John Adams: Stokes, Golden performing better as a disappearing act

John Adams
Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes, right, has his shot pressured by Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein, center, and blocked by Nerlens Noel during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Photo by James Crisp, AP2013

Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes, right, has his shot pressured by Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein, center, and blocked by Nerlens Noel during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tennessee post players Jarnell Stokes and Yemi Makanjuola fouled out Tuesday night at Rupp Arena. The loss of one was significant in Kentucky's 75-65 victory.

"Yemi was setting the tone defensively, being physical," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said when asked about the two foul-outs. "When he went out (with 6:47 to play), it was different."

He didn't address what impact Stokes' departure had.

Why would he? UT's sophomore forward didn't show up in the first place.

Stokes had more fouls than points (five to four) and played just 15 minutes in a game that the double-digit underdog Vols often looked capable of winning.

But it's unfair to single out Stokes in sorting out why Tennessee came up short. Junior guard Trae Golden was just as guilty.

Golden's shooting slump has been well documented. So has his recent failure to handle the ball with the care you would expect from a veteran point guard.

He did nothing to change the scouting report as Tennessee lost its fourth consecutive game, dropped to 8-7 and began SEC play 0-3 for the first time since the 1997-98 season. Golden had seven points and six assists, but committed five turnovers and missed two layups.

Rupp Arena normally would be the last place a slumping player or an ailing team goes to get well. However, these freshman-driven Wildcats hardly measure up to coach John Calipari's first three Kentucky teams. They're out of sync offensively, dreadful at the free-throw line (19 of 31 against the Vols) and not nearly as precocious as Calipari's previous NBA-bound freshman classes.

Bottom line: This was a game Tennessee could have won, especially given the effort it expended on defense and the offense delivered by Jordan McRae, who had a game-high 23 points and repeatedly prevailed in one-on-one match-ups with Archie Goodwin. The heralded Kentucky freshman missed eight of 10 field-goal tries and scored only eight points before fouling out.

All the Vols needed was for Stokes and Golden to play up to their ability.

If you were optimistic about this Tennessee team in preseason, you probably would have listed Stokes, Golden, and Jeronne Maymon as three reasons why.

The optimism waned when the season began without Maymon, who had off-season knee surgery. Finally, two weeks ago, Martin announced Maymon would sit out the season, take a redshirt and return next season.

But the Vols are missing Golden and Stokes, too.

Golden averaged 13.6 points and made 38.8 percent of his 3s last season. In the last six games, he is averaging 6.8 points and has made one of 11 3-point attempts. And his ball-handling has been just as deficient.

"He's not playing as well as he's capable of playing," Martin said kindly.

Neither is Stokes, who seemingly has regressed since his freshman season. He looked OK early against Kentucky's twin towers of 7-foot-1 Willie Cauley-Stein and 6-10 Nerlens Noel. Then, he picked up two quick fouls late in the first half.

After that, he might as well have stayed on the bench. In fact, he almost did.

Less than two minutes into the second half, he picked up his third foul. Back to the bench he went.

He returned with 12:41 to play. Sixteen seconds later, he drew his fourth foul. Bench again.

He came back just in time to foul out.

Now, the Vols can only hope he at least comes back to what he was last season. And brings Golden along with him.

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 » 35

VOLKING writes:

Ouch. True, but still, ouch. If the effort from these two "leaders" doesn't get better soon, we are doomed. Oh well, there's always football seas....oh never mind.

td writes:

Kentucky starts 4 freshmen and a sophomore, yet, they don't commit a single foul in the first half! Really!? That's how the refs called it.

Tennessee doesn't appear to play with intensity. At times, they only seem to be "going through the motions." Speaking of motion, the players are almost universally missing open guys to make plays in CCM's motion offense. The plays are available if they would only make the pass quickly, but the opportunity closes fast. For whatever reason, the Vols don't pull the trigger when they should; then at other times, some of the guys play totally out of control.

wayoutwill writes:

This team is in need of a real point guard instead of the imitation point guard they've got in Golden.Simply stated,Golden truly stanks at it,(and u guys watch your mouth)I have no idea what in the world happened to the big man stokes,it's crazy,he's a completely different player from the guy that was here last year,I can only speculate that he had his cajones chopped off during the of-season,but that's what it certainly appears to be what happened.They really are better than the how they are playing.I really belive that those two players,Stokes in particular,could take this team to the NCAA Dance,but they won't even make the NIT without a dramatic turn,I do belive Martin can turn 'em if anyone can,but right now,this team is lost!

wayne.kearney#1414428 writes:

Golden and Stokes are MIA right now,but will give Golden credit he does look like he is trying out on the court. Stokes on the other hand looks lost out there. Maybe he was just a flash last year and just isn't as good as we all were hoping he would be. Thanked God McRae is playing good ball right now. Hope hew can keep it up,but we will see on that.

FeelVol writes:

Really don't know what's going on with Trae Golden,really disapointed in his game.I think the home town refs had a hand in taking Stokes out of the game but he is just not as good without another big body inside to compliment him.

volnasty writes:

it is hard to watch this train wreck we call the b-ball team .stokes is the tin man no heart im really dissapointed in his play and our guards are pityfull. air ball by a guard at the free throw line REALLY REALLY.we have inferiour talent and coaching gonna be a long couple years befor our next coaching search looks like buzz ball all over again.

kjav writes:

It’s a shame to see Stokes’ ability wasted. He was a sure NBA prospect and to look at him now you just hope he can make some European team. I don’t know if it is heart or coaching but this won’t be good for recruiting.

DC82_Vol writes:

Should be a good recruiting point. Come to TN and you can play right away. Want proof, look at our line-up. Does any one of CCM's assistant coaches have experience coaching post players? Maybe, they should get some help from the women's BB coaches. If a player does not improve over the coures of time, that is bad coaching. Play hard or sit them down.

Sir_Spanky writes:

Zebras + Trae Golden = (-)20 points for TN last night. Too much to overcome.

atnvol#283282 writes:

in response to kjav:

It’s a shame to see Stokes’ ability wasted. He was a sure NBA prospect and to look at him now you just hope he can make some European team. I don’t know if it is heart or coaching but this won’t be good for recruiting.

Exactly....Stokes sure is not a resume builder for Martin so far....I cannot help but wonder if Hubbs is not doing alot of second guessing now on his commitment.

1vavolfan writes:

Spot on, not much to add. For those of you complaining about the refs, make your layups and don't airball free throws and its a different game. Hard to win at any level with no PG.

vol98champ writes:

If someone would put together the best 20 minutes of each game we would have a great record. If someone would put together the worst 20 minutes we probably would be winless. There is something terribly wrong up there. Maybe Kamiko could play point the bad 20 minutes.

volaholic45 writes:

Stokes did a disappearing act. Golden was more like a Gallagher act, smashing to smithereens any chance we had of winning.

Col26ca writes:

I took my son-in-law (Mizzou grad) and 3 grandson's to the Memphis game and have tickets for the Mizzou game for us. After watching the Memphis game and the next 3 i think I am going to just schedule a Root Canal with my Brother in Law for the Mizzou game day. It will be a lot less painful. This team is just about as ugly to watch as some of Buzz's fine teams. If they don't improve fast and have a remarkable year next year (NCAA bound) our Basketball will be in the same shape as our football and baseball is now. Don't know what to say except I am getting very tired of the losing. I will always be a Vol because I'm a double Alumni and would under no situation pull against them but I may choose to spend my extra dollars at other places. I feel sorry for the current students who have never experienced winning programs my children and I did over the years. I personally lay a lot of the blame at the feet of Jimmy Cheek, Susan Martin and Mike Hamilton along with a weak Board. Good Luck My Vols you are going to need it

HooRay_Vol writes:

in response to td:

Kentucky starts 4 freshmen and a sophomore, yet, they don't commit a single foul in the first half! Really!? That's how the refs called it.

Tennessee doesn't appear to play with intensity. At times, they only seem to be "going through the motions." Speaking of motion, the players are almost universally missing open guys to make plays in CCM's motion offense. The plays are available if they would only make the pass quickly, but the opportunity closes fast. For whatever reason, the Vols don't pull the trigger when they should; then at other times, some of the guys play totally out of control.

So true. We payed against 5 blue shirts and 3 zebra shirts.

Ky could never lose two home games in a row!! If they did, then it must be because the officials were not giving the calls to KY.

16 FT's for KY in first half, UT- 0. Come On Man!!!!!!!

Olddogsrule writes:

If we only could get johnnyboy to pull a disappearing act.

lknvol writes:

in response to Col26ca:

I took my son-in-law (Mizzou grad) and 3 grandson's to the Memphis game and have tickets for the Mizzou game for us. After watching the Memphis game and the next 3 i think I am going to just schedule a Root Canal with my Brother in Law for the Mizzou game day. It will be a lot less painful. This team is just about as ugly to watch as some of Buzz's fine teams. If they don't improve fast and have a remarkable year next year (NCAA bound) our Basketball will be in the same shape as our football and baseball is now. Don't know what to say except I am getting very tired of the losing. I will always be a Vol because I'm a double Alumni and would under no situation pull against them but I may choose to spend my extra dollars at other places. I feel sorry for the current students who have never experienced winning programs my children and I did over the years. I personally lay a lot of the blame at the feet of Jimmy Cheek, Susan Martin and Mike Hamilton along with a weak Board. Good Luck My Vols you are going to need it

Agree about the Cheek deal. He has got to go!!!

underthehill writes:

in response to FeelVol:

Really don't know what's going on with Trae Golden,really disapointed in his game.I think the home town refs had a hand in taking Stokes out of the game but he is just not as good without another big body inside to compliment him.

When the home town refs choose to call fouls on you like they called on Stokes..there is absolutely "nothing" you can do about it..as for Golden..no excuse for playing the way he did..

VolzsFan writes:

Adams, don't you have one of the thousand or so meaningless media Hall of Fame speeches to prepare for? You need to just disappear.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Being a TN fan right now makes me know how the German woman in Berlin felt when the Soviets came in.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Bring old Don DeVoe to practice and let him teach Martin how to coach a post player. DeVoe always got scoring out of his post players. He had no 5 stars either.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

I will say this once again Golden is and never will be the answer at the point. He is not quick, though strong, but turnover prone at times.Please keep Devoe away from this team. Better yet the shot clock should scare him away.

KVCrockett writes:

I think Stokes is getting knocked around like a punching bag and very few fouls are called. On the other hand he gets fouls called against him if he barely touches somebody. The 3 second call one ref made, which took away a 3 for us was a joke. with TIVO the wife and I ran it back and the call was made at 2 seconds. Refs please let STOKES play!

hikerdude writes:

BBB

dirislr#209355 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Adams, don't you have one of the thousand or so meaningless media Hall of Fame speeches to prepare for? You need to just disappear.

John Adams is the reason TN is not a very good basketball team.

CUSA_NEWS writes:

Hows it hanging (no pun intended lol) vols fans???

Melo, err, I mean Stokes is having a rough go at it, nay? Anywhos keep doing what you do. This bud's for you!

oldster writes:

Stokes, and to a lesser extent, Golden shows how little one can rely on high school ranking and starts. UT football has even more examples (e.g. Michael Palardy for those still on team). All these rankings do is raise expectations and, in the case of UT men's athletics, invariably lead to disappointment.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

OK MEXT! Who want to be fired? NEXT! Come and play for Tennessee. We LOVE our coaches and players!!!!!. I'm glad most of these comments aren't real UT fans.

1vavolfan writes:

Golden=Tony Harris. Showed a ton of potential and disappeared his Senior season. His coach was fired as a result, if Golden continues his will have the same fate.

Pompey writes:

...Golden was not recruited as a point guard, was never intended to be a point guard, and is not a point guard.....clear?

Basketvol writes:

in response to Olddogsrule:

If we only could get johnnyboy to pull a disappearing act.

I actually skipped the article and went straight to the comments because I've decided to stop reading JA. He is too sarcastic and snarky for me. Sure, tell it like it is, but you don't have to be a jerk about it. Take the headline for example. Yes, both players are struggling, but why the smartbutt headline in the hometown newspaper? I'm sure the story is filled with potshots aimed at these two student athletes. How about a story on the improvement of Jordan McRae?

Basketvol writes:

in response to KVCrockett:

I think Stokes is getting knocked around like a punching bag and very few fouls are called. On the other hand he gets fouls called against him if he barely touches somebody. The 3 second call one ref made, which took away a 3 for us was a joke. with TIVO the wife and I ran it back and the call was made at 2 seconds. Refs please let STOKES play!

I've been seeing the same, all !@#& season long! I don't get it. It's not like he is a cocky, loud-mouth player. Why all the negative attention from the refs?

KVCrockett writes:

in response to Basketvol:

I've been seeing the same, all !@#& season long! I don't get it. It's not like he is a cocky, loud-mouth player. Why all the negative attention from the refs?

Glad that others are seeing the same thing. I think Stokes is afraid to really play his game for fear of foul calls. I agree he seems to be a very nice young man, no mouthing to the refs. just takes the poor calls and tries to play hard. Just let Stokes play refs.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to KVCrockett:

Glad that others are seeing the same thing. I think Stokes is afraid to really play his game for fear of foul calls. I agree he seems to be a very nice young man, no mouthing to the refs. just takes the poor calls and tries to play hard. Just let Stokes play refs.

It mystifies me too, KVC, but I can think of a couple of possible reasons. The first is that he is young, so he hasn't learned knowledge of the refs yet or earned their respect. The second is that because he IS so big, wide, and strong, if he makes a decisive move toward the defender's center of mass, the guy will either go down or at least noticeably back. No doubt refs fall for defenders' flops WAY too often, but, again, because of Jarnell's size, they can easily believe they see a foul if a defender even appears to be dislodged. Better ball fakes and footwork will I hope eventually enable him to make decisive moves to the basket without fouling or appearing to do so. He also has an occasional tendency to reach out with his hands on defense instead of moving his feet to stay in a good defensive position.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Wonder if this team is back to the old curse which has plaqued the BB team at TN since I was up there in the late seventies? Weed.

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