Tennessee men's basketball team's offense left much to be desired in debut

Martin: 'Biggest key is learning from this game'

Xavier forward Erik Stenger (35) reaches for a rebound with Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in Cincinnati. Xavier won 67-63. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Photo by Al Behrman

Xavier forward Erik Stenger (35) reaches for a rebound with Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in Cincinnati. Xavier won 67-63. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Had the Tennessee men’s basketball team finished a comeback that turned a 10-point Xavier lead into a two-point game with six seconds left to play, this would be a story about how Cuonzo Martin and his Vols overcame a no-show night from its premier post player and beat a Big East team on the road.

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Comments » 16

alaskavol writes:

Man this is deja vu and I was hoping for jamais vu. Could this have been anymore like the start to last season? Quite a change from Pearl days when we expected to win.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Last year Stokes often mentioned his lack of offensive production was due to being double and triple teamed without Maymon in the line-up. Well, what's the problem now?

robert#1417579 writes:

An even bigger problem with all this is that Xavier had two starters that didn't even play in the game.

wigmeister writes:

All I keep reading is about how talented we are, those going to the NBA, etc. Unless skill sets and mind sets change, the only Vol that has a chance of being a first round pick is McRae. Maymon has to be able to show his skills have not diminished since the injury. Stokes is a big body, with potential, but is nowhere near ready for the NBA. Barton, I really have not seen yet, so cannot comment. Individual skills are nice, but team is what it is all about. Every year Kentucky has mostly freshman playing. When they played as a team, they won the NC. If not, they aren't as good as everyone thinks. Coaches need to step up their game to make this team successful.

ut_man1#1427524 writes:

The football team says they don't have the talent to win now! So why did this basketball team lose Tuesday night? No talent or bad coaching or both? Really tired of the men's programs losing over the years!

TommyJack writes:

1 stinkin game, and you mopes are panicked. Silly.

underthehill writes:

in response to TommyJack:

1 stinkin game, and you mopes are panicked. Silly.

The panic is not from this 1 stinkin game..it is from the pattern of having no game plan for the offense..1 for 17 to begin the game is ridiculous..especially from a veteran team..the only thing I see with Stokes is he can get fouls called for the same things the opponent does with no fouls called..the 2nd half of the Mich State-Ky game..Randolph was pushing, walking, charging to get open looks..if Stokes played the way he did Stokes would foul out the first 5 min..I hope this is not a pattern for officials this year..

jandjhome#228397 writes:

Conzo ball is what it is. Sure wish Pearl had not screwed up.

irishcoffee writes:

he had the horses to run X off the court and played half court ball. i'm over the 'defending at a high level' talk. i would rather win 85-80 than lose 67-63. come on Conzo, let them run!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to alaskavol:

Man this is deja vu and I was hoping for jamais vu. Could this have been anymore like the start to last season? Quite a change from Pearl days when we expected to win.

I had much the same thought. It seemed that that game was a sort of microcosm of the Vols' last two seasons: get behind early and fight back into contention, only to narrowly lose at the end.

CCM hit the nail on the head when he said they need better spacing and more screens. The motion offense simply can't work if all the offensive players are edging toward the paint all the time and nobody screens so other guys can cut. It takes experience, patience, and trust. I thought the Vols had plenty of the first but they still need LOTS more of the second two.

rockypop writes:

in response to atnvol#283282:

Last year Stokes often mentioned his lack of offensive production was due to being double and triple teamed without Maymon in the line-up. Well, what's the problem now?

Couldn't agree more, except for the fact that Maymon clearly isn't 100%. That aside, Stokes is not much more than a big lug who can win some inside battles on the board but does not bring much in terms of offensive production. The guy just looks like he ought to be playing a blocking tight end instead of anything on the court.

fannotsheep writes:

Like it or not, coaching is a factor. Bruce Pearl took a team that looked horrible playing BuzzBall and turned it into an instant winner.

Not laying everything at Cuonzo's feet because, like Pearl or any coach, he is at the mercy of his players' performance, effort and attitude. I don't know how coachable Stokes is. But I know he is not maximizing his talents at UT. He has never shown me that he was one of the top players coming out of high school.

How is it that Maymon is healthy but out of shape? Who is in charge of that? How is it that the team shows no offensive cohesiveness? How is it there seems to be a lack of leadership on such a veteran squad?

I won't give up after one game. I don't think the status of the program hinged on whether it was a close loss or a close win. If Tennessee is capable of challenging Kentucky and Florida, or making a deep run in the Tournament, it needs to beat Xavier handily.

rockypop writes:

And, speaking of Stokes, this is probably his last year, as he will unwisely declare - just so he won't get pigeonholed into being a multi-year player. Maymon and McCrae will also be gone, and the Bruce Pearl talent pool will have evaporated. So, now we'll find out just how well Martin has recruited.

I suspect that next year will be a tough year for UT men's BB that will present Dave Hart with a difficult decision regarding Martin's on-going employment. He's had some quality talent to work with during his time at UT, and there's some question about how well he's done with it, as well as how well he's done replacing it.

If he has a mediocre year this year and next, the only thing that will ensure his tenure is UT's reluctance to take on yet another buyout.

But, like football, men's basketball is a revenue generator that the university must depend upon. And, hey, Pearl proved you CAN win and win big at Tennessee, so it needs to happen.

fannotsheep writes:

in response to rockypop:

And, speaking of Stokes, this is probably his last year, as he will unwisely declare - just so he won't get pigeonholed into being a multi-year player. Maymon and McCrae will also be gone, and the Bruce Pearl talent pool will have evaporated. So, now we'll find out just how well Martin has recruited.

I suspect that next year will be a tough year for UT men's BB that will present Dave Hart with a difficult decision regarding Martin's on-going employment. He's had some quality talent to work with during his time at UT, and there's some question about how well he's done with it, as well as how well he's done replacing it.

If he has a mediocre year this year and next, the only thing that will ensure his tenure is UT's reluctance to take on yet another buyout.

But, like football, men's basketball is a revenue generator that the university must depend upon. And, hey, Pearl proved you CAN win and win big at Tennessee, so it needs to happen.

Sadly, UT had its coach. What Pearl did was wrong, but the price he paid (and the price Vol fans will forever pay) was entirely out of proportion. If that was fair, some coaches should be in federal prison.

The NCAA treated Pearl worse than the Washington Post and MSNBC treated George W. Bush, and obviously he had more enemies in college basketball than Obamacare has at FOX.

As for Martin, if he can't win -- and by win I mean an NCAA Tournament run that at least has them playing for a Sweet 16 berth -- this year I don't think he will be around very long. Heck, if he was Pearl, the UTAD would already be planning a surprise announcement on John and Jimmy's radio show.

johnlg00 writes:

Lots of comments that deserve individual replies, but I don't have time to go into them all. I'm working a month-long project that comes up about four times a year and don't have a lot of time to be on here right now.

Not that anybody associated with the team needs me as an apologist, there are still reasons, IMHO, why the team played so poorly in the first half against Xavier but will not necessarily continue to do so.

Maymon--If you will recall, every time Martin was asked about him, he NEVER said that Maymon was all the way back. All of his comments were things like, "He's progressing...it's a day-by-day process...he's getting better". In other words, he never said that he was back to his old form. Judging by the last game, we may never again see the player who put 32 points and 20 rebounds on Memphis in that tournament a couple of years ago. However, he DID get seven rebounds and several assists in the Xavier game. He is a leader whom the other players clearly respect. Even if he can't do all the things he and we might hope for, he can still be a difference-maker on the court, and maybe sooner rather than later.

Stokes--Although he is about the same size, Jarnell will never be mistaken for LeBron James on the court. He is primarily a low-post player at this point in his career who MUST become a high-post player if he ever wishes to play in the NBA. As long as he plays the low post, OTHER players must get him the ball except for what he can get for himself off the offensive boards. He has clearly lost weight for this season, not easy for a man of his build. He showed better movement in the scrimmage games but was hampered by the early fouls in the Xavier game. One of those calls against him was somewhat bogus, IMHO, but he does have to avoid those going forward. One problem is that he had been practicing with Barton on the floor for the previous couple of months, but he and Barton were not on the floor together for more than a few minutes in the Xavier game. As the two of them spend more time together in games, I fully expect Stokes to be more active and more productive.

Barton--When he was on the floor, the offense WAS better. He had 10 points and four assists in about 15 to 18 minutes on the floor against Xavier. The team scored twice as many points in the second half, when he played the most. When he gets into game condition to the point where he can go hard for 30 or so minutes, he will be better and the rest of the team will be better.

Sorry I went on so long, but I will just conclude that if the offense DOESN'T look a LOT better in the next couple of games, it may be time--if not to panic--to show some concern that the team won't be what most of us expected it to be, and if that is so, all the Martin "haters" may well get their wish for him to be gone at the end of the season. In the meantime, GO VOLS!!!

johnlg00 writes:

After my post above, I went back and reread the game stories. I realized then that I had gotten Maymon's and Barton's stats wrong. Maymon had 7 points and 10 rebounds but no assists. When he gets his timing down, he should score more even if he isn't his old self, and I would bet that this will be the LAST time he gets no assists in a game. Barton played a lot more minutes than I gave him credit for. He scored efficiently and could have had more assists if teammates hadn't missed easy set-ups. I'm guessing his assist-to-turnover ratio will greatly improve as the season goes on. If he didn't do any further damage to his ankle, he should be good to go. I HOPE the whole team feels as bad about their performance as most of us do and will play more nearly to their capabilities going forward.

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