Team chemistry fine with Jarnell Stokes

Martin: 'The guys have bought in'

Jeronne Maymon sat hidden behind a half-closed door in the Tennessee basketball post-game interview room, chatting with the few reporters around him Saturday afternoon.

Some 10 feet away, a media frenzy was taking place around mid-term enrollee Jarnell Stokes, who scored nine points and had four rebounds in 17 minutes in his debut.

Some two dozen reporters and camera men from both Knoxville and Lexington, Ky., boxed one another out in an effort to get close to the Vols' newest star.

As positive of an impact as Stokes had on the floor, one had to wonder what type of ripple all of this attention might have on team chemistry.

Maymon, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the Vols' 65-62 loss to No. 2 Kentucky Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena, answered that question with his comments on Stokes.

"He's a great player; Jarnell played really well today,'' Maymon said with a smile. "He can score the ball, and that will take some pressure off our other post. They can't double-team down there anymore.''

It turns out that Maymon, as well as suddenly resurgent post Kenny Hall, could be the two happiest people in Knoxville about Stokes' arrival.

UT coach Cuonzo Martin fielded questions about Stokes in stride on Saturday, tossing the 6-foot-8, 270-pound man-child appropriate bouquets.

But on Sunday, he was even more excited about Maymon and Hall.

"Jeronne Maymon and Kenny Hall are coming into their own, and they are showing they can hold their own against the nation's elite,'' Martin said.

"You look at yesterday (Saturday), but even before that, look at how Maymon and Hall played against Florida and Mississippi State before Jarnell got in there.''

Maymon has 40 points and 21 rebounds against three of the SEC's top front lines, while Hall has come off the bench to score 33 points and grab 11 rebounds against Florida, Mississippi State and Kentucky.

"It's not so important for the world to believe in them, so much as they can believe in themselves,'' Martin said. "Kenny and Jeronne are realizing the work they put in is paying off.

"If they've proven they can compete against the best, why can't they be considered some of the best of the best, too?''

The UT front line was a huge question mark coming into the season after losing first-round NBA pick Tobias Harris and center Brian Williams.

Maymon played in only 14 games last season with no starts, while Hall had but one start and played in just 25 of the team's 34 games. And yet, there they were, operating in the paint against the nation's top shot-blocking team, holding their own on the glass and in the paint scoring.

The Wildcats narrowly won the rebounding battle (35-32) and out-scored the Vols in the paint (28-24), but the difference in the game was on the perimeter and at the free-throw line, where Kentucky made 21 of 29 shots to UT's 14 of 20.

Martin said he likes what he sees from the Vols as they move forward, both on and off the court.

"Everybody has to deal with competition in life, and we have a unique situation here with Jarnell having just stepped on campus,'' Martin said. "But we preach family, team, together. The guys have bought in, they know it's not about any one individual.

"The way they've handled it makes a difference, and Jarnell has handled it well, too. He's just a humble kid who wants to get better.''

Attendance Game: Saturday's sellout (21,678) was the first at Thompson-Boling Arena this season, and the first since Kentucky came to Knoxville last season. The only other sellout last season was when a standing-room-only crowd of 21,948 was on hand to see Alabama play the Vols.

Saturday's game brings UT's average paid attendance up to 16,639 this season.

That's still down from last season's 18,952, but with SEC home games coming up and a tilt against defending national champion Connecticut next Saturday, the Vols project to finish in the nation's top 10 in attendance for a seventh straight season.

Bench game: UT's bench out-scored Kentucky's 24-9, in part because of Stokes' nine-point effort.

Vols junior Skylar McBee played a key role as well. Not only did McBee score six points in 25 minutes, but he also held Kentucky's leading scorer, Doron Lamb, to four points on 1-of-7 shooting. Lamb entered the game averaging a team-best 14.6 points per game.

Point guards: Challenged by their head coaches to defend with honor, Trae Golden and Marquis Teague made life miserable for each other.

Golden scored a season-low two points on 1-of-6 shooting while dishing out six assists with two turnovers. Teague had seven points on 3-of-8 shooting but had five turnovers and just one assist.

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

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Comments » 23

johnlg00 writes:

Well, those numbers for Hall, Maymon, and Golden are certainly enlightening. I was pretty sure that Golden had played a solid floor game, but the more than 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio was confirmation, as was Teague's 1-to-5 on the same measure.

Hall is surely a different player than he was earlier in the season. If he keeps that up, Maymon stays steady and productive, and Stokes develops as expected, the Vols will indeed have one of the better front-courts around. To top it all off, Golden may yet grow into a serviceable if not ideal PG. Things are looking up in the world of Big Orange basketball. Now the Vols need to start finishing some of these tough games. I just hope they get started on it SOON, because the margin for gaining an NCAA bid is getting smaller all the time.

FanNotSheep writes:

One great player can make a big difference and hopefully he can attract other big-time recruits to the program while he is still here to play with them.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

We almost have to win all but 2? I don't remember. It'd be nice to have a 20 win(2 SEC tourney wins?)before a bid to NCAAs. Lofty goal for rest of regular season and SEC Tourney. We have to finish very strong. I think we can...and not just because of Stokes.
Key players to get us there seem to be Golden, Maymon, Hall, and Stokes as our steady players. We need others to step it up. I felt Tatum was really trying but just has to play with confidence and a little more Bball IQ. Same for McRae. McBee needs to continue that defense we saw with Kentucky and even improve that. Woolridge must play defense when he's in and must rebound too. Makenjuola showed us one great game that I believe can come again... Richardson? Washpun?? Miller???? Don't have a guess there. I htink Richardson has the ability in him to play great defense. Wahpun too. Miller we just haven't seen for whatever reason. I sorta thought he'd be in before some others at the beginning of the year. I guess we have to trust the coach there. I'm guessing it's his defense. OR the lack thereof. Don't know though.
Oh and FanNotSheep?? Was that a little optimism??
Is it possible? C'mon you KNOW it was. A little bit yes?

born2ride writes:

Vols,

I don't think Stokes can around this team around by himself. Stokes will help inside but not solve all the team's problems. We are still the same squad that is 8-9 and have a tough schedule coming up playing at Georgia, UCONN, Vandy and at Kentucky.

We have two good players in Golden and Maymon. After that - not much we can depend on. We have lack of depth & talent and an inexperienced coach.

I know some people are excited because we surprised Florida and lost to Kentucky and Miss State in close games. But we are 1-3 in our last 4 games including a blow out loss to Memphis who embarrassingly beat UT twice in one year. That is not progress.

Go Big Orange!

volsreign writes:

Stokes should be starting very soon in place of Woolridge. Woolridge can be very good when he is hot and his shots are falling, but Saturday whenever he tried to go inside he was badly manhandled. Stokes is going to be a beast inside, and his second basket shows he has range. Go ahead and let him start. The sooner the better.

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to born2ride:

Vols,

I don't think Stokes can around this team around by himself. Stokes will help inside but not solve all the team's problems. We are still the same squad that is 8-9 and have a tough schedule coming up playing at Georgia, UCONN, Vandy and at Kentucky.

We have two good players in Golden and Maymon. After that - not much we can depend on. We have lack of depth & talent and an inexperienced coach.

I know some people are excited because we surprised Florida and lost to Kentucky and Miss State in close games. But we are 1-3 in our last 4 games including a blow out loss to Memphis who embarrassingly beat UT twice in one year. That is not progress.

Go Big Orange!

Pitiful.

brod writes:

all this talk about improvement and buying in to the coaching philosophy are great, but the w's aren't coming yet. the game at georgia is critical. if they don't get a w, you can kiss any kind of post season birth, including the nit good bye. so far, all we have to show for this season is a few close games to top 10 teams. this might be the most critical week of the season.

Bubba_Knows writes:

You know who the big loser is? The big loser is Harris for not coming back and playing for Coach Martin. He would have added the toughness to Harris before he entered the NBA. Would have made him even greater!

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to brod:

all this talk about improvement and buying in to the coaching philosophy are great, but the w's aren't coming yet. the game at georgia is critical. if they don't get a w, you can kiss any kind of post season birth, including the nit good bye. so far, all we have to show for this season is a few close games to top 10 teams. this might be the most critical week of the season.

Tennessee is not winning because they are missing a true point guard (Golden is actually a liability) and a consistent 3 point shooter (sorry McBee and Tatum - you are not consistent). All the other pieces are beginning to come in place. Martin finally has his team playing hard and great defense which was missing earlier in the season. Stokes will push the bigs for playing time and hopefully make them work harder. I like the direction this team is going in and they are one solid point guard away from being an NCAA team if not this year - the next. Coach Calapari says they are already playing at that level and that Coach Martin is to be commended. I agree!

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to volsreign:

Stokes should be starting very soon in place of Woolridge. Woolridge can be very good when he is hot and his shots are falling, but Saturday whenever he tried to go inside he was badly manhandled. Stokes is going to be a beast inside, and his second basket shows he has range. Go ahead and let him start. The sooner the better.

What you talking bout dissing Swiperboy? Actually, even with his improvement, Swiperboy is not a consistent performer. I agree with you that Stokes is by far better even though he doesn't know is way around campus yet.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

One great player can make a big difference and hopefully he can attract other big-time recruits to the program while he is still here to play with them.

Stokes needs to reach out to a great point guard - he needs someone who can get him the ball.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Bubba_Knows:

Stokes needs to reach out to a great point guard - he needs someone who can get him the ball.

Though I'd love to see coach try Golden at the 2 I don't think it'll happen this year. Golden IS looking more and more like a point. I don't know why his high school didn't develop him that way. He should have been sleeping and walkin' and talkin' with a ball in his hand (like in Pistol's movie lol).
I think by the time we get a true point (and I think we will nest year) Golden will establish himself as a point. His play against Miss. St. and Ky. was promising. He's sorta a point and 2 mixed right now instead of the floor leader. I'm hopeful though. I'm a pleased fan with the team progress.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to brod:

all this talk about improvement and buying in to the coaching philosophy are great, but the w's aren't coming yet. the game at georgia is critical. if they don't get a w, you can kiss any kind of post season birth, including the nit good bye. so far, all we have to show for this season is a few close games to top 10 teams. this might be the most critical week of the season.

LOL Brentrod. What have you really lost watching UT play? Are you on the court? Are you a malcontent benchwarmer? You talk like we're the worst team in the world and we're not even the worst team in the SEC. We'll see anyhow. IF we go better than 500 then we may see NIT just on our draw ability. If we some how win 18 and a coupla tourney games we'll see NCAA (probably again for the same reason) This team is better than last year for one reason. Desire. I can see it in their play. I never thought I'd see desire on the face of Woolridge this year but I have a couple of times. It really isn't all about Ws an Ls. There is plenty to watch if you're willing. It IS fun to win though.

SIMSVOL writes:

in response to Sir_Spanky:

Pitiful.

born2ride is the poster child of ignorance and idiocy. The VOLS basketball team is one of the best college basketball stories in the country today. They are gaining confidence and they certainly have the talent to compete with anyone. Coach Martin is one of the best in the business - and has this team playing defense like few others in the sport right now. This team is poised to really take it to a new level. Go VOLS!!!! Real VOLS fans are very proud of this team.

atributetoLombardiwasbanned writes:

in response to born2ride:

Vols,

I don't think Stokes can around this team around by himself. Stokes will help inside but not solve all the team's problems. We are still the same squad that is 8-9 and have a tough schedule coming up playing at Georgia, UCONN, Vandy and at Kentucky.

We have two good players in Golden and Maymon. After that - not much we can depend on. We have lack of depth & talent and an inexperienced coach.

I know some people are excited because we surprised Florida and lost to Kentucky and Miss State in close games. But we are 1-3 in our last 4 games including a blow out loss to Memphis who embarrassingly beat UT twice in one year. That is not progress.

Go Big Orange!

"I don't think".....

Truer words have never been uttered.

TommyJack writes:

in response to born2ride:

Vols,

I don't think Stokes can around this team around by himself. Stokes will help inside but not solve all the team's problems. We are still the same squad that is 8-9 and have a tough schedule coming up playing at Georgia, UCONN, Vandy and at Kentucky.

We have two good players in Golden and Maymon. After that - not much we can depend on. We have lack of depth & talent and an inexperienced coach.

I know some people are excited because we surprised Florida and lost to Kentucky and Miss State in close games. But we are 1-3 in our last 4 games including a blow out loss to Memphis who embarrassingly beat UT twice in one year. That is not progress.

Go Big Orange!

This mope is just plain comical.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Vols,

I don't think Stokes can around this team around by himself. Stokes will help inside but not solve all the team's problems. We are still the same squad that is 8-9 and have a tough schedule coming up playing at Georgia, UCONN, Vandy and at Kentucky.

We have two good players in Golden and Maymon. After that - not much we can depend on. We have lack of depth & talent and an inexperienced coach.

I know some people are excited because we surprised Florida and lost to Kentucky and Miss State in close games. But we are 1-3 in our last 4 games including a blow out loss to Memphis who embarrassingly beat UT twice in one year. That is not progress.

Go Big Orange!

OMG....folks, please don't waste my time with a post if you, at first, dont have something relevant to say with a bit of information to say it with....WE LOST 75% OF OUR SCORING FROM LAST YEARS TEAM.....let's have one year to breathe and rebuild...I'm sure the N.Carolina boards are blowing up today as well and saying their coach is "in over his head" as well....I just have to believe most post like this come from 21 years olders and younger...

CoverOrange writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

We almost have to win all but 2? I don't remember. It'd be nice to have a 20 win(2 SEC tourney wins?)before a bid to NCAAs. Lofty goal for rest of regular season and SEC Tourney. We have to finish very strong. I think we can...and not just because of Stokes.
Key players to get us there seem to be Golden, Maymon, Hall, and Stokes as our steady players. We need others to step it up. I felt Tatum was really trying but just has to play with confidence and a little more Bball IQ. Same for McRae. McBee needs to continue that defense we saw with Kentucky and even improve that. Woolridge must play defense when he's in and must rebound too. Makenjuola showed us one great game that I believe can come again... Richardson? Washpun?? Miller???? Don't have a guess there. I htink Richardson has the ability in him to play great defense. Wahpun too. Miller we just haven't seen for whatever reason. I sorta thought he'd be in before some others at the beginning of the year. I guess we have to trust the coach there. I'm guessing it's his defense. OR the lack thereof. Don't know though.
Oh and FanNotSheep?? Was that a little optimism??
Is it possible? C'mon you KNOW it was. A little bit yes?

I think we'll end up like Alabama from last year, maybe. On the cusp of a NCAA bid but sent to NIT instead. 14 games remain and so far we have a good win (Florida), a really bad loss (AP) and a couple other not good losses (Oakland, CofC). 10+ wins is a minimum with a couple over ranked teams (UConn, Kentucky, Vandy or Florida), at least one on the road. Tough road.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to born2ride:

Vols,

I don't think Stokes can around this team around by himself. Stokes will help inside but not solve all the team's problems. We are still the same squad that is 8-9 and have a tough schedule coming up playing at Georgia, UCONN, Vandy and at Kentucky.

We have two good players in Golden and Maymon. After that - not much we can depend on. We have lack of depth & talent and an inexperienced coach.

I know some people are excited because we surprised Florida and lost to Kentucky and Miss State in close games. But we are 1-3 in our last 4 games including a blow out loss to Memphis who embarrassingly beat UT twice in one year. That is not progress.

Go Big Orange!

If someone looks up the words 'pessimist' or 'naysayer' or 'downer', or 'whiner', or 'negative', your picture would be there beside every one of them.

VolunteerLifer writes:

This year was always projected to be a non-tournament, rebuilding year, even if under Pearl. After Pearl screwed up, it became - in addition to that - a coaching transition year. In such a year, that we are even calculating chances of ncaa or nit appearances is a testimony to what a great job Marting has done. He's hit recruiting home runs in Stokes and Richardson, and made other solid role recruits in Yemi and Miller, all while the recruiting trail was so difficult because of the transition and ncaa hang-over. He has made players out of Hall and Maymon and Woolridge, players Pearl wasn't able to reach. And he has made a great deal of progress making a point guard out of Golden.

The point is this: This year was always about preparation for next year, and not only is that happening brilliantly, but we also now have some hopes for this year too. If things continue like this, Martin will deserve some Coach of the Year honors.

carbonzip writes:

Chris Jones on a tear at NWF State. Is he still a Vol possibity?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Bubba_Knows:

Tennessee is not winning because they are missing a true point guard (Golden is actually a liability) and a consistent 3 point shooter (sorry McBee and Tatum - you are not consistent). All the other pieces are beginning to come in place. Martin finally has his team playing hard and great defense which was missing earlier in the season. Stokes will push the bigs for playing time and hopefully make them work harder. I like the direction this team is going in and they are one solid point guard away from being an NCAA team if not this year - the next. Coach Calapari says they are already playing at that level and that Coach Martin is to be commended. I agree!

Golden may not yet be an ideal PG, but I don't agree that he is an actual liability. He played great defense on both MSU's Bost and UK's Teague. While he has coughed up a few careless turnovers, and sometimes doesn't show enough urgency pushing the ball upcourt late in close games, he still has over a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He is also around 40% on his threes since he stopped short-arming them a few weeks ago. Also, McBee is right around 50% on his three-pointers, which is pretty good. He doesn't make EVERY open shot he has, but not many do. Otherwise, I pretty much agree with your post.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Chris Jones on a tear at NWF State. Is he still a Vol possibity?

I don't know. I was hoping someone would answer you by now. I never really keep up much with recruiting. I'm pretty sure he signed with us and was gung ho about coming here before he had to settle for NWF(did you say?lol where's that? Forbes? okok soooo he's getting offers? no surprise there. We could use him. Maybe he'll get an off from Martin...I just googled him btw.) But what Jones wants I didn't see on there.

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