Trae Golden has gained the confidence to lead Vols

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)

Scenes from 2012 UT basketball media day

Tennessee men's basketball guard Trae Golden talks with a reporter during media day at Pratt Pavilion Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee men's basketball guard Trae Golden talks with a reporter during media day at Pratt Pavilion Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

The long, late summer nights of the offseason were spent looking behind and dreaming ahead.

Head on pillow, eyes strained open, Tennessee point guard Trae Golden stared ahead. Over and over, on countless nights, the flickering television replayed the same sad movie: Tennessee versus Middle Tennessee State.

The Vols' second-round NIT loss from a year ago.

Golden never let it go.

"I watched that MTSU game so many times, man," he said Thursday.

The memories were motivation.

In an offseason of hope, Golden has been a leader. The junior says he worked tirelessly on his game and with his teammates.

He trained with leading-returning scorer Jeronne Maymon, telling him, "If you've got a dream of playing in the NBA, you've got to knock down that midrange jumper." He approached sophomore Josh Richardson and said, "Get in the gym and make sure you're the best shooter you can be."

When the team came together Friday for the first official practice of 2012-13, it was like they never left.

In his second year piloting coach Cuonzo Martin's motion offense, Golden says he's finally comfortable. It took time.

He was asked at this time last year to rely on his innate scoring ability, but balance it with being an unselfish, deft point guard.

No small task, but Golden found himself by season's end.

Playing a team-high 32.0 minutes per game, he averaged 13.6 points and scored double digits in UT's final 12 games (9-3). He finished fourth in the SEC with 4.5 assists per game and second in free-throw percentage (82.8 percent).

"I see a lot of confidence in him now," said Tennessee assistant coach Tracy Webster, who works primarily with the Vols' guards. "He understands what he needs to do and what we're looking for him to do. He knows that he can play, but now he understands that it's his job to make everyone else around him better."

Thus all the gym time.

"I dragged out my friends, my girlfriend, (team) managers, my neighbors in here so I could get up shots," he said. "That's what it takes to be the best."

Lost in the vast Tennessee shadow cast by Maymon and star sophomore Jarnell Stokes, Golden wants to answer the two question marks gracing his resume — turnovers and defense.

In Tennessee's 18 wins, Golden dished 99 assists and committed 52 turnovers. In 14 losses, it was 55-46.

"When Trae is indecisive, he can't turn the ball over," said Martin, soon adding "and he must play with passion and pride on defense."

If Golden does, the shadow might disappear.

"I know what I've got to do," he said resolutely.

Golden's 2011-12 stats were nearly identical to that of Michigan point guard Trey Burke. The only drastic difference was in shooting percentages. Golden's numbers were better.

Yet, Burke appears on numerous preseason All-America teams.

That's life for Golden.

He's the point guard for a UT team known for its post play. He's been dubbed a "scoring point guard" and is seen as little more than that, regardless of the numbers ... the facts.

Golden had more assists per game than Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor, Michigan State's Keith Appling and Kansas' Elijah Johnson.

Golden shrugged.

Whatever.

"I'll score. I'll pass. I'll shoot. I'll do what I need to do to win," he said. "I led the SEC in assists for a long time (last year) and still I was called a scoring-first point guard. Something's got to give.

"At the end of the day I'm always going to be labeled as that. That's never going to change. I'm just going to play my game."

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

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Comments » 25

redskinvol1 writes:

This team is going places!Go Vols!

1vavolfan writes:

Excited about the season. Glad Trey looked at the MTSU footage because it was his inability to guard the high ball screen at the end of the game that cost UT the game.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

Goldens play at point is key to the whole season.

TheEffect writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

This team is going places!Go Vols!

The NIT.

underthehill writes:

Golden played too many minutes last year in several games and did not have the stamina left to compete..like the Mid Tn State game..a very good MTSU coach spotted this and had a point guard who was good enough to take advantage and win the game..my hope is we have enough help at point to rest Golden and give him time at shooting guard which is his best position..I look for UT to make the big show this year...

Ironcity writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your statement proves you have never played basketball and know nothing of the game. The guy is good. Lacks ability to cover the quicker players straight up but he himself can't be covered on the other end. Finishes games for UT at the foul line ever night. Glad we have him for two more years.

hikerdude writes:

I am really looking forward to BB season. If Trae has a good year,and I think he can, we could go deep in the NCAA tournament.

underthehill writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Your statement proves you have never played basketball and know nothing of the game. The guy is good. Lacks ability to cover the quicker players straight up but he himself can't be covered on the other end. Finishes games for UT at the foul line ever night. Glad we have him for two more years.

Lacks ability to cover the quicker players straight up is his glaring weakness but he is an outstanding outside shooter and clutch free throw shooter..I have total confidence in Martin to get the most out of all the players and expect to see Golden at shooting guard some with a defender at point who can defend full court especially late in games..I think these guys are going to be good to watch...

johnlg00 writes:

in response to TheEffect:

The NIT.

So, just which whiny troll are you? I haven't seen your screen name on here before--been out sick for awhile myself--but the earmarks are unmistakable. I'll go out on a limb right now and say that IF everybody important stays healthy, the Vols will finish in the top 10 and make at least the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tourney. Remember where you heard it first. If Golden plays solid defense and cuts his turnovers by a third or so, he will be first-team All-SEC.

johnlg00 writes:

BQ just teased us in the article. I would really like to know if Maymon and Richardson really CAN knock down those mid-range jumpers. If so, the sky is the limit for this team. I guess we'll have to wait to see this season.

TheEffect writes:

in response to johnlg00:

So, just which whiny troll are you? I haven't seen your screen name on here before--been out sick for awhile myself--but the earmarks are unmistakable. I'll go out on a limb right now and say that IF everybody important stays healthy, the Vols will finish in the top 10 and make at least the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tourney. Remember where you heard it first. If Golden plays solid defense and cuts his turnovers by a third or so, he will be first-team All-SEC.

This is the same Tennessee team which lost AT HOME to MTSU in the NIT. They also LOST to the likes of Oakland, College of Charleston, Austin Peay, etc. etc. etc. I am not impressed at all.

Typical Tennessee fan......will claim a moral victory in everything. Keep drinking the Kool Ade.

laraccoon writes:

in response to TheEffect:

This is the same Tennessee team which lost AT HOME to MTSU in the NIT. They also LOST to the likes of Oakland, College of Charleston, Austin Peay, etc. etc. etc. I am not impressed at all.

Typical Tennessee fan......will claim a moral victory in everything. Keep drinking the Kool Ade.

Kool Aid . guess you really are from Ky. lol

tennrich1 writes:

in response to TheEffect:

This is the same Tennessee team which lost AT HOME to MTSU in the NIT. They also LOST to the likes of Oakland, College of Charleston, Austin Peay, etc. etc. etc. I am not impressed at all.

Typical Tennessee fan......will claim a moral victory in everything. Keep drinking the Kool Ade.

I think those loses were without Stokes...Except for of course the MTSU game....by the way our team was a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TEAM WITH HIM....but nice try and I'll give you on 5 for effort...

mocsandvolsfan writes:

The Effect has no effect on UT.

Btw MTSU was darn good last year and UT AND MTSU should have gone to the Big Dance.

If Trey and Maymon had been at full strength we'd have finished out better and gone to the NCAAs anyhow.

Also Mr. Effect? We as a team have the fortune of being a year older, stronger as a team, and stronger in Martin's system. It's called experience. That's something Kentucky won't have this year and they also won't have Davis. I don't think the other dude is a "Davis". We'll at least beat the cats at UT's place. We'll have more than 20 wins. I'm not predicting I just believe it's likely. We had 18 wins last year without any of those things I stated. The schedule may be tougher this year though.

I have and am also a believer still in Dooley and our footballers for next year to be a much better team. I'm not a believer necessarily in the 3-4 defense in college and wonder why Sunseri's so sold on it. I know I'm not an expert but I can see it's not working fast enough except maybe at Alabama. Yesterday has me bumfuzzled I guess.

But basketball's almost here and I may just read basket ball the rest of the year.lol I will still watch UT play though when possible.

Go MOCS TOO.

underthehill writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

The Effect has no effect on UT.

Btw MTSU was darn good last year and UT AND MTSU should have gone to the Big Dance.

If Trey and Maymon had been at full strength we'd have finished out better and gone to the NCAAs anyhow.

Also Mr. Effect? We as a team have the fortune of being a year older, stronger as a team, and stronger in Martin's system. It's called experience. That's something Kentucky won't have this year and they also won't have Davis. I don't think the other dude is a "Davis". We'll at least beat the cats at UT's place. We'll have more than 20 wins. I'm not predicting I just believe it's likely. We had 18 wins last year without any of those things I stated. The schedule may be tougher this year though.

I have and am also a believer still in Dooley and our footballers for next year to be a much better team. I'm not a believer necessarily in the 3-4 defense in college and wonder why Sunseri's so sold on it. I know I'm not an expert but I can see it's not working fast enough except maybe at Alabama. Yesterday has me bumfuzzled I guess.

But basketball's almost here and I may just read basket ball the rest of the year.lol I will still watch UT play though when possible.

Go MOCS TOO.

I agree UT will be among the top teams in the SEC and will be in the big show..UT could have the best rebounding and defensive team in the SEC and one of the best in the country..I expect UT to beat KY at home and on the road if the officials will permit it...Cal does a good job dictating how he wants games called at Rupp and gets a huge edge in free throws...Fla is expected to be good and Mizzu may be among the the best if their transfers are as good as reported...time for some basketball...

VolGrad writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

This team is going places!Go Vols!

No kidding: at least 12 venues away from Knoxville this year.

But seriously, yes, I agree. NCAA Tourney.

miatatom writes:

Why do you people respond to the trolls? Don't be so gullible. Ignore them and they will go away. No comments or quotes when they post, just ignore them. Go Vols!

TheEffect writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

The Effect has no effect on UT.

Btw MTSU was darn good last year and UT AND MTSU should have gone to the Big Dance.

If Trey and Maymon had been at full strength we'd have finished out better and gone to the NCAAs anyhow.

Also Mr. Effect? We as a team have the fortune of being a year older, stronger as a team, and stronger in Martin's system. It's called experience. That's something Kentucky won't have this year and they also won't have Davis. I don't think the other dude is a "Davis". We'll at least beat the cats at UT's place. We'll have more than 20 wins. I'm not predicting I just believe it's likely. We had 18 wins last year without any of those things I stated. The schedule may be tougher this year though.

I have and am also a believer still in Dooley and our footballers for next year to be a much better team. I'm not a believer necessarily in the 3-4 defense in college and wonder why Sunseri's so sold on it. I know I'm not an expert but I can see it's not working fast enough except maybe at Alabama. Yesterday has me bumfuzzled I guess.

But basketball's almost here and I may just read basket ball the rest of the year.lol I will still watch UT play though when possible.

Go MOCS TOO.

There is NO excuse for losing to MTSU at home the way they did......and you are blaming the loss to Austin Peay At HOME on not having Stokes??? Are you serious?!!! What are you smoking??

Here are two things you can count on though. Kentucky will keep dominating Tennessee in basketball, and Alabama will do the same in football.

TheEffect writes:

Sorry Mocs...that post was not meant for you.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to TheEffect:

There is NO excuse for losing to MTSU at home the way they did......and you are blaming the loss to Austin Peay At HOME on not having Stokes??? Are you serious?!!! What are you smoking??

Here are two things you can count on though. Kentucky will keep dominating Tennessee in basketball, and Alabama will do the same in football.

There WERE excuses and you know it troll. I stated them clearly and thanks to the typed word I didn't stutter troll.hehe

What's the Austin Peay thing? I said nothing to excuse that loss. But since you brought it up? I blame the majority of those losses to a new coach, new system, and basically a new entire squad with one remaining starter from the previous year. What'd you expect?? undefeated year? If you'r going to attack then use a sensible approach. NO one expected UT to do near as well as they did...ESPECIALLY with an unknown coach. Well he did just fine. So go back to your bridge.
UT is in great shape for basketball.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to TheEffect:

Sorry Mocs...that post was not meant for you.

Ok. That explains the Austin Peay comment. However you're still a troll.hehe

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to miatatom:

Why do you people respond to the trolls? Don't be so gullible. Ignore them and they will go away. No comments or quotes when they post, just ignore them. Go Vols!

I've learned(right or wrong) that to survive on a blog sight like this you have to be thick skinned and a little abusive. I don't think KNS allows anyone to stay on here who's nice. PLUS there are times when the only people to respond to are the "visitors from beyond".

However you're correct. I've even stated the same many times. I guess I gave up.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to TheEffect:

This is the same Tennessee team which lost AT HOME to MTSU in the NIT. They also LOST to the likes of Oakland, College of Charleston, Austin Peay, etc. etc. etc. I am not impressed at all.

Typical Tennessee fan......will claim a moral victory in everything. Keep drinking the Kool Ade.

This is the UT team that lost in the NIT with two of its best players playing on one leg each, both of whom had surgery immediately after the season ended. That was a brand-new team, coaches and players alike, who lost to those other teams you mentioned BEFORE Stokes joined the team. Stokes himself should have still been in HS when he was banging with the big boys in the SEC. Unlike the start of last season, the Vols have over 80% of their total production returning compared to about 15% the year before. If you don't see any difference between last year's team, which, according to most, drastically exceeded preseason predictions, and this year's team, there is just no help for you! No kool-aide needed; just sober appraisal of cold, hard fact.

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

This is the UT team that lost in the NIT with two of its best players playing on one leg each, both of whom had surgery immediately after the season ended. That was a brand-new team, coaches and players alike, who lost to those other teams you mentioned BEFORE Stokes joined the team. Stokes himself should have still been in HS when he was banging with the big boys in the SEC. Unlike the start of last season, the Vols have over 80% of their total production returning compared to about 15% the year before. If you don't see any difference between last year's team, which, according to most, drastically exceeded preseason predictions, and this year's team, there is just no help for you! No kool-aide needed; just sober appraisal of cold, hard fact.

Well stated John..there is no comparison to the team that will begin this year and the one who lost the early games last year before Stokes..as young as Stokes was he rebounded with the best in the SEC and may well be the best this year..I think the experience of this UT team gives them an edge over the recruiting and youth of tucky..going to be interesting...

smokeygrowl writes:

in response to TheEffect:

The NIT.

idiot

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