Vols look to keep streak going

Rotation big priority against Chattanooga

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

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Comments » 12

VolunteerLifer writes:

my votes:

at the post positions - Hall, Yemi, Maymon, Woolridge

on the perimeter - Tatum, McRae, Golden, McBee, Richardson

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

Way to go out on a limb.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Makanjuola/Woolridge/ Hall

To me flashes of an angry frustrated Hall doesn't start him and Martin will just have to find the most productive. PLUS playing the 5 will hold Woolridge's 3s to a suitable minimun( I say that 'xause when I do so far he makes a bunch)lol.

I'd just close my eyes and point at the line up and wherever my finger lands I'd pick that person. As a coach you can do that you know. No pressure that way.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

BTW for UTC.

Bryant?/ ???Anybody but C. Early
Zlovaric/ good addition to the squad so far.

This should be a decent team against UT considering their players are D1 transfers from major schools.
However they haven't learned to play together so far. All but a couple of their losses have been very close and Like UT's losses should have been wins. One difference maker tonight will be the atmosphere and whether UTC can step up to the big boys. I'm guessing the winner will be the best defensive team and the most unselfish on offense.
Golden will have to play great D. Not because Bell can score but because he can pass.
McRae should have a great game tonight because he's quicker than anyone UTC has except maybe Taylor?? But our difference maker will be Tatum if he can match Wattad's 3s. We should have a huge advantage over their(our, I'm so confused) one inside player as Zlovaric is all alone inside. He's a steady player so far but hasn't show a lot of potential to be great. That said, steady could beat us if Golden can't get it to the bigs.
Golly it's early and I'm rambling a little. but I'm excited to see what UTC can do tonight. I don't expect a lot to but I hope to see a good game. Who's gonna show their potential tonight? I got no idea.

richvol writes:

McRae is playing poorly...he is missing practically all his shots,and he shoots too much,and he turns the ball over. Coach needs to find someone to take his place.

FeelVol writes:

in response to richvol:

McRae is playing poorly...he is missing practically all his shots,and he shoots too much,and he turns the ball over. Coach needs to find someone to take his place.

I'm inclined to agree richvol,I haven't really seen him display any lockdown defense on any opposing players this year and I would go with Richardson more because of his defense,also it seems to me that we have plenty of guys that can score and that the chemistry is better when Mcrae plays less.Regardless, tough call for coach to make.Go Vols!!!

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

I am inclined to agree with the above two posts, BUT the only thing is that McRae is VERY talented. We need to develop his talent and put it on the floor, and not take the confidence away from him. If we get his confidence level high and keep developing his talent, we will have a TOP caliber player for the next year or two. Jordan McRae has shown flashes of brilliance that just need to become more consistent...the only way he will understand that is by giving him minutes in return for his work ethic to improve. If he is relagated to the bench, he may lose confidence and not be as motivated to develop it to the highest level...he will still compete, but I just see something in him that makes me think that if developed to the highest level, he will be talked about nationally.

lomas98 writes:

The clearing house people must have been on vacation last week. I will never understand why that process takes so long. I thought when stokes committed he may be lucky to play by the 11th since he had to go through clearing house. If he doesn't have opportunity to practice soon, he won't play the first game he is eligible.

born2ride writes:

The Vols get one more easy victory over Chattanooga before losses to Memphis, Florida, Kentucky and Miss State.

DevoSanchez writes:

No mention of Stokes? Have we heard when he will start plyaing?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

waka waka go big mocca kick'em in the but%big shoe!!

MOCS 101 VOLS 100

mocs win on 51 straight free throws made...hehe

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Guess not.

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