Jarnell Stokes burns midnight oil to shoot straight at free-throw line

Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes

Cuonzo Martin on Jarnell Stokes' voluntary late-night free throw session

None

Julie Bennett/AL.com
Auburn’s Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, left, blocks a shot by Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes during their game Wednesday in Auburn, Ala.

Photo by Julie Bennett

Julie Bennett/AL.com Auburn’s Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, left, blocks a shot by Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes during their game Wednesday in Auburn, Ala.

The team bus pulled up to Thompson-Boling Arena at 2:30 a.m. Tennessee’s Wednesday night victory at Auburn had dribbled over into Thursday morning.

Jarnell Stokes had recorded his 13th double-double of the season in the 82-75 win. But he was restless. He had unfinished business.

Knowing the Vols (18-11, 10-7 SEC) had a huge home game coming up against Missouri (22-8, 11-6) on Saturday (TV: ESPN, 4 p.m.), Stokes didn’t want to put his head on the pillow until he exorcised the horror of missing nine out of 10 free throws at Auburn.

“The guys were making jokes, that I almost got a triple-double,’’ Stokes said Thursday afternoon. “I don’t think that was funny, but that overshadowed a good night for me.’’

So Stokes grabbed a basketball, stalked to the free-throw line in the darkened arena with teammate Yemi Makanjuola in tow to rebound.

“All I had to tell him was I’ll give him a shout out on Instagram,’’ Stokes said, referring to the social media device for posting photos online.

Stokes stayed until he made 100 free throws, finishing with a 10-for-10 exclamation point.

And good to his word, he posted a photo on Instagram that attracted Makanjuola a host of new followers.

“Last night (at Auburn) was terrible,’’ Stokes said. “I didn’t want that to affect my confidence. ... I didn’t want to go back in the rut, missing a lot of free throws.’’

He missed enough at Auburn to drop his season percentage from 58.3 before tipoff to 55.6 when coach Cuonzo Martin pulled him out of harm’s way to the bench.

“He’d been shooting well up to that point,’’ Martin said Thursday. “We all have bad days.

“He knows he’s been shooting free throws well. He struggled last night and he took it personal. That’s a good sign.’’

Tennessee can ill afford to have Stokes be a liability at the free-throw line.

That’s especially true in what promises to be a physical match with Missouri’s front-line tandem of Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers.

“I think he’s gonna fix it,’’ said teammate Josh Richardson. “He’ll be better Saturday.’’

Tickets, Energy: A UT official told the News Sentinel on Thursday afternoon approximately 600 tickets remained for Missouri’s first SEC appearance in Knoxville.

Both Martin and his players are hoping for an electric Senior Day environment to assist against an extremely talented Missouri team.

“Our guys,’’ Martin said, “have put in the work to be in position to finish strong.

“So if (tipoff) is 4, let’s be there at 3, not only for the seniors but to get that energy going early.’’

Return to TBA: Missouri has never played in Thompson-Boling Arena, but two of the Tigers have.

Oriakhi was here just last year with Connecticut, a game the Vols won 60-57.

Oriakhi, who gained immediate eligibility at Missouri, fouled out in 19 minutes, with five points and seven rebounds.

Guard Earnest Ross played here in 2009-10 as an Auburn freshman.

The Tigers have three other Division I transfers on the roster.

Haith Likes Martin: Missouri’s second-year coach Frank Haith professes to be a big fan of Martin, his counterpart at UT.

“I think he’s a star,’’ Haith said on a Thursday teleconference. “I have so much respect for him, how he does things.

“His teams mirror him as a player. He was a hard-nosed cat when he played (at Purdue).’’

But Haith’s admiration has bounds. There’s a lot on the line for both teams Saturday afternoon.

“I ain’t cheering for him on Saturday,’’ Haith said, “but I do root for him and want him to do well.’’

Follow Mike Strange on Twitter at Strangemike44.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 25

cltvol writes:

if he can get to 78% or better those 12 point games will be 24 pointers in playoffs..teams aren't afraid to foul him. If anybody remembers moses malone making 12-15 free throws a game they know what I'm talking about

flatrock writes:

Note to JARNELL: when you get up on your toes to shoot FTs, you are 80%...when you shoot flat-footed, you are 10%...Get up on your toes, young man!

chipmurphy461 writes:

Keep at it

oldster writes:

Love the attitude.

lomas98 writes:

Don't ever remember when this many scenarios can happen with all of Saturdays games. Vols can finish anywhere from 3-7 that I know of. Not sure of scenario where 8 is in play, but I guess it may be possible. Dividing up divisions should have been done years ago, although the addition of 2 teams is reason why. Huge game Saturday. I don't really like the matchup with Missouri, but I do like the way they have played on the road. Maybe that can continue for one more. Would love to earn a bye until Friday.

VolGrad writes:

They may be free, but they aren't cheap. You cannot afford to miss out on the free ones.

Keep working it, Jarnell.

Go Vols!

JimmyJoe writes:

Gosh...how long did it take to actually hit 100?

ACWLY writes:

Very impressive, Stokes is a good kid and a determined player, glad he's a VOL!

SouthPaVol writes:

He's too stiff on the foul line, like he just had a heavy lift day--which reduces feeling in the hands from the grip and heavy bar. Gotta lift, just not on game day. Go Vols!

SummittsCourt writes:

Now that's leadership in my book. Good job and it will pay off!

Go Vols beat the tigers!

gillblog writes:

This effort is fine as it stands. But, to really improve significantly, he needs to 'burn the midnight oil' (or shoot to 100)
every-single-day.
I once heard Steve Nash say he almost never stopped practicing his free-throws whether or not he shot well in his most recent game.

8inarow writes:

in response to JimmyJoe:

Gosh...how long did it take to actually hit 100?

Once he ran out of fingers and toes, he lost count.

mloaks#222092 writes:

BAD timing for this foible!

go Vols, beet tiggers!!!

bUTch_please writes:

"C'mon Yemi, I'll put in a word for you, you can sleep later."

"OK"

Gotta love it. Zo VOLS!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SouthPaVol:

He's too stiff on the foul line, like he just had a heavy lift day--which reduces feeling in the hands from the grip and heavy bar. Gotta lift, just not on game day. Go Vols!

I was thinking the same thing as I watched him clank one FT after another. There just seemed to be a certain stiffness to him on the line that I hadn't seen in the previous five or six games. I also certainly agree with the other poster who said he ought to be shooting 100 or more FTs EVERY day. I was a little disconcerted when I recently read or heard CCM saying that the guys hadn't been in the gym enough on their own getting up shots until just recently. Concentrated individual practice is the ONLY way to stay sharp on shooting and other fundamentals. Team practice time these days is too limited to spend on things players should be doing on their own to improve. You want to develop habits and reflexes you can rely on when you are tired or things aren't going easily for you on a given night.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to gillblog:

This effort is fine as it stands. But, to really improve significantly, he needs to 'burn the midnight oil' (or shoot to 100)
every-single-day.
I once heard Steve Nash say he almost never stopped practicing his free-throws whether or not he shot well in his most recent game.

Good point. Perhaps it's no coincidence that Nash is about a 90% career FT shooter, don't you think?

Basketvol writes:

Way to go Stokes!

Anyone know what happened to all the UK trolls? Hahahaha!

underthehill writes:

in response to Basketvol:

Way to go Stokes!

Anyone know what happened to all the UK trolls? Hahahaha!

UK is not playing very well but it is too early for me to celebrate them not getting in the big show..a win over Fla on their home court and they are back in the conversation..they got some guys capable of playing much better at any time..especially Poly..he was a no show at Ga..

CoverOrange writes:

in response to JimmyJoe:

Gosh...how long did it take to actually hit 100?

I would guess not much more than 30 minutes. Depends on how fast Yemi rebounded.

mbible1utk#324980 writes:

The way I see it, there are 60 claimed spots in the tournament, as many as 8 that are up for grabs (leaning on "in" teams winning their conferences), and 18 teams vying for one of those spots. The bubble is in it's biggest danger in the MVC (where we need either Creighton or Wichita State to win that tourney) and the Conference USA (which we need Memphis to win, or at WORST fellow bubble team Southern Miss). There's always potential hijinx in other conferences that can phase us, but those are the two that I would sweat the most. We're competing against the likes of Virginia, Maryland, Cincinnati, Providence, Iowa, Iowa State, Baylor, Arizona State, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Boise State, La Salle, Temple, and Xavier. There are a few more that could sneak in if there are conference tournament upsets, but they are most likely teams that will not get in without winning their tournament (weak conferences). Of those teams, 6 have a higher RPI than us, 2 have higher SOS than us, and only one team has both number better than ours (Cincinnati, whose biggest weaknesses is they have lost 6 of their last 8). I'd go ahead and barring a meltdown put Cincinnati in and cut the bubble to seven teams. I think the most crucial thing for us to do is beat Missouri (who is a "should be in" team and would represent a RPI friendly win) and then knock off at least one bubble team in conference.

John_10065 writes:

Got to give the big guy some credit.

There's only one way to fix a problem and that is put in the work. To get off a bus at 2:30 am and go practice foul shots sounds like something a determined and motivated player would do. Most of that is on Stokes but Martin I am sure motivated him by benching him.

And kudos to Yemi! Supporting a team member at that time of night after a long bus trip says volumes to the kind of team player he is.

brod writes:

stokes will be banging with missouri bigs all game. he will be going to the free throw line.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mbible1utk#324980:

The way I see it, there are 60 claimed spots in the tournament, as many as 8 that are up for grabs (leaning on "in" teams winning their conferences), and 18 teams vying for one of those spots. The bubble is in it's biggest danger in the MVC (where we need either Creighton or Wichita State to win that tourney) and the Conference USA (which we need Memphis to win, or at WORST fellow bubble team Southern Miss). There's always potential hijinx in other conferences that can phase us, but those are the two that I would sweat the most. We're competing against the likes of Virginia, Maryland, Cincinnati, Providence, Iowa, Iowa State, Baylor, Arizona State, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Boise State, La Salle, Temple, and Xavier. There are a few more that could sneak in if there are conference tournament upsets, but they are most likely teams that will not get in without winning their tournament (weak conferences). Of those teams, 6 have a higher RPI than us, 2 have higher SOS than us, and only one team has both number better than ours (Cincinnati, whose biggest weaknesses is they have lost 6 of their last 8). I'd go ahead and barring a meltdown put Cincinnati in and cut the bubble to seven teams. I think the most crucial thing for us to do is beat Missouri (who is a "should be in" team and would represent a RPI friendly win) and then knock off at least one bubble team in conference.

Wow! I can see that you have been giving this a lot of thought! My poor ol' head can't keep all these ins and outs straight anymore. All I'm hoping for is that the Vols beat Mizzou on Saturday, win a couple in the SEC tourney, and just see what happens after that. I will be disappointed if they do all that and still don't get in, but it seems some deserving teams get robbed every year. Just hope the Vols aren't one of them THIS time!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to John_10065:

Got to give the big guy some credit.

There's only one way to fix a problem and that is put in the work. To get off a bus at 2:30 am and go practice foul shots sounds like something a determined and motivated player would do. Most of that is on Stokes but Martin I am sure motivated him by benching him.

And kudos to Yemi! Supporting a team member at that time of night after a long bus trip says volumes to the kind of team player he is.

Yep, that story says a lot about the desire in both of them. I hope Yemi took advantage of it by trying to chase down every miss and GRABBING every ball. Two guys working together regularly like this could be REALLY beneficial for both if they have a clear objective to work for in every such workout.

Any two players, for example, could spend a few minutes a day on non-verbal communication, such as using eye contact to signal an intent to drive in a certain direction. The man with the ball can then use a pass or shot fake to freeze a defender and set him up for a quick pass to the cutter. There are countless little games like this that can greatly enhance the cohesion and efficiency that this team still needs a WHOLE lot more of.

carbonzip writes:

If all else fails, try a jump shot.

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