Mike Strange: No more sitting for Vols' Quinton Chievous

Mike Strange
Tennessee guard Quinton Chievous (31) shoots in the second half against Mississippi State during the second round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Thursday, March 14, 2013. Tennessee won 69-53 over Mississippi State. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Quinton Chievous (31) shoots in the second half against Mississippi State during the second round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Thursday, March 14, 2013. Tennessee won 69-53 over Mississippi State. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

NASHVILLE — Be ready. No matter what, be ready.

That philosophy is serving Tennessee’s Quinton Chievous well.

“In this system,’’ Chievous said Thursday at Bridgestone Arena, “you can play 20 minutes one game and the next game you sit.

“You’ve always got to be ready when your number’s called. You don’t know what can happen.’’

Or in Chievous’ case, you can sit for nine consecutive games waiting for your number to be called. That happened in January when SEC play began.

Then his number started getting called again and coach Cuonzo Martin keeps calling it.

Thursday Chievous got a lot done in 13 minutes to help the Vols tough out a 69-53 win over Mississippi State at the SEC tournament.

He scored a career-high 10 points and grabbed four rebounds. Those are just the tangible stats. Not all his contributions are always measurable.

“Energy,’’ said UT assistant coach Jon Harris. “That’s the biggest thing. He plays with fire and plays with passion.’’

For a guy who was a ghost in January, the redshirt freshman is a lion in March. Five days before this career high he had another, seven points and five boards in the Senior Day win over Missouri that kept UT’s NCAA tournament hopes alive.

With unfinished business here at Bridgestone, starting with Alabama today, the Vols could certainly use a continued boost of Chievous energy.

“I just try to go in every game the same,’’ Chievous said, “and just do what the team needed to get the win.’’

There is, in fact, a relationship between whether or not Chievous goes in the game and whether or not his team gets a win.

In his nine-game bench ride, the Vols were 3-6. They’ve won nine of 10 since he re-emerged at South Carolina on Feb. 10. Coincidence?

“Of course,’’ Chievous said, “anybody who sits nine or 10 games is going to get down a little bit.’’

The thought that the coaching staff had lost confidence or interest in him, “never crossed my mind,” he said, “I just try to stay positive.’’

It wasn’t the first time Chievous had been benched.

He grew up in Chicago with his mother, but in the sixth grade went to Columbia, Mo., to live with his

dad, Derrick Chievous, the career scoring leader at Missouri and a former NBA player.

But there was no basketball except on the playground.

“He wouldn’t let me play (at school) until I got my act right,’’ Chievous said.

“I was a troublemaker. I wasn’t doing my work.’’

Father and son continued to butt heads and the son’s act never got straight. So after his freshman year, he moved back to mom in Chicago as the only option to get into organized basketball.

At Notre Dame High School in Niles, Ill., he finally found a niche and became a recruit.

Chievous tries to keep in daily contact with his dad, who’s still in Columbia. Derrick watches videotape and offers suggestions, on both the physical and mental aspects of the game.

“He’s a great role model,’’ Chievous said.

So is the son.

“It’s so easy,’’ Harris said, “to get discouraged and be a cancer in the locker room.

“He didn’t give up. It was never about him. It was always about the other guys. He was always motivated.’’

Tennessee is better because of it.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at Strangemike44.

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Comments » 7

easleychuck writes:

This young guy may turn out to be a late bloomer. When Coach Martin signed him there was the usual barking about his only being a 3 star. If he improves as much as did between last year and this year over the off season, he could be something special.

GrandCanyonVol writes:

This kid knows how to play basketball. He seems to be in the right place at the right time. You are born with that. Glad to see him do well.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

There's where you look at CCM (or any coach), and go "WTH???"???

Especially as some of the guys in front of him weren't valuing there minutes. There's a fine line between destroying a starter's confidence by taking him out after every mistake, and letting him be lackadaisical on the court. I thought for a while UT's rotation really took their time for granted.

RockyTop1_old writes:

He brings excitement to the team when he is in the game. Interesting stat line on wins and losses when he plays or sits....just a thought. We need ALL the help we can get today against BAMA! Living in Alabama and a Tennessee fan has definite challenges, but I meet all of them like a TRUE VOLS!!

BTW, I anoy Tide fans here when I agree with them on the "roll tide roll"

...I simply finish it by adding "round the bowl down the hole, ROLL TIDE ROLL!! Then I excuse my self and tell them I feel like I need to take a BAMA!! Where was that men's room anyway??? GBO!! BREAT BAMA!!

johnlg00 writes:

Glad to see QC do well. I don't know where the Vols would have been without him yesterday. Maybe his example can jump-start the energy and enthusiasm of some of yesterday's "sleep-walkers". No more time for that stuff from ANYBODY! Put the hammer down, Vols! This is your time! GO VOLS!!! GO QC!!!

SewaneeVolFan writes:

Nice article, and nice to see a guy put the team first and earn his rewards for doing it, not to mention make the important contributions Q has been providing recently. Hope he gives the team a good, positive presence today, too.

murrayvol writes:

Good piece. Pretty big jump from 3-6 to 9-1. Keep it going guys.

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