out of necessity for his team. But dude was built to play the 2. He also hurt himself by not going to lots of camps. One of the knocks on him was the position thing, kind of a tweener. The other was that he didn't get low enough on D to play the perimeter. DUUUH, he was used to playing post, and that could have been taught. Plus he was a good humble/quite kid. Never met anyone who saw him play who didn't think he could shine for the orange. But it wasn't just UT, lots of schools missed on him. The kid was the real deal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-WVpC...

IC_Vol writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Maybe WestKnoxRepo can explain why "Pearl the great" let Jalen Steele get out of Knoxville. Dudes doing quite well for Mississippi St.

Steele is a nice player but nothing special. He doesn't defend well so he wouldn't play for Martin. Pearl did struggle recruiting players that fit his system but all and all I think he did pretty good.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to IC_Vol:

Steele is a nice player but nothing special. He doesn't defend well so he wouldn't play for Martin. Pearl did struggle recruiting players that fit his system but all and all I think he did pretty good.

Half the players on this team didn't defend well prior to this yr IMO. If Martin can get Cam Tatum to defend, I'm sure he could get Steele to.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Steele would have looked good in orange. Lester Wilson would pimp slap McBee or Steele. Lester is one of the BEST HS players I've ever seen in person, that includes Randy Moss. The problem with Wilson was that he didn't camp alot or play much AAU. Even more so, his HS coach played him in the post when he would have been a lethal 2 in college. So there was this "myth" that he was too small to play the 3 or 4 in college, yet too big for the 2. He's 6'4" 205, can shoot, dribble, jump like no other, and a rebounding machine. But schools didn't know whether to recruit him as a forward or guard. Had he went to camps, they would have seen he could dribble, had good feet, could have played the 2. I would have taken Wilson over both of them, but that's just me.

What you said just proves the fallacy of relying on camps and AAU ball in winnowing the prospect pool. I trace the lack of fundamentals and what sometimes seems like the inability of many of the more highly-touted prospects to take EACH GAME seriously to the constant games and travel guys are exposed to these days. When a kid spends every summer traveling and playing 40 or 50 games with minimal practice, it can't help but all run together after awhile--"Oh well, we lost that little tournament championship, but there's another one next week and the week after that and...."

Also, it used to be that kids went to sports camps to improve their skills. Now it seems the only reason to go is to stand out to college coaches, which you do best by doing ONE or TWO things really well while avoiding situations that expose your weaknesses. Players not only have no incentive to work on their weak areas, they have no opportunity to do so. And for all those coaches hung up on a player's position, I would say only that one position EVERY team needs, but most have too few of, is that of BASKETBALL PLAYER. If a guy can play, and takes every part of the game seriously, you can FIND a position for him or devise a system he can be successful in.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to johnlg00:

What you said just proves the fallacy of relying on camps and AAU ball in winnowing the prospect pool. I trace the lack of fundamentals and what sometimes seems like the inability of many of the more highly-touted prospects to take EACH GAME seriously to the constant games and travel guys are exposed to these days. When a kid spends every summer traveling and playing 40 or 50 games with minimal practice, it can't help but all run together after awhile--"Oh well, we lost that little tournament championship, but there's another one next week and the week after that and...."

Also, it used to be that kids went to sports camps to improve their skills. Now it seems the only reason to go is to stand out to college coaches, which you do best by doing ONE or TWO things really well while avoiding situations that expose your weaknesses. Players not only have no incentive to work on their weak areas, they have no opportunity to do so. And for all those coaches hung up on a player's position, I would say only that one position EVERY team needs, but most have too few of, is that of BASKETBALL PLAYER. If a guy can play, and takes every part of the game seriously, you can FIND a position for him or devise a system he can be successful in.

Yeah....I think that's one of the major flaws I find with the recruiting services. Personally I think they do a REALLY good job on the kids they see in camps. If they've seen kids at camps around their region, I think they do a pretty good job of rating them. However, if a kid doesn't go to tons of camps he's not gonna get much love. The AAU thing is a trip in itself just as you said. So if a kid doesn't go to camps or doesn't play much AAU, what are his chances of getting noticed? However, when a kid averages close to 25ppg and 12reb for his ENTIRE HS career and is in Knoxville Tenn, how does he NOT get noticed by the Vols, even if nobody else notices him?

HtownVol writes:

Tenn and Miss just started..

I mean Ol Miss started, Tennessee is still dreaming about the game at UF.

Man, how can this team be so good one game and so, so bad the next?

14-2 Miss and UT is literally just standing around.

Razzle writes:

in response to HtownVol:

Tenn and Miss just started..

I mean Ol Miss started, Tennessee is still dreaming about the game at UF.

Man, how can this team be so good one game and so, so bad the next?

14-2 Miss and UT is literally just standing around.

Vols win by 13.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Yeah....I think that's one of the major flaws I find with the recruiting services. Personally I think they do a REALLY good job on the kids they see in camps. If they've seen kids at camps around their region, I think they do a pretty good job of rating them. However, if a kid doesn't go to tons of camps he's not gonna get much love. The AAU thing is a trip in itself just as you said. So if a kid doesn't go to camps or doesn't play much AAU, what are his chances of getting noticed? However, when a kid averages close to 25ppg and 12reb for his ENTIRE HS career and is in Knoxville Tenn, how does he NOT get noticed by the Vols, even if nobody else notices him?

I surely have no answer for your last question. As I said, it has been a continual mystery to me why kids from the K'ville area can go to schools across the country and do at least reasonably well, while they are expected to merely walk on at UT and be glad if they can eventually work their way into a scholarship.

I also somewhat agree with you about the rating services. They do a pretty good job rating WHAT THEY SEE, going at times into considerable detail about a player's strengths and weaknesses. The problem is that, as far as too many coaches and nearly all fans are concerned, if a kid isn't high up in the ratings, he CAN'T really be any good. Unless of course they happen to have seen him in person, but my impression is that college coaches hang out in HS gyms mostly to BE seen by hot prospects, not for actually LOOKING for prospects. For that, they rely on the rating services and such.

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