5 Things: UT vs. Victory

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) drives the ball as Auburn guard Josh Wallace (11) defends during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.  Tennessee won 64-49 over Auburn to mark the program's 1500th all-time win.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) drives the ball as Auburn guard Josh Wallace (11) defends during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. Tennessee won 64-49 over Auburn to mark the program's 1500th all-time win. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) drives the ball as Auburn guard Josh Wallace (11) defends during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.  Tennessee won 64-49 over Auburn to mark the program's 1500th all-time win.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) drives the ball as Auburn guard Josh Wallace (11) defends during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. Tennessee won 64-49 over Auburn to mark the program's 1500th all-time win. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee vs. Victory University

Expectations are up, Jeronne Maymon is down and the 2012-13 season is here. Tennessee basketball, under second-year coach Cuonzo Martin, will take the floor tonight for an open-to-the-public exhibition against Memphis-based Victory University. The game serves as a final tune-up before the Vols, picked to finish fourth in the SEC, open the regular season Friday at home against Kennesaw State. They will do so without Maymon (knee), UT's leading returning rebounder and second-leading scorer, who will miss the start of the season. That said, here's what to watch for tonight.

1Only three SEC point guards — Mississippi State's Dee Bost, Kentucky's Marquis Teague and LSU's Andre Stinger — averaged more minutes per game than Trae Golden last year. His 32.0-minute-per-game clip took its toll. UT's leader in points and assists was worn down by season's end. Martin will look to trim back Golden's minutes in 2012-13 and, more notably, move him off the ball defensively. Martin believes shifting Golden off the opposing point guard will conserve him (and his shaky knees) late in games and late in the season. In his place, UT's lean, lithe, long-armed wings (primarily D'Montre Edwards and Josh Richardson) will defend the top of the key. Look for Golden to get a taste of his adjusted defensive role Monday.

2 Martin's lingering concern from last weekend's secret scrimmage against Georgia Tech was the empty hands of Jarnell Stokes. "We have to get the ball to Jarnell," he said afterward. "He can't get the ball enough." The key, more than anything else, is UT's guards committing themselves to making aggressive, effective entry passes to the post. When Stokes gets positioning on the blocks, he needs to be rewarded — more so now than ever, given Maymon's absence.

3 Edwards, with two years of junior college experience, is a far more polished product than fellow newcomer Armani Moore. Among the fresh faces tonight, including redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous, Moore (wearing No. 4) is the one to watch. The point guard from Kennesaw, Ga., will be given early opportunities to earn minutes backing up Golden. Moore is quick and shifty and has knack for making the eye-popping pass, but with that comes a tendency for head-scratching mistakes. He'll need to tone down the former and eliminate the latter to find minutes guiding the Vols.

4 UT isn't noted for its jump shooting. It is, though, known for having a slew of athletic wings capable of finishing near the basket. Thus, few things draw Martin's ire more than those slashers settling for jumpers. Peeling off screens, the coaching staff wants players like Edwards, Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson to put the ball on the deck and drive to the hoop. Those who drive versus those who settle will go a long way toward determining how minutes are distributed on the crowded wing.

5 By all accounts, Skylar McBee is shooting as well as ever. After watching his 3-point percentage dip to 34.3 percent in conference games after shooting 46.4 percent during the first half of last season, McBee spent the summer refining his jumper. Now, according to multiple players and coaches, including Martin, the work is showing. Let's see if it translates to the rims at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 13

Patterson84 writes:

Deep NCAA Tournament run with this team! GO VOLS

VolGrad writes:

I am so ready for basketball. Let's get it started!

Go Vols!!!

keepitreal4vols writes:

How much cash does Victory earn for their "effort"?

underthehill writes:

It's time to get ready to tame the kittens..in men's basketball..I'm starting early..

VolMoment writes:

FIRE JOHN ADAMS!!!!!

BruisedOrange writes:

Thank you Mr. Quinn, for something informative that increases our enjoyment of the next game.

That's as good as a pre-game article gets.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

I read the headline of this article and thought it was about Dooley.

Full support for Cuonzo Martin and his boys this season! I miss Coach Pearl, but Coach Martin is an admirable and stand-up guy. Very glad to have him at my alma mater!

txvolsfan writes:

Coach Zo has quietly started to get the type of players he wants in the system with long athletic guards. I think Hambone got the right hire in basketball again.
GO VOLS
TXVOLSFAN

GreeneVol writes:

Nice overview; will be looking for these keys to 'victory' this season, the real '2nd season' in Volunteer country.

macon_volfan writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just to clarify, Harris was a rookie LAST year and this is his second season. He was the STAR of this year's Summer League , and is being rewarded with a starting position. He's rewarding the Bucks with incredible play.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to macon_volfan:

Just to clarify, Harris was a rookie LAST year and this is his second season. He was the STAR of this year's Summer League , and is being rewarded with a starting position. He's rewarding the Bucks with incredible play.

I saw an item last week that said the Bucks had already picked up Harris' third-year option before he even started this, his second year. The Bucks probably won't make a lot of noise this year, but Harris has a chance for a long, productive career if he stays healthy and keeps working hard.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

in response to macon_volfan:

Just to clarify, Harris was a rookie LAST year and this is his second season. He was the STAR of this year's Summer League , and is being rewarded with a starting position. He's rewarding the Bucks with incredible play.

And he was one and done when he stepped on UT campus.

johnlg00 writes:

Brendan, I must commend you for a most prescient game preview. Addressing your five points of emphasis in order:

1. Moore looked, in this scrimmage at least, fully capable of taking some of Golden's minutes. He was all over his man defensively and looked pretty steady with his handle. He also had some nice drives, but will have trouble playing late in games until his FT shooting improves; that is why the Vols MUST have Golden on the floor fresh late in games.

2. The passing into the post was better than it was most of the time last year. Stokes wasn't able to take full advantage of it because of a couple of early fouls, but Hall and Makanjuola got several nice feeds each, so the willingness and ability to feed the post seems to be there.

3. Edwards looks like a real player. He took a couple of outside shots he probably shouldn't have, but he looked solid on defense and really goes after the ball. Chievous looks like a real find. He seemed to always have his head in the game and a hand on the ball. He will be a crowd and coach's favorite if he keeps going like this.

4. The Vol perimeter guys took a few too many quick outside jumpers in the first half, but they seemed to do less of it in the second. McRae and McBee seemed to have the touch, but best of all, they seemed to get the ball in rhythm without having to chase it first so they could shoot under control. The fact that the team committed only eight turnovers spoke to greatly improved ball-handling for the whole team.

5. Didn't see any new moves out of McBee, but his stroke looked good and his defense and handle seem as aggressive and assured as most of us hoped they would.

All in all, a very entertaining scrimmage, mostly played at a higher level across the roster than has sometimes been the case in the past. Still plenty to work on, but lots of nice parts to work WITH.

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