Freshmen Derek Reese, Armani Moore 'growing on the fly'

Both expected to see increased minutes

Tennessee guard Armani Moore (4) drives around Mississippi State guard Craig Sword (32) as guard Derek Reese (3) provides a screen in the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. Tennessee won 72-57 over Mississippi State. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Armani Moore (4) drives around Mississippi State guard Craig Sword (32) as guard Derek Reese (3) provides a screen in the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. Tennessee won 72-57 over Mississippi State. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

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No one knew it then, but Cuonzo Martin received depth for Christmas.

In Tennessee basketball's 10 games prior to the holiday, freshmen Armani Moore and Derek Reese combined to play 55 minutes. Moore was accountable for all of them. Reese was on the shelf, recovering from a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

In the six games since Christmas, Moore has played 65 minutes, while has Reese stepped into the rotation and played 95.

Now Martin has options.

The emergence of Reese, a 6-foot-8 inside-outside threat with range beyond the arc, and Moore, an athletic 6-5 guard, offers artillery. It is also a threat to any player who might be perceived as having a set slot in the rotation.

"(Reese and Moore) really help," Martin said Tuesday at his weekly media luncheon. "They both can handle the basketball, they can make decisions with the basketball. They can make plays. I just think they are growing. They are growing on the fly."

The increased roles by each have all but eliminated minutes previously distributed to wings Quinton Chievous and D'Montre Edwards, and walk-on guard Brandon Lopez. Moreover, senior forward Kenny Hall, with Reese playing extended minutes at the four, senior shooting guard Skylar McBee, whose off-the-ball spot fits nicely with Moore, and Trae Golden, who has fallen out of the starting lineup, have seen a slight dip in minutes.

With the two freshmen seemingly destined for even more playing time, their minutes will have to come from somewhere.

Some veterans might see their minutes fall off.

"(Reese and Moore) get excited every time they're on the court and I think we've got some guys that are playing too many minutes and they don't cherish those minutes they get," UT assistant Kent Williams said during a Tuesday interview on the News Sentinel Sports Page. "So they're just going out there and going through the motions. Maybe those guys need to have some minutes taken from them at little bit. Because (Reese and Moore) are going out there and the minutes that they're given, they're taking every opportunity to do what they can."

Reese hit three second-half 3-pointers in the Vols' 72-57 win over Mississippi State last Saturday, the same day Moore filled the stat line with 11 rebounds, four points, four assists, three steals and one blocked shot.

Each expects to see plenty of playing time against No. 23 Ole Miss (15-2, 4-0 SEC) on Thursday (TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.), though Moore is listed as day-to-day with a hip pointer suffered during practice Monday.

Reese spoke at Tuesday's luncheon. Sitting down in a room filled with cameras and tape recorders, he glanced around with an accompanying, "Well this isn't nerve-racking."

He handled the rest of the proceedings as smoothly as his first five games for UT.

"Both of us are going out there and doing what we do, doing what we're supposed to," said Reese, who's averaging 7.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 19.0 minutes per game. "Just being smart."

Tennessee (9-7, 1-3) is looking to avenge a 92-74 home loss to Ole Miss on Jan. 9. The 18-point defeat, which Reese repeatedly called "embarrassing," was the Vols' worst loss at Thompson-Boling Arena since a 90-72 loss to Kentucky on Jan. 13, 2009.

Out for some revenge, the Vols will face Ole Miss the same week the Rebels landed in both top 25 polls (No. 23 in Associated Press, No. 24 in USA Today/Coaches) for the first time since 2010.

Grasping for some momentum, it's a big one for Tennessee.

With that in mind, Martin reiterated that minutes in his rotation are earned, not given.

"I think each individual player is different," he said. "You watch a guy who plays at a certain level and you can always raise your level, go a little harder, compete a little bit better. You see guys make that step and some guys you can sit and keep working on it, but at some point, that's just who he is."

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

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Comments » 32

wigmeister writes:

Glad to see the young guys getting more of a chance to show their stuff!

FeelVol writes:

My guess is that if Reese and Moore continue to earn minutes,quite possibly Halls' and McBees' could diminish if they're not any more productive than they've been lately.Just a feeling.Go Vols and what a win that would be to take down those Rebels at their place!!!

1vavolfan writes:

Skylar can play 25-30 minutes with and finish with an empty box score. Give his minutes to Reese and Moore, there is no one on Ole Miss or Bama that McBee can guard.

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

You need more guys with more productive minutes, especially for a team that hasn't been very deep to this point. This seems to translate to a better defensive and offensive effort on each end of the court. Tenn obviously is a work in progress, but I think they are making some strides. I believe the second half of the season will really show some progress for this team.

Sir_Spanky writes:

Please don't pull somebody off the court who is hot. Please. Pay attention to what's happening on the floor.

richvol writes:

Reese and Moore have been pleasant surprises and definately deserve more playing time. McBee has regressed...he doesn't rebound,can't hit his shots and can't play defense at this level.Kenny Hall has not improved in four years.

volaholic45 writes:

When Reese shoots, I actually have a sense of expectation of 2 points. I almost forgot what that feels like. I'm all for seeing more of him, and less clank, clunk, air ball, clank.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Golly I think I might just actually agree with all these posts!!! GO VOLS.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Reese coming in was a good prospect but had much doubt about Moore,Edwards and Chievous..The Chievous experiment did not work!! Reese averaging almost 8 PPG is helping a lot and he's starting to learn his place in the offense..Moore was relentless against MSU; see how he does against better players Thursday

MONGOloveSHERIFFbart writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Reese coming in was a good prospect but had much doubt about Moore,Edwards and Chievous..The Chievous experiment did not work!! Reese averaging almost 8 PPG is helping a lot and he's starting to learn his place in the offense..Moore was relentless against MSU; see how he does against better players Thursday

Reese was a 2-3* coming in but he's from a small town in Fla. and i think he just didn't get the exposure. Give Cheivous some time and he will be good. He definitley is athletic. With Hubbs coming in next year and Maymon back this team should be crazy good.

maciste54 writes:

Hope these guys don't shoot a bunch of thuds and bricks at Ole Miss. It would be a big win for them. Not expecting it but hoping.

underthehill writes:

It creates a bit more interest for me to see the young guys on the floor..I saw Hall as a freshman and thought he was going to develop into a real player..it ain't happened..McBee catches a lot of flack but the fact is he can help the team as a spot player and is a good 3 point shooter when he has time to be on balance and face the basket..most of his shots he misses are off balance and forced..if he is on the floor too much ..that is on the coach..Not McBee..I will keep watching and hoping they win every game..but to be realistic..I think Martin needs to play the young guys as much as possible and get ready for next year..

meemaw writes:

Is Miller gone for the season?

allvollego writes:

If we plan on having any type of success this season Kenny Hall will be needed. Now that I got that out of the way. Moore and Reese both attended smaller high schools, but they are both late bloomers as well. For as long as anybody can remember most highly ranked players are their current sizes maybe take an inch by the time they finish their sophomore years in high school. Reese used to be a 6'2 guard, so I can see why he flew under the radar until he made his statement to the world on Puerto Ricos team. Moore has played such inferior talent, that I am even surprised he is doing this well as of now. The other Cuonzo recruits will have to step up more, but this is just a case a player desire and good development from coaches. Kudos to both. Late bloomers in basketball at this stage are more of the rule than the exception, most of the public just does not get to see that. They only see players on the bench.

Hope everyone on the team starts to improve or keeps improving.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Sir_Spanky:

Please don't pull somebody off the court who is hot. Please. Pay attention to what's happening on the floor.

I agree. This was also a complaint I had about Pearl. With both him and Martin, it sometimes seemed that substitutions and timeouts are called according to the clock rather than according to what is happening on the court. Sometimes you put an odd lineup out there and they seem to be clicking on a given night. When things are going your way with a particular group on the floor, give them their heads, put the hammer down, strike while the iron is hot, don't cool your own hot streaks, and all those other cliches. Such considerations should even override early foul trouble if it happens to guys who aren't necessarily in your last-four-minutes rotation.

That said, I am glad that CCM is noticing when the starters are not producing and giving the young guys a chance to do their thing. To their credit, they have probably been practicing hard to show they are ready for expanded roles. If Kenny and Skylar can give their same game production, little as that has been lately, in fewer minutes, it will have more impact while giving these young, hungry guys more game experience which can only add to their confidence and production. Everybody can feel that they are contributing rather than just taking up space on the floor.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volaholic45:

When Reese shoots, I actually have a sense of expectation of 2 points. I almost forgot what that feels like. I'm all for seeing more of him, and less clank, clunk, air ball, clank.

The only oddity I have seen in Reese's shot is that he keeps his feet wider apart than many and doesn't bring them together when he goes up like most other good shooters do. However, I have concluded that this gives him a very steady base from which to launch the shot and his shoulder, arm, and hand motions are very smooth, with perfect extension on the release. One sees all kinds of quirky but effective shooting motions, but almost any player would benefit from doing it the way MOST good shooters do it. I think Reese will play a bigger and bigger role as the season goes on, especially since he doesn't seem to be deficient in any other major skill areas.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Reese coming in was a good prospect but had much doubt about Moore,Edwards and Chievous..The Chievous experiment did not work!! Reese averaging almost 8 PPG is helping a lot and he's starting to learn his place in the offense..Moore was relentless against MSU; see how he does against better players Thursday

Newcomers often have their ups and downs. I think it is too early to conclude that Cheivous and Edwards can't help. Both gave me the impression of just pressing too hard to try to make things happen in limited minutes. The recent emergence of Reese and Moore may well mean that Cheivous and Edwards will have to go back to the drawing board in the off-season to polish their games, but both have plenty of athletic ability and may yet have good games ahead of them. The good thing is that Reese and Moore are at least as big and athletic as Cheivous and Edwards, so the team isn't giving up anything the latter two could have provided if they were in synch.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to MONGOloveSHERIFFbart:

Reese was a 2-3* coming in but he's from a small town in Fla. and i think he just didn't get the exposure. Give Cheivous some time and he will be good. He definitley is athletic. With Hubbs coming in next year and Maymon back this team should be crazy good.

Agree with all. Looks like Martin's much-derided 2- and 3-star recruits can play a little after all. Gee, who'da thunk it(;-P)!

Snapshot writes:

It's a good day, ky lost to bama last night! GBO!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to meemaw:

Is Miller gone for the season?

I guess so. He surely hasn't been on the floor in quite some time. A bit odd that we haven't heard much about him lately. I know he was coming back off knee surgery when the season began, but we haven't heard any prognosis. If he had been healthy, one would think he could have been a big help given the Vols' lack of depth in the post. On the plus side, not having him has given Yemi valuable experience which will be a big plus going forward.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to allvollego:

If we plan on having any type of success this season Kenny Hall will be needed. Now that I got that out of the way. Moore and Reese both attended smaller high schools, but they are both late bloomers as well. For as long as anybody can remember most highly ranked players are their current sizes maybe take an inch by the time they finish their sophomore years in high school. Reese used to be a 6'2 guard, so I can see why he flew under the radar until he made his statement to the world on Puerto Ricos team. Moore has played such inferior talent, that I am even surprised he is doing this well as of now. The other Cuonzo recruits will have to step up more, but this is just a case a player desire and good development from coaches. Kudos to both. Late bloomers in basketball at this stage are more of the rule than the exception, most of the public just does not get to see that. They only see players on the bench.

Hope everyone on the team starts to improve or keeps improving.

This is the main thing people miss when they go all ga-ga over the 5-star types. Those guys got big, strong, and fast earlier than most HS kids. They got by on those physical gifts and saw little need to continue to work hard to get better. They had playing time and publicity given to them so they never had to learn how to fight for a spot on a team. They had their eyes on the NBA from junior high so they don't take the learning aspect of college ball seriously.

Some will scoff at this way of viewing HS stardom and continue to claim that UT can never win big until they get their share of major stars. Of course what I have said doesn't apply to all highly-ranked recruits. Many of them do indeed have a hunger to improve. However, much of what I have said above merely paraphrases statements made recently by Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, who certainly have all the authority needed to speak on those subjects, IMHO. Of course, not all 2- and 3-stars will develop, either. Talent is always a plus. Hard work can only do so much if the physical gifts are lacking. Still, I would trust a coach like CCM to recognize potential in a player, even if he is not a recruiting-service darling.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Snapshot:

It's a good day, ky lost to bama last night! GBO!

Bama looked pretty good last night. Maybe some of the naysayers will see the Vols' loss to Bama in a different light. On second thought, nah, they won't; they enjoy putting down the Vols and Vol fans too much to let pesky reality influence their rants. In fairness to UK--words that seldom come out of my keyboard--they seemed to be without Cauley-Stein last night, though I never heard why.

mborokyvol writes:

I wouldn't call one good game versus MSU, and a couple of made 3's depth. I might call it a spark or even a nice surge,but I wouldn't call it depth.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mborokyvol:

I wouldn't call one good game versus MSU, and a couple of made 3's depth. I might call it a spark or even a nice surge,but I wouldn't call it depth.

It doesn't matter what any of us call it if the Vols can't repeat it. If they can, and Reese and Moore have looked pretty good for at least two or three games now, it certainly is depth for a team that clearly has needed a little spark of energy and enthusiasm, not to mention some extra production.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to johnlg00:

It doesn't matter what any of us call it if the Vols can't repeat it. If they can, and Reese and Moore have looked pretty good for at least two or three games now, it certainly is depth for a team that clearly has needed a little spark of energy and enthusiasm, not to mention some extra production.

Witch Doctor digging this interactive John!
Bones never lie.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to mborokyvol:

I wouldn't call one good game versus MSU, and a couple of made 3's depth. I might call it a spark or even a nice surge,but I wouldn't call it depth.

It WAS depth against Miss State. We can hope it'll continue against Ole Miss...hope IS a Godly "fruit". Really it is.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor digging this interactive John!
Bones never lie.

johnlg00 is one of my bball heroes. He's on a roll today!!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

johnlg00 is one of my bball heroes. He's on a roll today!!

Witch Doctor agree and has said before he dont post here enough. Witch Doctor won over with his knowledge knowing between BBQ and Cookout. lol
Bones never lie.
*Witch Doctor say same goes for Murrayvol.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor agree and has said before he dont post here enough. Witch Doctor won over with his knowledge knowing between BBQ and Cookout. lol
Bones never lie.
*Witch Doctor say same goes for Murrayvol.

BBQ is how it's cooked? Cookout is where it's cooked?? I don't know as I'm practically a vegetarian. Pearl's fault...well that and heart problems.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

BBQ is how it's cooked? Cookout is where it's cooked?? I don't know as I'm practically a vegetarian. Pearl's fault...well that and heart problems.

Witch Doctor and John bantering earlier this week how they were calling a spring event a "the Football Family BBQ" and we were saying its a cookout and not a BBQ. lol
Bones never lie.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

BBQ is how it's cooked? Cookout is where it's cooked?? I don't know as I'm practically a vegetarian. Pearl's fault...well that and heart problems.

In the Southeast, the term BBQ is almost exclusively reserved for slow-cooked pork, preferably over a wood fire. Westerners might wish to include beef cooked in a similar fashion. Even vegetarians can participate in cookouts, however; that term has much broader uses and does indeed refer simply to food of any kind cooked outdoors.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

In the Southeast, the term BBQ is almost exclusively reserved for slow-cooked pork, preferably over a wood fire. Westerners might wish to include beef cooked in a similar fashion. Even vegetarians can participate in cookouts, however; that term has much broader uses and does indeed refer simply to food of any kind cooked outdoors.

I know what! Maybe Martin could invite some recruits to a a cookout...well since bbqs don't work. Just be sure and not let any phones or cameras in.

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