John Adams: Role players play a major role to back McRae

John Adams
Tennessee guard Quinton Chievous (31) struggles for control of the ball as he is fouled by Florida guard Casey Prather (24) while teammates Jordan McRae and Kenny Hall, left to right, look on during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. Tennessee won 64-58 over Florida. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Quinton Chievous (31) struggles for control of the ball as he is fouled by Florida guard Casey Prather (24) while teammates Jordan McRae and Kenny Hall, left to right, look on during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. Tennessee won 64-58 over Florida. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

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Jarnell Stokes sat, and Tennessee soared.

It was the unlikeliest of scenarios. But no UT fan in the crowd of 19,567 would complain about the result: a 64-58 upset of eighth-ranked Florida on Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Vols followed an unfamiliar path to victory in boosting their record to 17-10 overall and 9-6 in the SEC.

In the biggest of games, you assume UT’s big three of Stokes, Jordan McRae and Trae Golden have to be at the their best offensively. Their increased production in UT’s five-game winning streak proved that.

However, No. 6 came via different means.

McRae was as good as ever, scoring a game-high 27 points. But Golden made only three of 10 field-goal attempts and power forward Stokes played just 24 minutes due to early foul trouble.

Everybody else took up the slack. The extra effort from varied sources became more apparent when Stokes went to the bench early in the second half.

Backup post players Yemi Makanjuola and Kenny Hall were both up to the challenge. And they made an immediate impression.

Makanjuola quickly blocked a shot from 6-foot-9, 247-pound Patric Young; seconds later, Hall dunked at the other end against a late-arriving Florida defense.

Just like that, the Vols were up by six points.

Hall struck again for two points on a baseline jump shot that appeared out of his range when he let it fly. Plays like that kept Florida at bay.

And Gators coach Billy Donovan probably didn’t help his cause when he rested Young for four minutes while Stokes was on the bench.

Both Stokes and Young returned to the game with 9:15 to play and resumed their fierce battle for position beneath the basket. Stokes had the advantage down the stretch.

Although Stokes scored only eight points, he had a game-high 14 rebounds, including nine in 13 minutes of the second half.

His defense also was a factor in containing Young. After scoring 11 points in the first half, Young had just four more in the second.

His offensive struggles couldn’t be attributed solely to Stokes.

“When Yemi and Kenny come in, they’re not the scorer Jarnell is,” UT coach Cuonzo Martin said. “But they’re good defenders. So you don’t lose anything there.”

UT only lost ground at the beginning when it fell behind by 9-2 and 18-11 margins, mainly because Florida cashed in on uncontested 3-pointers.

Once the Vols tightened up the perimeter defense, Florida struggled offensively. And it never could match UT’s rebounding. Thanks to Stokes, Tennessee outrebounded the Gators 41-31.

UT’s biggest win of the season was even bigger because of the circumstances. It held its own with Stokes on the bench for 16 minutes.

The Vols also proved they could defend Florida’s guards, who have bedeviled most of its conference competition.

“We beat a very talented team,” Martin said. “A team with a lot of parts.”

But the Vols had just as many parts Tuesday night.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 21

jamgod writes:

Good article there John!

miatatom writes:

Way to go bench!

jack4444 writes:

Jarnell gets a touch, good things happen.

chaos001 writes:

I'll take "terrible headlines" for $500, Alex.

frblalack writes:

Kenny & Yemi were outstanding! Our bigs played admirably. I thought Jordan got a little too trigger happy late; but he's the best offensive threat in the SEC! We do have the best & strongest big man in the conference & Trae Golden is an All-American! Our Coach has this group playing together like a final four entry! McBee is sooo clutch, and the combo of Yarnell, Kenny, & Yemi make us the best paint team in the SEC. I truly believe if we can keep this momentum and I think we can, we will win the SEC tournament. Coach Cuonzo should get SEC Coach of the Year and player of the year has to have Trae, Jordan, and Yarnell in the mix. Man you've got to give it to the Vols; easily the most improved team in the SEC if not the entire country. Damn, Coach Cuonzo should be in the conversation for National Coach of the Year!

It's GREAT to be a Tennessee Vol!!!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Although he didn't score much, Quinton Cheivous was extremely active last night on defense, rebounding, and made some great outlet passes that led to points. Skylar McBee...he'll miss some shots at times. But bygod if it's in a clutch moment you better believe he's gonna sink it! It looked to me that McRay and Golden were losing their legs down the stretch, their shot selections were questionable. But this performance after the Texas A&M game was really impressive. Great win guys....Great win Cuonzo!

creekroad writes:

What a poorly written piece....you weren't prepared for us to win and had to throw your first article away, right John?

GrandCanyonVol writes:

in response to creekroad:

What a poorly written piece....you weren't prepared for us to win and had to throw your first article away, right John?

I have to agree with creekroad. I have read you many times John, and you have a knack for the negative part of the program, than you do the positive. You seem to delight yourself when Tennessee loses a game or something else negative happens in the program. You have a character hangup, no doubt about that. Maybe because of your childhood...who knows! You will meet the Lord soon, and He knows all about you and what makes you enjoy the dark side of things. I think I know why, but I will let Him tell you......

brod writes:

hopefully all of these role players can keep contributing. when mcrae, stokes, and golden step it up, they step it up too. that has been the formula for success.

voloffaith writes:

in response to GrandCanyonVol:

I have to agree with creekroad. I have read you many times John, and you have a knack for the negative part of the program, than you do the positive. You seem to delight yourself when Tennessee loses a game or something else negative happens in the program. You have a character hangup, no doubt about that. Maybe because of your childhood...who knows! You will meet the Lord soon, and He knows all about you and what makes you enjoy the dark side of things. I think I know why, but I will let Him tell you......

Just a thought....is the book closed on JA for eternity? Does he no longer have the time to repent and follow Jesus? Just asking.On topic, article was short and positive. Rare for Sir JA , but kudos for at least doing it as painful a it might have been.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

I knock JA as much as anyone, and, I always think for good reason. This bland little piece was not his usual pot shots, but, as others point out, expecting negatives, one tends to read negatives into most anything he says.

That said, one just expects more from a "Senior Columnist." Here, nothing new, nothing not seen by anyone watching and nothing not reported on by Strange, or others. As usual, one is left feeling, "Nothing I did not already know," or, "He gets paid for this"?

SherryC writes:

I continue to be impressed with Coach Martin's ability to get the most out of his players. His focus on player development is really paying off for these guys. Fun team to watch.

Co-MVP honors have to go to Nicodemus Christopher. Their energy & stamina through the 4OT victory was amazing enough. To have them play at this high level 3 days later against the 8th ranked team in the country - wow.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to frblalack:

Kenny & Yemi were outstanding! Our bigs played admirably. I thought Jordan got a little too trigger happy late; but he's the best offensive threat in the SEC! We do have the best & strongest big man in the conference & Trae Golden is an All-American! Our Coach has this group playing together like a final four entry! McBee is sooo clutch, and the combo of Yarnell, Kenny, & Yemi make us the best paint team in the SEC. I truly believe if we can keep this momentum and I think we can, we will win the SEC tournament. Coach Cuonzo should get SEC Coach of the Year and player of the year has to have Trae, Jordan, and Yarnell in the mix. Man you've got to give it to the Vols; easily the most improved team in the SEC if not the entire country. Damn, Coach Cuonzo should be in the conversation for National Coach of the Year!

It's GREAT to be a Tennessee Vol!!!

I might not go QUITE that far on much of this, but no question the entire team from the head coach on down is making us all proud right now. Not sure who "Yarnell" is but Jarnell Stokes is certainly playing like a champion right now! I agree that Jordan forced a few in the late going. He seemed to have lost his legs a bit and tried to "guide" shots in instead of going up straight and strong and just letting it fly. Some of them were too early in the shot clock. This team generally still needs to learn that when they are already ahead, there is no need to take chances to score. I'm referring particularly to one floating lob pass Trae tried to force into Jarnell when he was surrounded by defenders. There was no need to even THINK about trying that.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Although he didn't score much, Quinton Cheivous was extremely active last night on defense, rebounding, and made some great outlet passes that led to points. Skylar McBee...he'll miss some shots at times. But bygod if it's in a clutch moment you better believe he's gonna sink it! It looked to me that McRay and Golden were losing their legs down the stretch, their shot selections were questionable. But this performance after the Texas A&M game was really impressive. Great win guys....Great win Cuonzo!

Good post; agree with all. Everybody who played made a contribution. That gives them a chance to win even when their big guns like Golden and Stokes aren't firing that night. Thank goodness for McRae! He should get some strong all-star consideration for the way he has performed in some of the Vols' biggest games. He is a matchup nightmare with his height, long arms, and leaping ability. He now also nearly always plays under control, the one thing he needed to learn to do to become the player he is now.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SherryC:

I continue to be impressed with Coach Martin's ability to get the most out of his players. His focus on player development is really paying off for these guys. Fun team to watch.

Co-MVP honors have to go to Nicodemus Christopher. Their energy & stamina through the 4OT victory was amazing enough. To have them play at this high level 3 days later against the 8th ranked team in the country - wow.

Much truth here. The guys really seem to be putting it all on the line for CCM. Also as you say, huge props to Christopher for getting the guys in great playing shape. It is said that fatigue and pain make cowards of us all. It is clear that this team has been conditioned to fight through those things when their opponents are wilting. I hope they can get a day or two of real rest now. These last two games must have really taken a toll on them, but there is still much work left to do this season.

SewaneeVolFan writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Just a thought....is the book closed on JA for eternity? Does he no longer have the time to repent and follow Jesus? Just asking.On topic, article was short and positive. Rare for Sir JA , but kudos for at least doing it as painful a it might have been.

Good one, VOF. I agree JA is more skilled at skewering, but that doesn't mean that being negative is hardwired into his DNA -- all humans can change and grow. And if there was a time to be positive about the male basketvols, this is as good a time as any. Maybe since the glorious week of being No. 1, but without (without trying to be negative myself, but to celebrate what we have right now) the character issues, the arrests, and the NCAA-lying.

Love winning the right way!

And if John Adams wants to get on board, we could be charitable and welcome him, too.

Won't hurt, and we can still dog him when he returns to the dark side.

jamgod writes:

in response to GrandCanyonVol:

I have to agree with creekroad. I have read you many times John, and you have a knack for the negative part of the program, than you do the positive. You seem to delight yourself when Tennessee loses a game or something else negative happens in the program. You have a character hangup, no doubt about that. Maybe because of your childhood...who knows! You will meet the Lord soon, and He knows all about you and what makes you enjoy the dark side of things. I think I know why, but I will let Him tell you......

Listen, not sure what this beef you people have with John Adams as I have never thought any different of him than he is doing his job. And, when I get on hear and read things like you post, it just confirms that he is really good at his job actually. Stiring the emotions is a big part of journalism and from what I have read from you bozo's posts...he certainly can stir the emotions. Give the guy a break, he does what he is supposed to and real journalism is not going to please every body all the time...so yeah, I think John is doing a good job and telling it like it is...sometimes he agravates me to and that is a part of a good journalisms repatoire(sp?) Get over it and quit bashing him without any substance to back you up!

tnvol4ever writes:

Very encouraging game from the perspective that other than McRae probably no one else played their best game and it was still good enough to beat a top 10 team. I know the Gators have a couple injuries but still an impressive performance by the Vols.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to tnvol4ever:

Very encouraging game from the perspective that other than McRae probably no one else played their best game and it was still good enough to beat a top 10 team. I know the Gators have a couple injuries but still an impressive performance by the Vols.

Very true. The Vols have more than one weapon in their arsenal, and even the "supporting arms" are pretty potent in their own right.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

in response to jamgod:

Listen, not sure what this beef you people have with John Adams as I have never thought any different of him than he is doing his job. And, when I get on hear and read things like you post, it just confirms that he is really good at his job actually. Stiring the emotions is a big part of journalism and from what I have read from you bozo's posts...he certainly can stir the emotions. Give the guy a break, he does what he is supposed to and real journalism is not going to please every body all the time...so yeah, I think John is doing a good job and telling it like it is...sometimes he agravates me to and that is a part of a good journalisms repatoire(sp?) Get over it and quit bashing him without any substance to back you up!

You points are well reasoned, and no, we should not bash JA...or any writer without substance. Allow me to offer some:

What is a Senior Columnist? Sort of unclear. If he is an editorial writer, he is entitled to,, even expected to, voice his personal opinions. That could be understood and liked or not; fair game. If he is just a reporter, it should be the facts, maam, the facts. As substance, time after time, he mixes all this and one is left not knowing what his intent or point it. That, and he cannot report simple facts without a trace....obvious or slight...of sarcasm or negativity thrown in. He should not be a homer for UT or Knoxville athletics; reasonable readers understand that and do not expect that. (forget those who do). But, serving this market, he should at least be objective. The KNS is a Scrips-Howard paper; view their motto: "Give people light and they will find their own way." (or something close). If our Senior Columnist will give us the unvarnished facts (might take him some work, and require him to gain some cred...so he will have sources)most readers can figure "it"out for themselves. All that, and, compared with so many others, he is just not a very skilled writer, or he would not need the props of sarcasm and misplaced attempts at wit. Readers just deserve better.

If not substance, strong opinion.

jmaples54 writes:

in response to GrandCanyonVol:

I have to agree with creekroad. I have read you many times John, and you have a knack for the negative part of the program, than you do the positive. You seem to delight yourself when Tennessee loses a game or something else negative happens in the program. You have a character hangup, no doubt about that. Maybe because of your childhood...who knows! You will meet the Lord soon, and He knows all about you and what makes you enjoy the dark side of things. I think I know why, but I will let Him tell you......

you and others, in reviewing the work of john adams, seem to delight in the negative energy of criticism, even when adams writes a positive piece. is this because of something from your childhood?

i'm confused. doesn't god also sees your hate and slander? he may not excuse it as a character hangup, but see it for what it is-- an intentional effort to hurt someone. is this the example of christ? or is your god someone... else?

perhaps you too will be judged.
didn't the lord say "love your enemy," and "turn the other cheek?" throwing around talk of eternal judgement over a sports column makes you sound like, sorry to say it, a nut.

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