Lineup experimentation pays off for UT coach Cuonzo Martin against Massachusetts

UMassí Raphiael Putney, left, pressures Tennesseeís Jordan McRae during a NCAA college basketball game in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Photo by Ricardo Arduengo, AP2012

UMassí Raphiael Putney, left, pressures Tennesseeís Jordan McRae during a NCAA college basketball game in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Jarnell Stokes on the Vols' win over UMass

The horn blared and eyebrows rose.

Coming out of a media timeout with 7 minutes, 58 seconds left until halftime against Massachusetts on Sunday, Tennessee's Trae Golden and Jarnell Stokes remained on the bench.

Freshman point guard Armani Moore and little-used sophomore center Yemi Makanjuola instead took the floor. There they joined redshirt freshman combo-forward Quinton Chievous.

Even with Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson filling out the five-man look, a lineup featuring Moore (26 minutes played in 2012-13 entering the game), Chievous (33) and Makanjuola (16) on the floor together appeared, well, odd.

The rotation came partially as a result of foul trouble. Golden and starting forward Kenny Hall had two apiece.

That doesn't mean, though, that UT men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin sent the trio out together haphazardly. There was thought behind it.

"As a coach you can be stubborn in your ways," he said following UT's 83-69 win. "I told my staff I have to do a better job of giving Armani, Yemi and those guys a chance to play."

He did and it worked. The three combined for 41 minutes played, 11 points, 10 rebounds and two assists. Each played less minutes in the game's decisive second half, but their impact was critical.

"What happens is sometimes you put them in games where the matchups aren't right and they can't flow so they don't look as good," Martin said. "Then I take them out of the game. I just told myself I've got to give those guys a chance to play.

"They're good players, but you can't be successful if you don't have the opportunity. I had to give them a chance."

Chievous made the most of his chance. Playing additional minutes due in part to Martin's decision to bench junior forward D'Montre Edwards, Chievous scored four points and pulled down four rebounds in 23 minutes. The stats aren't eye-popping, but it doesn't reflect the strong defense and hustle plays Chievous had.

Martin said Chievous finally resembled the player that led the Vols with 15 points and nine rebounds in an early-season exhibition two weeks ago.

"Since the exhibition, I don't think he's played as hard as he's capable of playing," Martin said. "He showed that tonight."

Back to Rocky Top: The Vols lifted off from Puerto Rico at 7:10 a.m. EST and returned to Knoxville by way of Atlanta at 10:55 a.m.

Tennessee (3-1) finished the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with a 2-1 record including victories against UNC Asheville and UMass and a loss to eventual tournament champion Oklahoma State, who beat at the time No. 6 North Carolina state by 20 in the championship game.

Richie Rich: The season is young, but no player on the UT roster has improved as much as Richardson. He doesn't resemble the player who was held scoreless in five of the Vols' last eight games a year ago.

In three games in Puerto Rico, the sophomore averaged 9.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. An 11-point, nine-rebound effort, coupled with his solid-as-always defense, against UMass now stands as the best game of his career.

Think about it this way, Richardson had 21 points and 14 rebounds in eight games last February.

Golden Nuggets: Golden's six assists against Oklahoma State gave him team-high honors for the 37th time in his career.

Since his freshman year, the junior has led the Vols in assists in 28 of the past 38 games (73.7 percent).

Next Up: The Vols' next opponent, Oakland, has beaten UT the past two seasons, but is 1-3 to start 2012-13. The two will meet again Monday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 15

Ironcity writes:

We owe Oakland but I think they took Pitt to OT so this will be no pushover.

wigmeister writes:

There wil be ups and downs this season, but I believe many more ups! Team will get better as season progresses. If Maymon is able to come back before season ends, this team will make us very proud!

Basketvol writes:

Vol fans need to show up to the Oakland game in full force and give our team a real home-court advantage!

pcorange writes:

Good job, Zo. Had a rough game against the Cowboys, but 3-1 isn't a bad start. Fairly young team, fairly new coach, this looks a lot better than what we were getting on the football field. I'll take it.

volfaninutah writes:

I watched some of this game. Vols played some good D and pulled away. Nice to see them play both ends of the court.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Go Vols Beat Oakland

I'm really excited about the play of our youngsters. They all seem to be good additions to a nice group of upper class-men.

I'm a little worried about Hall's contributions in the last couple of games. He's so worried about fouling that he forgets to play the game. When he plays the game without worry he fouls.lol Still it's early season and he'll be fine. Footwork, positioning, and spacing. Hands up on D. Basics.
Get on him coach. Oh yeah hands ready for the pass on offense. C'mon that's only four things to think about Hall.hehe Well there's also whatever play is running, rebounds blocking out in addition to the positioning etc,etc.
I love this game. Golden and friends? If the bigs aren't ready for the pass then hit them in the face a few times with the ball. They'll catch on.ulp

We will enjoy Maymon's return still! He's a spark of energy we will need come SEC.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to pcorange:

Good job, Zo. Had a rough game against the Cowboys, but 3-1 isn't a bad start. Fairly young team, fairly new coach, this looks a lot better than what we were getting on the football field. I'll take it.

THREE-one??? I must have missed a game!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

The schedule counts Kennesaw as an exibition?? 3-1 counting them.

Asheville W
Okie St. L
Mass. W

Seriously I'm a little confused. I should be able to count since it's not over 5 yet.

no1djkb#278630 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

The schedule counts Kennesaw as an exibition?? 3-1 counting them.

Asheville W
Okie St. L
Mass. W

Seriously I'm a little confused. I should be able to count since it's not over 5 yet.

I believe that was not an exibition game. On ESPN they count it as a game

dcap8424 writes:

Kennesaw St. is a division 1 team. It was not an exhibition. They play in the Atlantic Sun with ETSU and Belmont.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to dcap8424:

Kennesaw St. is a division 1 team. It was not an exhibition. They play in the Atlantic Sun with ETSU and Belmont.

I believe you all.lol It's just that the schedule on this site has or had them as EXIBITION.

I remember thinking we were 3-1 until I saw that. I'm not really confused. you know me I never get confused.hehe

mocsandvolsfan writes:

AS OF 11:35 am Nov. 20th 2012 it plainly says exhibition right beside the name of Kennesaw St.

But I believe ya'll and would rather be 3-1 anyhow.

johnlg00 writes:

BQ hit it right on the nose by noting Richardson's improvement. All of last season and the first couple of games this year, I cringed every time I thought he was about to take a three-pointer. His stroke still looks a little odd to me, but there is no question his shot is going in more often than it used to.

I really hope Edwards does what he has to do to regain CCM's confidence. He certainly looks like a player. I just hope he isn't the kind of mirage Renaldo Woolridge turned out to be; the build of an all-pro and the game of a middle-schooler.

Chievous has shown that he can contribute; now he just needs to show that he can contribute EVERY NIGHT. He has athletic ability and a good head for the game; he just needs to keep his head IN the game.

I still have pretty much of a "wait-and-see" attitude toward Armani Moore. I haven't seen any real "WOW!" moments out of him, but I haven't seen any real "UGH!" moments either. CCM seems to have enough confidence in him to let him give Trae more rest than he got last year, so as long as the team is playing well, it is good to keep Trae from getting worn down early.

All of these young guys need to stake their claims for playing time now, because when/if Maymon comes back in playing shape and the Vols get into the conference season, the rotation may shorten and some of these guys will see more bench time than they might think right now.

jasvol writes:

Oklahoma State looked awesome. They destroyed Carolina in that game. Oklahom State will help our RPI and we'll see them in the Elite 8 for a rematch!

BillVol writes:

Guessing this win was more about shooting percentage than any strategy. I say this without having seen the box. So I could be wrong.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features