Cuonzo Martin on upcoming game against MTSU
Jeronne Maymon has pedaled on an exercise bike and spent time on a treadmill, but Tennessee's most valuable player has yet to get back on the basketball court this week to prepare for Middle Tennessee State.
UT coach Cuonzo Martin revealed on Friday that the junior's bruised right knee will continue to be evaluated daily as the second-round NIT game on Monday (TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena approaches.
"It hasn't been determined if he'll play,'' Martin said. "If Jeronne is done, he's done. If he can play, he can play. If he can't, he can't.
"The guys will be OK; they'll just have to find a way to get it done.''
Tennessee (19-14) won without Maymon in Tuesday's NIT opener, beating Savannah State 65-51.
The Blue Raiders (26-6) represent a more difficult challenge with Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year LaRon Dendy, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound senior transfer from Iowa Sate who averages 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Maymon likely would draw the matchup, though Martin said even if the 6-7, 265-pound power forward were to play, he wouldn't be at full strength.
"You have to make sure he's healthy, first and foremost,'' Martin said. "He won't be 100 percent if he's out there; if he can help us, he'll help us. But we have to make a decision to do what's best for Jeronne.''
Maymon suffered the bruised knee in a 74-69 overtime victory at LSU on Feb. 29. He played on March 3 against Vanderbilt as well as the overtime loss to Ole Miss in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament on March 9.
Maymon, a second-team All-SEC selection, averages 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
"He hasn't been on the floor since the Ole Miss game,'' Martin said. "We're going as if he isn't playing.''
Freshman center Yemi Makanjuola started for Maymon against Savannah State.
Uptempo: Martin said the Vols have added a new element to their recent practices with hopes of improving an offense that has appeared sluggish at times the past two games.
"We've used a 24-second shot
clock getting up and down the court, being aggressive, running and really pushing the ball,'' Martin said. "It's more for us, as opposed to Middle Tennessee, even though their big guys do a great job of running the floor.''
Block Party: The Vols' 145 blocked shots this season rank as the fifth-highest season total in UT history.
Kenny Hall, who remains suspended indefinitely, leads the Vols with 25 blocks while Jordan McRae has 24 and mid-term freshman enrollee Jarnell Stokes has 22.
Blue Monday?: UT point guard Trae Golden said he has a feeling there will be a lot of Blue Raiders' fans in Thompson-Boling Arena on Monday night.
"I expect it to be a great crowd like our fans always bring; I expect it to be a really good game,'' Golden said. "I know there will probably be a lot of Middle Tennessee State fans there, but I'm pretty sure our fans will out-number them.''
Golden said the Vols' opening-round NIT crowd of 6,289 made its presence known.
"It seemed like it was closer to that Vandy game from a noise aspect,'' Golden said, referring to the sold-out crowd of 22,172 at UT's regular-season ending game. "That was huge for us. We always feed off the crowd.''
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitterhttpcom/MikeGriffith32