The Tennessee men's basketball team is looking for its first four-game win streak since starting last season 7-0.
But Vols coach Cuonzo Martin also is looking to solidify his team's playing rotation, and he makes no bones about it.
UT's first objective in tonight's game against Chattanooga (6-8) at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: 7 p.m., SportSouth) is obviously to win.
But while the Vols (6-6) are racking up points, rebounds and defensive stops, Martin will be evaluating and re-evaluating his players' performances.
"We'll see as we go; I'd like to solidify it,'' Martin said, asked about UT's playing rotation after last Thursday's win over The Citadel. "We'll definitely try to cut this thing short.''
The Vols haven't made it easy on their coach, as different players have stepped up at different times throughout the season.
UT got a season-high 50 points off its bench in the 86-55 victory over The Citadel, and 10 players have had double-figure scoring performances this season.
"The one thing the guys have done, even after we had four straight losses,
the guys have come back to practice and put forth an effort,'' Martin said. "That's where guys are making progress, just the focus every day, not necessarily the wins and losses.''
Still, Martin said he believes it's best when players know how many minutes they will play, when they will enter the game and what their role is.
"Obviously, that can change in a game if a guy gets on a roll,'' Martin said. "But for the most part, it's best when they know what to expect.''
After Wednesday's game at Memphis (TV: 8 p.m., FSTN), the Vols open the SEC season at home against Florida at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
"Some guys probably won't play; we have to get it down to five or six on the perimeter, and four or five on the blocks,'' Martin said. "You try to have it down to four big guys consistency, unless someone is in foul trouble, and really five on the perimeter.''
It's too early to tell how incoming freshman Jarnell Stokes might complicate Martin's process of elimination. The 6-foot-8, 255-pound Stokes has been waiting for his high school transcript to be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse before he can practice, and the soonest he would be eligible to play is after classes start at UT on Jan. 11.
Martin has said it will be a day-by-day evaluation of Stokes, who hasn't played on a basketball team since earning his No. 11 national ranking playing AAU basketball last summer.
Martin hinted that freshman Yemi Makanjuola, a 6-foot-9, 244-pounder, will be a contributor during the upcoming SEC season.
"In the SEC, I think he'll be able to play on a consistent basis because he's physical and his size helps him,'' Martin said after Makanjuola's 18-point, 11-rebound effort in last Thursday's win over The Citadel.
UT juniors Kenny Hall and Jeronne Maymon have started every game at center and power forward, and Martin said senior Renaldo Woolridge has "stepped up" in his role coming off the bench.
The perimeter is just as tough to gauge, with Trae Golden, Jordan McRae and Cameron Tatum starting every game to this point, while Wes Washpun has supplied backup minutes at point guard and Josh Richardson has brought a defensive spark off the bench.
"Guys just have to keep competing, and working hard,'' Martin said.
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32